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

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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

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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
Milly
Labrador Retriever
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Milly
Labrador Retriever
2 Months

I need some help! We have had our sweet Milly for 4 days. Friday she will be 2 months old. We are crate training her, she loves to go in and out of her crate throughout the day and will even sleep inside it on her own. At night we let her out then put her in her crate by my bed, cover it up with a blanket. She will cry for about 20 to 30 mins then falls asleep. She cries just about every 3 hours so I get her and take her out to potty then put her back in the crate. She cries again for about 30 mins. I am exhausted!! What can I do to help her sleep longer and not cry once I put her in her crate? Also the science diet food I am feeding her suggests that I feed her 1 1/8 cup a day. She doesnt seem satisfied. She runs to her bowl of water and food throughout the day acting like she is hungry. What amount do you recommend?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello Leslie, I suggest looking up the recommended feeding amounts for her age and weight in other dog foods brands, and perhaps feeding her more based on the general recommendations for those brands also. At 2 months of age my now 75 lb dog ate around 2 cups, and later 3 1/2- 4 cups by 4 months I believe. As a Labrador, your puppy will likely be a litter smaller, but metabolisms vary and the recommended feeding amounts are simply recommendations. Those foods will be formulate differently, so those recommendations will not be perfect for your puppy but that can give you an idea of what is normal. Many dog food brands base recommendations on expected adult size and not current weight, because if your puppy is underweight or overweight the recommended puppy amount will be off if it is based on current weight. Science Diet seems to base this amount on current weight, the way they would for an adult dog. Increase the food a bit if you feel she needs it, especially since she might be in a growth spurt, but watch her weight. You should be able to easily feel her ribs when you run your hands across and she should have a slight tuck up at her belly to be ideal weight and not overweight. Her spin, ribs, and hip bones should not protrude, and the tuck-up should not be extreme, or she is underweight. Also, first make sure that you are feeding her three times a day, splitting the food into three meals instead of two, because she might be getting enough calories but her blood sugar and metabolism is metabolizing the food between meals too fast. That can make her hungrier. Puppies need to eat more often while they are under four months of age. If you are offering her water at least four times per day, then she might be asking for water just for fun. Many puppies are obsessed with water and not good at knowing when they are full. For the crying, unfortunately she still needs more time to get used to the crate. It typically takes about two weeks for a puppy to acclimate. When you crate her during the day, put her food into a bowl, cover it with water, let it sit out until the food absorbs the water and turns into mush, and then mix a bit of peanut butter, liver paste, or soft cheese into the mush. Avoid Xylitol in peanut butter though because it is extremely TOXIC to dogs. Loosely stuff the mush mixture into Kongs, freeze them overnight, and whenever you crate her during the day put one of the food stuffed Kongs in there with her. This will help her learn to sooth herself, help with boredom, teach the right kind of chewing, prevent boredom barking, and help prevent separation anxiety later on. Also, when you crate her at night you can give her an empty kong to comfort her. Do not put food in it at night or it will keep her awake, but if you have been giving it to her during the day then it will be a familiar, pleasant item. Doing all of that will also help her learn to relax in the crate in general. Stay consistent and don't let her out when she cries when you know that she does not need anything. The more consistent you are, the sooner she will learn. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Emmie Lou
Labrador Retriever
5 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Emmie Lou
Labrador Retriever
5 Months

My name is Taylor, and I have a 5mo old Chocolate Lab puppy. Our problems mostly arise at bed time. Emmie does not want to sleep at all. I have tried many many different strategies and none have worked so far. She also cant hold her potty all night as well. She is house trained, but begs to go out 3 or 4 times throughout the night, to which I cant say no to. How do I cope with this? Is there a good way to train her to hold her pee/poo through the night? The other issue we have, as I have read is common with most lab pups is her biting. She is getting bigger, and her adult teeth have grown in and the bites hurt a lot. Any recommendations on how I can curve this before any serious injuries happen?

Thanks, Taylor and Emmie

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello Taylor, First, check out the article that I have linked right below and work on the "Leave It" method. Once she knows that method and you have reached the finals steps for teaching that, then if you tell her to "Leave It" to not bite you and she does anyway, then use the "Pressure" method from that article in combination with the "Leave It" as a way to enforce your "Leave It" command and make biting less fun for her. Even though this article talks about Shih Tzus the training is the same for any puppy. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite For the night wakings she should be able to hold it for ten hours through the night by this age, but some puppies may still need one potty break. In general a healthy five month old puppy can hold her bladder for five to six hours during the day and even longer than that at night while sleeping. Even if she does need to pee it should not be more often than every five to six hours. I would suggest crate training her, crating her in another part of the house where her crying will not keep you awake, and setting an alarm clock for five-and-a-half hours since she last went potty and then going to her to take her out just once at that time. She will be safe in the crate. She will likely cry but even if she were to stay awake that entire time she should still be able to hold her pee for that long. Give her a chew-toy in the crate but don't make it too exciting, and don't give her anything that she can shred up and ingest like a fluffy bed or a stuffed toy. If her current bed is not durable, then look into something like a PrimoPad and anchor down the corners of the pad to the crate so that she cannot pull them up to chew on. Primopads come with zipties. That pad will give her a little bit of padding in the crate without risking her ingesting something while you let her cry it out. Follow the crate training method from the article that I have linked below if she is not used to a crate already. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate You can utilize all the methods from the article above, or you can just use the "Surprise" method. Also, expect Emmie to protest the crate at night still because she likely wants your attention during the night and you will be removing it, but spending some time easing her into the idea of the crate during the day with the above methods should make the crate a place that is not scary at least. It is important to crate her so that she will not have the chance to get into things, physically wake you up, or keep herself awake by playing. You want nighttime to be boring and for her to be forced to learn to settle down by removing all of those other options. Expect a lot of crying at first. Since you will be going to her to take her outside every five to six hours at first, you can feel sure that her crying is simply because she does not want to go to sleep in her crate and not because something is truly wrong. You have to give her the chance to adjust and learn. If you have a baby monitor you can use that to check in on her, but if you can go to sleep and turn the monitor off after checking on her, do so! It may take her a few nights to learn the new routine but once she does she should start sleeping better. After she gets to the point where she no longer cries at night to go out, try not waking her up one night but leaving a monitor on. Wait to go to her until she wakes up on her own. When she wakes up needing to go potty after it has been at least six hours, then take her then and pay attention to how long she can go now that she knows to sleep at night. If she consistently only wakes after that long. For example, after sleeping eight hours, then you can either set your alarm for eight hours every night and take her then or you can let her wake you at that time as long as she does not start waking up to get out at other times too. If you use the alarm, then in a month, don't wake her one night to test it again and see if she can make it all of the way through the night yet. A couple of other things. Make sure that you take up all food and water two hours before her bedtime. Make sure that you take her outside to go potty RIGHT before you put her in her crate for the night and not thirty-minutes or an hour or more before. Her bladder will not "shut down" until she is asleep so anytime out of the crate awake will make it harder for her to hold it as long as she needs to during the night. If she is pooping during the night, then try moving her dinner time earlier so that she will be more likely to poop before bed. When you take her to go potty before bed, go with her and watch her to make sure that she actually goes potty. If you are not doing this now, she might not be going potty when you let her outside before bed. Finally, if she cannot hold her pee for at least four hours during the day when needed, then get her checked out for a urinary tract infection by your Vet. A urinary tract infection could cause her to pee more often at night and in that case she would genuinely need to pee more. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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