Getting your dog to sleep through the night
Getting your dog to sleep through the night can be one of the toughest challenges for new pet owners. Take a look at these tips to help you both get a good night’s shuteye.
Keep them active during the day
If your dog has plenty of exercise during the day, chances are they’ll be ready for a good snooze when bedtime comes around. Playing with your dog, taking them for regular walks and letting them run around the garden will all help tire them out.
It’s particularly important to make sure your pooch is active in the evening, rather than spending the period before bedtime lounging around.
Remember, as your dog gets bigger, the chances are they’ll need more exercise.
Have a dedicated sleeping space
It’s important that your dog knows where they’re supposed to sleep and that it’s a cosy, appealing space.
Whether your dog will be sleeping in a crate, basket or doggy bed, make sure they’re somewhere warm and in a spot they like. You may want to line it with a blanket that smells like you and put a favourite toy or chew inside for extra comfort.
To encourage your pet to sleep in their own bed, lead them to it rather than picking them up and putting them inside, so they get used to finding it on their own.
So that your dog sees their bed as a safe comforting space, avoid using it for punishments and timeouts.
Create a bedtime routine
Much like babies, dogs thrive on routines and doing a few things consistently before bedtime will help them know that’s it’s time for sleep.
Start winding down a good hour or so before bed, so that they’re not too over-excited, then have a final snack and toilet trip before encouraging them towards their bed, perhaps with their favourite toy.
Your pooch may also take cues from your own bedtime routine, and start to see activities like brushing your teeth as a signal that it’s almost time for sleep.
Plan toilet visits
Make sure you take your dog out to the toilet as close to bedtime as possible to avoid being woken up by whimpering at the door. You should also be careful about when you give your pet their last food and drink of the day – too late and they may wake up needing to relieve themselves.
Bear in mind that young puppies won’t be able to make it through the whole night without needing the toilet, so you may have some middle-of-the-night wake-ups in the first few months.
Stick to your guns
When you first bring your puppy home it’s normal for them to have a few nights of crying or whining as they adjust to their new circumstances. However, if you want your pup to ever sleep through the night in their own bed, it’s important to be firm and nip this behaviour in the bud as early as possible.
This doesn’t mean leaving them to cry indefinitely, which can be very damaging for dogs. Instead, make sure they’re comfortable and then try leaving them for short periods, returning to offer some comfort if their whining persists.
Don’t make too big a fuss when you comfort them, simply offer some reassurance and leave again. Gradually, you should be able to leave it longer between return visits and eventually they’ll learn to settle themselves.
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