You might think it can’t be done. That you can’t find a way to train your dog to sleep through the night. That you can’t find a reprieve from your puppy’s ruckus and roughhousing at all hours of the evening.
However, while it may seem impossible now, it absolutely can be done. Your dog can learn to go to sleep when you do and wake up with you the next morning. And after a restful night’s sleep, you’ll both be ready for the day’s adventures!
#1: Consider your dog’s age
Don’t worry – we’ll soon jump into some helpful tips on how to train your dog to sleep through the night. But first, it’s important to lay out the impact of age on doggy sleeping patterns.
Puppies before four months, for instance, may not be able to sleep through the night because their bladders aren’t strong enough to last.
Similarly, senior dogs may need more potty breaks, especially if they’re on specific medication. Some older pups can also experience difficulty sleeping due to chronic pain or cognitive decline. So, while these tips can certainly help make your senior furbaby more comfortable, it’s important to be patient and set reasonable expectations.
#2: Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise
Ever notice that you enjoy a deeper sleep after an extra busy day or an intense gym session? Your dog feels the same way.
That’s why one of the best ways to train your dog to sleep isn’t actually a training tip at all. If you’re able to provide them with enough exercise throughout the day, you might find that they’re already in full snooze by the time you start feeling sleepy.
Something to remember, though, is that it is possible to over-exercise your dog. The key is to find the right balance for your dog’s breed and age so that they’re tired enough to sleep without overdoing it. To learn more, take a look at our article, Are You Exercising Your Dog Too Much?
#3: Create the perfect snooze zone
When it comes to sleep, we have a lot in common with our dogs. We need a cozy bed to curl up—so do our dogs. We need to close the curtains and turn off the lights—our dogs also sleep better in total darkness. We want to drown out all noise—yup, our dogs also like to sleep in silence.
So, the first thing that we want to do is make sure our dogs are sleeping in the ideal environment. They should have their own comfortable bed, or kennel, set up in an area of the house that is quiet and dark. Make sure that you can cover up the windows so that your pup isn’t tempted to play watchdog all night. And, you might choose a room of the house that isn’t right next to the front door.
If your doggo is one to play solo fetch or run around with a squeaky toy all night, you might want to remove these items. Instead, leave your dog with a quiet, relaxing comfort like a chew toy.
#4: Be strategic with meal times
It’s a good idea to feed your dog a few hours before bedtime. There are a few reasons for this.
First off, mealtimes are high energy ordeals. Puppers get excited when they’re about to dig into a human-grade dog meal, and may be ready to play or go for a walk afterwards. Then, as the digestive process starts to work, they relax and get ready to snooze.
About four to six hours after the meal, your doggo may be ready to go out for a bathroom break and settle in for the night. So, feeding around 6 or 7pm is a good time for most families who will go to bed sometime between 10pm and midnight.
On the flip side, you don’t want to feed Fido too early, either. A healthy adult doggo will experience mild hunger signals about 8 to 10 hours after their last meal. Once that tummy really starts grumbling, maybe 10 to 12 hours after their dinner, your pup may feel the urge to wake you up.
We should note that every dog’s digestion is unique. It may take some time to find the right feeding schedule to ensure that your dog is able to sleep through the night without potty breaks or morning wake-up calls.
#5: Go potty right before bed
This tip is one of the simplest and most effective ways to train your dog to sleep through the night. It will prevent them from waking you up in the early morning hours, and make them more comfortable and ready for sleep.
When you take your dog out for the last time, remember to keep the energy low. This isn’t a sprint around the block, which could trigger your dog to think, “play time!”. Instead, it’s a relaxed stroll with the specific intention of going potty.
Make sure that your dog has enough time to relieve themselves completely.
#6: Have a night-time ritual
Dogs are amazing schedule-keepers. They learn to predict when their local Dog Walker will take them out. They keep an eye on their internal clock to know when their beloved Owner will come home from work. And you can teach them to anticipate bedtimes too by setting up a nightly routine.
This should start with about an hour of relaxation before bed. This might mean putting the toys away, save for one calming chew toy. It can mean turning the lights down low and cuddling up on the couch to watch something relaxing or read a book.
And, when it’s time to turn in, lead your pup to their bed and say goodnight. Wait until they are sitting or laying down before going to bed yourself. It may take a couple of tries, and a couple of treats, for the first few nights, but eventually, they’ll come to anticipate this nightly ritual.
Don’t be surprised if your sleep improves with your nighttime routine! We can all benefit from a little relaxation before bed.
#7: Ignore your dog when they try waking you up
To be sure, your dog may try to wake you up as they adjust to the new sleeping routine. And, they might have learned that the more ruckus they make, the more likely you are to wake up. This attention-seeking behaviour can create a hard-to-break loop.
So, as much as you can, try to ignore your dog when they are making noise at night. If possible, keep them out of your room to send the message that you’re not available.
If you can’t ignore them completely, or you feel that your dog might hurt themselves in their distressed state, you can get up and lead them back to their bed. Don’t yell or punish your dog – otherwise, they’ll likely become more agitated.
Something to remember when you train your dog to sleep through the night is that the process can take time. Your dog will eventually learn that they cannot get your attention by playing, whining, or howling at night. But, it may take a few uncomfortable nights.
#8: Consult your vet
If you feel that you’ve tried everything, or that your dog isn’t sleeping because they’re in pain or sick, make sure to check in with your vet.
They may be able to prescribe appropriate medication or give you personalised tips to make your dog more comfortable.
You can look forward to a future of good sleep when you train your dog to sleep through the night!
The next few months will take repetition, consistency, and a good deal of patience. But once you’ve learned to train your dog to sleep through the night, you’ll both wake up happy and ready to take on the day!