When we got our French Bulldog puppy, we fitted into his routine for the first week or so. He had left his mother at 8 weeks of age, so it took him some time to adjust. He slept in our room in his crate, so we had lots of sleepless nights with his yelping.
But it wasn’t just his adjustment though, it was also his energy which seemed to show no bounds, even at night time. Our puppy would just not seem to tire for bed, meaning we’d still hear him scrabbling about at gone midnight.
That was until my friend gave me some essential tips on how to tire out a puppy at night so both you and the dog can get a good night’s sleep. Here’s the short answer first, followed by the practical tips.
How to tire out a puppy before bed? To tire out puppies for bed so they sleep properly through the night they require proper routine. This includes physical and mental stimulation throughout the day including outdoor walks, indoor play. You should avoid excessive exercise an hour before bed, as this is when relaxation should start.
Just like children, puppies and mature dogs need routine and security.
If you want to know what the fastest way to tire out a puppy before bed is, read on. Use these tactics and you will have not just a happy puppy, but also one that is ready for bed at night and should sleep soundly.
How to tire out a puppy at night for bed
Getting a puppy ready for bed at a time that suits its owner actually begins first thing in the morning. Your canine toddler requires regular daytime exercise and night time conditioning.
By creating a route like this, tiredness at night can be taught to your puppy with a program of bedtime events.
Physical and mental exercise for puppies need to be rationed at all times of the day, especially at bedtime, lest the pup be stimulated into wakefulness.
A short walk after dinner, with time to pee and poop, should prepare the pup for a quiet time before bed.
A while later, round off a short period of playful bonding, with the pup in its bed. Reward and comfort it with a favourite chew toy. However, stop the activities an hour before bedtime. If you don’t he could still be wound up and won’t get to sleep at night easily.
Once it is bedtime for your puppy, you could turn the lights down low, sing a lullaby if necessary and insist that it stay put. Ignore any plaintive cries for company.
Managing a puppy’s energy levels before bed to encourage sleep
There are several factors that determine how much energy your pup will have and whether you can get the puppy to sleep at night. When they are very young, they play vigorously and need to sleep frequently. This energy should be channelled into physical and mental exercise.
Unlike cats, dogs are diurnal with peak energy levels in the morning. Their natural tendency is to sleep at night. An exercise regime should take this into account, and if successful, means your puppy will be easier to deal with.
At no time should a pup be overexerted or exercised in a manner that may cause injury to its developing body. Whilst you might be looking for the fastest way to tire out a puppy at night, please do not deliberately run them into a ground. Dogs of a brachycephalic breed in particular will develop breathing problems.
1. Physical exercises
A rule of thumb for physical exercise is to have 2 to 3 exercise sessions per day, of not more than 5 minutes times the age of the pup in months. For example, an exercise session for a 6 month old pup would last up to 30 minutes.
Walking is a good exercise for puppies but bear in mind that pups should only be exposed to public areas once they have had all their shots. Low impact exercise, like walking at a leisurely pace, is good for their minds and bodies.
It allows them to explore their environment and thus stimulate their senses and brains as well. At the same time, it provides a fun way in which to teach your pup basic obedience lessons.
Keep the duration of the walks within the allotted exercise time frame. Vary the routes as the pup gets older.
Any exercise regime needs to be focused on the pup’s needs. Although it would be efficient use of time to exercise your puppy while you jog your daily 5 miles, this is not good for young dogs.
Dogs should only be running long distances once their joints are strong enough, which will be around the time of their first birthday. Rather have the pup join you on a warm up lap and then continue the run on your own.
At home, simple devices can be used to stimulate a pup’s interest during playtime. He or she might enjoy playing tug of war with you. Care must be taken not to damage their teeth by pulling too hard. A flirt pole with a lure on the end will teach the pup to jump and stalk.
While playing with the pup, build up its confidence by allowing it to ‘win’ occasionally. Let Fluffy catch the lure or run off with the tug prize – here are more pros and cons to the game of tug.
Keeping up with a pup for 30+ minutes at a time may prove taxing. Blowing bubbles will require less exertion on your part and seems to hold endless fascination for dogs of all ages.
Playing fetch with a small pup can work indoors. Tempting as it may be to tire your dog out by having it run up and down stairs a number of times to retrieve an object, keep this to a minimum. Your pup was not designed for repetitions of this exercise.
Possibly a young dog’s favourite form of exercise is to antagonise an older pet. This is a great way for your animals to bond and to use up a pup’s energy. But this activity, too, should be managed so that the pup does not get overstimulated, and the older pet remains sane.
Handy Hint: There are also good guidelines for how close to bed your puppy should be eating too. I’ve written a separate guide about that which you can read here.
2. Mental Exercises
Making your pup use its brain will be as beneficial as physical exercise and will probably use up as much energy.
Teaching a dog obedience commands and tricks requires coordination of its mind and body. Send your dog on a treasure hunt for treats or, if you have the space, set up an obstacle course which will build different muscles and develop new skills.
Treat balls and food dispensers do not require your interaction. The amount of energy the pup expends can be controlled by limiting the amount of food in the device. You can buy devices like this on Amazon – they are called dog mental stimulation toys (see Amazon prices).
Rotate their toys from time to time so that they are reunited with old favourites and stimulated by ‘new’ ones.
An older pup will enjoy looking through a window at the activities outside. My dogs never cease to be entertained by the bird life in our garden. I suspect they dream about catching them when they sleep at night.
3. A night time routine
Dogs are diurnal and will naturally exhibit lower energy levels towards the end of the day. Try to build cues into your puppy’s evening routine and exercise session that reinforce this.
An evening walk, after dinner, will set the tone for the night time routine. Keep it shorter than daytime walks, even if it just a walk around the garden. Allow the pup enough time to explore its surroundings and to empty its bowels and bladder thoroughly.
When you get back indoors, ignore the pup for a while so that it can settle any pent up excitement. Throughout the evening, keep stimuli to a minimum. Play low key mind games and interact gently with the pup, if it starts looking for mischief.
These need not be challenging, something like hiding a chew toy under your leg will keep it amused. Your pup will delight in doing anything with its favourite human.
After another quick ablution break, lead the pup to its regular bed, where it feels secure. You can either give it a favourite chew toy to play with or a calming bedtime treat.
Our local supermarket stocks daytime and night time dog biscuits. The chamomile flavoured ones are intended for bedtime. There are other products for sale online which make for interesting shopping.
Calming essential oils are available, for sprinkling on a dog’s bedding. These need to be applied sparingly as a dog’s sense of smell is far more acute than that of a human being.
Dedicated, some might say fanatical, dog owners have been known to massage their pups gently or to sing them to sleep with a lullaby.
Dim the lights and retreat softly. Continue with your own bedtime routine, all the while ignoring the dog.
Ensuring your pup sleeps through the night
In the beginning, while your pup is being toilet trained, it will wake up every three hours or so due to pressure on its small bladder.
Be proactive and set your alarm to wake the dog, before it would do so naturally, and take it to its designated toilet spot. Slowly lengthen the amount of time between these wee breaks.
Your pup will begin to feel secure in the routine that you have established and will not feel the need to wake itself up. Soon your dog will sleep through the night.
Now you know how to tire out a puppy before bed you should hopefully get a bit more rest. I can honestly compare having a puppy to it being similar to having a baby, at least, that’s what my wife and I thought at the time.
However, you need to appreciate, that just like kids, puppies aren’t always going to go to sleep as and when you want them to. They are independent souls, and full of energy and curiosity so sometimes simply won’t want to go to bed at night.
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Image in header licensed via Storyblocks.com.