How to Get Your Dog to Sleep
Can't get your puppy or grown dog to settle down to sleep at night? Does he whine all night long? If you and your dog are ready to get some sleep, make sure your dog has a routine established and a good sleep environment. Then, consider any adjustments or medical conditions your dog is experiencing. With these things in mind, you and your dog will be all set for a good night's sleep!
Changing Your Dog's Sleep Environment and Habits
Create a good sleep environment.For a sleepless puppy, you can offer a warm blanket for sleeping. Place a clock that makes a rhythmic ticking sound nearby. You can also try playing the radio softly or use a white noise machine to help the puppy sleep. Consider using a heating pad under half of the crate to provide a warmer corner for cuddling.
- Since the heating pad is outside and under the crate, the puppy should not be in any danger of chewing on the cord or pad.
Train your dog to sleep in a crate.If you want your dog to sleep in a crate, but he isn't crate-trained it may take some time to get him used to the crate. Do your research and be prepared to teach your dog that the crate is a good place. Put special treats in the back of crate to encourage investigation. Make sure that when you say "kennel" or "crate" you use a positive tone of voice. This tells him that going into the crate to sleep isn't a punishment.
- If you use it as a punishment, you may find that your dog never grows accustomed to the crate as a relaxing and quiet place.
Get your dog plenty of exercise.Your dog may be restless at night if he's not getting enough exercise during the day. Depending on your dog’s breed, age and fitness level, you may be able to tire him out in 30 minutes or 3 hours (or more).You can exercise your dog at any time during the day that works with your schedule. Although, it's best to avoid a lot of activity the last hour or two before bedtime so that your dog has a chance to settle down.
- Consider playing a new sport or activity like NoseWork, Rally, agility, tracking or Flyball with your dog.New activities mean learning new skills for both of you. Getting involved will increase mental and physical stimulation which helps both of you with exercise, boredom and will add to your bond.
Establish an evening routine.Make sure that your pet has had a chance to urinate and defecate right before bedtime. Feed your dog dinner a few hours before bedtime. This gives him plenty of time to digest and eliminate. Try keeping the hour or so before bedtime nice and calm which will set the tone for the night’s sleep to come.
- If your dog is overly anxious, try giving him Adaptil. This is a product that replicates the pheromones of a nursing mother dog and may help settle your dog or puppy by reducing anxiety.
Give it some time.Any changes in sleeping arrangements may take a while to get used to. Making sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise to the point of being tired is a great way to ensure a good night’s sleep for you two. Talk to your vet about using an antihistamine like Benadryl to help settle your dog for a few nights during a transitional period.
Considering Your Dog's Sleep Issues
Consider any sleep disruptions.Perhaps there are other issues causing a bit of unrest in your dog. Are you packing for a trip or moving? Are there guests in the house? A new neighbor? Loud noises? Just remember, dogs appreciate a routine. A small change to you (like moving your bedroom furniture) may seem like a big deal to the dog.
- Some dogs are more anxious than others, so be patient and think about things from your dog’s perspective. Then, you can make changes accordingly.
Determine if your dog has medical problems.If this is an older dog that has been quiet and content before, try to determine if there is a medical problem. Talk to your veterinarian about any unexplained changes in your dog's behavior, including appetite, energy level and ability to move comfortably.
- Pain or needing to go outside to eliminate in the middle of the night can cause a pet to whine and be restless during the night.
Let a new puppy adjust to your home.It may take a few days (and nights) to adjust to the new household and routine. Establish ground rules at the beginning to create a good routine. This will help your puppy understand the end of day rituals that lead to getting to sleep in the new household. Feed your puppy at the same time in the evening, followed by a trip outside 15-20 minutes later to eliminate.
- Place the pup in his crate, which should be in your bedroom so that the puppy is close by. This way, he can communicate when he needs to go outside to eliminate during the night.
QuestionMy puppy was sleeping through the night, but now he isn't. He cries and barks. We take him out. He does his business & he goes back the crate. How can I get him to sleep thru the night again without needing to potty? Do I just ignore his whining?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerA puppy can only hold his toilet for a short time (one hour for every month of life); therefore if he cries at night, he may need to toilet. Only answer his cries when he's quiet, so wait for a break between barks. Also, try scheduling a toilet break at a specific time so that he knows he will have a chance to relieve himself.Thanks!
QuestionThe first month we had the puppy she slept for six to eight hours. Now she only sleeps for three to four hours, then wakes up and barks and cries incessantly. What's going on?
Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsVeterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary SurgeonsExpert AnswerIt might be you accidentally rewarded her for crying one night by responding to her barks. Try to ignore the noise, but schedule a toilet stop during the night so that you know she is comfortable.Thanks!
QuestionWill light bother my puppy when he is trying to fall asleep?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSome puppies sleep better when the lights are off, but others don't mind the light. Experiment with your puppy to see what he likes best.Thanks!
QuestionI need to sleep but my puppy just wants to play. How can I get him to sleep?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCalm your dog down. Groom your dog by brushing his fur and petting him. Wind down and try to have no loud noises or things that would excite or wake your puppy. Give a comfortable place for your puppy to sleep. Also, during the day, if you have time, bring your dog out to run or play fetch to wear down your puppy's energy.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if your puppy sleeps in the bed with you and you don't want to put it in a crate?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry rubbing the puppy's belly or talking in a soothing voice. Importantly, you need to be calm and not doing anything exciting such as playing games on a screen or moving around the puppy. Be sure that the puppy doesn't need to relive itself or isn't hungry.Thanks!
QuestionWhy is my 17-year old Chihuahua whining in the middle of the night?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHe could be in pain -- take him to see the doctor, he is an old dog in need of much care.Thanks!
QuestionHow should I handle the grieving of a dog when my other dog just died?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPlay soothing music at night and give it a nice bed to calm down in. Try to give it something with the other dog's scent, such as a towel or blanket the dog used, its toy, etc. This can soothe the grieving dog. They can be very emotional with this, so give it time! If at all possible, get another dog when it's time.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I tell if my dog is sick?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLook for such signs as bad breath or drooling. excessive drinking or urination, appetite change associated with weight loss or gain, change in activity level (e.g., lack of interest in doing things they once did) and/or stiffness or difficulty in rising or climbing stairs.Thanks!
QuestionMy dog is 7 and I wind him down, but when I leave the room he starts barking. This especially happens while camping. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry giving him a toy that will tire him out or distract him. A busy bone is a good option.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I get my puppy to sleep through the night? She was crate trained and slept all night when we had her brother, but since he's been gone she's up early like 2/3 AM.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerShe might be missing her brother; as such, a little extra love and attention is needed, from you and others in the dog's human family. Let her sleep near or with you.Thanks!
To get your dog to sleep, make sure to let your dog out to go to the bathroom right before bed so that it doesn't wake up in the middle of the night wanting to go outside. Dogs also like having a good sleeping environment, so lay out a dog bed or give it a comfy blanket in its crate. To develop good sleeping habits, keep your dog calm the hour or so before bed so it will relax. Try giving your dog treats when it is in bed so it has positive associations with bedtime.
- If you know that the dog has no need to go outside to eliminate and he starts to cry in the crate, don't take him out. You don't want to reward the crying. But, if your dog was quiet and several hours later starts crying, take him outside on a leash to give him a chance to urinate (or defecate). Chances are that is what woke him up. He needed to tell you to take him out in order to avoid making a mess in the crate.
- Once you return the puppy to the crate he may cry a little, but just ignore him and the pup will settle down in a few minutes.
- Make sure the room is quiet and dark.
- If you are crate training your dog, it's a good idea to feed in the crate to create a positive association. Kong toys are a good way to feed your dog her meals and stimulate her brain at the same time. Stuffing the dog’s food in the Kong toy also makes mealtime last longer.
- Try letting your dog chew. It is a relaxing activity for your dog. Use a bone that is not consumable like a Nylabone or a Kong.
- You should let your dog outside in the morning in the afternoon and at night, unless there is a coyote outside or something equally dangerous.
- Put them on your bed (or somewhere where you don't mind having dog hair) and pet them in their favorite petting spot for a few minutes. This helps get them relaxed.
- If the dog is sleeping on the bed or couch, lay down with the dog or puppy.
- Play lullabies for her/him. Some dogs are used to particular sounds.
- Try partially covering the crate (if he/she sleeps in a crate) with a blanket. This can make them feel safe and comfortable when the crate is darker.
Sources and Citations
- Pinney, Chris C. The Complete Home Veterinary Guide. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 3 Mar. 2015. p 41.
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