It can be frustrating to find your restful sleep disturbed by your dog, who is quite sure it’s time to get up. This might happen for a short time when we turn our clocks twice a year –“spring forward, fall back” – but if it’s persistent, you’ll need to figure out why and help your dog get into a sleep cycle closer to your own.
While puppies may not sleep through the night for months, an adult dog should be able to. Depending on the breed and age, most adult dogs will sleep around 12 hours per day, give or take a few hours. So sleeping, or at least staying quiet and content, for eight hours is not asking too much.
If your dog used to sleep just fine, you may want to consider possible health problems. Has there been a change in his eating patterns? Does he seem to be in pain? Is he needing to relieve himself more often or having accidents? A trip to the vet may be necessary.
Barring any health issues, look to the obvious. What might cause you to have trouble sleeping or staying asleep? Being uncomfortable, having to go to the bathroom, being too sedentary, and having a disrupted schedule are all factors that cause us to have trouble sleeping. The same is true for your dog.
- Does your dog have a comfortable place to sleep? Is it quiet and devoid of distractions?
- Has your dog had a chance to relieve himself right before bed?
- Does he get enough exercise to tucker him out?
- Is there a schedule he can count on each day?
Fix the causes
It’s important for your dog to have a regular schedule of eating, exercising, and sleeping. If so, he will know what to expect and be prepared for it. If you feed your dog around the same time every day already, you know he starts to look for food as that time approaches! The same would be true for bedtime. Develop a reliable bedtime and he’ll be ready for bed when that time comes around.
Have a comfortable, quiet place for your dog to sleep. If you crate train, make sure there is a comfy bed inside and blankets over the crate to block out light. Leave the crate door open during the day so your dog has a safe, quiet place to retreat to. Ensure his sleeping area is in a quiet corner of the house, too. You don’t want to have your dog’s bed or crate in the room with a television, active children, or a drum set!
Give your dog enough exercise. Younger dogs and more active breeds need much more exercise than older dogs or more sedentary breeds, so be sensitive to your dog’s needs. Plenty of exercise means he’ll be less likely to be up in the middle of the night.
Mental stimulation is also very helpful for your dog, keeping his mind sharp and his mood happy. Fun toys, training him with treats (Saint Rocco’s Sprinkles are perfect for this), or games with the kids provide stimulation that can also make him sleepy at night. But don’t stimulate him close to bedtime. Let him wind down.
Make sure you take him out right before bed so he doesn’t have to “go” during the night. Dogs can hold their bladder for a long time, but not forever. Don’t put him in the position of embarrassing himself by having an accident in the house. Taking him out will also give him a last-minute burst of activity to tire him out before bed.
Your dog may also be hungry. Confirm with your vet how much you should be feeding your dog, given his breed, age, and activity level. Choose a time of the day to feed him that will keep him satiated through the night. If you feed only him in the morning, you may want to consider splitting that between two meals, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon or early evening. You could also consider an evening snack. Any of our treat strips would provide a nice, healthy snack right before bed without adding too many calories. Make it something your dog loves: Savory Red Meat, Chicken and Sweets, Cheeseburger, or our new Salmon Treat. One strip and a “Good boy!” right before bed will give your dog sweet dreams!