Establishing a night time routine for our dogs isn’t easy. It is too appealing for some dogs to come and seek company or try and play if they wake up in the middle of the night. Ideally, they will sleep through the night with a great routine that keeps them healthy and well-rested. It can be particularly hard if you have a puppy to get them to sleep through the night. But help is at hand with our 10 tips
You need to create a night time routine and apply positive and patient effort to get the best results. This means establishing a pattern of feeding and toilet times, as well as a regular bedtime, all within the same bedroom area. Make it somewhere they want to be and create a strong boundary with your own bedroom.
10 ways to help your puppy or dog sleep at night
1) Where should my dog sleep at night time?
First and foremost, your pet needs to have their own “bedroom” so they know where to sleep. Whether this is a crate in the kitchen or a dog bed in the lounge is entirely up to you. The important thing is that this area remains the same and becomes a safe space that your pet can associate with a comfortable and soothing night’s sleep.
2) Create boundaries between your sleeping space and theirs.
At the same time, you need to ensure that there is no desire for your dog to come into your room instead. Dogs that have free reign in the home may associate your room with comfort and positive experiences, which in turn makes them want to sleep there. They may also have some issues with separation where they prefer to be near you. The sooner you keep the bedroom off-limits, the better.
3) Don’t start out by allowing them to sleep on your bed.
This also means making sure that your dog never spends any time sleeping in your bed when they are a puppy. This can be difficult for some dog owners that want to keep an eye on their pet and be overly nurturing. However, this only leads to a strong association between sleep and a human bed. Dogs without this association should sleep through the night more easily.
4) Make sure that they associate their space with a positive experience.
Dogs need to want to be in that bedtime area of the home. The worst thing that you can do is carry them into a stark crate or place them on an uncomfortable bed. They may associate the act with a punishment. Instead, they need to want to be in that bed at night. This means somewhere that is warm and smells good, with soft bedding and some favourite toys around them. Let them go them under their own free will. You may have to encourage them with a treat to start with, however.
5) Give them their last meal at least 3 hours before bed.
We know ourselves that when we eat too close to bedtime, we can have a lighter sleep or an interrupted night. It is always better to let the food digest and the stomach settle. The same is true for dogs. So, try and make sure that their last meal of the day is around 3 hours prior to bedtime to help them sleep more soundly.
6) Take them to the toilet before they sleep.
On a related note to the point above, you need to be sure that your dog isn’t going to wake in the night with a desire to relieve themselves. This can be more difficult with puppies and older dogs. But, if you may sure to take them outside right before bedtime, there is less chance of them waking up and coming to find you.
7) Make sure to tire them out to help them sleep better.
This is important, especially if you have a dog that is typically full of energy or is a puppy. Dogs that are still wide awake with energy to burn are more inclined to get up to try and play or explore the home. Tired dogs will want to rest in bed and sleep through the night. So, either schedule a walk close to bedtime or take some time to play fetch in the garden. Sniffing is a great activity for rainy days which is where a snuffle mat works well.
8) Consider some herbal aids.
Herbal aids are great if your dog has trouble getting to sleep during storms or other stressful situations. Dogs with sleep deprivation and poor sleep patterns may need this additional helping hand. Prime examples include dogs that struggle to sleep when there are fireworks, thunderstorms, or if there has been some disruption to their lifestyle. For example, dogs may struggle to settle into a new sleeping area and routine after moving house. Always use herbal solutions rather than pharmaceutical sedatives as they are much safer.
9) Create a routine and stick with it.
Whatever you choose to do regarding all the steps above, it is important to remain consistent with it. That means setting up the bedroom area and keeping it the same. There is no point messing around with your dog’s safe space because you will only confuse them. Also, a regular feeding time, toilet time, bedtime and wake-up time should offer structure and comfort to dogs. Adaptations to this could become stressful
10) Be patient and give them time.
Changes to a dog’s sleeping patterns and quality of sleep won’t happen overnight. They may take some time to get used to a new sleeping area, a new bed, or a new schedule. Also, some dogs will take longer to adapt than others.
The most important thing to do here is to remain patient and let them settle in their own time. Keep reassuring them and helping them along the way. For example, if they settle in their bed with no fuss one night, tell them that they are a good boy/girl and show that you appreciate the effort. You can also make a big fuss when they sleep through the night for the first time.
Tips on how to get your dog to sleep through the night
While it may seem like a difficult task at first, don’t give up hope. Your dog will slowly start to associate their new, comfortable bed with a positive experience and they will learn to sleep through the night.