Has your new puppy been waking you up at night? Are you wondering why your puppy won't sleep? While your new puppy’s sleep schedule might not (yet) be in sync with yours, there are still plenty of things you can do to help both of you get as much sleep as possible.
For the first several nights and weeks, you should make peace with the fact that you’re just not going to get a full night’s sleep.
But the time and dedication you put in now will help you reach that point sooner (before sleep deprivation makes you start speaking in tongues to shadow people). Check out the tips below so you and your puppy can get back to that deep REM sleep as soon as possible.
Where Should Your Puppy Sleep at Nighttime? Start With a Crate
While you may eventually want to let your dog sleep in bed with you (or your kids), it really is best if your pup at least starts out sleeping in a crate — you can always let them in the bed later, once they’re fully potty-trained, sleeping soundly, and happily acclimated to and recognizing that their crate is their “happy place.
Whether you put their crate in your room or in another, that’s a different topic all together. Check out this article to see all you need to know about crate-training your new puppy.
Carriers and Kennels
The carriers and kennels listed below are great for puppies because they're sturdy, easy to clean, and can easily be broken down for transport. The MidWest iCrate even comes with a special divider that allows it to grow as your puppy grows, which is a fantastically useful feature! Check out our article "Choosing the Best Crate for Your Dog and Your Life" for more tips on how to choose and set up your puppy's crate.
Adding a cover to the crate: If you choose to use a wire crate, like the MidWest crate featured, you may want to consider adding a cover (make sure to choose the size that fits the crate you have). It's not necessary, but it could possibly help by creating a more den-like space for your pup.
This would be a preference only your dog will weigh-in on, in that if your particular dog is helped by having their crate covered, this is likely a better option than towels, sheets, or blankets, as this fits more snuggly, possibly allows better airflow and, looks nicer, and is less likely to get pulled through and eaten. However, if your dog does have a habit of pulling their crate covers through and eating them, I recommend against covering their crate in general.
Get Comfy With Dog Beds and Pads
Dogs can be pretty resilient when it comes to finding a space to sleep, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like to be comfy, too. Make sure to line your crate with lots of fluffy towels or blankets (unless your dog is prone to shredding and/or eating such things). Even easier, pick up a comfortable dog bed so your puppy has somewhere welcoming to tuck in for the night. (Tip: For young puppies, look for a bed or mat that’s waterproof, or at least easily washable, and also chew-proof!)
The options recommended below are durable, comfortable, and waterproof, making them a good fit to cozy up the bottom of your dog's crate. And the recommended raised dog bed is not only comfortable, but a great way to get your dog off the floor of their crate, allowing for air circulation and a way for your dog to avoid laying in a mess if they have an accident.
K9 Ballistics Raised Dog Cot
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K9 Ballistics Tuff Crate Pad
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Make sure to give your pup plenty of exercise throughout the evening and before bedtime. If they’re just lounging around at night while you’re watching TV, they’re likely to get their ZZZs in early so they’ll be wide awake when you’re ready for bed. Spend a good 20–30 minutes playing with your pup (outside or inside) a couple of times during the evening. Not only will this tire them out, it will give them some always-important physical exercise. It’ll also help get things moving to help them “clear the pipes” before bedtime, so you’re less likely to find a fresh puppy mess in the morning or, worse, in bed with you.
Additionally, mental exercise can help put them in a sleepy frame of mind. Consider giving your pup’s evening meal(s) from a puzzle feeder, and maybe try doing some work on their basic skill-training at night, too. Below are some of my favorite food puzzles and interactive feeders. They're fun for dogs and tricky enough to engage their brains, yet not so difficult that a dog will become frustrated and give up.
While you don’t want to feed your pup right before bed, depending on their age, you may want to give them a small meal a couple of hours before bedtime, so they don't prematurely wake up hungry (again, consider an interactive feeder).
Late-Night Potty Break
If you want to get through the night without a puppy who’s whimpering to go to the bathroom — or wake up to a puppy who went to the bathroom anyway — it’s always wise to go for one last potty break just before bed.
You've probably been asking yourself "when do puppies sleep through the night?" Keep in mind that a puppy isn't physically able to hold their bladder very long, so expect to wake up for at least one bathroom break in the middle of the night, if not more. As your puppy grows, they should be better able to hold it overnight around 16 to 18 weeks of age (and sometimes older for toy or small breeds).
Pro Tip: If your puppy is waking up around the same time each night needing to use the bathroom, set your alarm 15 - 30 minutes beforehand. Give them a quick potty break and then head back to bed. This will prevent any whining or pawing at their crate if they wake up on their own and need to go outside. Preemptive training is always preferred over reactive training!
Establish a Bedtime Routine
Chances are you don’t often stop whatever you’re doing right in the middle of it and go to bed. Most people have some sort of nightly routine, and the same should go for your puppy. Don’t expect them to know it’s time for bed and immediately get sleepy. Instead, start establishing a routine. Before bed, give them their final snack, try a few minutes of playtime, then follow with a late-night potty break. You can even lead them to their crate with a favorite toy. Whatever your routine, try to be consistent. The more consistent you are, the sooner they’ll begin to understand when it’s time for bed. They might even start to get excited about it.
Make it Zen and Comfy
This Snuggle Puppy is cute enough to warm your heart but, more importantly, it'll give your pup some much needed comfort as they get settled into their new home. This cuddle buddy, with its “real-feel” heartbeat (which dogs can both hear and feel) and its gentle warmth heat source, is a "super stuffy” that really can help ease transitions for dogs. The reviews and photos people have submitted for this product are absolutely heartwarming, you really should check them out.
Preventive Vet staff review: Mary Berry was having a difficult time sleeping alone in her crate — our guess was that she was missing her mom and litter mates. The first night we put the Snuggle Puppy inside Mary Berry’s crate, she slept soundly, only waking up to be let out for a bathroom break. She slept so soundly with the Snuggle Puppy, we would bring it with us when visiting friends so she had a comfortable piece of home to rest with. I highly recommend the Snuggle Puppy to help your new puppy sleep through the night!
Pro Tip: The Snuggle Puppy can last for years. Even when your dog doesn't need it at night, just take out the batteries and heating pack and your dog will still carry it around!
Another important feature of the Snuggle Puppy is that it's washable (just don't forget to remove the batteries first!*).
*Safety Tip: Speaking of batteries, be sure to keep a close eye on your dog when they're first interacting and snuggling with their Snuggle Puppy! If your dog's idea of "snuggling" this toy involves mouthing, chewing, or disemboweling, be sure to take the toy away from them. Batteries are very dangerous for dogs if they are swallowed.
Soothing sights, sounds, and smells can really help to set the mood for sleep. The Adaptil pheromone diffuser can help put your puppy in a calm, sleepy-time mood. You might even try a spritz from an Adaptil pump on the crate bed/mat shortly before placing your puppy in their crate. (No more than one or two spritzes — more is NOT better — and not when they’re in the crate.)
Other things like the smell of lavender and calming music or white noise can also be effective at sending your puppy off to meet the Sandman. The speaker below is great because it comes preloaded with over an hour of "Through a Dog's Ear," music that has been specifically created to help calm anxious or fearful dogs.
Through a Dog's Ear Speaker and SD card
Just like you, your pup’s sleep-wake cycles are influenced by melatonin, a hormone that is affected by the amount and duration of light in the environment. Melatonin is a sleep-inducing hormone and its production goes up when the lights go down. So turn off the lights in the room where your pup is sleeping. This means turning off the phone, tablet, and TV screens, too.
The End Goal
Most puppies will sleep through the night by the time they’re about 4 months (16 weeks) old. But with some help, diligence, and proactive training, you may be able to get your puppy there even earlier!
Just remember, it’ll all be worth it in the end — for both of you.
Related Articles:Crate Training Your Puppy at Night
Everything You Need to Know About Crate Training Your Puppy
Puppy Zone: How to Set Up a Long-Term Confinement Area
Potty Training Problems for Puppies and How to Prevent Accidents
Puppy Potty Training Log: Free Download
How to Exercise Your Dog Indoors
Choosing the Best Interactive Toys and Food Puzzles for Your Dog
Choosing the Best Dog Crate for Your Dog and Your Life
What to Put (and Not Put) in Your Dog's Crate