So, you adopted a puppy. Congratulations! You’re in for a whirlwind few months of joy, excitement, and love—and a lot of challenging, wakeful nights. It’s up to you, however, to set them up for success. The key to getting your puppy to sleep through the night will be built on routine, structure, and strict feeding or water times.
In general, a puppy will sleep anywhere from 10 to 18 hours long within a 24-hour period. Part of those hours includes sleeping at night. Keep in mind, though, age is a huge factor. Most puppies don’t start sleeping through the night until they are about 16 weeks old. A 2020 study reported that most 16-week-old puppies slept, on average, seven hours through the night.
But since most people bring home puppies at 9-10 weeks old, there are a long 6 to 7 weeks to get through with little sleep. Rest assured, you’re not the only ones who are experiencing this. We got through it and you will too!
Keep reading for our trainer-approved tips and secret pet parent insights to keep you on the right path! With a little bit of help from us, you can easily transition your young pup from waking up two to three times a night to none at all.
1. Be Patient with Your Puppy
Despite the miracle stories you’ve heard, don’t expect the first night with your puppy to be representative of all your nights. Puppies, especially shy ones, can take a while to come out of their shell and be fully comfortable in their new environment. Some puppies may also sleep through the first three nights out of exhaustion and then start refusing to sleep.
Reasons a puppy may not sleep through the night immediately include:
- Missing their siblings
- Feeling uncertain about their new environment and family
- Feeling nervous about soiling their bed area
- Feeling overly excited and restless due to lack of routine
Puppies will adjust to sleeping alone, and through the night, around 16 weeks old. Embracing patience and positivity through this process may make the transition easier in the long run.
2. Practice Crate Training at Night
Crate training can feel like a hassle, but it will provide a lot of reassurance for future scenarios. Nighttime crate training involves praising and rewarding your puppy for choosing the crate rather than other sleep surfaces. Other benefits of crate training at night include:
- Structure and routine: Crates can signal it’s bedtime or it’s time to chill.
- Fewer potty accidents: Puppies who sleep in crates are more likely to alert you of their bathroom needs.
- Flexible sleep spots: As puppies become accustomed to their crate, you’ll be able to sleep in your bedroom, undisturbed. It also helps if the living room crate is where they sleep for naps.
Crate covers are also a good idea to help prevent more curious dogs from getting excited. Some dogs develop a bird-like response when their crate is covered and quiet down, believing it’s bedtime.
Pro-tip: Choose where your puppy will sleep and stick to the location. If you want your puppy to sleep in the living room, you may need to sleep by their crate the first few nights before moving away.
3. Establish a Bedtime Routine
Decide how your puppy transitions towards bedtime, and stick to it! Start removing food a few hours before bedtime and transition into more calming activities. Dim the lights, put on some soft classical music, and give your puppy a soft nest to snuggle up in. Try including an item of your clothing in their bedding so your pup feels close to you.
Avoid testing out new sleep spaces. Instead, sleep near their crate. A new puppy may also be more anxious alone or have fomo. Getting them to believe it’s bedtime for you as well may help them with their fear of missing out.
Pro-tip: Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) collars and diffusers release a calming pheromone (a synthetic version of the hormone released by a nursing mother dog) that can also help soothe your puppy. Toys that emit a “heartbeat” can also help get your puppy to sleep.
4. Tire Your Puppy Out Mentally & Physically
Your puppy is much more likely to sleep through the night if they’ve been mentally and physically tired out during the day. Even if your puppy is not yet allowed on walks because they haven’t been fully vaccinated, it’s still possible to tire them out at home or in your yard.
Physical exercise for dogs can include playing with tug toys, a game of chase, gentle flirt stick, or even recall games to teach your puppy to come. Once your puppy is more comfortable (or vaccinated), you can teach them to walk on a leash. Focused laps around the yard can tire them out more than you think!
Mental exercise includes engaged dog training, puzzle toys, and a lot of sniffing during a decompression walk! Even people watching can tire those little brains out. Sitting on your porch and giving your dog a treat for every new sound or creature they calmly notice is a brain exercise for them.
Pro-tip: Creating a comfy sleeping space can also help. This may look like adding a shirt that smells like you or making sure their crate has a blanket or two for comfort.
5. Respect Their Potty Schedule
Reserve 5-10 minutes for your puppy to do their business outside before bedtime. Most puppies will need to pee or poo 20 to 30 minutes after a meal, but taking them out, even if they already went is still a good safety measure. While puppies can hold their bladder longer at night, making sure they pee before bed is also an effective potty training routine for when they are older.
As we mentioned, taking away water and food at least an hour before bedtime can help remove the need for 3a.m. potty breaks. A little water before bed or in their crate is also OK as you don’t want them to be thirsty. Another trick, if it’s not too hot out, is to leave ice cubes in the water bowl before you sleep so they don’t drink too much water at once.
6. Set a Timer for Midnight Potty Breaks
If your puppy sleeps in a crate, you’ll probably have to do a middle-of-the-night potty break. Puppies simply can’t hold their urine for more than a few hours—physically, their bodies aren’t made for it. They also don’t like to be forced to sit or sleep in their own mess. Which means if there is an accident, they’ll let you know. (Hopefully they do, otherwise you’ll be in for a surprise in the morning!)
Instead of waiting for your puppy to let you know they’re awake and ready to go, set a timer 4 or 5 hours from bedtime. Get your puppy and take them outside to pee or poop while they are still tired. You might notice your puppy going back to bed without a hitch. As your puppy gets older, you can extend your timer until morning.
This method can also help you avoid exciting your puppy while they are awake since they’ll be too sleepy to understand what’s going on. If they do wake, stay calm and quiet. Don’t engage in any play or excessive snuggles.
7. Ignore Barking and Whining
If your puppy has already done their business, ignore their cries for attention. One of the fastest things a puppy can learn is that whining and barking can bring you running. If they know that all they have to do is make some noise to get your attention, you’re never going to get a good night’s rest.
The first few days your pup is home, try earplugs, white noise and other noise-canceling options to block out whining and barking. In some cases, sleeping next to them with your hand in reach can help because they know you’re there.
8. Adjust Your Definition of “Sleeping Through the Night”
In the early puppy stages, sleeping through the night” will mean waking up at 5 to 6 a.m. Just like any new baby, when a puppy is small and learning how to sleep through the night, she’s likely to be rejuvenated and full of energy first thing in the morning. Waking up early and taking your puppy out immediately is a normal part of pet parenthood.
If you’d like to extend your sleep, try confining the puppy in a larger space with a pee pad so she can potty without waking you. However, if your pup is not potty pad trained, you may risk finding pee or poop hidden in their blankets or toys.
When Will My Puppy Sleep Through the Night?
If you’re doing all these tips, congrats! Most puppies learn to sleep through the night by three or four months. With a consistent routine around exercise, feeding, and bedtime, you may experience earlier progress. By six months, your puppy won’t have middle-of-the night potty breaks at all.
These first few weeks can be brutal for your own sleep schedule too, especially if you aren’t a morning person. But your puppy will slowly learn to sleep in—a whole different training skill. The good news is dogs need a lot of sleep, so you may be able to sneak a nap in while your puppy is having one too!
- What if I need to board my puppy? A change in schedule isn’t ideal for young dogs, but puppies are also very adaptable. Ideally you would have a sitter house-sit, but if your puppy is staying elsewhere, our advice is the same. Write down your puppy’s routine for your sitter to follow. (And since puppies are a lot of work, don’t forget to request constant care as a service from your sitter. Puppies shouldn’t be left alone for more than four hours.)
- Will day naps ruin my puppy’s sleep schedule? Interestingly, less sleep can result in more frenzied behavior, rather than lethargy. Naps are critical to a puppy’s development and ability to learn. If you believe your puppy’s nighttime naps are disrupting their sleep training, try adjusting your schedule so they nap earlier.
- What if my puppy is too excited to sleep? Reconsider your schedule and start planning chews or lick mats time for your puppy about an hour before bed. Chewing and licking are activities that puppies relax. You can also consider a calm night walk, if your puppy likes to sniff.
- What if my puppy won’t potty when outside? This is normal. More excitable puppies can forget they need to potty and want to play. Make sure you act boring and don’t engage with your puppy. If they don’t go within a minute or two, go back inside. Then try again until they do potty and heavily praise them when they do. Tiny treat reinforcements are okay here.