Puppie Are Cute - But Bad for Sleep
Yes, new puppies are very, very cute. But If you have ever trained a new puppy on their house-manners, you know just how much it can interrupt your normal sleeping patterns. The pup may be barking, whining, scratching on the door, or just rough-housing loudly with their toys.
Either way, it can be a major challenge to your normal sleep patterns to try and raise a new puppy. Here are some thoughts, tips, and tricks which may ease your way. From newborn pup, to fully trained canine companion, here are a few ways to get some sleep along the way.
Establish a Sleep Routine
When puppies are young, they can sleep at sporadic times during the day. Often, like newborn babies, their sleep can consist of long naps during the day, and sporadic sleep periods at night. And just like newborn babies, sleep training begins by developing and establishing a thoughtful and effective sleep routine.
An example sleep routine could look something like this:
- Holding your newborn puppy for 10-15 minutes, giving them lots of love and attention. Note: it would be wise to not over-excite your puppy, which may impede the sleep routine process.
- Choose a nightly song, story, or auditory cue for the puppy. By developing an auditory cue, you can facilitate entraining the pup toward sleep time.
- Introduce a calming and effective transition from being together with your dog, to helping them sleep in their bed. If you are having your dog sleep in the same room as you, you can use this same calming transition strategy. The goal is to continue the sleep routine toward a calm separation to your sleeping spaces.
- Be mindful of checking on your puppy too much, which may create a routine where your puppy is expecting to see you randomly at night. You may not want this expectation.
- Try and be quiet once you leave the puppy's sleep space, as being too noisy may wake them or increase energy levels.
These changes may not necessarily work immediately, but the overall goal is this: develop a series of reliable cues that signal to the puppy that it is time for sleep.
Establish an Ideal Sleep Environment for your Dog
An ideal sleep environment can make a big difference. The significant take-away is to think through the details that make up your puppy's sleep environment and to make adjustments if needed. Create an environment that encourages calming behaviors and discourages wake-time behaviors.
Some important considerations for your dog's sleep:
- Light: reduce the artificial lights in your puppy's sleep environment. Dogs have light-sensitive eyes as well, so reducing artificial lights is an easy improvement.
- Sound: you may want to consider some form of ambient noise for you puppy's sleep environment. White noise machines can reduce the chances that your puppy wakes up from normal sounds that occur at night.
- Temperature: Is there a water heater in the environment? Is there heat? If your dog is sleeping in a separate room, consider whether the temperature is conducive for quality sleep.
- Bedding: it is worth purchasing a quality dog bed. If you want your dog to sleep consistently, start them on their bed early.
- Toys: it may be beneficial to remove any toys
- Hazards: cables, wires, etc. are important considerations -- anything you wouldn't want your puppy getting into. Make this environment safe for your puppy, and you will be able to
Thinking through the sleep environment for your puppy is one powerful step you can take toward your puppy getting quality sleep, even while training.
On the topic of sleep environment
Now that you have thought through your puppy's sleep environment, it's your turn. Thinking through your sleep environment is just as important as thinking through your pups, and it can be an eye-opening experience.
Tips for your own sleep environment and routine:
To make the bedroom nice and dark during sleep, few things beat the light-blocking ability of blackout curtains. They really help reduce the amount of artificial light in your sleep environment.
Research has shown that having essential oils diffused in the bedroom can facilitate increased relaxation and better sleep. Try it yourself: put a few drops of lavender oil on a cloth in your room, or even on the blades of your fan. Lavender is a great choice, but there are lots of options to facilitate relaxation and peace in the sleeping environment:
- sandalwood oil
- chamomile oil
- ylang ylang oil
- clary sage oil
- lemongrass oil
- Valerian oil
- sweet marjoram oil
- bergamot oil
Another option for using aromatherapy to improve sleep, is to try burning some incense in the house a few hours before sleep. Creating a nightly routine with aroma can have a positive impact on sleep quality.
Use a Dimmer on Your Screen
Many options are available for reducing the blue-light exposure from screens. A simple search of “blue light blocker” or “blue light filter” will give you access to many apps that would work for your smart phone. Similarly, there are many options for tablets, laptops, TVs, and most other blue-light sources in your life.
Zero Artificial Lights
Our bodies have photoreceptive sensors in multiple areas, including our skin. Reducing the artificial light to zero in your room is an easy way to ensure that your body’s photoreceptors are receiving the message: it is night-time, and time to sleep.
Avoid Screen-Time before Bed
This is another way to reduce blue-light exposure before bed. If the screen dimming and blue-light filters aren’t working for you, then a cut and dry method is just to eliminate screen time before bed. Some people eliminate screens several hours before bed. It can look like reading a physical book instead of reading on your smart tablet. It could mean playing a card game instead of watching TV. This method may be a bit more difficult, depending on your screen time routines, but it would definitely eliminate blue-light exposure and reduce the negative impact that blue-light has in the evening on your internal sleep rhythms.
By taking the time to really consider your puppy's sleep routine, sleep environment, as well as your own sleep hygiene, you can take meaningful steps toward improved sleep. Not just for your puppy, but for you as well. Training a puppy is a lot of work, and setting yourself up for quality sleep is an easy way to begin on the right foot.