How to Train a Labrador Puppy to Sleep Through the Night

Medium
5-14 Days
General

Introduction

You thought babies were cute, but Labrador puppies take adorable to a whole new level. Even the grumpiest of neighbors can’t help but come over to say hello and give him a pat. He’s swiftly brought the whole family together. In fact, instead of watching TV in different rooms, you’re all spending your evenings together petting him. However, when night time comes so does trouble. He simply can’t sleep through the night. You’re woken up by him crying every hour or so until you eventually give in and let him join you.

Training your Labrador puppy to sleep through the night is essential. If you don’t, he may find it far harder to spend time away from you when he grows up. If he develops separation anxiety then leaving him to go work each day will be incredibly tough on him. 

Defining Tasks

Training any puppy to sleep through the night can be challenging to start with and Labradors are no exception. However, because Labradors are intelligent and fast learners, you could see results in a relatively short space of time. Training will consist of getting him into a regular bed time routine. You will also need to make his bed as appealing as possible. On top of that, you’ll need to ensure all his physical and emotional needs are met each day, so he’s ready to spend the night without you.

If he’s brave and relatively independent then you could see results in just a few days. If he’s fairly needy, then he may need a couple of weeks to get the hang of it. Succeed and he will be well rested when you wake up each morning and he will leave you to sleep undisturbed.

Getting Started

Before you start training, you will need to gather a few bits. A comfy bed with some soft blankets will be needed. A toy or two will also come in handy, as will food puzzles. In addition, stock up on treats or break his favorite food into small pieces.

Set aside a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day to get him into his new routine. 

Once you have all that, just bring willpower and some earplugs, then work can begin!

The Routine Method

ribbon-method-1
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Step
1
New bed
Make sure his bed or crate is in the right location. It needs to be somewhere relatively secluded to afford him some privacy. Two or three walls around him would be ideal. Also, make sure there are blankets to make it a comfy place that he’d want to spend time in.
Step
2
Good night
When evening comes, spend a couple of minutes gently stroking him and getting him calm. It’s important he gets this each evening before bed. It will settle him into a good night routine.
Step
3
Good morning
When you wake up in the morning, again spend a couple of minutes stroking him and saying hello. If he knows you will always come to give him attention each morning and evening he will find it far easier to spend the night away from you.
Step
4
Exercise
Make sure he gets plenty of exercise each day. Labradors are energetic dogs, so if he isn’t getting enough exercise, he may be too awake to sleep through the night. A tired dog won’t have any problem sleeping!
Step
5
Never punish him
It’s important you don’t punish him if he does wake you and can’t sleep through the night. If he becomes scared of you then he may seek your attention even more to try and win back your affection. So, you must calmly remove him or ignore him whenever he does wake you.
Recommend training method?

The Cold Shoulder Method

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Step
1
Door open
To start with, leave the door open and have him sleep in a room relatively close to you. If he knows you’re close by, he’ll find it easier to be left alone each evening. Make sure you also spend a couple of minutes saying good night to him in his bed.
Step
2
Cold shoulder
If he does try and wake you up or moans, ignore him. It may be difficult to start with, especially as Labrador puppies are so cute. But it’s a case of being cruel to be kind.
Step
3
Door ajar
After a couple of days of leaving the door open, move to closing the door a bit more, until it’s just ajar. This is the next step in making him more isolated in the evening. Again if he wakes you up or cries, you must ignore him.
Step
4
Door closed
After a few days of leaving the door ajar, you can now move to closing the door each evening before bed. At this point he will be more comfortable being away from you at night and this last step ensures he can sleep comfortably without you.
Step
5
Remove him
If he comes to you and wakes you each evening, it’s important you calmly remove him from the room and then ignore him. If you give him any attention, you are only teaching him that such behavior will get him what he wants.
Recommend training method?

The Temptation Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
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Step
1
Toys
Spend a few minutes each day playing with toys in his bed. You want to make his bed a fun place that he looks forward to spending time in. You can also leave the toys in his bed overnight. This will make it feel even more like his own private space.
Step
2
Evening treat
Leave a treat in his bed each evening. This is a fantastic way to get him in his bed to start with. He will soon begin to associate his bed with tasty treats and look forward to going there.
Step
3
Morning treat
When you come downstairs in the morning, head over to him and wake him up with another treat. Make sure he gets the treat in the bed. If he knows he will get a treat there each morning, he will soon have an incentive to stay put each night.
Step
4
Toilet
Make sure you take him out to the toilet before bed each evening. Puppies have weak bladders and bowels to start with. He may be waking you up each night because he needs the toilet. So, make sure those needs are tended to.
Step
5
Food puzzles
Try giving him food puzzles in his bed in the day. They will keep him occupied for hours. But more importantly, they will make him associate his bed with food and fun. This will ensure staying there each evening will no longer seem like such a chore.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Lea
Labrador Retriever
4 Months
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Question
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Lea
Labrador Retriever
4 Months

He is walking continually untill he tires , this happened this in the second time

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sairam, First, if pup isn't sleeping in a crate, I would start by crate training pup and crating pup at night. I would skip to the part where the crate door is closed, practicing this proactively during the day. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Did you recently bring pup home? If that's the case, then know that what you are experiencing is completely normal. Pup is getting used to sleeping alone and that's an adjustment. Usually the first five days are the worst. It typically takes about two weeks for most pups to adjust completely; however, you can help that adjustment be as smooth as possible by doing the following. 1. When pup cries but doesn't have to go potty (like after you return them to the crate when they just went potty outside) be consistent about ignoring the crying until they go back to sleep. The more consistent you are the quicker the overall process tends to take even if it's hard to do for the first couple weeks. 2. When pup does truly need to go potty (when it's been at least 3 hours since pup last peed), take pup to go potty outside on a leash to keep pup focused and things calmer. Don't give treats, food, play, or much attention during these trips - boring and sleepy is the goal, then right back to bed after. This helps pup learn to only wake when they truly need to go potty and be able to put themselves back to sleep - helping them start sleeping longer stretches sooner and not ask to go out unless they actually need to potty. Pup will generally need 1 potty trip at night even after trained for a couple months though due to a small bladder. 3. Wait until pup asks to go potty by crying in the crate at night before you take them - opposed to setting an alarm clock, unless pup is having accidents in the crate and not asking to go out. This gives pup the chance to learn to start falling back to sleep when they wake in light sleep if they don't really need to go potty, instead of being woken up all the way when they could have held it a bit longer. 4. Practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked above to help pup get used to crate time during the day too - so that there is less crying at night due to pup adjusting to being alone. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
shiva
Labrador Retriever
1 Month
0 found helpful
Question
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shiva
Labrador Retriever
1 Month

he just sleeps all time not at all active and then wakes up at night which is becoming a headache

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Most puppies are not ready to leave their mother until 7 weeks of age. If pup is only four weeks of age I would speak with your vet about puppies feeding needs. At this age, most puppies are only beginning to wean from their mother's milk, and they sleep a lot around the clock. Pup genuinely needs to eat during the night right now, without it their could be issues with growth. I would reach out to rescue groups in your area who have hand raised rejected puppies. You will need to act as a surrogate mother dog for the next three weeks. Pup may also need to eat gruel instead of hard kibble still, depending on when they were weaned. Gruel is a mixture of puppy kibble and puppy milk replacer formula, that's used to make a mush that puppies eat to help them transition from milk to kibble. Four weeks is when most puppies begin gruel after weaning from mom. I highly recommend reaching out to your vet and looking for those who have hand raised puppies, to get a better idea of how pup needs to be taken care of for the next month. At eight weeks of age pup will be ready to start most of the potty, crate, and obedience training that's typically recommended when you bring a new puppy home. Generally most puppies begin those things when they go home between 7-12 weeks. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Whiskey
Labrador Retriever
1 Month
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Question
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Whiskey
Labrador Retriever
1 Month

Hi, I am not an experienced pet owner. Whiskey is cute but she always sleeps beside me. Even in day time also she sleeps either puting her head on my thigh or on my feet. I try to say her "NO" everytime she comes but she doesn't get it. What should I do? Also I am feeding her with wheat Cerelac in lukewarm water, but she smells a bit. Should I give her some other diet.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Amanpreet, If pup is truly only 4 weeks old it is very normal for pup to need a lot of close contact because she would normally be sleeping on top of siblings and cuddled up. You can try providing her with a warm water bottle (not too hot) wrapped in a towel so it feels warm and soft like another dog or person would. Age should also help as pup becomes more curious and independent, and is ready to start practicing things like crate training close to 2 months of age. As far as diet goes, I would consult your vet about that, since that is more of a medical issue (I am not a vet). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Waylon
Labrador Retriever
8 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Waylon
Labrador Retriever
8 Weeks

He won’t quit winning from the time I put him in to the time I take him out of his cage at night no matter what I do he won’t quit

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kyle, Check out the Surprise method from the article linked below and practice crate training with that method often for 30 minute -1 hour periods during the day to help pup adjust to being alone more quickly. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate At night, ignore any crying unless it has been at least 2 hours since pup last went potty. When it has been at least 2 hours and pup wakes up crying, take pup potty on a leash and keep the trip super boring - no treats, talking, or play, and return them immediately to the crate after they go, ignoring any crying that happens when you return them. Keeping trips boring helps pup learn to only wake at night for potty needs and not play or food, to begin sleeping longer sooner. Pup will need to go potty 1-2 times at night right now at this age, even when fully crate trained, but being consistent, practicing crating during the day, and keeping trips outside boring, can help pup wake less at night, cry less when first crated, and start sleeping through the night sooner as their bladder capacity increases with age. Know that its normal for pup to cry in the first two weeks. The first three nights tend to be the worse, with pup gradually getting better and better after that. Some puppies cry all night, falling asleep when they get too tired, waking up to go potty then starting again. It can make for a long night. I recommend some good ear plugs until pup falls asleep and know that it should get better with practice and consistency. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Power
Labrador Retriever
10 Weeks
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Question
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Power
Labrador Retriever
10 Weeks

Power is a friendly and confident puppy. We socialize her with friends + other dogs as much we can and as safely as we can. She gets plenty of outside time after each nap/ meal and decent play time with toys. And she is fed three meals a day (last meal by 7:30 pm)

We are struggling with getting her to sleep through the night.
Seems Bed time is 11pm to midnight for her right now and she wakes up 2-3 times during the night. When I hear her whimper I turn on the dim light and take her to potty if she needs to or I pet her a couple times then remove my hand. If she whimpers again I give her my slipper for comfort and wait for her to fall back asleep after 30 minutes? My guess is she whimpers for attention if she doesn’t go potty when waking up in the night. Should we make sure she gets more mental stimulation before bed time? Power woke up 2-3 times max for the two nights she has slept in my room with me. No crate. Bed is across from me with blanket and toys. My fiancé and I are experiencing puppy blues and need advice to structure a healthy sleeping routine.

Much thanks in advance!

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, waking 2-3 times a night is not unusual for a pup this age. Power has a small bladder and no doubt does need to empty it. Keep doing what you are doing. Take her out for a pee on the leash, no talking, no playtime, no treat. Just pee and straight back to bed. She'll learn that pee breaks are just for that and nothing else. It's also not unusual for a pup to cry at night at this age - she misses her mom and siblings. You may have to persevere through the whining for a few days or weeks until she gets the idea. But it is very important to determine whether Power needs a pee break; it is not nice to have to hold it. So as you are doing, continue to let her empty her bladder. Don't give her water for 2 hours before bed. You can also place white noise near her to help her sleep (like a fan, but not pointed on her). You can also have her crate in your room for closeness if she's lonely, and as she gets older slowly inch the crate out of the room back to its original place. This means inches only per night - it will take a while but works. Keep up the great work; your puppy will disturb your nights but that is what puppies do! Have fun and enjoy!

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