How to Get a Puppy to Sleep Through the Night

The arrival of a new puppy is a big event for many households. But the new environment-- new sights, new sounds, new scents, can be pretty overwhelming for new puppies. The stress of the move also adds up to a new puppy being unable to settle down. Thus, with the arrival of the newest addition to your home, you should be prepared to be kept awake all night with the pup’s whining and fussing.

The good news is, there are pretty easy ways to help get your new puppy to sleep like a baby through the night. Like humans, dogs tend to sleep more at night, although they also get their fair share of naps throughout the day.

Your Puppy’s First Night Home -- What To Expect

The excitement of the day may be totally exhausting for your puppy and he might end up going right to sleep without any issues. But there is also a possibility that your new pup may have trouble settling in. After all, being in a strange and unfamiliar environment can be stressful even if adequate preparations have been made and there are no problems with introductions.

Of course, during the first few days or weeks, you may have to bring your pup to the potty spot outdoors to relieve himself several times during the night. Puppies have small urinary bladders and they are unable to control their bladder very well at first. The younger a puppy is, the more frequent you must take a trip outside at night. Dogs instinctively don’t eliminate in areas where they sleep or eat, so they will start to make a fuss and whine when they need to urinate or defecate. By the time puppies are 3 or 4 months of age, most can sleep through the night without any problem.

How To Help Your Puppy Sleep Through the Night

To help your new pup settle in during the first few days in his new home, ask the source of the puppy (the breeder, rescue organization, or foster pet parent) for a towel, toy, or small blanket that has the smell of the puppy’s mother or littermates or their previous home. Place the object inside the puppy’s crate at bedtime. Having something familiar in a strange place can help your new puppy relax and settle in.

Here are other ways to help your puppy sleep like a baby through the night --without any fussing, whining, or barking:

Provide plenty of opportunities for physical activity and exercise

Playing throughout the day can help burn up excess energy and can tire out your puppy, making him more likely to go right to sleep during bedtime. Know how much physical activity is enough for your puppy so he won’t get over-exhausted, which can also disrupt his sleeping patterns. Of course, your puppy is not yet allowed to go on leash walks or visit the dog park because his vaccinations are still incomplete. But there are ways to provide your pup with plenty of mental and physical stimulation inside the home or in an enclosed yard. From using puzzle toys for feeding instead of a food bowl to leash training to playing with toys to chasing each other around the yard, there is no shortage of activities that can help your pet burn pent up energy in a positive way.

Keep things calm and toned-down around bedtime

You should establish a daily routine of winding down with your pet at least 30 minutes before lights out. Playing games with your pup right before bedtime is not recommended. A wound-up puppy will need time to settle down and that can set back his bedtime (as well as yours!) much later. Set the mood by dimming the lights, putting on classical music, keeping the TV volume down, and prepping your pet’s bed or crate. If the early morning light streams into your room, you may want to block it out with blackout shades. The quiet and dark surroundings will be your pup’s cue that it’s time to sleep for the night. You can also place a used item, such as your shirt that still has your scent, inside the crate or with your pet’s beddings so your pup would feel closer to you while sleeping. If the crate is of the wire type, you can cover the top with a cloth to make it darker and create a den-like ambiance.

To keep the number of potty visits to a minimum during the night, restrict your pup’s food and water intake several hours before bedtime.

Establish a bedtime routine

Dogs are creatures of habit. It’s important to start a bedtime routine during your pup’s first day at home. This will teach him that nighttime is for sleeping. Taking your puppy out for a last visit to the potty spot before every bedtime will let him know that it’s the last time to go before lights out. Also, dogs that relieve themselves before bedtime tend to sleep more soundly through the night as they won’t be bothered by a full urinary bladder. Puppies are unable to hold their urine for more than a few hours so letting your pup attend to the call of nature before bedtime means you will have more time to rest before he needs to go potty again. As a rule of thumb, the number of hours that a pup can hold their bladder is roughly equal to their number of months. For example, a 3-month old pup can hold it in for 3 hours without going to the spotty spot or urinating on a potty pad, a 4-month old pup for about 4 hours. If they’re exhausted, puppies may be able to hold it in a little longer, still, they are unlikely to hold it until morning. When you do take your pup to the potty spot, always remain calm and quiet. Avoid any forms of play or excessive snuggles.

Make the puppy bed or crate inviting

Comfort is essential for a good night’s sleep. Whether your puppy is sleeping inside his crate or on a puppy bed, make sure he has a soft blanket to snooze on. Avoid using wool blankets or mats because your teething pup can easily chew it apart into long strings that he can swallow and possibly choke on. You can also place his favorite toy or two beside him during the night to help make your pup feel more safe and secure.

Stick to the plan!

When you decide where your pup sleeps, stick to it! When he starts whining and making a fuss, don’t take him to bed with you unless you want to be sleeping with your dog all your life. Also, the decision to have your dog sleeping with you on your bed should be your own to make and not of your puppy.

Keep your pup’s bed or crate near you at night

Your pup will sleep without any qualms when he knows you’re near him. Even with domestication, pet dogs still possess a strong pack instinct, thus being around other members of the pack, pets and humans alike, will give them a sense of security and safety. Also, if your puppy is still undergoing crate training, having his crate nearby will make it easier for you to hear if your pup needs to do his business so you can take him outside immediately.

Calming pheromones

If your puppy keeps on being fussy and keeps everyone up, there are the so-called “Dog-Appeasing Pheromone (DAP)” that are available as collars and diffusers that you can use to help soothe a whining pup. It contains a hormone that is produced synthetically and mimics a natural hormone that is released by a mother dog that is nursing her litter of puppies. There are also toys that are designed to emit a ‘heartbeat’ which can also help puppies sleep.

Potty pads nearby

If your pup is spending the nights in a confined space, you can put a potty pad at a considerable distance from your pet’s bed so he can relieve himself at night without having to wake you up.

Avoid reinforcing your puppy’s whining and barking

When you come running or call him when he starts becoming fussy, your pup will eventually learn whining and barking can get your attention. When you reinforce your pet’s behavior even once, you will never get a good night’s sleep. During the first few days in your home, if your pup keeps on whining and barking, try using earplugs and other noise-canceling options so you won’t be bothered by the noise your pup is making.

FAQs about puppies fussing at night

How do you calm a restless dog at night?

In addition to giving your pup a chance to unwind before bedtime, try giving him something to chew on to keep him calm. Most dogs tend to sleep after chewing for a while, especially when the house is all quiet and primed for the night. If your pup’s fussing generally lasts for less than 30 minutes, and you’re sure that he doesn’t need anything, you can try to wait him out.

But whatever it takes, you should never reinforce your pet’s whining by calling him or playing with him. Reinforcing his behavior can only encourage him to keep on doing it because he knows that it will get your attention. If your pup cries, take him to the potty spot and after doing his thing, bring him back inside and directly to his crate. Offering a bite-sized treat can also teach your pet to settle back in.

Where should my puppy sleep at nighttime?

The best places for your puppy to sleep at night would be inside his crate or on a puppy bed. Make sure to make his sleeping space comfortable and cozy, with good ventilation, warm bedding during cold nights, and with a favorite toy or two beside them.

You can choose to have your pup’s crate inside your room because knowing you are nearby can give your pet feelings of security and safety. If you allow your pup to sleep on your bed, make sure he has been housetrained or you may end up waking in the middle of the night because your bed sheets are soaking wet.

How many hours does a puppy sleep at night?

Like babies, puppies are unable to sleep through the night. Their small make it necessary to relieve themselves several times during the night. This is usually the case in very young puppies. On average, puppies sleep for about 6-10 hours at night. When puppies are about 16 weeks of age, they are likely to sleep through the night without any fuss at all.

Why does my puppy fuss a lot at night?

The first thing that you should check is whether your pup needs to go potty. So take him outside to the potty spot. But if it’s something else, you should find out what it is so you can address it immediately and both you and your pup can go back to sleep. Perhaps your pup is teething. The pain and discomfort can keep him up all night. Try offering some chew toys or dental treats to chew on. Frozen treats or ice cubes can also help soothe painful gums. If your puppy doesn’t seem to settle down and keeps on fidgeting or scratching, check for fleas or ticks. If you don’t find any, try washing their bedding and crate to get rid of unwanted guests.