If your dog doesn’t sleep well at night, you probably aren’t getting enough sleep either. There are many reasons why dogs stay awake at night. Discover what they are in this post, plus how to get your dog to sleep through the night. So you and your whole family can get a good night’s rest!

6 Reasons why your dog doesn’t sleep at night

Adult dogs naturally sleep 12-18 hours during each 24-hour period. But if your dog gets most of their sleep during the day, they won’t sleep at night. A dog that is restless or awake most of the night is sending you a message. They may be uncomfortable, stressed, or not sufficiently worn out to sleep all night. 

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Puppies have erratic sleeping habits and are unlikely to sleep through the night until they are about four months old. Puppies need more sleep than adult dogs, but they tend to sleep for short periods and then awaken in a burst of puppy energy. If a puppy naps in the evening, they may be raring to go when you are ready for bed.

Let’s explore some of the reasons that your adult dog or puppy won’t sleep at night.

They’re not tired

If you are at work all day and your dog is home alone, they may get bored and doze off during the day. Although napping is certainly better than being destructive while you are away, your dog has built an energy reserve that was not expended during the day. A dog in this situation is well-rested by the time you get home and is now prepared to pull an all-nighter. 

They’re lonely

Your dog is your best friend, right? If you are away from home most of the day, your pup wants to be with you as much as possible when you are home – including at night. If a cold nose is nudging your toes at midnight looking for a playmate, your dog is telling you that they need more time with you.

How to leave your dog home alone without feeling guilty.

They’re in pain

It’s possible that your dog is experiencing pain when they lie down for the night. Perhaps your pooch has joint pain stemming from arthritis. Digestive issues, such as from food intolerance, may be preventing your dog from getting restful sleep. 

If you notice that your dog paces, whines, pants, or licks or bites their body in a harmful way, they may have a medical issue that disrupts their sleep. 

If you suspect a medical issue is preventing your dog or puppy from sleeping through the night, a trip to the veterinarian may be in order. Once you know the cause of your dog’s discomfort, you can try to alleviate the problem that prevents them from sleeping through the night.

Track your dog’s sleep and activity – spot patterns and sleep interruptions – with the Tractive GPS Dog Tracker.

They don’t have a proper bedding

You don’t want to sleep on a lumpy old mattress, and your dog probably doesn’t either. A comfortable dog bed can be a key to good sleep for your pup. If your dog does have joint pain or arthritis, for example, it may be worthwhile to invest in a comfortable dog bed. 

They’re too hot or cold

Just like humans, the temperature is important for your dog’s nighttime comfort. Check to see if the dog bed is near a chilly draft or too close to a heating vent. 

They need to go to the bathroom

Your dog knows that it’s not OK to potty in the house, but what’s a pup to do in the middle of the night when they have to go? Most likely they will wake you up to be let outside to relieve themselves. 

How to get your dog to sleep through the night

Once you understand the cause of your dog’s sleep trouble, you can adjust your pup’s daily routine to promote restful, healthy sleep for your furry friend. It takes planning, but it’s worth the effort to develop good habits that help your adult dog and puppy sleep.  

Tire them out: Provide more physical and mental activity

Adult dogs and puppies need physical and mental stimulation, and it’s up to you to provide this for them. 

If you are home with your dog for all or part of the day, take several walks during the day or engage in vigorous play. 

If your dog is home alone and spends the day napping or gazing out the window, they are unlikely to be tired enough to go to bed when you and your family are ready to settle down for the night.

For dogs that are alone all day, a long evening walk can help to wear out your pup and provide sensory stimulation. (It’s also good for you!) A high-energy after-dinner play session is fun, too. As a bonus, these activities help to build a bond of trust between you and your pup. Be sure to schedule your pup’s exercise session a few hours before bedtime so they have time to wind down.

dog sleeping on wooden floor behind brown chair

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To keep your dog mentally stimulated during the day, try puzzle feeders. These devices require your dog to do a little bit of mental “work” to retrieve their dog food or dog treats. Your dog might need to tap a button or dig for their food, which makes eating an interactive rather than passive experience, as well as more time-consuming. Do some research or talk to your veterinarian and choose a puzzle feeder that’s right for your dog’s size and personality.

A daily dog training session to work on basic commands like “sit” and “stay” can provide physical and mental stimulation. This is also good bonding time for you and your furry friend. 

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Use chew toys to soothe your dog before sleep

Licking and chewing on something can help your dog release stress and relax. Tap into this natural tendency by giving your dog a favorite chew toy before bedtime to help calm them. Coat the chew toy with a little peanut butter to make the chew toy into a tasty bedtime treat. 

Consider placing the peanut butter-covered chew toy near your dog’s bed as you settle in for the night. Even the most reluctant pup will follow that treat straight into the dog bed!

Check for fleas or any other medical problem

If your dog seems restless and avoids laying down, it may be time for a visit to the veterinarian’s office. Does your dog have fleas that cause itching and discomfort? Or are there other medical issues, such as arthritis? Your vet can help to rule out serious health issues and recommend treatments. Once you have your dog’s condition under control, you and your pup can peacefully drift into dreamland for the whole night.

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Create a special sleeping area and make them comfy

You might want your pup to sleep beside you in your bed, but this almost guarantees that both of you will wake up during the night. Your dog deserves a comfortable place to sleep that is just for them – and so do you!  

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You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a fancy dog bed. A soft comforter or blanket folded in the corner of the room may be just what your pup needs for a restful sleep. Or, you can splurge on a fleece-lined memory foam bed for the ultimate doggie luxury.  

Your dog’s sleeping location matters, too. Is the room quiet, or are there pinging electronics nearby that could wake up your pup? Trains, traffic, sirens, or anything that could wake you up might also wake your dog. Try playing calming music or white noise to block out unwanted sounds that could disturb your pup’s sleep.

Some experts suggest that a crate is the best place for your dog to sleep at night. The crate can be a safe home base for your pup, especially if it is associated with positive experiences. Crate training can be an effective way to establish sleep and activity schedules for your adult dog or puppy.  

Take bathroom breaks before bed (limit water before bed!)

Staying hydrated is important for your dog’s health, but not if midnight bathroom emergencies wake you up when the dog needs to go outside.

Try managing your dog’s water intake during the day. Give your dog access to plenty of water all day, and offer extra water after an exercise session. But after your dog’s evening meal and accompanying slurp of water, cut back on the amount of water available to your pup. 

Leave a small amount of water in your dog’s water dish overnight. That way, they’ll be able to get a few sips if they awaken, but not drink an entire bowl. 

It seems obvious, but remember to let your dog out to do their business right before you go to bed. Do not turn this into a play session. Make sure your dog actually urinates during this last-chance potty break. 

Puppies require a few months to be housebroken and potty trained before they’ll develop the habit of urinating (and not playing) when let outside. 

Turn off all of the lights

It’s tough to sleep when the lights are on – there’s just too much stimulation for your pup if their sleeping area is lit up. A quiet, dark space is the key to creating a calming environment for sleep. Close the blinds or curtains, and turn off all the lights. If you like to go to sleep with the television on and your dog is in the same room with you, set your TV to turn off after a certain time period.

If there’s still a bit of light outside when you and your pup turn in for the night in the summer, for example, consider getting blackout curtains. These light-blocking curtains can clip onto your existing drapes to make the room extra dark and cozy. Plug in a small night light so you don’t stub your toe if you need to get up in the dark.

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Moved to new place recently? It might take a while to adjust

Your pooch might feel disoriented if you move to a new home or when you travel, and this can disrupt sleep. Try to recreate the sleeping area and habits that enable your dog sleep through the night at home. Bring your dog’s bed or a blanket that smells like home. If you are in the habit of using a white noise machine or playing calming music, make sure to have this handy on your first night in a new place to ensure restful sleep. 

Plan for a few nights of disrupted sleep habits as your pup adjusts to your new home. Look for clues that may be keeping your dog awake, such as headlights from passing traffic or new neighborhood sounds. Address these issues as soon as you can so your dog will get right back into their sleep schedule.

A helpful bedtime routine for dogs

You probably have a bedtime routine as you wind down from the busyness of your day. You might brush your teeth, read a book, then watch some TV. So why not create a routine for your dog, too? 

Most dogs do better with a routine than a sporadic sleep schedule. Dogs are more comfortable when they know what’s coming next, as opposed to being surprised. Your dog’s schedule should mirror your sleep schedule to keep your life running smoothly. In other words, you want your pup to go to bed when you do, and wake up when you rise in the morning. 

Here’s a sample evening routine. When the family gets home from work or school, designate someone to engage the dog in a vigorous play session to burn off the energy your pup built up during the day. 

  • Feed your dog dinner at about the same time as your family is eating. This will give your dog plenty of time to digest their meal before bedtime.
  • After dinner, take your pup for as long a walk as you have time for. Your goal is to create stimulation, both physical and mental, and to bond with your dog. You will probably benefit from this de-stressing activity, too. Don’t wait too long into the evening to take a walk – you want to give your pup time to settle down after the walk and before bed.
  • Let your dog relax at home after your walk. Enjoy some cuddle time or give your pooch a gentle massage. Start turning off lights and electronics in the house.
  • By this point in your evening routine, your dog should know that it’s almost time for sleep. Let them out for one last potty break.
  • As they climb into their bed, offer a peanut butter-coated chew toy.
  • Close the curtains, turn on some calming music or white noise, and turn out the lights as you leave the room.

Finally, hop into bed for your own well-deserved rest at the end of a busy day. Nighty-night!