Dog Behaviour

Help, my dog won’t sleep!

Help, my dog won’t sleep!

The anxious or unsettled pooch

  • It stands to reason that a dog who is feeling anxious or unsettled isn’t likely to sleep well.
  • So if your furry friend has only recently moved to your home from a shelter, it may simply be that they need time to get used to the new environment and routine (not to mention new humans!).

    Patience is the key here, but there are also things you can try:
  • If you keep your dog out of your bedroom because you don’t want them on your bed, you might consider getting a crate and putting that in your bedroom. Another option is to put the dog bed in a playpen.
  • If you have a blanket that smells of the shelter, this may be comforting to your dog.
  • Some dogs are calmed by gentle music or white noise (although you may not be keen on this if your pooch is in your bedroom!).
  • Make sure night-time is boring for your dog. If they cry, you can calm them by talking in a low, soothing voice but don’t play with them.
  • Chewing can be very soothing for a dog so try giving them something to chew on until they get sleepy. (Make sure it’s something safe and there’s no risk of them swallowing anything.)
  • To help your dog to feel more settled and secure, don’t forget to fit in lots of quality time during the day. Check out our article on How to bond with your new dog
  • If your dog has been with you a little while and still isn’t sleeping well, it’s worth chatting to your vet or seeking help from a qualified behaviourist. Your dog may need a behaviour modification programme, and possibly some medication to help them feel more relaxed.

The poorly pooch

Your dog can’t tell you if they’re not feeling well and sometimes that can be the underlying cause of sleeplessness. However, if you’ve recently adopted your dog from a reputable shelter, it’s highly unlikely they are suffering from any health problems you haven’t been told about (unless it’s something minor that’s developed since they left the shelter such as an upset tummy). If you’re at all concerned though, it’s always best to have a chat with your vet.

The pooch who needs to pee

Some dogs are unable to sleep through the night because their bladders don’t let them. This is more likely to be the case if you’ve adopted a dog that’s very young or very old.

It’s obviously a good idea to make sure you take your dog outside just before bed. If you do still need to get up in the night, don’t forget the advice about making night-time boring. Praise successful toileting but save the cuddles and bonding sessions for daylight hours.

The pooch who has still got energy to burn off

It stands to reason that a dog who didn’t get enough exercise in the day, won’t feel tired when it comes to bedtime. So upping the number of walkies and play sessions is always worth considering.

Don’t forget about mental stimulation either. We’ve got lots of tips and tricks to Keep your dog entertained.

The pooch who is being disturbed

Sometimes a dog can’t sleep because something in their environment is disturbing them and making them anxious, scared or just alert. This could be a noise, something they see or even a smell. 

Try to get a dog’s-eye-view to see what the problem is and deal with it. If the issue is noise, some gentle music or white noise can work wonders. (This may not cut it if it’s fireworks or a thunderstorm though – try distracting your dog with a long-lasting chew.)

And finally…

We can all feel a bit less able to cope when we haven’t had enough rest so if your dog is keeping you up at night, it’s tough. But with a little bit of time and effort there’s no reason why everyone shouldn’t soon be sleeping perfectly.