Things that Go Bump in the Night

Or why does my dog wake at an ungodly hour
By Sally Bradbury

Young puppies won’t sleep all night unless you are very lucky, so expect to be up in the early hours with them needing the toilet. If puppy is happily sleeping with you, then there is a good chance that they will join you in a bit more sleep before their day needs to begin.

Given a stress-free introduction to sleeping through the night, most dogs will contentedly sleep the same hours as you. If you have an adult dog that wakes in the night or an hour before you want to get up and then wakes you, too, then here are some things you can try:

  • Have the dog in the bedroom with you. This will be a good fix if the cause of waking is distress at being separated from you, or if the dog is being regularly disturbed in the room where he would usually sleep; wildlife in the back garden, a neighbour leaving to work an early shift, or the boiler switching on can all disturb a sleeping dog
  • If your adult dog is still sleeping in a crate, then consider that he may prefer to be able to get up, stretch his legs, move somewhere else, and settle back to sleep. If he must be in a crate, address the reason why. Meanwhile, provide a larger crate with an area of warm bedding and an area where he can move away from it in case he is hot or cold
  • If he is waking because he needs the toilet, make sure he is given the opportunity to completely empty before bedtime. Sometimes a short walk will get things moving. If he needs to poo early in the morning, then change the time of his last meal; usually to later so it doesn’t need to exit until later in the morning
  • If he’s waking up hungry, then a supper time snack is the answer
  • Finally, you can retrain his body clock by setting your alarm to just before he would normally wake so that you wake him up and then move it on by a minute a day until you are where you need to be. You may need to backtrack during this process

Oh, and don’t expect a dog to know that he must sleep in on a weekend. If he does, that’s a bonus.