After seeing the popularity of the original article, we thought a follow-up article with more information would be helpful. (See original article here.)
Rule out possible medical problem
Your dog still wakes you up in the middle on the night? Maybe it is not just your dog is bored and decided to bark for your attention. Maybe your dog wakes you up because there is something wrong with him/her. In this article, we will discuss the checklist that helps identify possible medical and/or cognitive problems why your dog keeps waking you up at night.
If your dog’s sleep disturbance is due to medical reasons, the following are possible medical problems. The common symptom of these health problems below is increased the need to go to bathroom.
Urinary tract infections
Also, if your dog has any injuries, pain and physical discomfort can disturb dog’s sleep schedule since pain and discomfort may be more noticeable to the dog at night. When a dog is in discomfort or in pain, he/she may show pacing, pant, barking/whining, or become restless.
Checklist: Is my dog sick or injured?
- Is my dog limping?
- Does my dog avoid being touched today?
- Did my dog get hurt recently?
- Does my dog have appetite?
- Is my dog lethargic?
- Did my dog eat something he/she was not supposed to?
- Did my dog throw up today?
- Does my dog drink water a lot recently?
- Did my dog poop today?
- Does my dog cry when he/she peed?
- Does my housetrained dog have accidents in the home recently?
If you have a senior dog, sleep disturbance can occur due to cognitive dysfunction, which is like dementia in human. Just like us, it can cause confusion, reversal of day-night, increase the need to eliminate due to decreased of bodily function.
- Does my housetrained senior dog start to have accidents in the home?
- Does my senior dog sleep more than usual during the day?
If you think your dog may have any medical issues, please contact to the vet to identify underlying problem(s). Re-establishing sleeping pattern can be hard, but it is not impossible to manage, especially when the underlying cause(s) is a medical reason.
After ruling out medical issues, the following steps can help your dog to sleep through the night. The key is establishing the daily routine with your dog. Just like humans, predictable routines can lower stress and increase the confidence, sense of security and a sense of time in dogs.
Follow a daily routine
Just like us, dog also needs a daily routine. Having a routine helps dog to expect what comes next. Being consistent with a daily routine will help your dog to recognize when it is the bedtime. Try to avoid excessive exercise or nighttime snack right before the bed.
Early Dinner Time
Feeding early also helps preventing the needs to go to bathroom in the middle of the night. Canine digestive system requires around 4-6 hours to digest, absorbed and processed to become energy for the dog to use. Feeding around 6-7 pm is recommended since it gives a dog to have plenty of time to digest the food and to have bathroom breaks. Feeding early can avoid not only bathroom breaks in the middle of the night but also prevents possible health risks such as high blood pressure, heart disease and rapid weight gain in dog. Late night eater does not have a chance to burn off the energy from the food, which might make them highly active at night or/and make them lethargic on the next day due to indigestion.
Make your dog tired
If your dog has a lot of energy at night and wanting to play with you, he/she is simply not tired enough to go to bed! Although the amount of daily exercise varies depending on the breed, size, and age of your dog, it is recommended that dog should have 30 minutes to 2 hours of daily activities. Walking or running is not the only exercise that you can do with your dog! You can make your dog “work” for what they love. If your dog is a food motivator, giving a puzzle feeder are a fun way to exercise your dog’s brain!
Taking your dog bathroom before going to bed
If your dog does not need to go bathroom in the middle of the night, he/she is more likely sleep through the night. Eating a big dinner right before bedtime can cause discomfort in dogs. If you have a puppy, try not to feed dinner late because they tend to have a bowl movement within 30-40 minutes after eating food.
Did you know you can train your dog to pee on command? Yes, we can!
Here is how to do it.
- Catch the moment when your dog is about to pee
- As soon as a dog pees, say your Pee Command (e.g., “Go pee” “Pee Pee”)
- Give a treat and verbal praise after a dog finishes peeing
This training helps a dog to associate the word (e.g., “go pee”) and the action (e.i., peeing), which are reinforced by a piece of cheese. This is the same idea of how parents potty trained us. Although it is trickier, you can also teach a dog to poop on command following the same procedures!
Make your dog comfortable
Choose a comfortable bed or sleep place for your dog. If your dog does not feel comfortable with the bed or sleeping place, it is hard for your dog to sleep through the night. Each dog has different preference, so try few different types of bed and blanket to see what he/she likes. Check your dog’s sleeping place, too. If the place is noisy or bright, change it to quieter place for your dog to sleep.
Some dogs become anxious at nighttime, which can be a form of separation anxiety. It is commonly seen in elder dogs, a dog with health problems and puppies. Dogs are highly social animals, so it takes a while for them to get used to the bedtime routine. First, check with your vet to rule out any health problems. Then, consult with the trainer for further steps! Meanwhile, you can also try using the calming product (e.g., calming scented oil diffuser), and treat dispenser (e.g., Kong). You can also gradually increase the distance from your bed to their crate/bed to increase their tolerance level. Daily exercise helps distracting an anxious dog’s brain and body, which makes them easier to fall asleep.
Reach out to the trainers today to find out how you can get your sleep back!