5 Tips to Help Your Puppy Sleep Through the Night
5 Tips to Help Your Puppy Sleep Through the Night
5 Tips to Help Your Puppy Sleep Through the Night
Set your puppy up for sleeping success with tips from certified dog trainers
By Jennon Bell Hoffmann
A puppy can bring energy, playfulness, excitement, and plenty of extra love into your life. Your new pet can also bring sleep disruptions and middle-of-the-night potty breaks.
To help puppy owners navigate the graveyard shift, we reached out to two certified dog trainers: Joan Hunter Mayer, owner of the Inquisitive Canine training program in Santa Barbara, California, and Paul Owens, aka “the Original Dog Whisperer,” and owner of the Raise with Praise dog training program.

Here are their top tips for training puppies to sleep through the night and helping your whole household get more rest.

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Create—and Stick to—a Daily Schedule for Your Puppy
According to the American Kennel Club, puppies sleep 18 to 20 hours each day. That may seem like a lot, considering what balls of energy puppies can be, but much of that sleep happens in various blocks of time throughout a given 24-hour period.

The key is to align puppies’ most restorative and lengthy sleeping spurt with your household’s sleeping schedule. To do this, you have to set a consistent routine of exercise, feeding and drinking, and bathroom breaks.

puppy sleeping on white sheets
“Just like us, dogs like to know what to expect, especially when it comes to getting their personal needs met,” Paul says. “Young puppies need to eliminate approximately eight times a day, usually after sleeping, after eating, and after playing. And they do not like to eliminate where they eat or sleep.”

Give your puppy scheduled opportunities to use the bathroom outside, and reward them when they do, he recommends. “If a puppy learns he is rewarded whenever he eliminates outside and at scheduled times throughout the day, he will learn to ‘hold it’ and sleep through the night.”

Establish a Bedtime Routine
In addition to providing your puppy a consistent schedule throughout the day, give them a bedtime routine that communicates it’s time to wind down and prepares them for sleep.

“Potty before slumber is smart, along with any other types of routine behaviors,” Joan says. “A relaxing belly rub, a nutritious and filling dinner a few hours before bed, and some quality owner-dog bonding time are good ways to signal that it’s time to prep for bed. Whatever the steps are, a routine is helpful so that the dog will know what is expected.”

girl petting Dalmatian on wooden floor
Create a Comfortable Crate Sleeping Space
Remember that new puppies went from sleeping with the comfort and warmth of their littermates to being in a new environment, so do what you can to create a soothing one. Also, like humans, dogs need time and space to relax. “Give the dog alone time to get used to sleeping by themselves, away from all the home chaos,” Joan says.

Crates are good places for puppies to sleep because they provide a cozy and safe spot for them to retreat, especially when they are learning so much and can get overwhelmed by the constant flow of new experiences. Ending your dog’s bedtime routine with a clean crate and a special soft toy, you are letting the puppy know that rest is expected and encouraged.

Your puppy’s crate should be big enough for them to sleep in comfortably, but not too big that they have enough room to go to the bathroom in it. Place it in a quiet corner with little distraction, but not too far away from where you spend time so the puppy feels secure. You can keep the puppy crate in your bedroom if you are not too-light of a sleeper. Especially in the early days, you want to be able to hear your puppy whimper to go out, but not lie awake all night listening to their breathing, grunting, and other sleeping noises.

puppy laying down in crate
Nine to 10-week-old puppies need frequent bathroom breaks and should only be in their crate for 30 to 60 minutes. Once they’re 11 to 14 weeks old, a puppy can stay in their crate for 1 to 3 hours. By week 16, they can stay for four hours, and after 17 weeks, up to six hours. Like human babies, growing mature enough to control themselves takes puppies time and patience.

Once your dog is reliably sleeping through the night, you can move the crate to a different location, like your living room, if you prefer.

And throughout training, “if you’re not inspired to take your dog out to eliminate in the middle of the night, put the crate in a social or exercise pen and leave the crate open,” Paul says. “Put pee pads outside the crate so that your puppy has an option to eliminate on the pads and you can get a good night’s sleep.”
Reward Good Sleeping Behavior
Both Joan and Paul use and encourage positive reinforcement to train puppies to adopt desirable behaviors.

However, you shouldn’t try to train your dog to just go to sleep. “Sleep is a biological need so I wouldn’t reward or punish a dog when it comes to sleeping,” Joan says.

What you can do is encourage the behaviors that lead up to sleep. “If owners want the dog to sleep in a particular area, such as a crate or dog bed, then they’ll need to train the puppy to sleep there,” Joan says. “Rewarding for going to these places will help set the pup up for success.”

girl petting puppy at the park on grass
Plan for Disruptions
Even with the best intentions, sleep training a puppy can hit a few bumps. If the sleep training gets disrupted because of a major change in routine, like a vacation or an illness, Joan and Paul agree that going back to the training the dog knows and providing a lot of encouragement and praise will help both dogs and their humans get through it faster.
puppy laying down by toys on front yard
From pet food and crates to toys and beds, Tractor Supply has everything you need to care for your dog.
About the Writer
Jennon Bell Hoffmann writes lifestyle and human-interest stories from her home in Illinois.

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