Dogs can be restless creatures, prone to the same anxieties as human beings. But, also like humans, they need their regularly scheduled rest to live long, happy lives. We usually don’t think of dogs as creatures that suffer from insomnia. Although doggie insomnia is rare (much more common in humans), it does exist.
As a pet parent, it can be frustrating when your dog won’t sleep at night. You know how important sleep is, but it seems like no matter what you try, your dog won’t fall asleep. You begin to wonder about the health of your dog, what you’re doing wrong, and if there’s anything you can do to help.
The good news is that there are some things you can do to help your dog sleep at night. Below we will go over our top ways to help your dog drift off into dreamland.
Set Consistent Schedules for Your Dog
Like children, a dog’s development relies on consistent routines and schedules. If a pup knows when they are supposed to eat or sleep, they will be more prone to falling in line with a set sleeping cycle.
Give your dog a role in your routine as you are getting ready for bed. This will help them to identify when they should be sleeping. Set a regularly scheduled time for their final potty break before bed. This will not only clear out their bladders but also let them know that it is time to sleep.
You should consider your own sleep cycles as well. If you are having trouble getting to sleep at a consistent time every evening, your dog will too. Your dog looks to you as their alpha and wishes to follow your footsteps and mimic your behaviors. They also feel safer when you are near. When your dog feels the comfort of your presence, they will sleep far more readily.
Avoid Too Much Activity Before Bed
While ensuring your dog has a role in your nightly routine is important, you must ensure that you do not overstimulate them before bed. Give them their daily exercise early in the day so you may avoid a pup who drinks too much water right before bed. Overhydration is a common issue in restless dogs at night. A good night’s sleep is dependent on your dog not needing to urinate in the middle of the night. Also, you do not want to get their blood pumping just before bed. They may expect more activity as you are settling in for the night.
Ensure Your Dog Gets Their Exercise
While you don’t want to get your dog’s blood pumping immediately before bed, you should still give them plenty of exercise earlier in the day. This could include a walk around the block or a trail, a trip to nature to swim in the local river or lake, or simply letting them run around in the backyard.
You may consider taking them to the dog park. Dog parks are excellent places to play fetch and socialize with other dogs without the constraints of leashes that get tangled when dogs play. Fresh air, sunshine, and exercise keep your dog healthy while allowing them enough physical activity to feel tired at night.
Improve Their Sleeping Environment
Permitting your dog to sleep in your bed is a common temptation, but it can lead to trouble sleeping for both you and your dog. You should provide your pup with a comfortable spot. Often, a crate or kennel can provide a place where your dog feels safe.
This does not mean that you should lock them up at night. But because they equate such a spot with a cave-like shelter, their instinct allows them to step down from their natural state of being on-guard.
You could also try a good quality dog bed and a warm blanket. Some dogs find comfort in having a plush toy to cuddle with. Dogs, like people, prefer soft surfaces on which to lay their heads at night, so a fluffy pillow might even do the trick. The most important thing is helping your dog sleep is making them comfortable and secure.
Try Giving Melatonin to Your Dog
There are a variety of sleep aid options for your pet, most of which incorporate melatonin. In its natural state, melatonin is a hormone released to regulate sleep-wake cycles. When there is less light outside, the body tends to produce more melatonin.
Sometimes, restlessness at night might be caused by a lack of melatonin being released. This could be the result of many factors, including anxiety, fear, or stress.
Melatonin produced in a laboratory is entirely safe to give your dog. It allows them to develop better sleep-wake cycles and calm down during periods when they should be resting. In addition to treating your dog’s insomnia, it has been shown to help separation anxiety, hyperactivity, stress, and even epilepsy. Because it is a supplement, it works safer and more naturally than other medicines for insomnia relief.
Melatonin supplements come in many shapes and forms. Tablets or capsules can be given to your dogs as part of their nightly pre-bedtime routine. Powders and liquids can be given to your dog directly or added to their food.
As with any supplement or medication, check the label to ensure you are giving the correct dosage to your dog in relation to their size. You should also consult with your vet to ensure that you are using the best brand and other considerations for your dog.
Alternatives to Melatonin
It is possible that your vet does not believe melatonin is right for your dog. Or, you may not feel comfortable giving a supplement such as melatonin to your pet (which is a perfectly justifiable concern). In these instances, you could try stress-reducing products such as an anxiety jacket.
Anxiety jackets provide gentle pressure that makes your dog feel secure. These have been shown to help dogs keep from panicking during storms and fireworks. They even help with separation anxiety. By making your dog more comfortable in their surroundings, they induce quality sleep patterns.
Another option in treating a dog who has trouble sleeping is music therapy. Playing soft music helps relieve noise sensitivity for dogs by drowning out noises that come from outside, the street, or around the house. Also, rhythmic sounds such as a clock ticking have proven effective in calming down dogs through the night.
Control The Temperature
Your dog may have trouble sleeping at night because it’s either too hot or too cold. Remember, dogs naturally run much hotter than humans. They also can’t sweat as we do. If your dog is too hot, they might be up all night panting instead of sleeping.
At the same time, dogs can get cold. This is especially true for short-haired dogs such as boxers or greyhounds. Humans can wrap up in blankets. Although some dog beds are warm, dogs usually don’t wrap themselves in blankets. However, you can always teach your dog to use a burrow bed to stay warm at night.
Try to maintain a management temperature in the house to ensure your dog’s comfort when sleeping.
Crate Train Your Dog
Your dog may not be sleeping because they don’t feel safe. That’s where crate training comes in. People often view crates as cruel, but they’re actually the opposite of cruel! Dogs are naturally cave animals, they like the feeling of safety that crates provide.
The problem is unless your dog was crate trained as a puppy, they might view the crate as a prison instead of a place of comfort. Spend some time crate training your dog. Place their dog bed in there along with some toys. You can also begin feeding them in the crate, so they start associating it with a positive experience instead of negative.
Can I Use Benadryl?
Although Benadryl will make your dog sleepy, we don’t recommend it for long term use. Using it once or twice weekly is fine, but it’s best to avoid Benadryl every day. Not only will your dog become dependent on it for sleep, but dogs can overdose on Benadryl. A small amount of melatonin is much safer.
Check with the Vet
Sometimes, there may be underlying issues that are preventing your pet from sleeping comfortably. Respiratory problems, pain, or other factors may be inhibiting your dog’s sleeping patterns. These and other issues may be a factor, especially in older dogs. Your vet should be able to ascertain if your dog is suffering from underlying medical problems.
There are a variety of options for helping your dog when they have trouble sleeping at night. Remember to make your dog comfortable and to seek consultation from your vet if your dog continues to have trouble.
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