How To Train A Puppy To Sleep Through The Night
Here is something most dog owners don’t know: dogs are nocturnal. Naturally, a dog would do its best work (which used to be hunting) at night, when the smaller more vulnerable creatures come out to play. In our homes, you may have noticed that your dog is very active at night. I’ve heard many people complain that their dogs are lazy because they sleep during the day. Honey, they’re not lazy, they’re normal.
What this means for us, unfortunately, is that it can be tricky to get a dog to sleep through the night. As dogs have become more domesticated, it is easier to get them more active during the day, but you will find that they still wouldn’t mind playing at night. So how do we train a puppy to sleep through the night without administering sleeping pills? Is it even possible? Yes, it is, anybody can do it, and here is how.
[Related, check out the Best Dog Beds and Houses]
Preparing Your Puppy’s Sleep Area
Before you can get your dog to sleep through the night, you must first have picked out its bed or crate and chosen an appropriate sleeping area. These are the primary sleeping ingredients and if these are not adequate, nothing will work.
1. Make Its Bed Inviting
When you’re tired, frustrated, feeling a little under the weather, where do you want to go? Your bed, right? But what happens when the bed is all messed up – untidy, covered with clothes, dirty underwear, last night’s sushi, and spilled mouthwash? I remember as a kid my mum always telling me to make my bed and I always thought what for? I could sleep on a bare mattress for all I cared, but then it would get all itchy and I’d have to wake up in the middle of the night to fix it. Animal or human, we all need a comfortable place to sleep. If the bed isn’t made right, there would be no sleep.
Wherever you pick for your dog to sleep, either crate, doggy bed, your bed, or the couch, has to be comfortable for your pooch. Warm, soft bedding makes lying down pleasant. If it’s summer, then light bedding that would keep it cool at night. It also has to be clean, for sleep and health reasons, and free from food or water (I’ll explain why later). If using a crate, get your puppy excited about being in its crate during the day, so when it’s time to sleep, it has already built a positive association with its crate.
2. Bring Your Puppy Close To You
It is good for a young puppy to sleep within your vicinity so that your presence will give it comfort. It is a new environment away from its mum and siblings and you are the only pal it has. From living with a restless bunch to being on its own will be a challenging change, but your company can make it better. If you can’t have your dog in your room, try to keep it as close as possible.
[Related, check out the Best Dog Crates and Cages]
Preparing Your Puppy For Sleep
Now that your dog’s sleeping space is ready, it is time to work on the VIP of the occasion, the Big kahuna himself/herself. This would involve a lot of planning, strategizing, patience, and toughness (the friendly kind).
1. Get It Tired
The first thing you have to do is to get your puppy tired. Just like little kids with boundless energy, once you can get them tired enough, they’ll sleep at the appropriate time, no matter how hyper they usually are. If you notice your pup sleeping during the day, get it out of that rhythm. Engage him, play with him, keep him up and excited, particularly for the last few hours before bedtime. This way, when you put him in his crate, he is too tired to notice he’s been tricked.
When your dog is sufficiently tired, this will prolong its night sleep. This is where your toys come in handy. Toys that will make it work, chew and wriggle continuously are great. Run through some of your training, like making it come when called, fetch (if you are at that level), tug of war, and whatever else to keep him busy. And let’s not forget my personal favorite- chase the mailman. Oh wait, they don’t deliver mails at night. Oh well.
When it is closer to bedtime though, stop all rigorous activity, otherwise, your pup would be too excited to sleep. You can start winding downplay time an hour before you want him to sleep.
2. Take Him/Her To The Toilet
Your pup has to do numbers 1 and 2 before you put him to sleep. If he doesn’t go, he will either wake up in the middle of the night or soil his sleeping quarters, two outcomes we can’t afford. The key is to not give him any food or water at least an hour before bed.
Take your dog for a walk just before you put him to bed. This will also help get him tired. It is important that this walk is kept fun-free. The aim is to get him to do his business, not to start playing and get carried away. If your dog wakes up in the middle of the night wanting to go to the toilet, take him out, but also remember to minimize all fun, otherwise, he’ll make a habit of waking up, even if he doesn’t need to go.
3. Turn The Lights Off And Keep It Quiet
Finally, you have to set the mood. Your dog should learn from you that when the lights go off, it is time for bed. Once your puppy is safely and comfortably lying down in bed, turn the lights off and switch off any devices that could make distracting sounds, if not needed. Some people sleep with their TV on. While this might work for you, it may distract your puppy.
However, some people like to play smooth jazz to help their dogs sleep peacefully. Dogs are unique and we need to discover what works for our own pet. Someone else’s rules might not apply. If your dog needs heavy metal blasting through the radio to sleep, then so be it…..without disturbing the neighbors of course.
4. Brace Yourself For Tears
At this juncture, as you train a puppy to sleep through the night, it’s time for the toughness I mentioned earlier. The first few days or weeks of having your puppy home will be the toughest of its life so far and this comes with a lot of whining. You have to understand what it must be like being moved from your home to a strange environment. I went to a boarding school when I was 11 and I cried like a baby the first few nights. But I was a grown boy, not an eight-week-old puppy and I wasn’t alone in my room. So you can imagine what it’s like for a dog.
Whining at night is most common with dogs that sleep in a crate. The confinement gets to them and they begin to howl, pining for attention. While the sound might be maddening, you have to ignore its cries to complete its training. This is not to be harsh, but rather to halt the habit. If your dog is let out of its cage every time it whines, it will discover a key to getting anything it wants in life.
It is going to be tough on both of you, but it has to be done. You can sit by its crate for a few minutes until it calms down and goes back to sleep. But how do you know it doesn’t want the toilet? Well, dogs have different tell signs of when they want to go. If you are not sure, take it out and see if it relieves itself. If it doesn’t then you know what to do next time.
I know that cute little face is going to melt your heart but resist the urge to give it a cuddle when it cries for attention. Once you can make it through the first few nights, your dog will be set for life, so hang in there. Whatever you do, don’t give in to anger and yell at your dog, or whip out your dominance training handbook. It’s not intentional, so please be patient.
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Now you know how to train a puppy to sleep through the night, I’ll reveal a secret: get ready to throw it all out the window! Shocked much? As mentioned earlier, dogs are unique and some are completely erratic, just like people. You can do everything right and it won’t work, or you could do only half of it and it would work like a charm. Point being, don’t be too rigid with your pet. Allow yourself time to figure out its preferences and adjust accordingly. Your dog could be fine sleeping all by itself, in a crate, on a bed, or in a kitchen cabinet. Whatever comes, roll with it. It does not make your puppy crazy; it just makes it unique.
Remember to celebrate your dog vigorously every time it sleeps through the night. Lots of hugs, kisses, and treats after taking it out for a walk. You’ve got a great pet with you, so if it means you have to sacrifice a few sleepless nights, it is a price worth paying for a lifelong friendship and perfect sleep thereafter.
[Related, check out the Best Dog Beds and Houses]