How to get your puppy to sleep through the night

How to get your puppy to sleep through the night

If you’re struggling with sleepless nights with your new puppy, you’re not alone. Puppies are like babies and it can take a while before they will sleep comfortably through the night. Unfortunately this means a few weeks of disrupted sleep for you. Here’s how to get your puppy to sleep through the night.

How long should puppies sleep?

Young puppies need to sleep a lot when they are little. In fact, just like babies they can spend more time asleep than awake. The amount they need to sleep decreases with age. However, it will be a while before they settle into a regular pattern of sleep.

How long will a puppy sleep at night?

By the time your puppy is three or four months old, they should be able to sleep through the night. This does mean that you need to prepare for a few weeks of disrupted sleep and midnight toilet breaks. This often comes as a big shock to first time puppy parents!

How to get a puppy to sleep through the night

Start by establishing a good bedtime routine on the first night with your new puppy:

  • For the first first couple of weeks, it may be helpful to have your puppy in your bedroom. Alternatively, you can set up a temporary bed for yourself next to where your puppy sleeps. This is so they don’t wake up and feel anxious about being on their own. You may choose to use a crate as an aid to sleep training. 
  • Make sure your puppy has had their last meal at least an hour before you want to go to bed.
  • Spend time with your puppy to tire them out so they are ready to sleep. Avoid high energy games right before bed as this will likely excite them. Instead, work on some training, or another type of mental enrichment before settling them down with a small chew to help them relax and drift off to sleep.
  • You may find it easier to let them fall asleep on you and then move them to their bed or crate.

Getting puppies to sleep through the night needs to be balanced with toilet training your puppy. They won’t be able to hold a wee or poo through the night. Be prepared to factor in some midnight toilet trips.

How to stop puppy crying at night

All puppies cry and it is their way of telling you something. It may be that your puppy is feeling anxious. After all your puppy has been used to sleeping with his or her mum and siblings and they are now having to get used to sleeping on their own.

Or they may be telling you they need to go to the toilet. If your puppy cries during the night, take them out to the garden or to their toilet spot. When they go, calmly praise them (you don’t want to make them think it’s playtime) and then settle them back into their bed again. Sometimes just offering your hand for your dog to sniff if they wake and cry is enough for them to settle back down to sleep.

Your puppy may also whine for your attention. You should soon learn which sounds you need to respond to and which to ignore. Be patient – which of course can be hard when you’re feeling exhausted.

How long will a puppy cry before falling asleep?

Research shows that leaving a puppy to cry will make them more distressed. You’re also likely to find them covered in their own wee and poo if they have been left to cry. By establishing a good bedtime routine and continuing your puppy’s house training during the night, you will soon return to those pre-puppy eight-hours-a-night sleeps.

How to teach a puppy sleep in his bed

You may be tempted to bring your puppy into your bed to sleep at first. However, once they get used to sleeping with you it can be hard to get a puppy to sleep alone.

It’s a good idea to let your puppy sleep near you to begin with. This is until they start to feel more secure in their new home. Bring their bed into your room and put your puppy in their bed before you get into yours.

  • Use command words – such as ‘Time for bed’.
  • Reward your puppy for staying in their bed.
  • If they leave their bed, calmly put them back again, using your command words, and praise them for staying put. 
  • If they cry, your puppy may need to go to the toilet. Take them to the garden or their toilet spot. Then then take them back to their bed, using your command words.

By using praise and reward you are positively reinforcing your puppy’s good behaviour. This is the best and kindest way for helping a puppy to learn.

You may find it helpful to train your puppy to sleep in a crate. You can always bring the crate into your bedroom so that your puppy can sense that you are nearby. Gradually move the crate out of the bedroom as your puppy starts to feel more secure. 

How to get sleep with a new puppy

Many first time puppy parents struggle with sleep deprivation in the early weeks. It’s quite common, when you feel so exhausted, to experience the puppy blues and even a sense of regret at getting a puppy. The good news is that the sleepless nights will pass. Until then, you may need to find ways to catch up on your own sleep during the day, such as taking a nap when your puppy is napping.

Frequently asked questions by other new dog owners

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