By Karen A. Soukiasian
Many issues can prevent quality dog sleep over night. That may be a surprise, since most dogs sleep 12 to 14 hours per day.
But some dogs have trouble sleeping all night.
Puppies, overweight dogs and senior dogs all can struggle with dog sleep.
- Puppies are used to being comforted at night by their litter mates and mother, but now they are alone and may have trouble settling down at night to sleep.
- Overweight dogs can be prone to sleep apnea, a condition where they stop breathing while they sleep. That can cause the dog to wake in a panic and because it is a serious condition, you should check with your veterinarian.
- Senior dogs may be in pain, due to health issues such as muscle aches, joint problems or arthritis.
- Bladder control for puppies and senior dogs sometimes makes it impossible to sleep through the night without a “pit stop.”
- Fleas or skin conditions that cause never-ending itching also can keep any dog awake.
Even normally healthy adult dogs may occasionally experience insomnia, but that should rarely happen.
The most common cause of canine insomnia is pent-up energy and inadequate exercise.
Save your breath! Don’t even say it! A fenced-in backyard is not exercise!
Here are a few suggestions that may help your dog sleep through the night.
Experiment to find the ones that work best for you and your pup.
Giving your dog lots of exercise a few hours before bedtime is helpful. If you do it immediately before bedtime, they may still be “wired” and have trouble going to sleep. A bath also can be too stimulating before you want to put your dog to bed.
A trip to the dog park or a long walk sometimes is enough to take the edge off.
Pick up the water!
If your dog is a heavy drinker, leave some water… but not a full bowl.
Fill their water bowl with ice cubes. That way your dog has something to do — crunch the cubes — and the ice gives them enough water to stay hydrated, without filling their bladder.
Make “last call” as late as possible. The mission is to go out, tend to business and then come inside and go to bed. Do not get snookered into playing!
Use the dog’s crate
If your dog is a night owl, crate or confine her to encourage quality dog sleep.
Not having access to the entire house and being in a confined space with a soft comfortable bed usually is enough to help your chill out for the night.
Make going into the crate or confined area something your dog looks forward to. With a smile say “Bedtime!” and toss a treat or toy where you want them to go.
Praise your dog when she complies. Tell her “good night” and then leave her alone. You don’t want your dog to think she’s being punished, but you do want to establish a routine.
Get on a dog sleep schedule!
Even if you are a night owl, get your dog on a scheduled bedtime to help your dog sleep through the night.
If you are up late at night, don’t be surprised if your dog wants to join you.
Remember, being with you is the highpoint of their life.
Are they hungry?
You know what it’s like going to bed with your belly growling. You toss, you turn, next thing you know; there you are, staring into the refrigerator at 2 a.m. with Fido at your side!
An empty belly can keep your dog up, too.
Watch the timing of meals. You may be feeding your pup too early or not enough. See if going to bed with a little something in his tummy helps.
Leave a radio on
There are dogs that just cannot cope with too much quiet.
The silence boosts their anxiety. Leave a radio on low, preferably on a talk show or weather channel, rather than music.
The sound of voices may comfort your dog.
Lights on or off?
Some puppies and dogs prefer a night-light. They find it comforting.
But for others, the light can provide too much stimulation and keep them awake and busy.
For those dogs, make the house dark and quiet.
Too hot or too cold?
Keep the room where your pet is sleeping comfortable for them.
You might feel a bit like your dog has Goldilocks tendencies, but like with light, some dogs are more sensitive to temperature.
Experiment to find out what temperature works best.
Create a special spot
Get your puppy or dog their own comfy bed.
Don’t let your dog sleep with you on your bed or in your room.
Close your bedroom door, if you don’t confine your dog at night.
Fleas, fleabites and itchy skin conditions can keep your pet wake at night.
Make sure they are flea free. And if your dog has an itchy skin condition, talk to your veterinarian.
A good massage will knock most dogs off their feet for hours!
For senior dogs with aches and pains, a buffered aspirin; dosage approximately a quarter of a 325 milligram tablet per 10 pounds, may help relax your dog enough to get a good night’s sleep.
One dose in the morning and one in the evening may make your pet much happier and more comfortable.
If their problem is more serious, your veterinarian may prescribe something stronger to help them relax.
Sleep with your dog
Nearly half of Americans’ dogs sleep in bed with their owners. Because they are pack animals, most dogs like to sleep snuggled in so they can touch their family members. That might mean your dog wants to sleep between your legs or against the back of your legs. Other dogs will just reach out a single paw to touch their owners.
Confident dogs will sleep on their backs with their legs in the air. They know they are safe and secure in your bed.
Other dogs want to fulfill their role as the protector of the house and will sleep with their backs toward you so they can be ready to spring into action should there be any threat.
Bottom line: Normally, when a dog is comfortable, their belly isn’t growling at them, their bowels and bladder have been emptied, they have a comfortable place to rest and they are tired, they will go to sleep. Nightie-night! Sleep tight!
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