How to Keep a Dog Sleeping All Night

By Cate Rushton

As a responsible pet owner, it’s your job to establish a routine that will help your dog sleep through the night. Regularly scheduled meals, potty breaks and exercise help him snooze while the rest of the family is sleeping. Everyone in the family functions best with a good night’s sleep, including the dog.

Establish a Sleeping Spot

During his first few months of life, your puppy slept in a warm pile of litter mates, snuggled up to his mom. Now he has to adjust to sleeping alone. Help him make the transition by creating a comfy sleeping spot in a crate or puppy bed. Add a special toy and a soft blanket and place it near your bed so he’ll feel close to you during the night.

Dogs of all ages like to sleep near their people, and some become anxious if they're separated all night. If your dog is house-trained, you can establish his sleeping spot anywhere you’d like. Put his dog bed or special blanket in a corner of the bedroom, or somewhere near his sleeping family. Some pet parents allow their pups to sleep in bed with them; others find that their furry friends keep them awake all night. Experiment with some different sleeping spots, then choose the one that works best and stick to it.

Minimize Nighttime Needs

A young puppy can’t hold his bladder all night long. Be prepare to wake up and take him out for the first few months. It's no fun to be awakened from a deep sleep in the middle of the night, but when your puppy does wake you to eliminate, don't be cranky. He's exhibiting the desired behavior -- going out to potty -- instead of soiling in the house.

To minimize nighttime potty adventures, set a feeding schedule for a dog of any age. Feed him his last meal several hours before bedtime. Take him out for a short walk or play session within a couple hours of dinner, when he’ll be ready to move his bowels. Take your dog out again just before bedtime.

Reassure a Whining Puppy

If your puppy whines in the middle of the night, don’t immediately get him up, but speak softly to him and reassure him. If the whining continues, make sure he doesn’t need to eliminate. Take him outside and go right to his spot, then straight back to his bed -- you don’t want to establish middle-of-the-night playtime.

Once you’re sure he’s not whining because of bladder discomfort, ignore him. At first, he may become more distressed, but over time he should settle in. If you jump up to let him out every time he whines, you’ll teach him that he can get up and play or snuggle during the night.

Help Your Older Dog Sleep

Your dog’s sleep cycle changes as he ages. He may start sleeping more during the day, then feel restless all night. If your older dog starts keeping you up at night, take him in for a veterinarian checkup to rule out medical problems that might affect his sleep.

Try to help him regain his old sleeping pattern by providing more exercise during the day. Keep him busy with interactive food puzzle toys when he’s alone, and provide him with plenty of personal interaction in the evening. Some older dogs do well in dog daycare, where the company of others keeps them alert and engaged.