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You work long hours. You’re up early so you value every minute of precious sleep. You’ve loved having a new dog in your home. He’s got a lovely temperament and the kids love him. However, he disturbs your sleep more than just a little. He seems incapable of sleeping through the night. He wakes up and then he moans and whines until someone comes down to comfort him. You’ve tried letting him sleep in your bed but he still wakes you up periodically throughout the night.
You need to train him to sleep all night before you fall asleep at your desk at work. It will also be good for him. He needs a regular sleeping pattern so he’s not sleeping in the day when everyone wants to play with him and wide awake at night when you’re all asleep.
Training your dog to sleep all night will require considerable patience to begin with, but it’s definitely achievable. You need to set a consistent routine and stick to it religiously. That will require resilience on your part, especially to start with. You’ll need to ignore his cries for attention and take a number of steps to ensure he’s tired when night time comes.
If he’s a puppy he should be growing quickly and needing a lot of sleep anyway. That makes your job easier and you could see results in just a few days. If he’s older and been a restless sleeper for many years then you may need several weeks to cement this new habit. Succeed and you’ll be able to close your eyes at night and not open them until that alarm goes off. You’ll get a delightful, relaxing and undisturbed sleep, finally!
Before training can begin you’ll need to collect a few bits. You’ll need a comfy bed for him in a location where he’ll get plenty of privacy. You’ll also need some treats to motivate him to stay put in the evenings. You may also need his favorite toys.
You’ll need to set aside 15 minutes each day to really tiring him out before bedtime comes. Apart from that, you’ll just need patience and a can-do attitude.
Once you’ve got all that you’re ready to get to work!
The Happy Place Method
If he’s always trying to leave his current bed it may not be very comfy. Try getting him a new bed and filling it with some nice new blankets. You can also put a couple of new toys in there. The more enticing his bed is the more likely he’ll be to stay in it.
Leave a treat in his bed in the evenings. This will encourage him to go in there to start with. Then give him another one in his bed in the morning when you come down. If he starts to associate his bed with food and knows he’ll get a treat in the morning, he’ll have more motivation to stay put.
Don’t punish him
If he does come and wake you, it’s important you don’t shout or punish him. You may only scare him and then he’ll be even more keen to get your attention and the problem could worsen. Simply remove him from the room calmly.
Toilet before bed
Make sure you take him to the toilet before bed each evening. If you come down to accidents then this could well be the problem. He could be waking you up because he’s desperate for the loo.
He could also be waking you because he’s thirsty. Make sure his water bowl is full every evening before you go to bed. Dehydration is not only bad for his health but it could massively disrupt his sleep.
The Routine Method
Food & toilet
You need to set a consistent routine for him each day. This is particularly important if he’s a puppy. If he knows when he’s going to eat and go to the toilet each day his body clock will configure around that.
You must give him enough exercise. Many dogs don’t sleep because they’re restless and full of energy. Give him an extra walk before bed time or a longer walk during the day. Alternatively, take him out and throw a ball for 15 minutes before bed. The short sprinting will quickly tire him out, making it easier for him to sleep through the night.
Give him time
If he’s a puppy, you need to give him time to adjust. Most dogs need several weeks to fully feel at home. So, don’t be too worried if he’s not sleeping through the night to start with. Be patient and you’ll see results.
Good night & morning
Before you go to bed, take him to his bed and calmly stroke him for a few minutes. Then say "good night" and go to bed. In the morning, spend a couple of minutes stroking him and saying "good morning". This will help build a routine and re-assure him that you’ll be back with him soon.
Set aside at least 15 minutes each day solely for playing with him. The not sleeping may be attention-seeking behavior. If you ensure you give him enough during the day he may be more content sleeping at night.
The Environment Method
Look for disruptions
Are there any external factors that could be preventing him from sleeping throughout the night? Are neighbors regularly making noise? Do you have guests staying downstairs near his bed? Are there any other loud noises that could be waking him?
Move his bed
It could be that the current location of his bed is not conducive to a good night's sleep. Move his bed to somewhere where he has walls around him and a considerable amount of privacy. If he’s secluded he’ll find it easier to sleep undisturbed.
Don’t pander to his needs throughout the night. You need to make sure you ignore his pleas for attention if he wakes you. If he knows you’ll respond to him he’ll be more likely to pester you again. So, shut the door at night time and leave it shut until the morning.
Consider medical problems
If he’s older this is particularly important. If none of the other steps are working it’s worth taking him to a vet. He could have developed joint pain, for example, that’s keeping him up and leaving him in considerable pain and discomfort.
Consider other factors
Have you recently moved? Has someone in the home recently moved away? All these factors can cause him to have separation anxiety and may make sleeping a struggle. If this is the case, give him plenty of attention in the day and give him time. He’ll eventually get through it.
By James Barra
Published: 12/06/2017, edited: 01/08/2021