Six Tips for Sleep Training Your Puppy
By Becky Streeter
Puppies are a lot of work, and they can seem like even more work if you are not getting the proper amount of sleep because you are up with them at night. Puppies need to sleep between 12-20 hours per day, and you want to make sure a good chunk of that happens when you are sleeping, too. Here are some tips for sleep training your puppy:
Purchase a properly sized crate and keep it in your room for at least the first few weeks. Having a safe and secure place will be comforting to your puppy who is likely scared because he is in a new location and misses his mama and siblings.
Place a cozy bed with raised sides or blanket that smells like you in the crate for your puppy to snuggle. Ensure all your dog bedding is washable in case of an accident.
Create a “bedtime” routine. For example: feed the last meal at least three hours prior to bedtime for optimal digestion, go for a walk, and gently play for a few minutes to get that last bit of energy out. Dogs thrive on routine and quickly learn the meaning behind certain cues.
Sleep when your puppy sleeps. If you put your puppy to bed and then make noise throughout the house, your puppy will have a hard time settling down. Going to sleep at the same time creates a quiet, calm atmosphere and prepares you for a potentially long night of potty breaks or an early, excitable morning. If you are unable to go to bed at the same time, you can try a Snuggle Puppy, which has a ‘real feel’ heartbeat that simulates sleeping with a litter.
If your puppy is crying at bedtime, let him outside to go potty–one time only. If you repeatedly let him out, he will learn that all he has to do is cry in order to stay up later. If he just went out, he’s looking for a little love and affection. Comfort him with a gentle reassuring voice or sit quietly by his crate until he falls asleep.
If your puppy cries in the middle of the night, take him outside to go potty. Puppies need to relieve themselves every 2-4 hours, and including in the middle of the night. Be as quiet and calm as possible while bringing your puppy outside, and then head right back to the crate without a fuss.
A Couple of Do Not’s:
Do not put toys in your puppy’s sleeping area that could be choking hazards if torn apart.
Once in the crate, don’t interact with your puppy in a way that might excite him or be interpreted as playful.
Never punish your puppy for crying or having accidents at night. Positive reinforcement and praise for doing good things will get you the desired outcome a lot faster and will build a much stronger bond between you and your puppy.
Source: Gollakner, Dr. Rania. “How to Get Your Puppy On a Healthy Sleeping Schedule.” PetMD by Chewy. 10 February 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/puppy-sleep-schedule.