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What to do if your puppy is robbing you of your sleep

What to do if your puppy is robbing you of your sleep

No one enjoys crating a puppy at night, but if your puppy is keeping you awake at all hours, it's worth exploring your options to find a solution that works best for you and your pet alike

So you have a new puppy and, like myself, you thought it would be sweet if they slept on the bed with you? But what you hadn’t bargained on was this small cute thing taking up so much space, or the amount of times it gets up and down, needing to go to the toilet, have a drink, chase its tail or simply just wanting to play at 3am in the morning? And how such a small thing can give off so much heat? 

"So you have a new puppy and you thought it would be sweet if they slept on the bed with you"

Don’t worry, I hear you loud and clear. I fell for our miniature longhaired dachshund puppy’s charms, which kicked in completely when she continuously ignored her own bed and jumped higher than twice her own height, until she finally wound up on our mattress. It was sooooo cute! So we brought a ramp to our bed to protect her back, effectively making her dog bed useless.  

After a few months though, the lack of sleep got too much for me. I had become grumpy and constantly tired. So, it was time to reluctantly make some changes. A doggy door was not an option for us, but here are some of the things we did try. 

Attempt 1: Giving her constant access to outdoors  

This sounded like an easy option. Mila could come and go as she pleased via accessing another room. The issue was that without supervision, she would chew or scratch at furniture and electrical cables. She even managing to pull down books and tear them apart. So that option failed. 

Attempt 2: Buying and using training pads 

The biggest concern was Mila’s access to the toilet. Every time she went down the ramp, either my husband or I would take her instantly outside.  

Puppy training pad

Training pads can give puppies a space to do their business indoors

This eventually became a game for her and we would be waiting up to 30 minutes for her to do her business, before giving up after she had sniffed everything she possibly could outside. So perhaps taking away the outdoor stimulation and just using the training pads would be sufficient. This too failed.

We would guide her to the training pad and then wait for her to go, before unsuccessfully returning back to bed, waking up to her business being done right next to the pad, rather than on it.

Attempt 3: Crating pup 

Exasperated, I finally decided to get a crate for her, which I lined with the training pad. Crating Mila was the last thing I wanted to do. I had associated crates with dog prisons and thought it would be cruel to restrict the energy Mila has so much of, by placing her in a crate. However, I was desperate for a solution to our issue, so was willing to give it a try.  

"Crating Mila was the last thing I wanted to do"

My husband and I had prepared ourselves for a bumpy ride, knowing that Mila would probably bark and cry after having had the luxury of sleeping on our king-sized bed, with comfortable European bedding, for the past five months. I had even told myself, when it got to the stage that our neighbours might complain, I would let her out.

As expected, Mila did bark and cry, but to our surprise, it only lasted for around half an hour and then she settled in and drifted off to sleep. She awoke only once at around 5:45am to use the toilet. I was thrilled. Despite having friends mock me for crating Mila, sending me pictures of their dogs sleeping on beds, I knew this was the right decision for us. 

The end of the story? 

It still isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Mila’s toilet habits have changed lately and she’s no longer taking her night-time poop just before we go to bed. Sadly, the second night of crating her resulted in us being awoken at 3am so she could do number two. However, where previously she would play outside before her business, this time it was an immediate result and then she went straight back into the crate. 

Puppy in crate

You can make your puppy's crate a nice space for them with blankets and toys

Some words of advice here. First, do what is right for you and your dog. While I didn’t think crating was the answer for us initially, neither was us being sleep-deprived and short tempered good for anyone, including Mila.  

Second, let go of any predispositions in terms of your association with the various options available to you. Mila doesn’t see her crate as a dog prison, she sees it as a play pen. We have since lined the crate with blankets and tied toys to the roof of the crate to entertain her. As a result, she will often simply go into the crate for a time out or just to have a moment to herself.  

"Mila doesn’t see her crate as a dog prison, she sees it as a play pen"

Third, know that puppies will go through phases. Some phases last longer than others and when this phase becomes an issue, that’s when you really need to look at your options. Phases can be adjusted or broken by human interference. The last thing you want is an undesirable phase becoming a habit. 

Looking back now, I would have crated her from the moment we got her, but hindsight is 20/20 vision. Whatever option you take, just know you need a lot of mettle, patience, kindness and understanding. We are after all changing habits, and this can be tough on humans, let alone puppies

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