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How to Train Your Dog to Sleep Later

How to Train Your Dog to Sleep Later
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon3-6 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

There’s nothing quite like a nice weekend after a long and stressful work week. You may love your leisure weekends; sleeping in on Saturdays and Sundays, even if just for a bit, helps to bring a newfound sense of rejuvenation to your mind. Maybe you keep trying to sleep in on the weekends, but your dog won’t let you. Animals are often a creature of habit. They don’t need a watch to know when to expect you to be home from work, especially if you arrive home about the same time each day. If you feed your dog at five o’clock every day, your dog can probably tell you when it is five o’clock faster than it will take you to glance at a clock. The same applies to waking in the mornings. If your dog is an early riser during the week with you, he won’t often know the difference between a Friday workday and a Saturday sleep-in day. 

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Defining Tasks

There are many reasons for wanting to train your dog to sleep later, from semi-annual time changes to changes in your schedule or even a new dog who is simply an early riser. But no matter the reason, training your dog to sleep later is something you and your dog can work on together. Changing habits takes time, even for dogs. You may start by feeding your dog dinner at a different time, or setting an example and heading to bed later yourself. Learning to ignore your dog will be imperative in retraining him to sleep in a bit later. Sure, you’ll probably be awake and frustrated or annoyed because he woke you, but give it some time. Your dog will learn from being ignored. If you live in an area where the time changes twice a year, you may have to set aside a few days to help your dog adjust to the new time just as your body adjusts. Any dog can be trained to sleep later. It will just require time and a bit of patience.

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Getting Started

Be prepared with a schedule you’d like your dog to follow. Even getting him to sleep in on certain days such as days you are off work is possible, especially if they are the same days each week like weekends or every Wednesday. You may want to have some treats near your bed so you can toss your dog a reward for staying in bed. This kind of training may be easier if your dog is in your bedroom with you. If he can get close to you, it may be easier to provide quick comfort before spending the rest of the morning ignoring him rather than having him in another room barking for you. 

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The Crate Method

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3 Votes

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Most Recommended

3 Votes

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1

Bed introduction

Introduce your dog to his crate bed.

2

Bed time

Put him in the crate after he’s eaten his dinner and gone potty outside. Give him a treat and bid him good night.

3

Eye contact

Make eye contact with him before you go to bed. Quietly tell him good night and go to bed yourself.

4

Whining

He may whine at first. Ignore him. He will settle down.

5

Environment

Create an environment for sleeping. With the right temperature, white noise, and no distractions, drift off to sleep with your dog in the crate.

6

Early morning

When he wakes early, ignore him. Do not make eye contact at this time. If he sees you awake, he will think it’s time to wake. If you interact with him in the early morning hours, he will learn to wake you this way.

7

Wake your dog

Wake your dog and take him out of his crate when you are ready. Give him lots of love and a trip outside. You can even start his morning off with a treat.

The Varying Day Method

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1

Three meals

Give your dog three meals a day, splitting the amount he usually gets for breakfast and dinner into a breakfast meal, a dinner meal, and a late snack. Schedules these for the same time every day.

2

Exercise

Help your dog get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. If you can do this at different times during the day so your dog's body doesn't get used to exercising at a certain time, it may help him sleep better at night. Evening exercise may wear him out more before bedtime than morning exercise will.

3

Sleep ready

Create a space ready for your dog to sleep in. This should include a soft, comfortable bed for him to sleep. You may want to consider investing in blackout curtains to keep sunlight from coming in early in the morning and waking your dog.

4

Break the habit

Especially during times of change, such as clocks changing back or moving forward, you will need to help your dog adjust and break the habit of waking too early. You can use an alarm to wake your dog in the morning. Each day, set this alarm 15 minutes later than he normally wakes. Over time, he might get used to the new time, especially if he is in your room and can hear the alarm.

5

White noise

Turn on a ceiling or standing fan or create white noise to help your dog sleep longer. This may help you sleep in as well.

6

If your dog wakes

Ignore him. If you must get up, do not feed him until you are ready to be awake. This will, over time, discourage an early waking.

The Ease Into It Method

Least Recommended

1 Vote

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1 Vote

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1

Meals

Move your dog’s last meal back by about fifteen minutes a day until he’s eating at the desired time. This is ideal for getting your dog adjusted to daylight savings time changes. After fours days, you could have your dog’s dinner meal pushed back an hour.

2

Evening exercise

Tire your dog out by taking an after dinner walk or playing fetch in the backyard. Making time for your dog to exercise more during the day will help tire him out by bedtime.

3

Cool and comfy

Provide your dog with a comfortable place to sleep so he is likely to stay there longer.

4

Go potty

As late as possible, take your dog outside to go potty so he can better sleep through the night.

5

Routine

Give your dog a bedtime routine. You can start with a trip outside and then give your dog a small treat while you ready the house for night time. Most dogs will know it’s time for bed because their owners start a routine such as turning off lights and locking doors. This is the time to give your dog a new 'go to bed' command.

6

Bedtime

Walk your dog to his bed using a command to 'get to bed'. Give him a treat once he’s settled down.

7

Redirect

It may take a few nights, but if your dog gets out of bed, walk him back to his bed and use the command to tell him it’s bedtime.

8

Ignore

If your dog wakes early and whines or tries to get your attention, ignore him. You might be awake and even irritated if he’s bothering you, but if you jump up and tend to him, you’ll just teach him to be your alarm clock. Be persistent. Try to go back to sleep. Even if you cannot, ignore him until you are ready to be up and about.

9

Practice

It’ll take time, but as long as you create a bedtime routine, fill your dog’s belly, give him exercise, and ignore his attempts to wake you, your dog can learn to sleep in with you and wake with you.

Written by Stephanie Plummer

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 11/03/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Tucker

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Black Lab

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Six Months

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Question

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My puppy gets up at 5:30 on the dot. He does great in the kennel up till that point. Most times he doesn't even have to go to bathroom seems like he is now in a routine of 5:30. He will not go back in the kennel after that. We try and let him cry for 10 minutes or so but he will not stop crying. We don't know what to do as we cannot keep up with this 5:30 am time.

July 12, 2023

Tucker's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, First, at this age pup likely really does need to go potty at that time at least some of the times, once awake. Once they start sleeping longer, they should be able to hold it longer though. I suggest taking pup potty on leash when they wake then if it's been at least seven hours since they last went potty outside. Keep the trip calm and boring - no play or treats, then right back to the crate after they go. Once you know their bladder is empty, then doing what I am about to suggest below will be far more likely to be effective When you return them to the crate, you have three options at this age. 1. You can either ignore pup barking until 7/8/9 (whenever you normally want to get up) - which will probably mean an hour of barking for a few days until pup learns to just go back to sleep until breakfast, when they go into light sleep and begin to wake at 5:30am rather than waking fully. Ten minutes will not be long enough to let pup cry it out for this to work, expect an hour of crying without giving in, once pup's bladder is empty from being taken potty, for about a week, for pup to learn this lesson. If you can't be consistent to do so, don't attempt this lesson or pup will just learn to bark for longer if you give in and let them out (this is why a potty trip at first is important - so you know there isn't a legitimate need like needing to pee, that can't be ignored). 2. Another option is to stuff 1 or 2 kongs with puppy food and freeze the night before, and give pup that in the crate for a few weeks, until they are old enough to not need to 5:30am potty trip, then you will need to ignore/correct the crying later, once pup is older and can be expected to sleep through. Pup is either old enough now to not need that early wake up or will be old enough in another month or so, so this option would only be temporary for an older puppy. To stuff a kong you can either place pup's dry dog food loosely in it and cover 1/2 of the opening with a larger treat - so the dog food will dispense more slowly, or place pup's food in a bowl, cover with water, let sit out until the food turns to mush, mix the mush with a little liver paste, treat paste, or peanut butte (avoid xylitol! - it's extremely toxic to dogs and a common sweetener substitute), place a straw through the kong's holes, loosely stuff the kong with the mush, place in a baggie, and free overnight. Remove the straw before giving pup and grab the kong from the freezer as needed - for a time-released treat. 3. The third option is to correct the crying once you return pup to the crate after the potty trip. 5 months is usually the earliest I would recommend doing this, so it can be done now or you can wait just a little bit longer if you use the Kong solution for a bit. To correct pup, first, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever he cries. When he cries at night or early morning, after you take pup potty and return them to the crate, or pup cries before 4-5 hours (so you know it's not a potty issue), tell him Quiet, and correct with the pet convincer if he doesn't become quiet and stay quiet. Don't give treats at night/morning though - practice during the day proactively to help pup learn that quiet is good, since you don't want to encourage pup to stay awake in the early morning, but to go back to sleep instead. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 17, 2023

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Milo

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Cavoodle

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Three Months

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Question

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Hello, My pup will sleep in my bed with me as during the day he’s mainly in the crate while I’m at work. The mornings are my main concern though because he will wake up on the dot at 5am every morning and I will take him for a potty break and bring him straight back to bed but he will howl and cry for the next hour until 6 when my dad gets up for work and will normally feed him. What can I do to make him sleep in with me especially on weekends as he’ll do the same thing but my dad won’t be awake until 9am on weekends. I really want him to be able to wake up when I wake up.

June 5, 2023

Milo's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, When you take him potty in the early morning, are you returning him to your bed or the crate? First, I would return him to the crate instead of bed at that hour if you are not already. Second, I would pay attention to his evening schedule and make sure that he is not sleeping for longer than one hour at a time, so his evening sleep are naps and not part of his total night sleep. Third, since he is young enough that he will continue to need an early morning potty trip for a little bit longer, you can also try giving him a dog food stuffed kong to work on while in the crate to keep him quiet. Sometimes puppies will wear themselves out chewing and go back to sleep after an hour of working on the toy. You may still need to do stricter training again to address early morning waking if he doesn't begin to sleep longer on his own, once he is old enough to hold his bladder for longer overnight, but often the use of a frozen dog food stuffed kong can buy you some extra sleep and will sometimes also teach pup to settle again better in the mornings. To stuff a kong you can either place pup's dry dog food loosely in it and cover 1/2 of the opening with a larger treat - so the dog food will dispense more slowly, or place pup's food in a bowl, cover with water, let sit out until the food turns to mush, mix the mush with a little liver paste, treat paste, or peanut butter (avoid xylitol! - it's extremely toxic to dogs and a common sweetener substitute), place a straw through the kong's holes, loosely stuff the kong with the mush, place in a baggie, and freeze overnight. Remove the straw before giving pup and grab the kong from the freezer as needed - for a time-released treat. You can also purchase several durable hollow chew toys and stuff them at the same time so that you have a stash in the freezer to grab from as needed. To keep pup busy and wear them out more in the morning, I recommend a frozen kong. You can prepare a few for the week, place them in the freezer, then simply grab one from the freezer in the early morning on your way back upstairs after taking pup potty. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 6, 2023


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