How to Train a Puppy to Sleep Through the Night

Medium
1-2 Weeks
General

Introduction

A new puppy in the home is always exciting. After all, you’re bringing home a friend who will stick around with you and your family for years to come! With lots of new experiences, fun times, and a brand new bond to share with your new puppy, it can be difficult to see the downside. At least until it’s the middle of the night and your puppy decides that this is just the right time for him to start howling and whining up a storm.

Puppies who are freshly weaned from their mother can struggle with being in a new home. It can be cold, scary, dark, and even smell funny. Your puppy is experiencing a brand new home without the comfort of his mother and it is generally the norm for him to be a little uncomfortable and unhappy. Even with all the love and affection you can muster, you still can’t get him to sleep through the night. So how do you help him adjust to bedtime without it being such a struggle?

Defining Tasks

Puppies are needy and require plenty of love and attention throughout the day, and yes, even throughout the night! They require bathroom breaks often, can get hungry at inopportune times, and aren’t all that fond of being alone. Having trouble sleeping through the night is common with many puppies of all kinds of different breeds, so it’s no surprise that there are quite a few different ways to deal with it.

If your puppy is struggling with bedtime, get him settled the first night you bring him home. Have a plan in mind to fulfill his needs and stick to it from the beginning. Your puppy will need stability, especially for the first week, in order to adjust to how you plan on doing things in your home.

Getting Started

In order to help your puppy adjust, try bringing an item that smells like his mother home with you. This can help provide some additional comfort. Otherwise, you can try giving him an item that smells like you, such as a shirt or a towel, especially if you’ve already spent a lot of time cuddling together. Just be prepared to not have that item again! It might just become his.

After that, double check that nothing is hurting or making your puppy feel sick. Keep an eye on his eating habits and his bathroom breaks to check for an upset stomach and feel his paws to be sure there’s nothing hurting them. If he seems to be fine and is only struggling with sleep because he is scared, then you can begin to find a way to cope with the bedtime blues.

The Crate Method

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Step
1
Purchase a crate
A crates provides a safe place for your puppy to sleep and rest when you can’t be around to watch him. An appropriately sized crate should provide enough space for your puppy to stand up, turn around in a circle, and lay back down again without an issue. Going too big or too small may prevent your puppy from adjusting to the crate in the right way or make him uncomfortable.
Step
2
Keep it comfortable
A crate should be a nice place to rest. Provide a small pillow, blankets, or other comfortable items along the bottom of the crate to keep it from being too hard or cold. Feel free to place items in there that smell like you or your puppy’s mother.
Step
3
Use the crate regularly
If you plan on adjusting your puppy to the crate, be sure to use it at a few times throughout the day as well as through the night. It should be a place for him to calm down and take a nap every now and then.
Step
4
Go from the crate to the bathroom
Any time you let your puppy out of the crate, immediately take a bathroom break. This will help get him into a habit of waiting until the crate is opened to go to the bathroom.
Step
5
Take a few breaks at night
Young puppies are just not able to hold it for eight hours at a time. While he’s young, you will need to let your puppy out of his crate once or twice through the night to use the bathroom.
Step
6
Don’t give in to whining
If you’ve already let your puppy out to use the bathroom and fed him a meal before bedtime so you know he isn’t hungry, don’t feel tempted to let your puppy out of the crate just to make the whining stop. He will eventually get used to the idea that he stays in the crate at night unless he has to use the bathroom.
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The Exercise Method

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Step
1
Watch your puppy’s energy level
Depending on the breed, your puppy may be either higher or lower energy. Keep an eye on her behavior throughout the day to determine how much exercise she may need to spend that energy.
Step
2
Play often
Puppies need lots of play and stimulation. Be ready to break out the toys and go into a tug of war or a game of hide and seek at a moment’s notice. Your puppy will need this sort of play time throughout the day.
Step
3
Go for walks when you can
While your puppy shouldn’t be going on walks until she’s had all her shots, as soon as she is happily vaccinated, you can begin leash training and walking outside. Going on long walks will help wear her out and get her ready for bedtime in the evening.
Step
4
Work on training
Even working on obedience can tire your puppy out. Start working on the basics throughout the day and maybe even an hour or two before bedtime. Keeping her mentally stimulated can be just as important as physical exercise.
Step
5
Exercise daily
Even going one day without some kind of physical exercise can leave your puppy full of energy and restless during bed time. Be sure to exercise every day to get your puppy nice and tired before bed.
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The Routine Method

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Step
1
Write down a schedule
On a piece of paper or a white board, write down a schedule for the people in your house to follow for your puppy. Be sure that it’s somewhere where everyone can see it. Consistency is important for a puppy to adjust.
Step
2
Try not to divert
The schedule should stay the same for the first week or two to allow your puppy time to really get used to what you expect from him at certain times of the day. If you have to divert, be sure to get right back on track as soon as possible.
Step
3
Take bathroom breaks at night
Plan on having at least two bathroom breaks to begin with and then go down to one a night. Be sure to have them at the same time each night so your puppy knows when to expect one.
Step
4
Turn off the lights
This should be done at the same time each day to help your puppy get sleepy. Having the lights on may keep him in a ‘wake’ mode and may prevent him from falling asleep.
Step
5
Be persistent
Your puppy may take some time to adjust to the schedule you set for him, but as long as you maintain the same routine every day, he will quickly learn that what you say, goes. However, be aware of his needs such as meals, bathroom breaks, and exercise. Your schedule should be catered to him, not the other way around.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Kane
Pit bull
6 Weeks
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Question
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Kane
Pit bull
6 Weeks

How do I get him to stop biting

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
709 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jenya, Check out the article linked below. At this age, start with the Bite Inhibition method. As he gets older work on the Leave It method and switch over to that method once he understands the Leave It command. Expect this to take time and consistency to teach. Puppies his age naturally need to chew and are used to interacting with litter mates with their mouths - it's normal, so it takes puppies time to learn to do something different around people. Bite Inhibition method and Leave It method from the article linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Terah
Malinois X and Timberwolf
9 Weeks
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Question
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Terah
Malinois X and Timberwolf
9 Weeks

hi! so my puppy tends to wake up at like 3 4 or 5 in the morning but it’s usually always 5-5:30, it just depends. i would want her to wake up at from 6-7ish. i just started today feeding her at 7 because she would be fed every time she woke up. i also started to take her out of her create when she cries in the middle of the night and put her back in once she’s done but i would like to not wake up at all until it’s time. her crate is covered with blankets so it’s dark, she has toys in there plus she walks before bedtime. should i stick to this routine? is there anything else to do? should i not let her sleep after 3pm? anything helps in order for to sleep through the night even if she wake up at 5:30 at least i didn’t get up in the middle of the night.
thank you.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
709 Dog owners recommended

Hello Genesis, At nine week of age almost all puppies will need to go potty at least 1-2 times a night during a 8-10 hour period because they physically cannot hold it all night long. Keep potty trips boring and on leash when she does wake up to pee. Ignore any crying after you return her to the crate after the potty break. When she wakes at 5, if you want her to learn to sleep until 7am, take her potty on a leash (to help her stay focused and not just play), return her to the crate, ignore the crying after, and let her out at 7 and feed her then. During the day you can practice the Surprise method from the article linked below to help her adjust to the crate sooner. Don't give food at night though. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Also, check out the free PDF e-book AFTER You Get Your Puppy for more information on puppies this age in general. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Sophie
Yorkie
10 Weeks
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Question
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Sophie
Yorkie
10 Weeks

Potty training and crate time

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
134 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am sending you quite a bit of information on potty training as well as crate training. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

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