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At my house during the night, my dog sleeps downstairs and is quite quiet. However when we stay over at my girlfriend's house he cries a lot during the night. Her dog initially stays in hall, but inevitability ends up sleeping at the end of the bed.

What's the best way to deal with his crying? He used to cry a lot when I first got him, but eventually stopped when he realised I wasn't going to come running every time he cried.

My own thought is that it is the change in house and change in routine that is probably causing the crying, and that it will get better in time once we get a proper routine going. I also think that caving in and letting him come upstairs is the wrong thing to do as it just reinforces the crying to get what he wants behaviour.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

It is quite normal that the dog is feeling unsure or unsecure if left alone in an unknown place.

The key here is to train / condition the dog beforehand. So don't just "lock" him downstair and leave for the night. Try to leave him there and proceed with tiny steps, leave for 1 minute, 2, 5, 10 etc. It might seem useless at the beginning but here you have to build confidence in the dog. As you leave for longer period of time, give the dog a toy he likes, or you can also give him a Kong stuffed with food. The food starts a physiological response that helps the dog to calm down.

If that's too hard for the dog, you can crate train him (at your place), and then have him sleep in the crate when you're not home.

That's a long term solution and that will certainly improve the situation over time.

Now when you have to leave him for the whole night, it is not a good idea to let him go upstairs when he's crying. However you could divide the night in two parts, first one he stays downstairs and second part he's allowed with you. My dog starts the night in his crate, then early morning we let him out in the garden, and he finishes the night in the sofa. It is not good to change your mind all the time, dogs need clear directions. However there shouldn't be taboos either.

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+1 Crate training is perfect for this type of situation. The dog learns where "bed" is and feels comfortable there no matter where the crate is. For dogs with anxiety issues crates can be a life saver. –  Beth Whitezel Mar 24 at 5:04
    
In addition to crate training him in your own home, play games with the crate in a variety of locations so he sees the crate as the fun and safe thing and not the crate in a specific location. Even moving the crate to a different room or rotating it can make a big difference to a dog. –  jeffaudio Aug 20 at 3:36

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