How do I stop a dog from crying all night?
November 28, 2005 4:54 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone found an effective way to stop a dog from crying all night? The crying started after some recent surgery.

My parents' dog is a wire-haired fox terrier about eight years old. She has some digestive problems and has to sleep in the kitchen. She slept there for years with no problems.

A few months ago, she got a bad infection (lots of pain, high fever) and the vet had to put her out to drain it. After she recovered, she was blind in her left eye and the salivary glands on the left side of her mouth didn't work well anymore. It's unclear whether this was caused by the infection or whether she had a small stroke because of the anesthetic. She doesn't have any paralysis on that side, and seems to still have sensation on that side of her face (or at least she still likes it to be scratched).

She's perfectly happy during the day (just as playful and friendly as ever), but she cries at night. It ranges from whining for a few minutes (most nights) to full-on howling (rarely). If someone goes downstairs to check on her, she'll stop while the person is there.

For the first month or so after the surgery, she wouldn't even go downstairs at bedtime (after my parents' nightly hour of television -- this has been the routine for years) unless my father picked her up and carried her. Once she got away from him and sprinted up the stairs and jumped into my mother's lap again. The dog will go downstairs now, so things have improved a little.

The dog is very, very attached to my mother. If she goes somewhere for a few days, the dog will mope and follow my father (or anyone else who is there) around the house all day. It's not an option for the dog to sleep in my parents' room because of the aforementioned digestive problems.

Has anyone had experience with something similar? I had two ideas for my parents, but I don't know if they'll help:
-- Put a sweatshirt (or something else washable) that smells like my mother in the dog's bed.
-- Get some sort of enclosure for the dog to sleep in that they could put in their room without worrying about the carpets.
posted by clarahamster to Pets & Animals (16 answers total)
I don't know if it's possible to crate-train an 8 year-old dog, but perhaps putting a crate in the bedroom might be a good compromise.
posted by gokart4xmas at 4:58 PM on November 28, 2005

I found leaving the radio on, even with the volume low, kept our dog from crying. He was a puppy, but still, hearing the voices seemed to reassure him that he wasn't alone and he'd calm down.
posted by ltdan at 5:12 PM on November 28, 2005

Hot water bottle in addition to the sweater idea?

(It sometimes works, at least, with young puppies who miss their mother.)
posted by PurplePorpoise at 5:17 PM on November 28, 2005

They have a radio in the kitchen. I'll suggest that they try that for a few nights. The hot water bottle idea sounds promising too, as long as the dog doesn't decide it's something to chew on. :)
posted by clarahamster at 5:34 PM on November 28, 2005

I would start leaving a light on - she may be distressed because her vision is compromised, and it's even worse when it's dark. I also like your idea about working out a way to have the dog in their room - maybe consider having your parents get a crate and putting the dog in the crate in their bedroom at night.
posted by biscotti at 7:52 PM on November 28, 2005

To add to the radio suggestions, dogs love NPR. The soothing baritone voices, impeccable pronounciation, and middle-left politics have an almost narcotic effect on canines.
posted by stet at 8:05 PM on November 28, 2005

Is the dog small enough to stay in a playpen? That way he's not totally enclosed but can't get out to make a mess. It may be a long shot if he's a chewer.

If he can't adapt to some kind of confinement in the bedroom, definitely try the radio and a nightlight. Is it possible he associates the kitchen with some part of his trauma? Maybe he could have a new bed, and your mother could sit or lay on it with him during their hour of television so it's a super-good safe place for him when he goes to bed.

I hope you find a solution for the poor guy. That's got to be heartbreaking for everyone.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:33 PM on November 28, 2005

I think the crate is a good idea. My dog broke his back 5 years ago, when he was 6, and was partially paralyzed. After the initial week, when my partner and I took shifts being with him 24 hours a day. We had to find a way for him to be in the house when we were gone and not re-injure himself. We put him in a crate. He adjusted really well, and now loves it (he's sleeping in it right now with the door wide open).

The crate was an accidental discovery. Dogs actually need a den, and the crate is his home, his safe place. Your mom's dog has obviously gotten older and more feeble, and may just need to be near her at night for whatever time she may have left.

Also, we used diapers on our dog when he was recovering, since he had no control over his bladder and bowels. They make doggie diapers of all sizes. You can get them at any large pet store.
posted by generic230 at 8:36 PM on November 28, 2005

Crate training suggested here, too. Start by placing the crate in the bedroom. Then over the course two weeks, move the crate further and further and further away.
posted by frogan at 9:05 PM on November 28, 2005

If they don't actually want to use a crate, they could just put down a piece of scrap linoleum and fence the dog in with baby gating or a dog pen.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:25 PM on November 28, 2005

Our pup stays in a dog pen when we are gone for long periods. Toss a bed, water bowl, and some toys and she's good to go. It might be a nice way to ease into crate training for an older dog.
posted by MrZero at 9:29 PM on November 28, 2005

Use a crate. Our dog loves hers, we keep it right next to the bed, and she sleeps in it every night. Because of her digestive problems, you could use an easily washable vinyl pad in the crate.
As another option, I believe PetCo and/or PetSmart sells a calming pheromone for dogs. It is the scent that a mother gives off to calm her puppies. It is available as a spray or a plug-in. I have heard several vets recommend it.
posted by bradn at 6:50 AM on November 29, 2005

Wow, lots of great suggestions! I'm going to start forwarding them to my parents and hopefully they'll make the dog happier.
posted by clarahamster at 10:15 AM on November 29, 2005

The radio didn't help. They're going to try something else next...
posted by clarahamster at 6:41 PM on December 7, 2005

They got a cheap intercom system at the hardware store and when the dog starts acting up, they yell at her through the intercom, which startles her into being quiet. after a few nights, the dog settled down a lot.
posted by clarahamster at 12:56 PM on April 6, 2006

Turns out the radio helped after all.
posted by clarahamster at 8:30 PM on June 7, 2006

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