We’ve all been there! In the early hours of the morning, your dog is scratching at your door, barking, running, and disturbing your own sleep. Rest assured that you are not the only owner who has to lament, “my dog wakes up too early.”
A dog waking up too early can be the result of several different things. Your dog might wake up early for simple reasons: being uncomfortable and needing a bathroom break to name a couple. However, more serious reasons include painful health conditions and separation anxiety. To get to the bottom of your dog’s early morning habits, read on.
Why Do Dogs Wake Up Early?
There are several reasons why your dog might wake up early. These reasons can be physical or psychological, being as simple as a change of routine to a serious medical condition. One of the most common psychological causes is separation anxiety. This type of anxiety arises when a dog does not like to be left alone. If your dog has separation anxiety, they may wake up frequently to check that you are still nearby. Other psychological difficulties like stress and depression can cause sleep disruption.
A dog who wakes up early could also be physically unwell. Make sure that your dog does not have a legitimate reason for waking in the night, such as a urinary tract infection, a digestive problem, or pain that may cause them to be uncomfortable at night. If your dog wakes up early and shows signs of discomfort, be sure to ask your vet for advice to rule out physical conditions.
7 Tips to Change Your Dog's Habit of Waking Up Too Early
There are many reasons why your beloved pooch might wake you in the early hours of the morning. Fortunately, there are also several ways to help to prevent this from happening. If your dog wakes up early, consider their bedtime environment, their routine, their health, their energy levels, and their diet too.
1. Ensure a ‘Bedtime' Environment
With physical and psychological possibilities out of the way, you might consider the environment that your dog sleeps in. At night, make sure that your room is as dark and unentertaining as possible. Turn off the TV earlier, remove stimulating toys, or even consider installing room-darkening shades to encourage a better night’s sleep for your pup. If your dog is crated, you may try covering the crate with a blanket to block out external stimuli. You want your dog to be as comfortable as possible when they sleep, so make sure to invest in a suitable bed for your pup. If they wake up early, the cause could be as simple as having an uncomfortable bed!
2. Set a Sleep Routine
A dog who is used to a certain routine will be easier to manage than a dog who does not know when they might be fed, walked, or taken to bed. Not only will this teach your dog patience, but it will also reduce anxiety. If your dog spends a lot of their evening relaxing with you, they may not sleep well through the night. This is because they have already caught up on their rest during the day. As such, it helps to plan your dog’s playtime and exercise in a way that encourages restful sleep. It is also helpful to go to bed at the same time each day to establish a reliable bedtime for your dog. After some time using this routine, your dog may even start to go to bed before you prompt them to!
3. Make Sure Your Dog Isn't Sick
Several medical problems can cause your dog to wake up early. Your dog might wake up early due to a urinary tract infection, joint pain, or even due to dementia. If your dog frequently wakes up too early be sure to monitor them for signs of illness and distress. These include weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, having accidents, limping, behavioral changes, and gastrointestinal upsets. If your dog shows any of these signs, it’s time for a trip to the vet. Your vet will ask about your dog’s behavior and symptoms and will carry out a full examination to look for other signs of illness that may help to diagnose them. Once your dog is diagnosed, you must follow your vet’s advice and care plan to help your pup to get a better night’s sleep.
4. Bathroom Break
Does your dog wake you up early, only to anxiously await a toilet break? If so, consider providing extra bathroom breaks before your dog’s bedtime. This might include a last-minute break right before you both go to bed. Your dog is likely to hold their bladder for longer if allowed to go before bed. With this being said, keep in mind that needing to go to the toilet more can be a sign of ill health. Several conditions can cause frequent urination, including urinary tract infections, kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes. If your dog needs the toilet more often than usual, it’s best to ask your vet for advice as soon as possible.
5. Crate Training
Dog crates can be a great way to help your dog to feel secure at night. You’ll want your dog to see their crate as their personal space – they will sleep in there and retreat there when they feel overwhelmed. A dog’s crate should not be used as a punishment, including for if your dog wakes up early. Once you have chosen a suitable crate, make sure to place blankets over the top as well as inside to make it extra cozy. You want your dog’s crate to be inviting and comfortable. As with any form of training, you must also be consistent and fair with crate training. You should not leave your dog in their crate for more than four hours, and if they show signs of extreme distress, go back a step in your training.
6. Ensure a Proper Diet
Nobody sleeps well on an empty stomach, especially not your pooch! If your dog is hungry, they will struggle to ignore this feeling and may need to ask you for help. So, if your dog wakes up early it pays to re-evaluate their diet. Do you feed your dog a serving size that is suitable for them? Do you feed them once or twice a day? When do you feed them? Consider feeding your dog a little later in the day and offer treat right before bedtime. This change in schedule might help to reduce your dog’s hunger by the morning, allowing you and your dog to get an extra few hours of rest.
7. Tire your Dog Out
Does your dog seem to have a lot of energy at night? Consider your pup’s exercise regime and how effective it is. Your dog’s breed will influence the level of activity they need. Low-energy breeds like the English Bulldog benefit from one 20-30 minute walk per day, whereas a high-energy breed like the Belgian Malinois needs more than one walk and over two hours of activity. If your dog wakes up early, they may benefit from an extra form of exercise during the day. This includes hiking, swimming, and dog sports! Your high-energy dog may also benefit from extra playtime before bed to burn some excess energy. By encouraging extra playtime, your dog will also associate going to bed with fun and may be more likely to settle down once this expectation has been met.
Dogs Waking up Early – FAQs
Have any more questions or concerns about your dog waking up too early? Feel free to refer to our Frequently Asked Questions section for more details. If in doubt, always ask your vet for advice.
If your dog whines in the morning, it’s best to find the cause of the behavior so that adjustments can be made to reduce it. Although this behavior can be frustrating, it is important to remember that this is one of the only ways for your dog to communicate that their needs are not being met. So, if your dog whines in the morning, it’s likely because they need something from you. Your dog might whine to ask for food, for a toilet break, or due to separation anxiety. To reduce the behavior, you might consider encouraging more exercise, adjusting your dog’s mealtimes, and allowing extra bathroom breaks before bed.
Of course, there are some situations where whining is not caused by an unmet physical need. Some dogs will whine for their owners to wake up purely for the attention. If your dog wakes up early for a head-start on getting attention, it might be beneficial to stop giving attention when your dog whines in the morning. In some cases, giving the desired attention will reinforce the behavior, causing your dog to interpret this behavior as desirable. If this behavior persists despite your attempts to ignore it it is best to ask a veterinary behaviorist for advice.
Your dog should sleep through the night by the time they are 4 months old. At this age, your puppy can hold its bladder for up to 5 hours. Because of this, a 4-month-old puppy should be able to avoid having accidents during the night, as long as they are taken for regular bathroom breaks throughout the day.
However, with this being said, it is unreasonable to expect your 4-month-old puppy to consistently sleep throughout every single night. Your puppy is still learning, and may still have accidents from time to time, especially during the night. If this happens, remain patient and do not punish your pup for their mistake. Your puppy may not have the ability to be fully potty trained until they are 6 months old. At this age, your pup is the most likely to get a full night’s sleep.
Melatonin is a time-keeper hormone that tells your dog when to sleep and when to wake up. If your dog struggles to sleep soundly, your vet may recommend giving your pooch melatonin. Melatonin not only helps your dog to get a restful night’s sleep but can also help to treat noise-related phobias and epileptic seizures. This hormone also helps to treat certain types of alopecia. This makes melatonin a safe and reliable supplement for your sleep-deprived pooch. However, as with any other supplement, it is best to seek veterinary advice before giving some to your dog.
Melatonin is given by mouth. Your vet may advise giving a tablet, liquid, or capsule, depending on your dog’s ability to take supplements. This supplement works quickly, taking effect in 1 to 2 hours. If your dog does not improve right away, don’t be tempted to give more than your vet’s recommended dose. While melatonin is generally very safe, an overdose can cause lethargy and stomach upsets.
To help your dog to sleep in the late morning, there are several adjustments you can make to their routine. For example, increasing the amount and intensity of exercise you do with your dog will help to deplete their energy, leading to a long night’s sleep. Also, feeding your dog closer to their bedtime helps to keep them sated until the morning, potentially encouraging more time asleep.
Finally, the most difficult part of all is to ignore your dog in the morning. If you stop paying attention to your dog when they wake up too early, your dog should learn that waking up at this time is not going to benefit them. If this behavior persists despite your attempts to ignore it it is best to ask a veterinary behaviorist for advice.
There is no specific time that your dog should wake up. As a general rule, your dog is likely to wake up when you wake up – so if you wake up at 6 AM, your dog will learn to wake up at 6 AM. This is not true for every dog, however, as many owners will find themselves stepping over their sleeping hound to get to work in the morning. The “right” time for your dog to wake up depends entirely on your schedule, your dog’s sleeping habits, and how heavy a sleeper your dog is.
With this in mind, your adult dog should sleep for 12 to 14 hours per day. If your dog frequently wakes up and does not get 12 to 14 hours of sleep every day, consider asking your vet for advice. A lack of sleep may reflect a psychological or physical problem that needs treatment.
A dog waking up too early can be a sign of unmet needs or mental and physical difficulties. As such, the best approach to preventing rude awakenings is to find the cause of your dog’s unusual sleeping habits.