My Dog Is Waking Up Too Early: What Do I Do?Medically Reviewed
Is your dog making you into a morning person, even on days you don't have to be? Is there anything you can do that will make your pet sleep in a bit? This article will give you some tips.
The weekend is here at last! You will finally get some well-deserved sleep, right?
Judging by the look of your dog standing next to your dog, maybe you won’t after all…
So, how can you get your dog to sleep in at least a bit more?
This is not an uncommon problem and most of us go through it at some point with our dog, especially when they’re puppies. The waking up early is usually not the problem, but the early-morning barking and whining. Naturally, we can’t expect our dogs to sleep every time we want them to. However, if this turns into a habit it can really become a problem.
So, what do you do?
How Do I Stop My Dog From Waking Me Up?
If you have a puppy, you can’t expect him or her to go through the entire night without waking you up. Puppies don’t have full bladder control and will need to go out at least one time during the night. So, here’s the truth: it’s normal that puppy wakes up early.
If your adult dog wakes you up once in a while, you shouldn’t be surprised – it’s just part of being a dog owner. But, if this happens almost every morning, it’s normal that you want to change this kind of behavior. If that’s the case, here’s what you can do:
1. Rule Out Medical Problems
First of all, make sure your dog doesn’t have some health problem. Your pet might have some issue that’s keeping him or her up. For instance, it could be a urinary tract infection, digestive problems or a skin allergy.
A medical problem of some kind could be behind the early waking up. So, before you try to change this habit, take your dog to the vet and see if something else is making your dog wake up. Look out for signs such as frequent urination, scratching or stomach gurgling.
2. Tire Your Dog Out
If everything is fine with your dog and no medical issue is behind this behavior, you can breathe out. However, now you have to find a solution for your problem. The first thing you can try is to wear out your dog. Maybe the reason behind the early mornings is too much energy?
So, take long walks before bed time or play a lot outside. Whatever your dog and you like – the point is to be as active as possible. Another option is to leave your dog at a doggy daycare during the day. This way your dog will get rid of energy by playing with other dogs, instead of being alone at home while you’re at work. This is a great alternative for busy dog owners with active dogs.
3. Feed Earlier And Better
Invest in high-quality dog food, as this reduces fecal output. As a result, your dog won’t wake you up because of his physiological needs. Also, feed you dog a bit earlier so he has time to digest the food before bedtime. Go out for a walk just before it’s time to go to sleep so your dog can do what has to be done before.
Vet tip: Low quality dog food is likely to swell in the stomach which gives the urge for a bowel movement. You can test the quality of the food by adding a cup of water to a bowl of dry dog food and if it swells by more than 50% the quality is not good enough.
4. Feed Later
Here comes a completely opposite tip from the previous one. What works for one dog, doesn’t necessarily work for another dog. You’ll simply have to try both and see what works best for your pet.
Try feeding your dog later at night, as the reason behind your dog’s early mornings could be hunger. So, instead of serving two big meals, try giving more small meals throughout the day. Giving the last meal close to bedtime could make your dog sleep through the night, with his tummy full.
5. Reduce Distractions
Your dog might be a light sleeper. If that’s the case, try to remove as many distractions as possible. So, close the drapes, turn off the lights and the TV. Instead, turn on classical music or music specifically designed for dogs. Music has been proven to relax dogs, which could be great if your dog wakes up easily.
6. Don’t Give Breakfast Right Away
Never give your pet food as soon as he opens his eyes. If you do that, the dog will associate waking up with time for food. If your dog likes to eat, he will want to wake up as soon as possible in order for you to feed him. So, wait a bit when you wake up to give food and your dog won’t think that waking up and eating are connected.
7. Use A Crate
Using a crate or locking your dog out of the room works for some dogs. However, you can’t start using the crate with your adult dog if you’ve never used the crate before. You should crate train your as a puppy, so this is a tip for future dog owners or those of you who have puppies.
It can be tricky to create a good attitude toward the crate, so read this article on crate training and find out how to manage that. As an alternative to the crate, you can lock your dog in another room and see if that works.
Also make sure you leave enough entertainment in the crate/room by adding your dog’s favorite toys.
This can be very difficult for many dog owners, but it can be really effective after some time. If no physiological need is behind it, your dog might just want your attention. If you really feel that you’re not giving him enough attention, try to improve that during the day and see if it makes things better.
However, don’t give in when it’s sleeping time. Ignore the barking, whining and crying – no matter how hard it is. If you give in, even a couple times, your dog will know that he can get your attention and won’t stop trying until he gets it again.
You’re the one who sets the rules, no one else. Be firm, but gentle, and your dog will soon realize that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.
9. Use Natural Remedies
This is something that can work if you want your dog to relax and sleep more. You can find herbal and natural relaxants that come in the form of a plug in diffuser, spray, collar or oral supplements.
However, you should always consult your vet before you give your dog any herbal remedies. It’s very important not to make these decisions on your own, as your vet will be able to give you good advice.
10. Train To Sleep
If none of these tricks work, you’ll have to train your dog to sleep longer. Even though it can take time to get to the desirable time, it works in the long hall. So, here’s what you should do.
The point is to train your dog to associate the alarm with the time to go up. For example, if you want to wake up at 8:00 you should train your dog to wake up then too, with the help of an alarm. So, if your dog is waking you up at 7:00, start setting the alarm for 6:55 and get up then.
When your dog has learned to associate the alarm with wake-up time, you should start pushing the alarm a bit every week. Set your alarm 5 minutes ahead for best results, as the steps should be small, but still noticeable. Even if it’s time-consuming and will make you go up earlier than you want to for some time, you’ll get there eventually! Be persistent!
These tips usually help, you’ll just have to try and see which work for your dog. However, it’s not reasonable to expect your dog to sleep longer in every case. Read on and find out when.
When You Shouldn’t Expect Your Dog To Sleep In
If your adult dog isn’t letting you sleep for some of the reasons above, you’re completely right for wanting to change that. Yet, you shouldn’t expect your dog to sleep though the entire night in these cases:
- If you have a puppy. Until your dog grows up, you can’t expect your puppy to wait like adult dogs can. So, if your puppy wakes you up early in the morning, you’ll have take him out. But – don’t play or cuddle with your dog during that time. If you do that, it’s highly likable that you dog will associate waking you up with something fun – and we’re guessing you don’t want that.
- If you have a senior dog. Just like people, dogs tend to urinate more as they get older due to a weak bladder or urinary sphincter, as well as the onset of canine dementia. So, if your dog is waking you up because it has to go out, you’ll have to be understanding about it.
- If your dog is sick. Common symptoms of various disease include frequent urination and excessive water drinking. If your dog has a medical problem that requires attention from a vet, you have to understand that he’s not waking you up deliberately.
Getting up earlier than you want to – especially on weekends – can be really annoying, we know! While you have to expect that to happen every once in a while if you’re a dog owner, it shouldn’t happen constantly. So, you’ll have to try to find a solution.
First of all, examine if any medical problem could be behind it. If that’s the case the problem is elsewhere, not in the early mornings, and you’ll have to deal with it accordingly. Also, if you have a puppy or an older dog, you’ll have to be prepared to get up as they have to go out more frequently.
But – if your dog doesn’t categorize in any of these groups, you’ll have to be creative and try to make your dog sleep longer. For instance, you can tire your dog out or not feed him before bedtime. There are a lot of ways and you’ll have to test them and see what works for your dog. Finally, you can train your dog to sleep longer, as explained above, which will take some time, but will work in the end.
The conclusion is – you can definitely fix this. You just have to be persistent and discover what works for your pet!
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Joanna de Klerk, BVetMed (hons) MScTAH.
Joanna graduated from the prestigious Royal Veterinary College in London and works as a veterinarian for dogs, cats and horses. She has a particular interest in nutrition, pain management, neurological disorders and welfare. She has written two books 'Tales from a Young Vet' and 'Tales from a Wild Vet'.
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