Our dogs’ sleep schedules don’t always align with ours. They can be bundles of energy when they wake up, especially after getting their equivalent of a good night’s rest. But if you work long or irregular hours, or you just need a little extra shuteye, the last thing you want is to be interrupted from your much-needed sleep by a dog who has had plenty.
As much as we love our furry four-legged friends, we don’t love it so much when they wake us up hours before our alarm is set to go off. Even if your dog doesn’t come directly into your room, jump on your bed, and start licking your face, he may simply run around the house getting into everything and making lots of noise along the way.
If this sounds like your pup, you’re not the only one who is affected by this problem. Lots of dog owners experience this same issue every day. That’s where we come in. We can help you nip this problem in the bud so that you and your dog can wake up every day at the same time and both still feel well-rested.
Why Does My Dog Wake Me Up Early?
As much as dogs like to think that they’re independent, they still rely on you to provide them with most of their care and entertainment. There are three main reasons why your dog might wake you up earlier than you want to get up. They’re likely either hungry, need to use the bathroom, or they just want to play or be near you.
Your dog can’t feed itself, so if he’s waking you up early, he could be wanting you to fill his bowl up with food. Or, he could be telling you that he needs to go outside to relieve himself, especially if it’s been several hours since he last went. If you don’t have a doggy door, he can’t let himself out. And even house-trained dogs will go potty inside if they have to go badly enough.
Finally, your dog could just be bored or lonely, so he’s waking you up so that you can entertain him and keep him company. If he seems to be full of energy when he wakes you up, he feels well-rested and is looking for someone or something to interact with.
With some dogs, it may be easy to pin down the reason that’s causing your dog to wake you up. Other times, it can be harder to figure out or it could be a combination of the problems listed above. If you can figure out the cause, you can fix the problem. But you don’t have to go in and try to break this habit without a clue of what to do. We’ve come up with some suggestions that you can try.
The 5 Ways to Stop Your Dog from Waking You Up Early
1. Make Sure Your Dog Isn’t Sick
If your dog hasn’t always woken you up early but has recently started to, he could be sick. But it can be hard to pinpoint one specific illness as the reason why your dog is waking up earlier or more often. Old age, infection, or just a general discomfort could all be affecting your dog’s sleep schedule.
Your dog being sick isn’t necessarily the reason your dog is waking you up. But if this is a new thing, it could be seen as a change in behavior. You should closely watch your dog in order to check for any other behavioral changes and signs that indicate your dog may be sick. This includes a change or loss of appetite and decreased activity levels.
Dogs can also suffer from dementia, just like humans can. Dementia mainly affects older dogs, but it can cause changes in their sleeping cycle which could cause them to wake you up earlier. Or, dogs with separation anxiety may wake you up early because they are feeling anxious and haven’t seen you in a while.
If you do suspect your dog is sick, there isn’t much that you alone can do to stop them from waking you up early. It’s a good idea to take him to the vet so that any illness can be diagnosed and treated. With the appropriate treatment, your dog should return to his normal schedule.
2. Turn the Room Into a Sleepy Environment
Whether your dog sleeps in the room with you or has a separate room, it’s important that the room be conducive to sleeping when it is bedtime. Dogs have their own internal clocks and will wake up with the sun. If your dog is waking you up every morning, then you may need to “control” the sun and other aspects of the environment in which your dog sleeps.
What do we mean by that? Well first, invest in some room-darkening curtains if you don’t have them already. If your dog sleeps in your bedroom, hang the curtains in there and draw them closed at night. The curtains will block out the amount of sunlight that enters the room the next morning which will help your dog to sleep longer. When you wake up, open the curtains to let the sunlight in, and your dog will know that it is time to wake up.
If your dog sleeps in a crate, you can also drape a blanket over the crate to achieve the same effect. Then, just remove the blanket in the morning. You should also make sure that your dog has a warm and comfortable place to sleep and remove all toys and food from the room where your dog sleeps. You don’t want to encourage playing or eating during bedtime.
3. Take Your Dog Out Right Before Bed
Even if you just took your dog outside 30 minutes ago, take him outside to use the bathroom one more time and then go straight to bed. If dogs don’t go to the bathroom right before bed, they may have to go during the night or first thing in the morning, before you’re ready to get up.
If you take your dog out right before bed, and then go immediately to bed afterward, he doesn’t have time to eat or drink before he goes to sleep. And following the suggestion above, remove any food or water from his sleeping area before bed as well. Doing so will help your dog sleep for longer because he won’t have to go to the bathroom as badly the next morning.
4. Make Sure Your Dog Gets Plenty of Exercise
If your dog is consistently waking you up early, or even just wakes you up earlier than usual the next morning, he may not be getting enough exercise. Your dog may have a lot of energy built up that he didn’t get out the day before, so he isn’t as tired.
Different sizes, ages, and breeds of dogs require different amounts and levels of exercise. Smaller dogs don’t need as much exercise in order to tire them out, but bigger dogs need more. Try playing with or exercising your dog closer to bedtime if he has a habit of waking you up. That should tire him out and encourage him to sleep longer the next morning.
5. Put Your Dog on a Schedule
Yes, it is true that dogs can operate on their own schedule and by their own internal clock. But just like humans, dogs benefit by being put on a schedule. You can actually alter their internal clock by sticking to the same schedule with your dog every day.
It’s best to start a schedule with your dog when he is a puppy, but you can still implement a schedule with older dogs. As long as you are consistent, it shouldn’t take your dog long to adjust. You can schedule their feedings, playtimes, and bedtime this way.
To keep a certain schedule, you should try to feed your dog at the same time each day. Planning your dog’s feeding around your mealtime can help make this easier. You can also keep your dog’s playtime consistent each day by scheduling playtime in the morning and another one closer to bedtime. That way, your dog will get a nap in the middle of the day, which will give him plenty of time to tire out again before bed.
Lastly, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Remember that consistency is key, so following a specific bedtime routine, combined with some of the suggestions above, can all help your dog sleep longer instead of waking you up early.
How Much Sleep Does a Dog Need?
The amount of sleep a dog needs really just depends on his age. Most adult dogs sleep between 10-12 hours per day, while puppies sleep more. That amount of sleep is divided up between naps throughout the day and bedtime.
The amount of sleep a dog gets at any particular time mostly corresponds to when they need to use the bathroom, but hunger and the amount of exercise they receive can also affect this. That’s why putting your dog on a schedule is one of the best things that you as a dog owner can do to maintain their sleeping patterns and keep them from waking up too early.
Featured Image Credit: Igor Normann, Shutterstock