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!
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?
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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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
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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We are afraid to leave a a dog bed or comfy mat in the crate for fear of her ripping it apart and eating it...she hates the metal floor of crate and is up every hour. We have the crate nest to our bed but first two night s were awful. Can we keep dog bed or mat in crate?
Hello Chris, Your concern about chewing is valid. I recommend using something like www.primopads.com Primopads are more durable, non-absorbent (which is necessary for potty training), and can be anchored to the sides of a wire crate to deter chewing. The pad is not squishy but it does offer a firmer foam support that is supposed to be good for supporting joints - its what I used with my own dog when she was that age. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hi there. My puppy freaks out whenever she is alone. Even though she can come in and out of the kitchen - has a lot of toys and blankets - even a big fluffy teddy. But still she freaks out. Im not always going to be here during the day and I need her to get use to staying alone. PLEASE any tips will be so helpful!! I really need her to be okay when I am not here.
Hello Marie, Even though it can be hard you actually need to intentionally give her safe times of being alone without you, either in a crate (what I recommend because it also helps with potty training), or an exercise pen. Follow the surprise method from the article linked below. Work on her being by herself for about an hour each day (it can be longer if you need to leave her, but at least an hour for training purposes). Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Most young puppies will cry in a crate or when left alone for up to 2 weeks (some adjust within just three days). Most grow out of this if you give them the opportunity to learn to self-sooth and self-entertain by not rescuing them while they are crying when you know that they are safe. If you go to her whenever she cries the training will take much longer though, so try to stay firm and use the Surprise method from the article linked above to help the process go more smoothly. Wait until she is quiet for at least a couple of seconds before you go back to her, so that she associates your return with her being quiet and not crying. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Our pup 8 months old and is crate trained. However, for the past month, Watson has been getting up between 2-4am. He doesn’t cry to go outside but seems he wants to be near us. We tried letting him cry/bark it out but we can only take so much that early in the morning. If you could shed any light or recommendations we’d really appreciate it.
Hello Kathleen, First, rule out a few things... Is he able to hold his bladder for at least 5 hours while crated during the day or is he asking to go potty every 1-2 hours during the day? If he is asking to go potty often during the day and actually needing to go, then a trip to your vet is in order because the night wakings could be related to something like a urinary tract infection. (I am not a vet) Is there a new noise at night that might be waking him up, like a baby, beeping sound, or loud neighbor? Does he have enough room to lie down in his crate well? Assuming he can hold his bladder for 8 hours in the crate, nothing is scaring him, his crate isn't super cramped (he doesn't need much extra space but he should be able to lie down comfortable to sleep), and he seems fine once he is given attention, he simply might be going through a phase where he is testing boundaries a bit and asking to be let out simply because he prefers sleeping somewhere else - your bed is softer after all. If the protests are just him acting demanding, you have two options. You can ignore the crying until he gives up and realizes after a few days that it doesn't get him out of the crate - so he stops, OR you can discipline the crying. To discipline the barking, start by teaching the Quiet command using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Practice the Quiet command method during the day until he learns the meaning of the word quiet. Since you want him to learn it quickly, I suggest practicing for a few minutes several times per day to speed up learning. Only give treats while practicing this during the day - no treats at night. Once he understands Quiet, if he wakes up and it has been less than 8 hours since he last went potty, then when he cries tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - great! Go back to bed, nothing else happens. If he doesn't get quiet or starts barking again right away, calmly say "Ah Ah" and use a small canister of pressurized air, called a Pet Convincer, to spray a quick puff of unscented air (do NOT use citronella) at his side through the crate's wires (avoid spraying him in the face). After spraying him, go back to bed. Repeat the corrections each time he barks until he goes back to sleep. Before you correct or ignore the barking though, evaluate his potty schedule just to make sure there isn't something causing him to need to use the bathroom more often that should be evaluated by your vet. If he really does have to go potty, that shouldn't be ignored, but at this age it also isn't normal so needs to be investigated - barking for attention is far more common than not being able to hold it through the night at this age. Make sure you are removing all food and water two hours before bed, and taking him potty immediately before you put him into the crate for the night (if he is getting a huge drink right before bed, that could be your issue). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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