As humans, we know that following a regular nighttime routine helps us fall asleep faster, sleep better and feel healthier. When it comes to our pets, bedtimes are just as important. Establishing a nightly schedule will help keep your dog happy and healthy (with some added benefits for you, too!).
Sleep schedules—and other daily routines, for that matter—are useful in training new puppies and maintaining regularity throughout your dog’s life. If you just recently adopted a new puppy, don’t delay in introducing a regular bedtime routine and sticking to it.
Everyone in the house can sleep better
One of the most important reasons you’ll want to set a bedtime for your dog is because it creates a sleep schedule that works for both your dog and you as the owner. Dogs tend to follow their owners’ schedules because we are the ones who control the remaining parts of their day.
When you train your puppy to go to bed when you do, you influence it to sleep through the night just like you. This means that your dog will get a full night’s rest and will be healthy and ready to begin each fun-filled day anew.
It also means that you will be more likely to get a full night’s rest, since your pup won’t be barking, crying or scratching in the middle of the night because it’s energized or has to use the bathroom. When your puppy sleeps well at night, so do you.
Nightly routines influence daily routines
Another important aspect of bedtimes is that your dog’s nightly routines will influence its daily routines. If your dog sleeps for 8-10 hours at the same time each night, its body will adjust to a certain rhythm that it follows every day. It will wake up at a certain time, expect bathroom breaks at certain times and know when it’s time to eat.
Daily routines are important for dogs, just like they are important for humans. When your dog’s bedtime is constantly changing, it makes it hard for your dog to develop a daily routine. Waking up at different hours of the day can skew its need to urinate, eat and nap. When you follow a bedtime, the rest of your dog’s day will stay consistent with your schedule.
Consistency keeps dogs happy
Introducing daily and nightly routines is not only good for your dog’s physical health, but it can also make your dog happier and minimize its risk of stress and anxiety. If it gets used to a particular routine, your dog knows when to expect to be let out in the morning, knows when you will return from work, knows when it will be fed and more. It might be frazzled if the routines appear to change drastically every day.
Daily and nightly routines are also very useful for dogs that have separation anxiety, since consistency is one way to manage their stress and remind them that you will return to take care of them.
How to implement a sleep schedule for dogs
It might appear difficult to get a brand-new puppy to develop a bedtime routine at first, but with attention and consistency, your dog should catch on to its new routine pretty quickly.
- Play time is over: When winding down for the evening, avoid playing with the puppy too much, or else it will get too excited. You should have exercised your pup and played with it throughout the morning and afternoon, so it will likely be sleepy around bedtime anyway.
- One last bathroom break: Don’t give your dog food or water for a few hours before bedtime. Right before bed, take your puppy out to use the bathroom. This will ensure that the last potty break you give it before bed will be enough to tide it over until morning and that it won’t have any accidents. However, be mindful that puppies probably won’t sleep through the night until they are around four or five months old, so you may need to make time for middle-of-the-night potty breaks until your puppy’s bladder develops further.
- Comfy crate: Once your puppy has been taken out and bedtime has arrived, put it in a crate filled with blankets or a dog bed. When training a puppy, it’s okay to give it a small treat when it’s time to enter the crate. Make sure the crate is in a quiet, dark area of the home if you are still awake after you put your puppy to bed.
- Your bed is not their bed: As the puppy gets older, you can choose to get rid of the crate and train it to sleep on its bed, instead. Don’t allow your puppy to sleep in your bed unless you’re prepared to allow it to sleep in the bed for the rest of its life. Remember—consistency is key.
By following this routine every night, your puppy should develop consistency and be able to sleep through the night with minimal whining or barking. Sweet dreams!