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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The Cold Shoulder Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Temptation Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Written by James Barra
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/08/2021