Congratulations on your new puppy! They will bring so much joy to your house. But at 2am, when you’re lying in bed and they won’t. stop. crying. you might not be feeling too joyful. So how do you get your puppy to go to sleep and stay that way? Well every puppy is different, and no puppy will sleep through the night their first day in your home, but we’ve got seven tips to help ease the transition. Before you know it, you’ll be catching major Z’s.
The 7 tips for sleep success
1. Create a bedtime routine
Puppies don’t have a great sense of time, so if you don’t tell them that bedtime is coming, they might not start winding down. Bedtime routines can be soothing and they prepare the brain for sleep. Your routine can be your own combination of dinner, playtime, cuddles, and bathroom breaks, just keep it consistent so your puppy always knows that sleep is right around the corner!
2. Wear them out with exercise
A worn out puppy is a sleepy puppy! Physical activity will tire your pup out and they will sleep for longer stretches at a time. But mental energy can keep a puppy up just as easily as physical energy, so try a puzzle feeder for dinner or do some late night training to tire out their mind as well as their body.
3. Limit food and water before bed
Most puppies have to go to the bathroom after dinner, so don’t wait to feed them until right before bed. Give them time to digest before they go to sleep. You might also want to limit water for a few hours before bedtime so they don’t wake you up to go outside every fifteen minutes just as you are falling asleep. Puppies have really small bladders, so they will almost certainly not be able to hold it all night, but anything that you can do to make bathroom wake up calls few and far between is a victory!
4. Take them out for a last minute potty break
Speaking of small bladders, taking your pup outside right before bed can allow for deeper and longer sleep before they’ve got to go again. A good rule of thumb is that puppies can last one hour for every month of age before they need to potty. So a three month old puppy can only last three hours before they will need to go. This can be a little bit longer for sleeping puppies.
5. Consider a crate or pen for your puppy
What kind of sleep set up you choose is totally up to you, but some might let you get a better night sleep than others. Most people recommend a crate or pen for new puppies. This keeps them (and your house) safe as they can’t get into any trouble while you’re sleeping. If you’re crate training your puppy, make sure the crate is the right size for your dog. Some crates come with dividers so you can size them up as your pup grows!
If you’re not about that potty wake-up call life, you might want to think about a pen with a crate or bed in it. This can allow your dog some space away from their bed to use a pee pad, giving you some much needed rest and keeping your pup clean, dry, and happy.
6. Let them sleep in the room with you
Puppies are used to sleeping next to their mom and their litter-mates. To suddenly be on their own can be really frightening. They are in a new space with new people who all seem really nice, but aren’t there in the crate. For the first few weeks that your puppy is in your home, you might want to consider keeping their crate or bed in your room. This way they can hear and smell you and will be comforted if they wake up scared. After a few weeks, you can slowly move their bed to wherever you want them to get used to sleeping. Alternately, you can set up a bed for yourself wherever you want them to sleep and have yourself a slumber party for the first few weeks they are home.
Sleeping near your new pup will help you hear when they need to go outside and will also prevent some of the worst of the lonely crying. Just let them snuffle at your fingers when they wake up to calm them down. Avoid giving them too much attention in response to their crying, as this can teach them to cry when they want midnight snuggles.
7. Give them lots of blankets and toys
You want your puppy to love their bed! If your pup is uncomfortable or distressed, they definitely won’t sleep through the night. Put lots of pillows and blankets wherever you want them to sleep. Puppies love to snuggle up. If your dog’s idea of snuggling is ripping things apart, less is probably more here. You might also want to include an old t-shirt in this pile of goodies so your puppy can get some scent comfort from you. If you’re crate training your puppy, consider covering the crate with a blanket, towel, or official crate cover to keep their den dark and protect them from drafts.
You also want to start making positive associations with their bed. Try giving them treats on their bed or feeding them meals there. The happier they are on their bed, the easier bedtime will go.
This stuffed animal is specially designed for puppies to help them transition into your home anxiety-free. The toy plays a heartbeat and comes with a heat pack to mimic the comforts that your puppy is used to with their mom and litter-mates.
Puppies can’t always sleep through the night, even with our best efforts
Some of us have unrealistic expectations for our puppies. Remember, they are just like babies. “Sleeping through the night” is relative. No matter how good of a sleeper your pup is, chances are, they won’t let you get an uninterrupted eight hours. If you keep your expectations realistic, you might find that your pup starts to meet them before you know it.
Puppies will need middle of the night bathroom breaks. No matter how sleepy, your puppy will need to relieve themselves during the night. Their bladders are too small to last the entire night. A good rule of thumb is that puppies can hold their bladder one hour for every month old they are. A four month old puppy can last about four hours before needing to use the bathroom. This is just an estimate and can vary depending on the breed, size, and personality of your pup. Remember, if you don’t want to wake up to let your puppy out, consider giving them access to pee pads that are some distance from their beds so they can go when they need to.
Puppies will wake you up early. Sleeping through the night also has a very strict definition of the term “night”. Your puppy will be up and ready to start the day early, whether you want to sleep in or not. Waking up at 6am is still a win! Let your puppy out, play with them a bit, and then lay down for some cuddles while you get a little more shut eye.
The most important thing to do is understand that you and your new puppy are on the same team. You both want a good night’s sleep where you both feel safe, comfortable, and well rested! With patience and understanding, your puppy will be sleeping through the night in no time!