Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
How to Get Your Dog to Sleep Through the Night
Almost everyone who has raised a puppy has dealt with this issue. Puppies sleep a lot during the day, but when it is time for you to hit the hay, your little friend is wide awake and ready to play.
This problem is a lot less common with older dogs, but I still hear clients complain about it occasionally. I have seen it most often with seniors suffering from CCD (Canine Cognitive Disorder, a form of senility).
So what are some things you can do to make sure that your puppy or senior dog sleeps through the night? Read on to find out.
10 Tips to Help a Puppy Sleep All Night
Here are a few ways you can prepare things for bedtime earlier in the evening and make sure your puppy gets a good night of sleep (so that you do too!).
1. Make sure your friend is tired.
Every dog needs to be taken for a walk in the early evening. I cannot tell you exactly how far, since dogs are different based on their breed type and individual personality, but I can tell you that your puppy needs to be tired by the time he drags himself through the door. If he is still bouncing around, you need to spend more time walking. If you have a large breed puppy and you just can't seem to walk enough to tire him out, how about a bicycle?
2. Feed the dinner meal in the early evening.
His last meal should be in the early evening so that he does not need to wake up to “do his business” in the middle of the night. Some experts will recommend that you feed the dog a late meal so that he will sleep better with a full stomach. That is correct—dogs do sleep better on a full stomach, but puppies will also have to get up and relieve themselves in the middle of the night if they eat a late meal.
3. Arrange his area.
I am not a fan of crates, but most puppies need to be confined in some way for at least a week or two to learn housetraining. I let my puppies sleep next to me in a box or an end table, and many times the dog will want to sleep next to me as he grows older.
4. Use appropriate bedding.
This will depend on the breed and how warm you keep your room, so you will need to use some common sense when making up his bed. Dogs often like to lie on a dirty t-shirt, so providing a freshly washed towel or clean and fresh comforter may actually make it more difficult for your puppy to sleep.
5. Let the activity and play wind down as bedtime approaches.
This is not a problem for a lot of dogs, but puppies that are left alone most of the day need some activity at night and want to use this time to play. If you want to wrestle with your puppy or take him out to the yard to play fetch, do so early, and when it is later, rest. Your puppy will do so too, and thus be calm and much more likely to sleep through the night when bedtime arrives.
6. Take him for another walk outside just before going to bed.
This can be a lot shorter than the earlier walk, and the dog needs to have time to sniff around and urinate and defecate without being rushed. (If your puppy does wake up in the middle of the night and needs to urinate again, do not make this into a play session. Take her out, let her do her business, and then return her immediately to the sleeping area.)
7. Take him to a quiet room/special sleeping area.
Since dogs are social animals, I think it is vital that you allow your pet to sleep in the same room as you. For the first few days, I drape my hand over the side of the bed until my puppy has fallen asleep.
8. Turn off all of the lights.
Your puppy is more likely to sleep through the night if his environment is dark. No TVs, computer monitors, etc.
9. Make sure he does not have fleas or any other medical problem.
A puppy with fleas crawling all over him is going to be uncomfortable when he is bitten and will wake up scratching himself. If your puppy has mites, he will also not be able to sleep without waking up to scratch.
10. Play some soothing music.
Although the tips above are proven to work, some people unable to get their dogs to sleep through the night have reported success using music. Just open up the video below on your laptop or cell phone and put it in the room where your dog sleeps.
If you are the proud new owner of one of those puppies that will not sleep through the night no matter what you do, please do not worry too much. All puppies will eventually learn to sleep longer hours during your bedtime, so in a few months, things will be a lot better.
What If My Senior Dog Won't Sleep Through the Night?
For adult dogs, especially those suffering from CCD, some things are a little different. These strategies may help him feel more comfortable and help him sleep more soundly.
- Let your dog have access to your room. Even if you did not allow this before, many CCD dogs need more social time.
- Give your dog a comfortable place to sleep. If your dog is developing arthritis an orthopedic dog bed will help a lot. If he will not use it, try throwing a dirty t-shirt that has your smell on it on top of the bed.
- Take your dog for a short walk before bedtime. He must be on a leash, and since he may have arthritis this must be a “sniff” walk, and should not really go anywhere.
- Allow him to sleep with a full stomach. Some senior dogs stop eating much so go to bed hungry and wake up just to see if there is anything in the bowl, so you should provide a good meal before bedtime (unless he is having accidents in the house). If he is not willing to eat, consider warming his food a few seconds in the microwave.
- Treat his pain. If your dog is in pain he will find it difficult to sleep, so look into pain relievers and other alternatives.
- Supplement your CCD dog's diet with coconut oil and omega-3 fatty acids. There are no exact doses available yet for these natural supplements but this is the best thing to try for your dog. (Talk to your vet if you need more help with this information.)
- Consider consulting your veterinarian for a prescription. Selegiline (Anipryl) is a drug available to treat Parkinson's in humans, and may help your dog. There may be other drugs available where you live, and if your dog is in pain from arthritis, this is your best option.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: Our dog wakes up in the middle of the night and starts chewing on his feet and licking his belly. What should we do?
Answer: Dogs with severe itching caused by allergies or infection are not able to sleep through the night.
This article will help you determine why your dog is scratching so much: https://hubpages.com/dogs/dog-scratching-all-the-t...
If you can figure it out, and provide the appropriate treatment, your dog will be a lot more comfortable, and both of you will be more likely to sleep through the night.
Question: Our dog wakes up between 2 am and 3 am. We give her melatonin. Is there anything else we can give her?
Answer: Besides the behavioral changes that you can make that were outlined in the artilce, you could also try the lavender essential oil. It has the effect of reducing anxiety so if your dog wakes up and is too high-strung/nervous, it will help.
Mix 10 drops of the oil with about a cup of water. Spray it on your dogs front legs and her side so that she can smell it when she relaxes and curls up. DO NOT spray it right in her face!
© 2018 Dr Mark
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 12, 2020:
Shoobs, since you say he is already well exercised I would suggest you try the video with music. I just added it so that you can see if it helps. Be sure to write back and let me know.
Shoobs on August 11, 2020:
I have a small VERY energetic never slows down 10lbs Maltese/yorkie mix. He is well exercised and I know he is still a puppy but rarely can make it sleeping through the night. I've even tried adhering to his inner clock, staying up later to sleep in later and nothing. He will get up between 3:30 and 5am and has a hard time winding back down. When he gets up at this time he is brought out to potty and brought back in to rest.
Anypetcare on September 21, 2019:
A dog that’s stressed out or in pain will often whine or bark. I have also faced the same issue with my lovely dog and felt very sad. One of my friends suggests me CBD for my dog can be the perfect solution from this stress.
Everything is very open with a precise clarification of the issues.
It was definitely informative. Your site is extremely helpful.
Thank you for sharing!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 21, 2018:
Hi Ginny, yes, almost every puppy at that age is going to wake up in the middle of the night. Kind of like having a little baby in the house, right? It is just something to put up with for a week or two.
The problem with training with pee pads is that the dog gets used to going on that surface and is hard to break later on. I do not like to use them since I want my dogs to always go outside too.
Ginny bo binny on January 21, 2018:
Does everyone get up in the middle of the night to walk an 8 week old puppy? I don't mind pads as back-ups but I want her to almost always go outside.
Bob Bamberg on January 15, 2018:
Wow, what an incredible achievement! Congratulations! I'm not even half way to a million and wondering if I'll live long enough to get there. I see you re-wrote your bio, too, revealing a bit more about the mysterious DrMark :) Keep those interesting articles coming!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 14, 2018:
Those cats sound like my tamandua. She wakes up at 2 or 3 in the morning, climbs into my bed and wants to wake me up to play. She sleeps about 20 hours a day, too, but when she is awake I want to be sleeping!
Fortunately Nicki likes to sleep when I do. There has been an ocelot making a lot of noise in my back yard the last few days and I think he is afraid to come out at night.
The dogs are ready to go to sleep. Good to hear from you!
(Check my profile page--I got my 10M accolade today!!!)
Bob Bamberg on January 14, 2018:
Great tips, Doc. I will find them useful as I talk to pet owners routinely during work. The most common complaint I hear about dogs interfering with family sleep is the scratching of dogs with skin issues. When they scratch, the tags make noise. We're in the middle of winter now, so our air, both inside and outside, is very dry, compounding the problem.
Now you should write a similar hub pertaining to cats. I hear more complaints about cats. I guess some people just don't realize that cats are mainly nocturnal and/or crepuscular. They sleep about 16 hours a day, we sleep 8, but we can never get those schedules coordinated. It seems the 8 hours they choose to stay awake are the 8 hours we choose to sleep! I'll bet Nicki is on a schedule closer to your own.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 14, 2018:
I think exercise is great too, and all of us need to get out and walk our puppies even more. Thanks for stopping by!
ARADHYA on January 14, 2018:
I think the "Exercise" should be the best way to help puppy to sleep all night. But A great spot to sleep is also important. :)