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Dog not sleeping at night...please help!

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Dog not sleeping at night...please help!
  • I'm feeling really frustrated and sleep-deprived right now.  As much as I love my dog, I'm having a really hard time liking him at night.

    Chase is almost 3 years old.  He's a chesapeake bay retriever and he's been sleeping through the night since he was about 5 months old.  All of a sudden, in the past few months, he wants to go out at 3:00 or 4:00 every night!  At first I thought it might be a medical problem, but the vet has given him a clean bill of health, so it looks like it's a behavioural problem.  I really don't know what to do.  If I don't get up and let him out, he just whines and whines, wakes me up every 20-30 minutes and drives me bonkers.  Last night I let him out at 3:30 and then went back to bed.  Well, he woke me up AGAIN half an hour later!  I put his bed in the spare room and left him there.  He was quiet until a little before 5:00, when he started whining and barking.  I ignored him until my alarm clock went off at 5:30.  When I get up at 5:30, the little monster doesn't even get up with me.  He's quite content to stay in bed until about 7:00 when bf wakes up and feeds/walks him.

    What can I do to stop this behaviour?  I realize that my dog has trained me.  I just don't know how to undo what's been done.  I think I'm going to have to put him in the basement to sleep, but I'm not sure if that will help the problem long-term.  I don't want my dog to sleep alone every night.  But I don't want to be sleep-deprived either. 

    He eats at 7:00 in the morning and then again between 5:00 and 6:00 at night.  He gets 20-30 minutes of off-leash running and stick chasing in the field with bf in the morning.  When I come home from work, he gets a 45 minute on-leash walk and 15 minutes of stick and ball chasing in the backyard (I can't walk him off-leash because there are too many untrained dogs in the field after work).  He also gets about 10-15 minutes of "brain play" in the evening...mostly hunting for a hidden toy, which he absolutely loves.  He's on NILF.  He gets a recreational bone to chew on about 5 times a week.  We've gotten a bit lazy in the kong department, so he's been getting his food in a bowl, but if it will make a difference in his nighttime behaviour, I'm more than willing to go back to making a couple of stuffed kongs every day.

    He's alone from 8:15-12:00 and then again from 12:45-4:00.  Lots of dogs are alone for longer than that and are still able to sleep at night.

    Any help or advice for a really tired and unhappy me?

  • As difficult as it may be, I think it's going to be a matter of ignoring him completely for a few nights. Maybe start over the weekend when you can sleep in, and also make sure he's not getting too much water before bed. One of mine will wake me up early if I forget to close the toilet lid and he drinks from it during the night. :O

  • earplugs? I'd get a vet check as well, sudden weird behavioral changes may be your first sign of a serious health problem.

     Is it possible something is going on outside at 3 am that wasn't going on before, like deer romping around, or a neighbor prepping for a really early work shift?

  • my dog sometimes wakes up at 3 or so in the morning , i put shooting ear muffs on and go back to sleep. 

  • Is it possible for him to sleep in your room?  Maybe, for some reason, he's feeling some separation anxiety at night.  I would try that, if possible and see if it helps.

  • Where does he sleep?  Our dogs sleep with us, but that is a privilege they earn by being respectful (not getting on our bed) and not waking us at night.  If they can't do it, they are crated in another room.  They are adults so they don't need to go out at night.  We take them out right before we go to bed and they get enough exercise during the day so they can sleep all night.  

    I also have three cats and only one has earned the right to sleep in the bedroom.  The other two jump on us and whine during the night.  Sometimes they paw at the door and whine, but I learned if you go to them, they just keep doing it.  I sleep with a fan on the floor next to my bed and I'm a pretty hard sleeper, so whining and scratching doesn't phase me anymore. 

  • Co-Co and Dusty will do this occasionally and (for them) its just that something woke them up, but since they're up they wants to play.  Ignoring doesn't help, we tried ignoring Co-Co and she whined constantly and clawed her crate door for over an hour.  We had to do something else b/c we live in town, and I'm certain the neighbors could hear her.  Our trainer told us to get a water bottle, when they start whining firmly tell them to hush, if they don't quiet then a spray with the water bottle.  That worked very well for us and now they will usually gets quiet if we say hush, or if not we can just show them the bottle and that's enough. 

  • Does he want to go outside to potty or just come out of the crate? Maybe try moving the crate to your room.

    Does he have access to water? I only ask because my dog started waking me up (he sleeps in our room) in the middle of the night when we turned the heater on. This happens every year around the same time. The air is drier then he is used to so he is getting thirsty in the middle of the night. It makes sence because I am waking up thirsty too. I gave him a bowel of water and he has stopped getting me up. He wakes up and takes a little drink and then goes back to bed.


  • I would change things around -- the first thing I'd do is wait until like 8 p.m. to feed him.  IF he's thinking he needs to potty that should help.

    Alternatively - how much is this dog drinking?  Anything more than normal? 

    If this is not medical (and I'm not convinced it's not) then every time you get up you're reinforcing things.

    Historically, my assumption is that there is some noise that is waking the dog up -- a neighbor going to work, or wildlife outside the house ... those things can wake a dog up and make them feel they MUST go outside and 'look around'. 

  • Thanks so much for all of the responses!  You're giving me hope that I may yet sleep through the night.

    A bit more info:  Chase sleeps in our room on the floor.  He doesn't suffer from separation anxiety...although he would, of course, MUCH rather be where we are.  Because he's used to sleeping in the room with us, he'll whine if we close him out, but it's not SA.  He'd get used to it.  He's not crated.  We're keeping our house a bit warmer that we normally do, because I find that he's less restless when the heat's at 70.

    To those who suggest it might be a medical problem, what would you recommend?  We've had a check-up, and the vet said that he was in great shape, healthy and strong.  Are there any particular tests that I should ask for? 

    In the meantime, should I take him out in the middle of the night, or should I go with the earplugs?  I don't *think* he desperately needs to pee, but if he's sick I don't want to deny him what he needs.  I open the door, he walks out, looks around for a minute and then walks off to sniff and pee.  I honestly think that he pees because it's a habit...I send him out to potty right before bed and he knows that we won't go back in until he pees.  When I get up to let him pee in the night, I don't talk to him or pet him.   But I know that simply getting up and going out is reinforcement enough.

    I must admit that it never even crossed my mind that he might be hearing something and waking up.  That actually makes a lot of sense, because it's always somewhere between 3:00 and 4:00.  I live in a quiet neighbourhood in a big city, so there could very well be a neighbour getting ready for a very early shift.

    Tonight I'm going to try feeding him a bit later and see if it makes a difference.  We feed him Eagle Pack morning and evening.  He's a big dog, but he's healthy and at a good weight (although he could probably stand to lose a few pounds).  I've frozen a kong with kibble and yogourt, so he'll get that tonight at 8:00.  I hope it makes a difference!  He drinks a lot after eating and after a walk, but no more than usual.  Oh, his last potty break is somewhere between 9:00 and 9:30.  I'm in bed before 10:00, so it can't be any later.  Will eating at 8:00 leave him with enough time to digest and potty before sleeping?

    Thanks again!

  • random
    Any help or advice for a really tired and unhappy me?

    How about setting up a video camera (with sound recording) in the backyard during the hours that your dog is waking up?  That might help you identify something that is waking him up - raccoons, skunks, opossums, coyotes, noisy neighbors, etc.  I bet you could record directly to a computer disk.

    There are lots of white sound devices on the market that might help to mask-out outside sounds.  My personal favorite is rain.

    Is there a doggie daycare in the area that you could take him to - maybe once a week?  It sounds like he could use some more exercise.  I have never used such a daycare, but I have heard owners say that their dog comes home so tired that he sleeps for a couple of days.

  •  I'd have his urine checked just to make certain he doesn't have a UTI. Otherwise, I'd ignore him. Mine occasionally wake me up partway through the night. That's acceptable. Every night is not so much...

  • If it turns out not to be medical, I second the idea of a fan or white noise. I am a light sleeper and I do this personally. I have a box fan that  leave on all year round, pointed away from me in winter, and also a cd that I run on my computer that sounds like an aquarium bubbling.

  • Well, Chase slept through the night last night.  Here's what I did differently:

    - supper in a kong at 7:30.  It took him about 45 minutes to eat.

    - extra 10 minute fetching session in the backyard at about 9:00

    - I wouldn't let him sleep until I went to bed.  Every time he started to sleep, I called him over to me.  He looked a bit puzzled!

    - I talked to him before bed and asked him to please not wake up until he heard my alarm clock.

    I'm not sure which one worked, but I'm really happy that I had an uninterrupted night's sleep!  Now we'll see if it works again tonight.

     Thanks again!

  • Oh my goodness. We just went through this SAME EXACT THING. Our English Setter is almost two and has always slept through the night. But for about two months straight, she was waking up at 3am - it was like clockwork. Finally, after trying to ignore, trying to plop her back on the bed, making sure she ate for the last time earlier in the evening, etc., finally it dawned on us. We decided to try having a really intense playing session outside right before bed. It only takes about 15 minutes to a 1/2 hour to tire her out and then she is ready for a restful night of sleep! Maybe you could try the same to see if this is what your dog needs.