No one likes to have their shuteye rudely interrupted, not even by their precious dog that wakes up too early. Many canines seem to have an evil knack for waking up hours before the alarm goes off, throwing their owner’s sleep schedule out of whack.
Your dog waking up early can be from something as simple as boredom and habit, or may indicate a health issue. Sometimes, you’ll catch Fido sneaking into your bed, no matter how comfy the doggy bed you spoiled them with is.
Some sleep interruptions here and there are expected as part of the dog-owning journey. After all, everybody knows that having a dog is like having a child that never grows up. However, if your dog has been working overtime to ruin your sleep, we got you. Here are some tips if your dog wakes up too early.
Why Do Dogs Wake Up Too Early?
Most of the time dogs wake up too early simply because they’re in the habit of being early risers, or if they are fed or walked early in the morning. However, your dog waking up early could simply mean they miss you or indicate physical or psychological stressors. A canine’s sleep schedule is much different from ours, so they’ve likely had enough sleep by the time they wake you in the wee hours.
Your dog would take a bullet for you if they had to, but they won’t always let you have your full morning sleep; sounds about right?. You’re not alone in your plight about having a morning dog. Most times, it’s perfectly normal canine behavior that doesn’t indicate anything wrong with your pooch. In fact, you can see many videos like these of dogs waking their owners up far too early:
Your dog has multiple reasons for not allowing you to sleep in, which include the following:
1. They Need to Pee
Sometimes your dog wakes you up early because nature calls. While most dogs can comfortably stay the night without having to pee, sometimes, their bladders get too full to spend the night. You can tackle this problem by giving a bathroom break before bed and withholding food and water for two hours.
You will also need to address the issue of making sure your puppy is crated at night.
2. Separation Anxiety
According to a study, approximately 20% of dogs suffer from separation-related behavior. Dogs with this type of anxiety display destructive behavior and bark a lot when left alone. COVID saw a surge in dogs with separation anxiety, with some COVID puppies not even leaving their owners alone in the bathroom.
If your canine has separation anxiety, they may wake you up constantly to ensure you’re still there. This is especially true if they sleep in another room.
3. Your Dog is Bored
Sometimes, your dog is done sleeping and out of things to do, so they come to their ultimate source of entertainment—you. Understimulated dogs without enough physical and mental exercise are bound to get naughty.
If they don’t come to the room to wake you, their sounds when running into things all over your house certainly will. Puppies can sleep in locked crates until they outgrow destructiveness, but that doesn’t mean adult dogs aren’t little destructive delinquents either. Also be sure your dog is not locked in a crate too long.
4. The Dog is Sick and in Pain
Some cases of waking up at night stem from health issues causing pain and discomfort. Any medical issue can cause sleeplessness, but we cover a few:
- UTIs– A common cause of early rising since it causes increased frequency of urination with a burning sensation.
- Injury—The pain from an injury can keep your dog awake. You’ll likely spot the wound upon close examination.
- Dementia— Canine Cognitive dysfunction or CCD can affect sleeping cycles in dogs with the condition
- Joint pain or other bodily pains
Your dog may be in a new environment, causing them to lose sleep because of all the stress. Imagine how hard it is to get some sleep before a big day because stress affects your dog the same way.
6. Digestive Problems
Your dog may be sleepless because something they ate is giving them an upset stomach. As unfussy eaters, dogs find themselves ingesting unexplainable objects. A new diet can also affect your dog if introduced too fast.
7. They’ve Had Their Cue to Wake Up
Dogs have their sleep cycles, and waking up early may mean they’re done sleeping. Perhaps they felt the sun through the curtains, cueing them to wake up even though it’s not quite your time yet. Many dogs are naturally early risers and they are creatures of habit. So if they are used to getting up at a certain time and waking you up to go outside or go for a walk they are going to do it regardless if it is the weekend and you were hoping to sleep in.
8. Exciting things happen in the morning
One of the biggest reasons dogs wake up early is if they’re used to going for walks or being fed first thing in the morning. If the best part of the day happens first thing, excitement will get them up before the rooster crows and bouncing on your bed no matter what.
How Long Does a Dog Sleep?
Dogs love their naps, and adults spend a whopping 12 to 14 hours sleeping. Puppies spend even more time asleep because all that growing requires a solid 18 to 20 hours of sleep. Senior dogs also sleep more than 12 hours because they tire out easily.
Your dog sleeping most of the day shouldn’t worry you as long as they receive adequate exercise. No one knows for certain why dogs need all that sleep and not less, say, 4 to 5 hours. However, seeing as our dogs barely have a busy schedule and have food on the table, they have nothing better to do.
Why Does My Dog Wake Up Too Early and Bark?
Your dog barks in the morning to wake you up to an unmet physical need like hunger or peeing. A few times, something in the environment may have spooked your pup, causing them to bark as they’re trying to alert you.
Dogs depend on you for almost everything, and that dependence doesn’t magically end at night. It may be a bit spooky to be violently woken up to the sound of a barking dog, especially when you’re in a deep sleep.
Observe the nature of your dog’s barking. Is it loud and sudden, almost as if they’re barking at something? Or is it incessant and more of whining? The latter suggests that your dog wants a need met, while loud barking shows alertness and barking at something in the surroundings.
Will My Puppy Outgrow Waking Up Too Early?
As puppies grow and their bladders mature, there are fewer incidences of waking at night to pee. Puppies can hold it longer at night than during the day because they drink less water and are less active. Most puppies can sleep through the night without potty breaks by 4 to 5 months.
However, a puppy not peeing at night at four months isn’t automatic because you’ll need to withhold food and water. Additionally, crate training is essential for speedy potty training in pups and fewer incidences of your dog waking up too early.
8 Ways to Stop Your Dog from Waking Up Too Early
You don’t have to suffer through shortened mornings as a dog owner. While your dog waking up too early is almost always normal, it isn’t any less annoying. These seven tips for dogs that wake up too early may one day save your sleep.
1. Take Your Dog for a Potty Break
After withholding food and water for two hours before their bedtime, take your dog out to empty their bowels for an accident-free night. Try to do this as late as possible in hopes that they will stay asleep a bit longer in the morning.
2. Daily Walks and Mental Exercise
A tired dog is a behaved one. Tiring your dog out during the day with walks and exercises increases their chances of sleeping longer.
3. Crate-train Your Dog
Adult dogs can stay in a crate for 4 to 6 hours, and puppies below six months for 3 to 4 during the day. Dogs above 4 months can stay the whole night in a crate, with proper training with treats and positive reinforcement. Crates restrict your dog’s movement, so they won’t wake you too early.
4. Ensure They Aren’t Sick
Watching out for signs of illness like diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and sleeping can let you know if your dog is sick. You’ll see improvement in your dog’s sleep once they receive treatment when sick.
5. Reduce Bedroom Stimuli
Distractions like blue light, tv sounds, and early sunlight can all wake your dog up. Keep your dog’s sleeping area as unentertaining and dark as possible to encourage more sleep. This includes removing any toys from your dog’s premises because the last thing you want is a dog excited for play.
6. Feed a Proper Diet
A hungry dog will wake you at night when the hunger gets the better of them. To remedy this, ensure your dog’s food portion aligns with their size and weight. Also, ensure your dog’s diet isn’t causing sensitivity. Allergies can also cause sleep interruptions, so consult your vet in case diet is the issue.
7. Routine and Doing exciting things later in the day
Your dog is more likely to wake up consistently if they sleep at the same time every night. It’s easier to create a routine around feeding times, so try to give your dog food at around the same time daily.
Additionally, aim to take your dog for a long walk at around the same time every evening. This way, they don’t take this time to laze around but instead sleep at night. If your dog is waking up early because they get fed in the morning, then move their feeding time to later in the day. Likewise, more other activities to the evening or afternoon.
8. Install a doggy door
If possible, allow your dog the option to leave the house and go outside on their own. A dog that can leave via the doggy door to potty has less reason to wake you up.
Dogs wake up too early sometimes, and it’s mostly normal. Other times, continuous sleeplessness indicates separation anxiety, health issues causing pain like joint pain or STIs, and boredom. Your dog will wake you before your time if they’re hungry or need to go to the bathroom.
Walking your dog, crate training, watching out for diseases, and taking them outside before sleep minimizes incidences of early waking in dogs.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.
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