How to Train a Puppy to Sleep Through the Night

Congratulations on your new puppy! This is an exciting time that can cause tears of joy and frustration. Puppies are like human babies, and nighttime crying can happen for several reasons. 

This article discusses how to train your puppy to sleep through the night. We’ll also cover.

  • How much sleep do dogs need?
  • How long does it take for a puppy to sleep through the night?
  • Where should my puppy sleep?
  • Creating a daily schedule
  • How to train a puppy to sleep through the night
  • How to stop your new puppy from crying at night
  • And more puppy sleeping tips! 

How much sleep do dogs need?

Several factors, such as age, health, weight, size, breed, and environment, can affect a dog’s sleeping habits. 

While most adult dogs will sleep for between 12 and 14 hours, there are exceptions. Larger breeds can sleep for extensive periods, often up to 18 hours a day if they’re unstimulated. 

Dogs will only use energy when it’s necessary. Working dogs often engage in less sleep as they’re focused on their duties.

Puppies sleep a few more hours than adult dogs, and it’s not unusual to catch them sleeping for 18 to 20 hours a day. 

Puppies burn a lot of energy through play and require sleep to refuel. Sleep is essential for healthy growth, contributing to the development of your pup.

How long does it take for a puppy to sleep through the night?

At 12 to 16 weeks old most puppies will be sleeping through the night. However, some may still wake up for the occasional potty break. Having a good feeding and toilet training routine can help stop these nighttime urges.

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Where should my puppy sleep at night?

Although it’s tempting to let your puppy fall asleep on your lap, you don’t want them to become dependent on you. 

Choose a safe space for your puppy to sleep. This could be a bed, a crate, or a blanket in a quiet corner of the house. Whatever you choose, make it known to your dog that this is where you want them to rest.

If you want your puppy to sleep with you, that’s OK, but consider the size of your dog when it’s fully grown. Larger breeds will take up a large part of your bed, and it can be hard to break sleeping habits. Also, be absolutely sure that the puppy cannot fall or jump off your bed – puppies can easily break bones hopping off the bed in the middle of the night.

Crate training may help, and dogs often see the crate as a safe space if you train them to use it correctly. Crates are easy to move around so, you can have your pup in the bedroom at night and in the living room in the day. A crate can also help prevent any accidents in the house while keeping your dog away from anything unsafe.

Check out this video which shows how using a puppy crate can help with a night routine.

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Create a daily schedule first

Following a daily schedule will help your puppy’s sleeping habits fall into place. 

Morning puppy schedule 

When I wake up, my first instinct is to go to the bathroom, and it’s safe to assume that the same applies to your puppy. So as soon as they’ve woken up, take your pup to use the potty area.

After allowing your puppy outside to relieve itself give the little one some breakfast.

A puppy’s digestive tract is quick and efficient, so about five minutes after eating, give your puppy another bathroom break.

Spend 30 to 60 minutes of quality playtime with your puppy, giving them plenty of mental and physical stimulation.

After playtime, let them rest. All puppies are different. Some may have a 30-minute nap, whereas others might be able to sleep for a couple of hours.

Give your puppy another potty break when they wake up from their nap before feeding them their lunch.

Afternoon puppy schedule 

After lunch, take your pup for another bathroom break. 

Then schedule an hour of playtime, allowing them to explore their surroundings before settling your pup down for another nap.

As soon as your puppy wakes up, take them to their potty area.

Take some more time out to play with your puppy and get to know them.

Your pup should be ready for another nap after some quality stimulation.

Again, once your puppy has woken up from sleep, take them for a potty break.

Evening puppy schedule

Now it’s dinnertime. Give your pup their dinner at the same time as you have yours, so it occupies them while you’re eating. Usually, puppies are much faster at wolfing their food than we are. You can prolong their eating time by putting their puppy food inside a food puzzle such as a kong. 

Pro tip: Feeding meals in the crate is also a great way to make your puppy like his crate!

Food puzzles give you time to finish your dinner before having to take your puppy for, you guessed it, another potty break. However, this time take your pup for a walk. Walking provides your puppy the opportunity to socialize outside of the family home. 

Once you return from your walk, schedule some more playtime. Lots of mental and physical stimulation before bed will help prepare your pup for bedtime. 

Then, it’s one last potty break before bed, and fingers crossed, your four-legged friend will be out like a light.

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How to train your puppy to sleep through the night

Create a safe and cozy environment 

Wherever you plan on letting your puppy sleep, try to make it a safe and cozy environment. You may want to use a cushion, dog bed, or blankets to line a dog crate. 

Don’t bother buying an expensive bed for the time being because it’s likely they’ll be teething and may destroy it. Also, avoid wool blankets that your puppy can shred’ as these can become a choking hazard.

You can also supply a comfort aid. This could be a cuddly toy or a favorite blanket. 

Establish a bedtime routine

By establishing a bedtime routine, your puppy will soon learn when it’s time to go to sleep. Take away any food at least three hours before bedtime and restrict water intake for the last hour. Make sure your puppy has some exercise, mental and physical, before one last potty break and settling down for the night.

Try soothing scents or sounds 

There are many scents you can try to soothe your puppy, such as dog appeasing pheromones (DAP). DAP imitates the smell of their mother when she is feeding her litter.

If you have yet to collect your puppy, you can try leaving a blanket with the breeder so mum can use it. This way, when you bring your new puppy home, you have the perfect comforter with the scent of the litter all over it. 

You can also try natural scents such as lavender, chamomile, or marjoram, known for their calming properties.

Sounds can also help a pup to sleep. Classical music, white noise, or heartbeat toys can help your dog deal with separation anxiety and get a good night’s sleep.

And placing the crate right next to your bed means your puppy will be able to smell and hear you, and can even nuzzle your hand if you reach down to say goodnight.

Be prepared for nighttime potty breaks 

Prepare yourself for disturbances in the middle of the night, as your puppy may wake up multiple times for a potty break. The first night is always the most challenging but it will get easier.

If you hear crying at night, gently take them from their sleeping quarters and place them in the potty area. You may want to set an alarm for night potty breaks if you notice accidents, and you can’t hear your dog whine.

If your puppy eliminates, quietly offer verbal praise before putting them back in the crate or bed. 

Should I leave my puppy to cry at night?

Leaving your puppy to cry in the middle of the night can increase their stress levels. This may cause behavioral problems such as separation anxiety. The experience of separation from their mum and siblings can be stressful, and they’ll often require comforting before they go back to sleep.

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How to stop your puppy from crying at night?

If you hear your puppy whine or cry at night they may want to go potty, or require a bit of reassurance. There are a few things you can try to combat nighttime crying:

  • Change their sleeping location: Place their bed close to yours at night. This doesn’t have to be a long-term solution. As your puppy grows and begins to settle, you can gradually move them out of your room.
  • Change your sleeping location: If you don’t want your puppy sleeping in your bedroom, you may want to try sleeping close to them. Set up a temporary bed in the room your dog sleeps in and gradually move out when your pup settles. 
  • Use a comfort aid: You may want to try a snuggle puppy. This is a comfort aid that mimics the heartbeat and heat of the mother and littermates. Other comfort aids such as blankets and stuffed toys can also work a treat, especially ‘mum’ scented ones. 

Can dogs have sleep disorders?

Yes, your dog can develop a sleeping disorder. Narcolepsy, sleep apnea, REM behavior disorder, and insomnia can affect dogs.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder relating to the nervous system, generally affecting younger dogs. Breeds such as the Doberman Pinscher, Poodle, Labrador Retriever, and Dachshund are more susceptible. 

The reason narcolepsy occurs is due to a genetic condition that causes the level of hypocretin in your dog’s body to drop. Hypocretin is a chemical that helps your pup stay alert and maintain a regular sleep pattern. 

It’s incurable, but you can speak to a vet as there are medications and steps you can take to relieve the symptoms.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a rare disorder, but it’s more common in breeds with flatter faces and overweight canines. It’s a condition in which internal fat or an abnormal respiratory system can obstruct the airways temporarily during sleep. This can interfere with your dog’s sleeping pattern.

REM Behavior Disorder

REM behavior disorder results in your pup engaging in physical activity during sleep. In extreme cases, it can disrupt your dog’s sleeping pattern. If you suspect REM behavior disorder, seek veterinary advice.

Insomnia 

Insomnia is a disorder in which other health issues keep your dog awake. This may be something as simple as having fleas, or painful conditions like arthritis can also cause insomnia. Seek veterinary advice to find the underlying cause before trying to treat insomnia

Bonus puppy sleep tips

  • Make the sleeping area is safe and cozy.
  • Keep a quiet environment and turn off the lights. If you’re not quite ready to sleep yourself, dim the lights and keep the volume down.
  • Training your pup to use a crate can help establish a routine. You can put the crate in your bedroom, so it’s easier to hear your pup.
  • Take your puppy for a walk and have some playtime before bed.
  • Restrict food intake three hours before bedtime and water intake one hour before.
  • Always make time for one last potty break before bedtime.
  • Prepare yourself for nighttime potty breaks and aim to react calmly.

Key points on getting your pup to sleep through the night

Puppies can be sensitive to small changes, so establishing a routine is essential to helping them sleep through the night. It’s important to remember that every puppy is different, but plenty of love and persistence will see them through.

Kate Basedow, LVT
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