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Sometimes it might feel like your puppy sleeps all the time. And you aren’t wrong — in the first months of their lives, puppies need to sleep between 15-20 hours a day depending on their breed.
This will reduce to around 12-14 hours a day when they are fully grown.
But when they need all that sleep, why is it that they never seem to want to sleep when you are sleeping and instead do their best to keep you up all night?
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the reasons that your pup might be having trouble sleeping through the night and what you can do about it.
SPOILER ALERT: Like with most things, getting your dog to have a restful night (and let you have one as well) is a matter of training!
How Much Sleep Do Dogs Need?
Before jumping in, let’s answer that burning question: How much sleep do dogs actually need? Should you be worried that they spend so much of their time sleeping? The answer is almost certainly no!
Puppies up to around the age of six months need lots of sleep. Depending on their breed, they can need anywhere between 15 and 20 hours a day. As a general rule, bigger dogs will sleep more than smaller dogs in every stage of their lives.
Once your pup settles into adulthood, they will need quite a bit less sleep, but they will still need 12-14 hours a day, which is a lot more than you.
As your dog starts to age, you can expect them to need more sleep again. As they enter their senior years, expect them to sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day.
If your dog isn’t getting enough sleep, it can manifest in irritability, much like it does in humans. They might have more of a tendency to nip and bark.
They can also become lethargic and uncoordinated. This is because they are tired, but they will still refuse to go to sleep.
If you are worried about your dog sleeping too much, you should look out for changes in their sleep patterns.
You should only really be concerned if they suddenly start sleeping more than usual.
Why Isn’t My Puppy Sleeping Through The Night?
Considering how much sleep dogs (especially puppies) need, it can be surprising when they don’t sleep through the night and instead spend the time howling, crying, scratching at doors, and otherwise preventing everyone else in the house from sleeping as well.
There are a variety of reasons why your puppy might not be able to sleep through the night. Below are the most common.
Their sleep schedule simply hasn’t synced up with yours yet, and they are sleeping more during the day and less at night.
They have recently been removed from the comfort of their mother and their littermates. This causes them anxiety, so they can’t relax. This can be especially bad at night when they might be more isolated and feel like no one is around.
They are still uncertain about their new surroundings and the different sights and smells. Again, this means that they are either too scared or excited to be able to relax at night.
Young puppies have small bladders, so they are likely to wake up in the night needing to pee! Instinctively, they won’t want to soil their bed, so they might complain if they don’t have anywhere to go.
You can read our guide to what to expect from your puppy’s first night at home here.
How To Train Your Puppy To Sleep Through The Night
The best way to encourage your puppy to sleep through the night will depend on why they aren’t sleeping. For example, if it is just a case of missing their littermates or being uncertain in their new home, this is something that only time can solve.
Most puppies should be comfortably sleeping through the night by around four months old. So if they are younger than that, you don’t need to start panicking just yet.
Below are some of the best things that you can do to help your pup sleep.
1. Burn Off Energy
Just like with kids, tired puppies sleep better. If they struggle to sleep at night, consider wearing them out in the late afternoon or early evening with lots of mentally stimulating, energy-burning play.
This will prime them to be ready for a good night’s sleep.
PRO TIP: Remember, you need to tire your puppy out both physically and mentally. Taking your dog for a 30+ minute walk plus an additional 30+ minutes of obedience training will tire out most dogs.
2. Establish A Routine
Dogs thrive in routine, and once they get into a routine, it can be hard to break. If they have become used to sleeping during the day and staying up at night, they will want to continue doing that in their new home.
Establish a routine for feeding, exercise, and play that will encourage them to spend more of the day awake so that they will feel more inclined to sleep at night.
Also bear in mind that your routine will affect theirs. If you insist on having loud house parties all night when your dog is still adjusting to their new home, it is going to take them longer to adapt.
3. Time The Last Feed
One of the main reasons that puppies will wake up during the night and start making a fuss is because they need to go to the bathroom. To ensure against this, make sure their last feed (and drink) is three to four hours before you want them to get tucked up in bed.
This gives them a window to eat, digest, and do their business before everyone wants to turn in for the night.
No, it is not cruel to deprive your dog of water to drink late in the evening. If they have been drinking all day and are sufficiently hydrated, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Of course, make sure you take your puppy for a bathroom break before they fall asleep. As part of their potty training, they should be encouraged to go when the opportunity is available, so if they don’t seem to want to, give them some gentle encouragement.
4. Don’t Respond To Crying Immediately
While they say you shouldn’t let a baby cry, the same is not true for puppies. Dogs principally learn through positive reinforcement.
They learn that X action will invoke Y consequence. So if they start to cry and you wake up and give them attention when they want attention, they will continue to cry.
Of course, if your dog is in distress, you don’t want to leave them crying. But wait a few minutes to see if they stop on their own rather than jumping up the moment they start to complain.
5. Let Them Sleep Close To You
If your dog is feeling anxious, they might get a better night’s sleep if they are close to you.
Many people choose to let their dogs sleep in their beds, but you might not be at that stage if they aren’t fully potty trained yet. If you are using a crate as an intermediary training technique, put the crate in your room.
Even if you don’t plan on letting your dog sleep in your room in the long term, temporarily placing their crate in your room can help them sleep through the night. Once they have started to develop good sleeping habits, you can then move their crate.
If you don’t want your dog in your room at night for some reason, you can give them a piece of your clothing to sleep with to help them feel closer to you. Be sure to give them something that you have recently worn rather than a piece that is freshly laundered.
6. Make Sure Their Sleep Environment Is Inviting
If you have ever slept in a hotel with an uncomfortable bed, you know that it can keep you up at night. Unfortunately, your dog can’t tell you if they don’t really like their bed.
However, if they prefer to sleep anywhere but their bed, this is a pretty good sign that something isn’t right. Try rearranging their bed space so that it is more comfortable for them.
Also, consider things like temperature. Despite having that coat, dogs can still get cold, and this can make it difficult for them to sleep. They might also struggle to sleep when it is hot and abandon their bed to look for a cool place to lie down.
Keep noise and lights at a minimum before bedtime as well. There is plenty of research into how cell phones and TVs interfere with the human sleep cycle. Excessive audio and visual stimuli can make it difficult for your dog to sleep at night as well.
7. Use Soothing Scents
If your puppy is having serious problems settling down at night even after all your efforts, you might consider using some dog-appeasing pheromones to help your puppy feel secure and calm and therefore able to sleep.
These pheromones are meant to mimic the ones that a mother emits when nursing her pups. They are very effective at calming many puppies, but not all. But if you are at the end of your rope, you have nothing to lose by trying.
There are a variety of different pheromone options available including both diffusers and collars. You can put a diffuser in their sleep area or spray some of the pheromones into their bedding before it is time to turn in.
8. Prepare For Early Mornings
If your dog does put their head down at 10 pm, they are likely to wake up full of energy and wanting attention (and the bathroom) at 6 am.
Getting up a bit earlier might just be part of life until your dog is fully toilet trained. It might even be an opportunity for you to get started earlier in the morning.
If you really can’t face getting up in the morning, make sure your puppy is confined in a space where they will have somewhere to do their business on their own, perhaps with access to a pee pad.
Should You Let Your Dog Sleep In Your Bed?
The community is definitively divided when it comes to the issue of whether or not you should let your dog sleep in your bed with you or one of your other family members. It is really a judgment call that you will have to make.
There is good evidence that sharing a bed can help you bond with your dog and deepen your relationship, and it also might add years to your life, especially if you otherwise sleep alone.
It can also reduce stress as dogs have a positive calming influence on our brain during the night.
However, there are also concerns. Your dog can bring dirt and diseases into your bed. For example, you might find ant ticks that your dog has picked off deciding to give you a taste.
There is also the chance that you could move in your sleep in a way that could injure your dog. Or it could startle them, and they might give you an involuntary nip.
You need to weigh how big the risks are against the benefits of being able to share your bed with your dog. But if you are going to let them sleep in your bed, make sure that they are clean and well-groomed.
FULL DISCLOSURE: We let Linus and Stetson sleep in our bed but since they passed away we haven’t let Raven or Elsa sleep in the bed.
Why? Since the kids were about 2 years old they started crawling in to our bed in the middle of the night. We are/were worried one of the dogs might accidentally knock them off the bed.
Also, it’s pretty tough to sleep with two adults, three chidlren, and two dogs in a bed. We need a double king-size bed 🙂
How can I make my dog sleepy?
Making dogs sleepy is quite similar to making humans (adults and children) sleepy.
First, you need to burn off energy through exercise and play, and then you need to put them in a soothing environment that is not overly stimulating and also feels safe so that they can relax and let sleep come naturally.
How can I stop my puppy from crying at night?
If your puppy is crying at night because they genuinely need something (like the bathroom), you should give them what they need. You can then make changes to their eating and drinking schedule so that they are less likely to need to go at night.
If they are crying simply for attention, you should try ignoring them for a few minutes to see if they stop. If you tend to them as soon as they start crying, they will learn that this is an effective way to get your attention.
Of course, you don’t want to leave a puppy crying for too long, as this can just make them feel unsafe.
Do puppies fight sleep?
Puppies are very much like toddlers in that they will sometimes fight sleep even though they are incredibly tried.
This often stems from a place of not wanting to miss out on something or wanting to exert some limited control. The best thing you can do is limit all stimulation while they are in this state so that they realize that sleep is their best option right now.
Does music put dogs to sleep?
Some studies have shown that some types of music can help dogs sleep. Classical music, reggae, and soft rock are among the most effective.
Use your judgment — if you find the music relaxing, your dog probably will as well. But something more upbeat or jarring is likely to keep them awake.
We play music for our dogs but it’s more to drawn out outside noise as much as possible.
The rhythm of music calms our dogs more then the on and off sounds happening outside the walls of a house like gardeners, UPS guy, door bells, neighbors, parties, children playing etc.
Considering just how much time puppies spend sleeping, it can be frustrating and difficult to understand why they don’t want to sleep through the night.
There can be a variety of reasons why they feel the need to wake up at night and wake you up as well. But the main reason is usually that they are not yet comfortable in their new environment or they just aren’t used to sleeping at that time.
This means that the problem can be easily solved by making your dog feel safe in their environment, providing them with a routine, and training them that night is the right time to sleep.
You usually shouldn’t be worried if your puppy can’t sleep at night as this is very normal for dogs until they are about four months old. This could also last longer depending on the individual dog and their situation.
If you have tried everything on our list and your dog still can’t sleep at night, it is probably time to speak to your vet to see if there is something more serious going on with your dog.
Do you have experience with a puppy that is restless at night?
Share your thoughts with the community in the comments section below.
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