How to Get a Dog to Sleep

By Tammy Dray

Getting your dog to sleep soundly at night requires that you provide enough exercise that he's tuckered out when you are. You might also need to look into crate training, rethinking your environment and making your home conducive to sleep.

Get Doggie Tired

If your dog doesn't get regular exercise -- real exercise -- then your task may be simple: Make sure the dog's tired in the evening. Take your dog for a run, play fetch at the local park or let him run around with another active dog at a dog park or your secure yard. Just make sure he expends plenty of energy. Sitting won't cut it.

Even mental games can help a dog sleep better. The simplest game you can try is a version of hide-and-seek in which you hide a number of small treats around the house or yard and then allow Brutus to search for them. Start with some treats in plain view or easy-to-find places so he gets the idea of the game, then place treats in harder-to-find places. The more treats you hide, the longer he will spend searching for them and getting tired.

Establish a Routine

Since your dog can't read a clock, introduce a nightly routine that will convey that the household is winding down for the day and it is time for him to do the same. That routine can be anything you want it to be. For example, you can take the dog for a last quick walk, or you can start turning off the lights and putting away toys or bones that he likes. Or you can use those last few minutes before bed for a quick training refresher.

Make Sleep Time Comfortable

If you have a puppy, he might feel more comfortable sleeping in a crate at night. Crate sleeping makes puppies and adult dogs feel secure; in puppies a crate might help stop nighttime crying. Training a puppy to go to his crate to sleep will take some work; often crate-training is part of housebreaking. Try putting a toy or a long-lasting chew treat in the crate just before bedtime. Use a command such as "Go inside," "Sleep" or "Down" so he starts associating the word with the crate. Older puppies and adult dogs can transition to sleeping on a dog bed or on your bed once they have been housebroken.

Other Things You Can Do

For your dog to be able to sleep well at night, he needs to associate his sleeping areas with positive things. If Fido is scared at night or is easily awakened by random noises outside, you can try leaving a radio or the TV on -- but you'll want to be sure the music is not bombastic and the TV shows aren't loud and violent. A fan or another electronic that can produce some white noise might help.