How long does it take a puppy to learn to sleep through the night? Is there a way I can help train him to do it?

Asked by Erin

1 Answer

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The honest answer to this is that it takes as long as it takes! All puppies are different and learning how to sleep through the night, or toilet train, is a very individual thing.

However, there are things you can do to help them!

Firstly, make the space where they sleep as comfortable and secure as possible. Dogs feel most safe in small, enclosed spaces and I regularly recommend the use of puppy crates for exactly this reason. You should provide a comfy bed, a water bowl and an area where they can relieve themselves if necessary. Also, cover over the top with a blanket, to really give it a cosy den-like feel. If the puppy is a very new arrival, include something with the scent of the mother and litter on it can be very settling and when they are a bit older and used to you, replace this with a jumper or shirt of yours.

Other things that can help them settle are DAP diffusers or collars and a favourite toy. Also, when you do put them down for the night make sure their bladder is empty and leave a couple of treats in the bed, so they are distracted when you leave them and so they associate the cage with nice things.

Secondly, and this can be a hard one (!) but don’t give in to their cries. The quickest way for a puppy to learn to cope on their own and sleep right through, is to leave them to it as long as you are happy they are comfortable and secure. The problem is that dogs don’t have much appreciation of the passage of time and if you do go to them, they will continue to cry and they won’t mind much if they do that for 2 minutes or 2 hours if they are confident you will eventually appear!

Also, start as you mean to go on! If you bring the pup into your bed or bedroom, that is absolutely fine, provided you are happy for that to continue into adulthood (otherwise you will simply deal with puppy sleepless nights as an older - and louder - dog!). If you would prefer them downstairs as an adult, then that is where they should start as a pup.

Sleeping though the night is a skill a dog needs to learn. Also, being alone and coping with that is an extremely important life lesson. Having them with you through the night is fine but if you do this, you will still need to teach them to be calm when they are left in the day, as eventually they inevitably will be, otherwise they could struggle with separation anxiety.

So, a new puppy may well give you a few sleepless nights but they will be more than worth it in the end! | 06.29.16 @ 09:42
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