What do you do when your dog won’t sleep at night? Gill H. emailed us yesterday asking for advice on how to persuade her terrier to have a good night’s sleep. When it’s bedtime he wakes up and wants to play. Even when he’s been walked and settled down again, Gill can hear him playing with his toys and bouncing balls and jumping around. She can’t sleep either!
1. Make sure he’s had plenty of exercise – a tired dog is more likely to be ready for bed
2. Is his bed comfy enough? Plastic dog beds must be so uncomfortable – our dogs have a thick mattress then a duvet on top. They have room to sprawl. Dogs need a bed that’s large enough for them to sleep flat out with legs stretched. If the bed is hard and not cosy he may resist sleeptimes.
3. Get into a routine, exercise is the key to good behaviour and that includes sleep time. It could take a few weeks of intensive walking but tiring him out is the best way to get in to the pattern of walk, food and bed. You’ll get fit anyway!
4. A nice supper will help your dog to sleep. That lovely full feeling when we’ve had a really good meal makes us all sleepy. A bowl of dry biscuits just won’t do it. Chappie is our food of choice, it’s nutritious and made from fish. Most dogs like it and it is filling. A natural meaty dinner would be good too. A slice or two of toast? A couple of fish skins? A sausage and some mashed potato? I’m feeling full and sleepy already.
5. Is he warm enough? Make sure his bed isn’t in a draught. Once we start keeping dogs indoors they adapt to our central heating warm surroundings. A bed in a chilly porch and he won’t want to go to sleep. He’ll be thinking about snuggling up under the eiderdown with you. Put an old fleece in his bed will give him something to make a nest with.
6. Make sure he’s had a proper toilet break outside before bedtime. Letting him out for a few minutes might not be productive, he could be off chasing dog next-door-dog smells and forget what he’s gone out for. If he’s plaiting his legs all night he’ll want you to get up. Taking him out to the toilet at 3.0am is a habit you definitely don’t want to encourage.
7. Check whether he has a medical condition that’s making sleep a painful experience. Arthiritic pets can feel uncomfortable at night, those aches and pains! Your vet might prescribe a painkiller to help your dog have a good night’s sleep.
8. Do not play with him or feed him if you have to get up. Make his bed, settle him down, tell him to go to sleep and leave him. You could try putting some soothing music on the radio for him. If your dog has persistent sleep problems it’s advisable to consult the vet and ask his advice.
Hope that helps Gill. Do let us know how you go on.