How Do I Get My Puppy To Sleep Through The Night?
So you can sleep, too 🥱
You love your new puppy and would do anything for her — even if it means waking up in the middle of the night.
But there comes a time when every puppy parent wonders, “How can I get my puppy to sleep through the night?” and “Will I ever get a full night’s rest again?”
While you can expect to wake up in the middle of the night pretty often to tend to your newest family member, there are some things you can do to make sure you get as much sleep as possible.
We spoke to Dr. Steven Elliott, a veterinarian and part-owner of Animal Care Center Group in Florida, and Irith Bloom, a certified professional dog trainer and owner of The Sophisticated Dog in Los Angeles, to find out how to get your puppy to sleep through the night.
When do puppies sleep through the night?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you won’t get a whole lot of sleep when you first get your puppy.
A good rule of thumb is that a puppy can hold her bladder for about as many hours as she is months old. So if you have a 3-month-old puppy, you should be taking her out every three hours (and yes, that means at night, too).
When your puppy will sleep through the night depends on your individual pup. “This can vary widely among puppies, but typically by 4–5 months, puppies are adjusted and will sleep through the night,” Dr. Elliott told The Dodo.
“In most cases, you will notice that your puppy sleeps longer and longer into the night over time,” Bloom told The Dodo. “If your puppy isn’t sleeping longer, check with your veterinarian to make sure nothing is wrong.”
Why doesn’t my puppy sleep at night?
When you first bring your puppy home, she’ll have to adjust to her new home and all its new smells and people. Being in a whole new environment can be stressful for dogs, so she’ll need some time to decompress — and while she does, she could have trouble sleeping.
Plus, as a puppy, she hasn’t had that much time away from her family yet. “Initially, it is adjusting to being away from Mom and littermates,” Dr. Elliott said.
Puppies also have to go to the bathroom a lot. Since they’re small, they have small bladders and they’re not able to control them yet, which makes them have to go all the time — and that includes at night.
Your puppy could also have some excess energy to burn off. “Not enough exercise during the day is a frequent culprit,” Dr. Elliott said. “A tired puppy is a sleepy puppy.”
Eventually, your puppy (and you) will sleep through the night.
“The most important thing is to remind yourself this won’t go on forever — but it also will not stop in a night or two, in most cases,” Bloom said.
How to get a puppy to sleep
While you should be prepared to get up at least a few times at night with your new puppy, there are some things you can do to help her sleep longer.
Crate train your puppy
Crate training your puppy is a good first step to getting her to sleep through the night.
It’s comforting for a puppy to know she has her own space to sleep. It also creates a sense of routine for your puppy because she knows that when she goes in the crate, it’s time to go to bed.
Plus, you can line the crate with puppy pee pads, which will contain any messes she makes (instead of her going to the bathroom in your bed or somewhere random!).
Dogs don’t like to sleep in the same place they use the restroom (who would?!), so be sure there’s an elevated spot in the crate to place her bed that’s away from the pee pads.
You might also want to consider a dog pen, which will give your puppy even more room to sleep and play.
Let your puppy potty before bed
One of the main reasons you’ll hear your puppy whining in the middle of the night is because she needs to use the bathroom. In these cases, you should definitely bite the bullet and take your puppy outside.
“Most young puppies have very small bladders and also don’t have very good control over when and how much to potty,” Bloom said. “The good news is that as your puppy gets older, your puppy will be able to hold it longer and therefore sleep through the night.”
According to Bloom, don’t spend more than about five minutes trying to get your puppy to go potty, and don’t play with him.
“This is to make sure the puppy understands that middle-of-the-night potty time is not fun ‘sniff around and explore new stuff’ or ‘play games with the person’ time,” Bloom said.
According to Dr. Elliott, “Feeding a couple of hours before bedtime will trigger a bowel movement usually within an hour, and your puppy should be fine overnight.” You should also remove your puppy’s water about two to three hours before bedtime so she won’t have to go as much overnight.
Exercise your puppy
Try to keep your puppy engaged throughout the day with lots of playtime so she’ll be tired and ready to sleep when the time comes. But while your puppy should get enough exercise during the day, try not to give her too much activity right before you put her to bed, or she can be too hyped up to sleep. Save the playing for the daytime.
“Exercise enough during the day to have a tired pup at night,” Dr. Elliott said. “Avoid excessive playtime right before bedtime and long naps near bedtime.”
Give your puppy lots of interactive puppy toys to play with to keep her mentally stimulated and help tire her out.
Create a calm sleeping environment
Adding some coziness to your puppy’s space will go a long way when it comes to helping her sleep.
The most important thing to have is a bed she can happily snuggle up in. It’s common for puppy parents to experiment until they find the perfect bed, so don’t be afraid to try a few options to see what she truly likes.
For some extra comfort for your puppy, try a heated snuggle toy. Warmth reminds puppies of their mothers, which will keep them extra calm and prevent late-night whining. Some warm snuggle toys even have a heartbeat that reminds them of their moms.
Another tried-and-true method for helping your puppy sleep is using dog-appeasing pheromones, which mimic their mother’s natural scent. These pheromones help keep puppies calm and comforted and will give your puppy a better night’s sleep (so you can get one, too!).
Similar to how humans enjoy ambient music to lull them asleep, there are sounds for puppies to do the same. Calming dog music also helps cover up noises that might otherwise wake your puppy, Bloom said.
If all else fails, consider a crate cover that’ll create total darkness for your puppy, which is sometimes the only thing that’ll keep her in a deep sleep all night long (kind of like blackout curtains for your windows).
Ignore whining or barking
It’s hard to ignore the whining and barking your puppy makes when she’s in her crate, but sometimes that’s the best thing to do.
“If your puppy has pottied, is back in the crate and is being fussy, give your puppy something to play with in the crate (a chew toy is good for this), and do your best to get back to sleep,” Bloom said.
Giving your puppy attention every time she whines at night can even slow down the process of getting her to sleep through the night because she’ll think that nighttime is when she gets pets and cuddles from you for crying.
“Responding too quickly to every cry can slow down the adjustment period, so don’t be tempted,” Dr. Elliott said.
It might be hard at first, but it’s the only way to avoid these problem behaviors once your dog becomes an adult. (After all, if she learns that whining gets her whatever she wants, she’s never going to stop!)
Get into a routine
Dogs love routines because it lessens their anxiety by letting them know what to expect. According to Dr. Elliott, “Set a schedule for bathroom, eating, drinking and playtime that can remain fairly constant. A set routine is key to successful training.”
This means feeding her, taking her out and putting her in her crate at the same time every night. After some time, your puppy will naturally adjust to this schedule.
Where should my puppy sleep at night?
Some people love having their dog sleep in bed with them, but “most veterinarians will agree that until a puppy is potty trained, it should be confined to a small area or crate,” Dr. Elliott said.
While your puppy’s still young and needs potty breaks at night, you can keep her crate close to your bed or at least in your bedroom so you can easily hear if she’s crying to be taken out. Being near you and being able to smell you will hopefully keep her calm and ease some of her anxiety about being in a new home, too.
How much do puppies sleep?
Puppies sleep a lot (just not always at night).
“Puppies should sleep 16–20 hours a day,” Dr. Elliott said.
And if you’re worried that your puppy’s constantly sleeping, don’t be. Puppies can’t really sleep too much, just like babies.
“Typically, there is no such thing as ‘too much sleep’ for a puppy,” Dr. Elliott said. “It takes a lot of energy to grow.”
While being woken up every few hours can be kind of annoying, your cute new puppy will make it worth it.
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