In a lot of ways, getting a new puppy can be like having a young baby, and of course, a puppy is a baby dog and needs to be treated accordingly! Puppies do not come into our lives fully developed, knowing where to go to the toilet, how to obey commands and that night time is for sleeping, and these are all things that we, as dog owners, need to teach our puppies.
One of the most important things to teach your pup is sleeping through the night, or at least, not crying and disturbing you if they are awake while you are asleep! However, puppy bedtimes can prove to be challenging, in the same way that they can with human toddlers. Sometimes, your pup will want to play, will not be keen to be left alone, or might simply not be sleepy or have picked up the routine of the household yet. Read on to learn about how to get your puppy used to sleeping through the night without incident.
At what age can you expect puppies to be able to sleep through the night?
From the age of eight weeks upwards, puppies should be beginning to pick up the routine of night and day and the sleep schedule of the people they live with. By the time a puppy is twelve weeks old, you can reasonably expect that they are capable of sleeping through the night. However, twelve weeks old is also commonly the age at which puppies go from their breeder to their new home, and with this transition and upheaval, it might not be possible to start teaching the pup to sleep through the night until they have settled into your own home.
Feeding and water
Your puppy should be given their last meal of the day about three hours before bedtime, to allow them time to digest it properly and go to the toilet if they need to. Feeding your puppy later than this will likely mean that the pup will need to go to the toilet during the night!
You should also encourage your puppy to drink a couple of hours before bedtime, so that they will be less thirsty later on and hopefully, not drink close to bedtime and so, need to pee!
Toileting before bedtime
Your puppy should be given ample opportunity to go to the toilet before bedtime, in order to encourage them to sleep through the night without waking up because they need to go. The last thing you do before you put your pup to bed should be to take them out to go to the toilet, and begin to teach your puppy that this will be their last chance to do their business until the morning.
Get into the routine of taking them outside just before bed, even if they do not always do their business. Over time, they will begin to associate this time of day with their last chance, and use it accordingly.
A tired puppy is a sleepy puppy!
If your puppy is full of energy and wants to play right before bedtime, you are likely to have significant problems getting them to settle down to go to sleep! It is wise to tire your puppy out in the couple of hours leading up to bedtime, with plenty of active play, games or walks. Let your puppy work off their energy, and gradually begin to calm down with a view to sleep. Make sure that you start to calm your games down as bed time gets closer, or your puppy may be too excited still to sleep!
Happy sleeping spaces
Your puppy’s bed and sleeping space should be appealing to them, and have positive associations in the mind of your dog. It should be warm, comfortable, ad located somewhere that they like. Allowing your puppy to take something to bed with them that smells of you can also be comforting for little dogs, as can leaving the radio on a low volume for them for a couple of hours to help to soothe them.
Make sure that your pup’s bed is never used as a punishment, and that your puppy is not sent to bed for non-compliance with a command, as this will lead to stress at bedtime as they will think that they are being punished, particularly as they are also about to be left alone for the night.
During your first week or so with your new puppy, they may cry or whine at bedtime when left alone, as they are simply not used to sleeping without their family! While this is to be expected, you should nip protracted or loud crying in the bud, as otherwise you will set a pattern for the rest of your dog’s life.
If your pup cries when you immediately put them down, wait to see if they settle within a reasonable amount of time. If the crying persists, use the “no” command, but do not pander to crying or reward it with attention (positive or negative) as otherwise your puppy will come to learn that crying gets results!