Janna bought Lola in early December one year, when she was just seven weeks old. She chose her from a litter of seven French Bulldogs: she loved the brindle colour of her coat, and her large soulful eyes.
When Janna was growing up, there were always family dogs at home, but Lola is the first dog of her own, and it’s turning out to be a big learning experience. As an owner, you are completely responsible for the animal in your charge, for every moment of the day. Janna has done plenty of research, and she knows all about the theory of rearing a puppy, but sometimes it can be challenging putting the theory into practice. Especially at night time.
Lola was lonely at night time
Like most pups, Lola was used to the company of her mother and siblings at night time. The family of dogs would snuggle down together in one big warm pile of bodies. When she moved in with Janna, the change for Lola was a big shock: suddenly, night time was not so sociable or cosy. Janna made sure that she had a warm bed, with a hot water bottle and a radio on, to keep her company, but it was still a lonely place in comparison with her previous experience. At first, Lola put up with it, but after a couple of weeks, she started to whine at night, letting Janna know that she was wanted some attention.
Janna realised that she ought to ignore the pup. If you give in to a puppy’s whining and pleading, it just teaches them that these tactics work. This makes it even more likely that they will whine the next time they want something. It’s better to ignore a puppy when she’s whining, wait until she’s quiet, and then give her what she wants. The idea is to teach her not to link barking and whining with getting what she wants.
Lola gets what she wants
It’s all very well in theory, but it’s more difficult in practice. After a few evenings of ignoring Lola’s yelps and whines, Janna gave in: she brought the lonely puppy into her own bed, with the idea that it would be a one-off. Lola immediately settled down to sleep, and once she was snoozing deeply, Janna carried her back to her own bed, where she slept peacefully all night.
Unfortunately, Lola learned a lesson that night: if I keep whining, I get what I want. Janna now has to have Lola in bed with her every night: if she doesn’t do this, the pup refuses to sleep. She just keeps yelping and whining. As soon as Janna brings her in to her own bed, the pup falls asleep within minutes. Janna’s plan is always to take Lola back to her own bed once she’s asleep, but even that’s slipping a bit. Janna finds herself nodding off before she has a chance to take the pup out.
In fact. many people allow their pets to sleep close to them throughout the animal’s life: one recent survey found that 20% of dogs sleep in their owners’ bedrooms, and many of these are on – or even in – the bed. While there’s a risk of picking up illnesses from animals from such close contact, but as long as a pet is healthy, the risk is very small. And when everything’s taken into account, there’s something warm, cuddly and cosy about having a puppy sleep close to you, all night long.
Janna has started training Lola in other ways: she comes when called, sits down before she’s given her dinner, and she’s almost house trained. But at night-time, it seems that in this one way, Lola is the one who has managed to train Janna.
- Many people have their pets sleeping in their own beds
- As long as the animal is healthy, the disease risk to humans is very low
- Once an animal has picked up this habit, it’s a hard one to change