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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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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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

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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.

By Stephanie Plummer

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

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Odin

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English Setter

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Six Years

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Question

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We recently adopted my dad’s dog and they used to walk at (or before) 7am. We are trying to push morning walks to 7:30. However, our dog wakes up around 6:30 every morning and is loudly whimpering and banging on the door downstairs (he is not allowed upstairs where the bedroom is, partly because the staircase is too steep for him). I’ve tried to ignore him but so far there’s no result. Not sure what would be the best way to gently push him towards waking later, and staying calm till we go downstairs, any tips?

Aug. 14, 2022

Odin's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Is the area he is sleeping getting light at 6:30am with the sun? It may be the sun that's letting his body know its time to wakeup. If that's the case, having pup sleep somewhere that gets less light in the early morning may help push back pup's schedule. I would also pay attention to what time pup s going to sleep at night in the evening. Even if pup isn't being put to bed until you go to bed, often a dog will go to sleep earlier in the evening somewhere like the den. Naps are fine, but it pup is sleeping for longer than an hour at a time in the evening, try keeping pup up until the official bedtime by giving something like a dog food stuffed kong or other fun activity to practice before bed - just don't give too much food so they don't need to poop - something they have to work at getting a little bit out at a time. Even if pup wakes up early, I would also withhold breakfast until it's the time you want pup to begin waking up at - like 7:30am. You can't control when they wake up immediately, but you can move pup that direction gradually, address how they behave once awake, and ensure that their internal food clock it's continuing to wake them early because their stomach expects food at that early time. I would also work on teaching the Quiet command during daytime hours so that that can be used to address the demanding behavior when needed in the early morning, or at other times pup may bark or whine Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark I would work on bedtime, breakfast schedule, darkening the room, and teaching Quiet, while also continuing to ignore the barking for a couple more days - it will take up to a week of ignoring it, as long as you don't have neighbors who will complain to a landlord, like in an apartment. If pup doesn't improve, then you can also correct the barking. I would try changing what I mentioned above for a few days first though if you want to go the gentlest route you can. If things don't improve, you can submit a new comment to me with the latest update on what you have tried and how pup is doing, for additional steps on using a correction. Once pup isn't getting what they want when they wake in the early morning, most dogs will start going back to sleep when they wake too early, allowing them to hold their bladder and not need that early potty trip also. You may have to take pup potty on a leash - keeping things as boring as possible with on treats or breakfast or play or excited talking, then returning pup to the sleeping area and leaving pup there until 7:30am - so that they whining is only due to wanting attention and food, and not needing to go potty, and it will be easier for you to outlast pup until they learn how to go back to sleep when they wake early. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Aug. 15, 2022

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Tessa

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Miniature Goldendoodle

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12 Weeks

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Wakes up at 4:30 every am. I take her out. When I put her back in her crate she literally screams, it’s way worse than just whining. It’s the only time she does this. I ant get her to sleep past 4:30

May 12, 2022

Tessa's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Rosie, 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 the screaming for a few days until pup learns to just go back to sleep until breakfast, and gradually begins to sleep longer and not need that 4:30am potty trip as their bladder capacity increases. (Your housing and roommates/family schedule and some ear plugs will effect whether you can do this probably). 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 4:30am potty trip, then you will need to ignore/correct the crying later, once pup is older and can be expected to sleep through. 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 unless you can't do the above two options due to your housing situation. If you use something like the kong solution, then once pup is a bit older when you get ready to phase out the kong (if pup doesn't start sleeping through that time without the kong on their own before then), you can use this solution. 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 she 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 her 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 she cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If she gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if she stays quiet. If she continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at her 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 she cries. When she 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 her Quiet, and correct with the pet convincer if she 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. I would practice the Surprise method from the article linked above also, regardless of what you choose to do in the early morning. That method can help pup get used to the crate sooner in general, so pup will protest less when not tired too. If pup isn't practicing crate training during the day, practice during the day, in addition to pup sleeping there at night since pup's acceptance of the crate when sleepy versus awake will be different. Make sure pup isn't falling asleep for more than an hour at a time in the evening too. If pup starts their night sleep at 7pm and sleeps in the den all evening, pup might be ready to start their day super early. Giving pup a dog food stuffed kong to work on between naps and playing with pup some between their 45 minute naps can help pup view the evening as nap and play time and not get into as much deep sleep too soon. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 13, 2022


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