Ways to Help Dogs Sleep (Eliminating Sleep Issues)
Sleeping is one of those “fine print” aspects to dog ownership that you don’t think about until you get a dog. Once they start wrecking your own sleep patterns, it tends to consume your mind. But don’t fret; you can help him out, and help yourself in the process.
Sleep Issues Come in All Shapes and Sizes
It almost goes without saying that puppies will have trouble sleeping. After all, they will be transitioning from being surrounded by their mother and littermates to a strange surrounding, which can be pretty scary. However, sleep issues are not exclusive to the wee pup set.
For instance, an overweight pooch could develop sleep apnea; a condition where his breathing stops mid-slumber, and he jolts awake in a panic. An older dog may be toting a health issue that's keeping him up at night, such as chronic joint pain. Dogs of any age may have a bunch of energy pent up inside him, just waiting to be let out.
This latter metric is particularly something that may be surprising to us humans, who seem to get drowsy once the clock hits a certain time. However, unlike us, dogs do not have a "body clock” that somewhat governs when to be awake and when to go to sleep. Because of this, dogs are capable of sleeping and waking in ways that threaten to mess up our own sleeping rhythms.
Work With Your Dog So He Matches Your Sleep Cycle
Because your dog doesn’t have a sleep cycle like you do, it is imperative that you work to “arrange” his schedule so he syncs up his bedtime with yours. This will require you to implement some basic training strategies and techniques to get the dog to do what you wish. However, there is also a healthy element of logic that will be in play.
For instance, if you notice your dog is too wound up to go to bed when you’re ready, make sure he’s getting a sufficient amount of exercise a few hours before bedtime. Something simple as a long, leisurely walk during the evening will be enough to help your pooch burn off some of that excess energy. Just be sure you don’t exercise right before bedtime, as it may not give him enough time to “cool down.”
You’ll also want to make sure your dog has sufficient levels of food and water in his system before he goes to bed. An empty tummy that is rumbling from hunger will prevent your pooch from sleeping, and he may make some noise until you do something to help him out. At the same time, you’ll want to make sure he doesn’t over-hydrate before catching some Z's, unless getting up in the wee small hours so he can do his business somehow tickles your fancy.
Training your dog to use a crate can also be a great way to get him on a sleeping schedule. Keeping your pooch to a confined yet cozy space will enable his nerves to soothe, as you will effectively eliminate the anxiety that may stem from a need to get up in the middle of the night and go exploring. If you go this route, use training techniques like praise and rewards so he doesn’t end up equating the crate with punishment.
Music Soothes the Savage Beast
One canine sleep aid technique that has seemed to take off in recent years is to play them long stretches of ambient music. The rationale for playing the tunes is that it will help to lower levels of anxiety that may otherwise keep them awake. There is certainly a rather impressive cottage industry of canine music on the market, and some of the music are designed with a pooch's unique auditory processing capabilities in mind.
A Good Night Sleep is Important for your Relationship
Ultimately, getting a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis is a vital part of building a strong relationship between you and your dog. If you use various techniques to help his sleep when you want him to, he won’t keep you up, wake you too early, or do any of the other nasty sleep-related habits that may make you annoyed with him. And that’s the kind of positive behavior that will help you sleep well at night, both figuratively as well as literally.