How to Train Your Dog to Wake You Up

Medium
1-4 Weeks
Chores

Introduction

Are you one of those people that just can’t get up in the morning and everything is just a complete struggle? Do you find you’re always running behind and rushing around and are often late to work or for other commitments? Have you tried multiple different types of alarm, such as those that are supposed to wake you up when you’re in a lighter sleep and still nothing works?

Well, fear not because not all hope is lost. What if you had a living alarm, one that wouldn’t quit when you rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, one that you couldn’t turn off? Yup, you guessed it, now’s the time to train your pooch to wake you up.

Defining Tasks

Not only is having your pooch wake you up early an extremely convenient, impressive, and cute trick for him to learn, it also has some extremely important benefits. What if the worst were to happen and there was a fire for example, wouldn’t you want your pooch to wake you up? Training your dog this trick could one day save your life and the lives of those you love. However, this trick doesn’t come naturally to all pups and will be an easier task for larger dogs with a bigger bark to learn, as they’ll be louder and able to catch your attention more easily. This isn’t to say smaller breeds can’t learn as well, though. While not the most difficult of tricks to teach, it isn’t exactly the easiest either and could take your pooch a few weeks to a month to learn properly.

Getting Started

First things first, to get started you’ll need your trusty alarm clock! You’ll be teaching your dog that this is the signal he needs to hear to wake you up. You’ll need a good attitude and patience, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will it take a day for your pooch to learn to wake you, you’ll need to teach him in stages. Although it depends on how you would like your dog to wake you up, you’ll need a form of reward. For those heavy sleepers out there, treats as a reward should do the trick. However, if you would like a lighter awakening, grab some jam or peanut butter, as this will be good for your dog to lick off of you, waking you up in a more gentle fashion. For those of you into clicker training, grab your clicker as well before we get started, as you can use this to help teach him the correct wake-up behaviors.

The Clicker and Alarm Method

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Step
1
Teach him what the alarm means
Get your pooch to understand what the alarm means. His hearing is better than yours and he’ll no doubt hear it, but at the moment it’s just a disruption to his sleep.
Step
2
Turn on the alarm
Turn the alarm on and off multiple times while in bed.
Step
3
Click and treat
As the alarm buzzes, click the clicker and give your dog a treat.
Step
4
Test his interest
Turn on the alarm randomly later in the day, if your pooch shows interest and expects a treat, you have conditioned him successfully.
Step
5
Alarming reaction
When you have a day off, spend the day sporadically turning the alarm on and off. When the alarm sounds, play with your dog and reward him. Make sure you get him excited. When the alarm goes off and he gets excited, you’re ready for the next step.
Step
6
Bedroom time
Go into your bedroom with the alarm, keep turning the alarm on and off, treating and praising accordingly to get your pooch just as excited in the bedroom as he was on your lazy day.
Step
7
Teach him to keep going until he wakes you
Now when the alarm goes off, get your pooch to come to you and hassle you for play before you respond. Keep gradually increasing the time it takes you to respond and give him play, praise, and/or a treat. Eventually, he won’t take no for an answer.
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The On and Off Method

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Step
1
The no bed rule
Although you want your pooch to come on the bed and wake you up in the morning, you want to teach him that this is the only time he’s allowed on the bed. Do this by training him the ‘off’ command, to stop him from getting on the bed when you don’t want him to.
Step
2
When the alarm goes
Now when the alarm goes off teach him the “on” command, call your pooch when the alarm goes off and encourage him to get onto the bed, giving him a big reward and lots of praise when he gets on the bed.
Step
3
'Off' again
Make sure after the previous step occurs, you tell him to get off the bed again, so that he knows the only time he’s allowed on is during the alarm.
Step
4
Loud wake up
If you want your pooch to bound in and wake you up loudly because you’re a heavy sleeper, make sure you reward him bounding in when the alarm goes off, giving him a big treat when he jumps up onto the bed and starts pawing you.
Step
5
Gentle wake up
If you’d prefer a gentler wake up, simply put some peanut butter or jam on your face or arms and when the alarm goes off, if you’ve taught him the 'on' and 'off' rule properly, he should jump up and lick it off gently.
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The Woken Your Way Method

Effective
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Step
1
Decide how you want to be woken up
Is it barking, licking, pawing, or nudging that you’d prefer?
Step
2
Condition the behavior
Ideally do this where you sleep, however each time your pooch does the behavior you want, give him a click and a treat.
Step
3
Introduce a command
Say the command at the same time your dog does the behavior you want, e.g. “kisses” for licking or “nudges” for nudging. Continuing this until your pup learns the command.
Step
4
Pretend to sleep
Pretend to be asleep in bed and use the command word, give your dog a click and a treat when he gets it right.
Step
5
Turn on the alarm
Use the command and the alarm noise together, when your dog does the right action, click and treat.
Step
6
Get rid of the command and use the alarm
When your dog takes the alarm as a cue to do their waking you up action without using a command, give a click and a treat. This step will have to be repeated quite a few times and if your pooch is confused at this step, go back and use the other steps to condition him more. Now you should be woken up by your pooch your way.
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Written by Catherine Lee-Smith

Published: 11/24/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Magnus
black mouth cur
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Magnus
black mouth cur
8 Months

I am having a hard time finding resources on how to train a dog to go get help. I have been playing "hide and seek" with him in an effort to introduce the concept of him finding me, but I am epileptic and would like for him to be my hiking buddy and was hoping to maybe introduce a command that ques him to find another human in the event that I fall. I know this is going to be a long road but he's already really in tune with my schedule and needs and would like to give him a job.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kristina, You will need some volunteers to train this. With someone in the same room as you, tell pup to "Get Help" or whatever cue you want to use and direct pup toward the other person. If pup doesn't go, the person should coax pup over, then give a treat when pup arrives. As pup improves and can go to the other person without extra encouragement from either of you when you say Get Help, start increasing the distance between you and that person pup has to go to. Work up to pup being able to go to the from a couple of hundred feet away, adding one foot at a time to repetitions. You can use a long leash or a friend's fenced area to practice (you also want to work up to somewhere pup isn't as familiar with - like another person's yard and not just your own once you have gotten really far from the other person in practice). When pup can get the other person from far away, recruit a different friend and start the training process over again with the person in the same room at first. (it should go quicker this time though since pup has the basic idea, but will still need to be restarted). When pup can get that person from a couple hundred feet away, then do the same thing with at least 20 more people so pup learns how to go to anyone. When pup can do it with a variety of people, when you give the get help cue, act like you are falling (you can also pretend to fall earlier in the training process too, while saying "Get Help". Practice with the fall and the cue until pup does well with that, then fall and wait seven seconds before cueing "Get Help" to see if pup will get help when you just fall, before you command them. Practice this until pup is consistently going for help just when you fall without needing the additional cue after. You will also need to teach pup how to lead the person back to you, which will start with the person giving pup your hide and seek cue you are currently using. Practicing until pup is consistent, then waiting seven seconds before giving pup the cue to go to you, to see if pup will lead them there on their own. When pup gets to the person they are going for help to - that person should give pup a treat each time, and when pup leads the person back to you, you or the other person should give pup an additional treat. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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