Despite seeming like boundless bundles of rambunctious energy, puppies, too, need sleep just like adult dogs and their human counterparts. Interestingly enough, puppies and human babies are not that dissimilar when it comes to their tendency to have some trouble winding down for the night and staying asleep for a decent amount of time.
Just like with babies, there are many techniques and tricks to ensure good sleep for puppies. In order to get your pup to bed, it is important to consider what is preventing him from going to sleep and resting peacefully, and how you can manage all these sleep issues for your young dog. It may even be necessary to rework the entire environment and routine you have built for him in order to get him to sleep well all the time.
There are a multitude of different causes and reasons that might be preventing your dog from sleeping well—you just have to try a few different things and work at it consistently.
Puppies need a few days, maybe even a week to adjust to living in their new homes. It may take a while for your puppy to settle in and feel comfortable enough to sleep at night. If he is new to your home make sure to stick to your routine and hopefully he will settle in quickly. If you've had your puppy for a few weeks and he still doesn't seem to be sleeping well, it is time to think what the issue is and help him find a way to sleep better at night.
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There may even be a medical condition underlying your pup's sleeping troubles such as an overactive bladder (also known as urinary incontinence) or anxiety. Whatever the cause may be, be sure to identify it so that you’re able to effectively help and treat your puppy for any sleep disorders and issues.
If you can't seem to figure out what is ailing the young dog, there are many things you can try to help him get a good night's rest.
How to Ensure a Good Night's Sleep for Puppies
If the cause of puppy's sleep problem isn’t so easily defined, you may have to try to rework the puppy’s environment in order to get him to sleep. Getting a good night’s rest starts early—get the puppy running and playing outside so that they’re exhausted by the time nighttime hits. If he's been cooped up all day, nighttime is going to seem like an extension of daytime and not like a separate, quiet-time entity.
Amp Up Playtime
Puppies love the playtime! When playing with your puppy, try a new exercise or game that requires mental stimulation instead of just physical activity. Getting your puppy mentally stimulated will help chase away any boredom that might have been there and could be creeping up later at night to keep him awake.
We've written about many mentally stimulating dog toys and games. If your pup is home alone during the day, supplying him with puppy toys like these may help to keep him entertained while you're away:
Have a Solid Bedtime Routine
Changing the bedtime routine (or creating one in the first place if you haven’t done so) is also a good tactic for getting your puppy to sleep. Feed him a few hours before bedtime so that his body has time to digest the food. Also, allow him to use the bathroom before going to sleep. That eliminates any biological needs that could keep him up (unless he has incontinence such as overactive bladder, which may require a little extra work and a visit with the veterinarian).
Keep the atmosphere surrounding nighttime quiet and without disruption as well. Bedtime needs to be a family activity in order for the puppy to participate. He's used to being with his pack. When he was with his mother and the other pups in his litter, he ate, played and slept when they did. He requires that same bond with his new family.
Being loud and wild before bed will just overexcite the dog and make getting him to sleep an even more difficult task. The last hour before bed should be quiet time. You could pat your puppy or simply read a book while he sits with you; anything mellow that will help him understand that it is time to rest and relax.
Similarly, circumstances preventing the dog from sleeping can be temporary—maybe you’re moving or are in some current state of discombobulation that has the puppy excited. If so, try to work around that and make bedtime as quiet and normal as possible. If your dog is naturally a more anxious or neurotic breed (Chihuahuas for example), this may also require more patience and consistency than with a pup that is not as nervous.
Ground rules are important to a routine and a routine is important to bedtime. Just like small children need a bedtime routine, so do puppies. What the puppy can and can’t do before bedtime needs to be firmly identified and consistently enforced. If you're diligent about this training it will allow you to establish a set routine that will serve you well throughout the life of your canine companion.
Now that the routine issues have been taken care of, you can focus on the actual sleeping accommodations.
For a sleepless puppy, you can try to provide a heated dog bed or warm blanket for him. Heat is comforting for young dogs, especially ones that are scared or afraid of their new environment. Include some sort of white noise or soft sound for the dog as well, so that he's not jumping at every new noise that breaks the silence. Fans work really well for this.
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Crate training is also a potential option for trying to get a puppy to sleep. Training your dog to sleep in a crate requires making sure he has a connection between the crate and positivity. Put treats in the kennel and other fun things for him to find so that he's making only positive connotations when it comes to his crate.
Don’t send him to his crate as a punishment or for anything negative whatsoever.
The kennel/crate should mean nighttime, not punishment. If you want to provide a heated source for the puppy while he is in the crate, you can—place a heating pad beneath the crate on one side so that there is a place for him to curl up and fall asleep. By training your puppy to sleep in a defined space, it makes bedtime much easier than if he were to have a less-consistent sleeping location each time.
Also, if you were to move, the crate would still be a firm reminder of bedtime. That would make putting your puppy to bed a much easier prospect, even if the environment surrounding him was a new one. Similarly, if you are planning to travel with your puppy frequently, having him crate trained will make his sleeping routine easier to follow while away from home.
Dog beds can have the same benefits as crates or kennels. They give your dog his own space to sleep and can be easily moved or taken along while traveling. The only downside is that it may be harder to train your pooch to stay on his dog bed in the beginning.
Obviously, you can shut the door of a kennel and within just a few nights your puppy will understand that the kennel is where he needs to sleep. Dog beds aren't that easy.
You'll need to train your dog to stay on his bed at night by praising him and rewarding him when he does what he's supposed to. This could lead to a lot of waking up at night and putting your puppy back on his bed in the beginning, but it will all be worth it in the end. Soon enough he'll be sleeping peacefully on his bed all night, and you'll be sleeping through the night too.
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A good night's rest is just as important for your dog as it is for you. In the same ways that sufficient sleep helps our bodies heal and recharge, it does the same thing for canines. Getting good rest every night will have excellent benefits for your pet including:
- he'll be happier
- he'll be more energetic
- he'll be less anxious
- he will have better overall health and wellness
Figuring out how to ensure good sleep for puppies comes down to starting early and working through any potential issues he may have from the start. Giving your puppy the activity he requires during the day will leave him tired at bedtime. As long as you keep a consistent bedtime routine and give him a comfortable place to sleep, he should be sleeping soundly through the night in no time.