Oh sleep…where have you gone?
Something I wasn’t prepared for was a lack of sleep when we brought Nash home! “New puppies are just like babies” people said…except no one told me that until after we got Nash. Not that it would have changed anything, but it sure would have been nice to know in advance.
If you’re struggling with a lack of sleep, I have good news! Puppies are like babies, but they DO transition much quicker at sleeping through the night. As long as you reinforce it.
Whether you choose to crate train your pup or let them sleep freely (with you or on their own bed), they need to learn that night time does not mean play time. Which initially, they may have backwards.
GET THEM TIRED
A sure fire way to get your pup to sleep at night, is to get them tired shortly before bed. Don’t expect them to nap all day and then be able to sleep all night. Naps are definitely essential for puppies growth and it’s important they sleep as often as their little bodies need, but they also need plenty of exercise to get their energy out. Make sure to have a nice, long play session about 30-60 minutes before bed. But after that play session, give them time to grab some water, relax, and simmer down. Also, don’t forget to let them go potty before bed (or even mid-play — which we’ll cover in another post)!
NO WATER PAST A CERTAIN TIME
It’s always important to make sure your puppy has access to clean drinking water to avoid dehydration (after meals, after play time or walks, etc.) But once you have finished your last play session of the evening, give them a chance to hydrate before bed and then take their water bowl away. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s helpful as they are little and are learning to control their bladder. This helps them be able to sleep a little longer and not have to wake up constantly needing to go to the bathroom.
SLEEPING IN A CRATE
If you do choose to have your puppy sleep in their crate at night, you’ll need to figure out what placement works best for you/your pup. Every article I read said to put your pups crate next to your bed so they can see you and not feel alone. That may or may not work for your pup. That did not work well for us at first. It took some time for Nash to adjust to his crate. Once he did adjust to it, we found having him next to our bed didn’t work. Seeing us made him think he needed out and that it was time to play. He didn’t realize it was bedtime. So we chose to move his crate to another room (still close to our room so we could hear him), but that helped him relax more and learn to sleep. You can choose to let your pup sleep in their crate as long as you’d like, there is no set age to stop. It’s whatever you feel most comfortable with, but I’d suggest once they are fully potty trained.
Christina Tip: Drape a light sheet over your pups crate to create a den-like environment, place a fan in front of them on low/medium if it’s hot, and always leave a toy in the crate to play with if they wake up. One pup we know had a stuffed doggie with an electronic heartbeat machine inside of it. She loved it and it really helped her relax.
NIGHTLY POTTY BREAKS
Every puppy will require nightly potty breaks, but the quantity may vary. Not every pup will be the same and some may require more breaks than others. You’ll just have to learn what your pup needs.
You can either: take them out when they cry or take them out on a certain time schedule (and decrease the times you take them out as they get older), even if they aren’t crying yet. If I could go back, I’d stick to a schedule. At first, Nash struggled in his crate at night and I always thought him crying meant he had to go potty. (He was my first puppy, I was learning too!) I’m sure at first, he probably did have to go potty. But then I think he learned that crying meant he got out of his crate and I think he started abusing that. It was about 6-8 weeks after we brought Nash home that I casually shared this with our vet (who has Nash’s litter-mate, aka REAL brother) not really thinking much of it — and she shared with me that he was probably taking advantage and that he probably didn’t really need to go to the bathroom. She suggested moving his crate to a different room (but still close) and letting him cry it out and see what happened. It only took one night and our nightly potty breaks were over. My sweet little Nash was TOTALLY playing me, for who knows how long! Learn from my mistake. 😉
How did your puppy sleep through the night? How long did it take them to sleep through the night without breaks? Tell us in the comments!