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How to get your dog to sleep later in the morning

Bulldog sleeping
(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to get your dog to sleep later in the morning is likely high on your priority list if you have a pup who loves to wake you up at the crack of dawn! Even if your canine companion is lucky enough to sleep in the best dog bed, there can be times when their restlessness has an impact on your own wake-up routine.

Sorting out your dog’s sleep schedule to make sure that the both of you are well-rested can take a little bit of work, but the pay-off is usually 100% worth it. If you can ensure your dog gets a good nights’ sleep and wakes up at a reasonable time, they’ll be happier, you’ll be happier and the family setup will be much better.

Most of the tips in this piece are pretty straightforward, so with any luck, you won’t find it too hard to get that extra sleep you desire with some simple changes to your routine and perhaps your dog’s setup. A good place to start is ensuring that they have the best large dog bed, so they’ve got plenty of room to get cozy and comfy. 

What time do dogs normally wake up?

There isn’t a simple answer for the right time a dog should (or shouldn’t) wake up. The answer can vary wildly depending on the breed of the dog, the age of the dog, the health of the dog, the routine of its owner, and other issues such as disturbances that might be waking them up. 

That said, most dogs will usually end up following the same or similar routine to their owners, so with a bit of work you’ll find that they wake up at about the same time as you do - or in some lucky cases, a little while after you’ve already been up and about.

One thing which is important however is to become attuned to your dog’s routine. That way, if they start waking up at a different time from usual, especially if that happens frequently, you’ll be prepared to understand and tackle any problems that might be causing it.

Why does my dog wake up at 4am?

Woman holding a mug of tea and hugging her dog

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dogs spend a lot of their time asleep, but that’s no use to you if your furry friend is waking you up at an unfriendly hour every morning. 

There could be a number of reasons why your dog is waking up unusually early, and it’s important to think about each one in turn to try and remove the problem. Think about the following potential issues:

Toilet: Younger dogs, those with medical issues and older dogs might be waking up as they need to use the bathroom. However, healthy adult dogs should be able to last a night without needing to - make sure they are paying a visit before bedtime to help ensure that they don’t need to go again in the night.

Hunger: If you feed your dog in the morning only, and they don’t have an evening meal, it could be that they are waking up in the night hungry. You could try a small snack before bedtime - this is a good time to give them one of the best dental chews for dogs, killing two birds with one stone. 

Energy: Again, if your dog is walked only in the mornings, they could have excess energy that is waking them in the night. A short walk close to or just before bedtime can help. 

Thirst: Make sure your dog always has access to clean, fresh water. If they are crate trained this might be a bit harder, so make sure they have a drink before you send them to bed. 

Anxiety: This is a bit of a broader topic, and there’s any number of things that could be causing night time waking. There could be a loud noise that is disturbing them, they could be in an unfamiliar environment (for example if you’re on vacation or visiting relatives), or - especially young puppies - they could be suffering from separation anxiety.  Once you’ve ruled out all of the above easier problems to solve, you could start to look at any anxiety problems too. 

Do dogs have a sleep schedule?

The short answer is - yes they do. Usually, a dog’s sleep schedule is reasonably similar to our own, and you’ll generally find that most dogs adapt quite well to their owner’s sleep patterns.

Most dogs will spend at least half of their day asleep, which includes the main overnight deep sleep, and lighter, shorter naps throughout the day. Keeping your dog to at least roughly the same sleep schedule with the same bedtime and wake-up time every day will generally be a happier experience for both of you.

How to get your dog to sleep later

If you find that your dog is waking up super early and you don’t want them to, if you’ve eliminated all the problems above there are still some things you can do to help. 

Just like humans, dogs are attuned to the light when it comes to waking up. Making sure that wherever they sleep is cozy and dark will help them not to wake up too early, especially in the months when the sun rises very early. Draw the curtains or close the blinds if you can to prevent too much natural light from getting in.

Dogs are creatures of habit, too. If your dog is persistently waking at 5am and you respond to it, the dog quickly learns that that’s the correct time to get up. It can be difficult, but try your best to ignore your dog if they wake up early - oftentimes they will simply drop off back to sleep. Eventually you’ll usually find that they learn to only get up at the appropriate time - i.e. when you do. 

It’s important to learn your dog’s distress signals (such as if they need to use the toilet) however. That’s usually characterized by persistence, and is something most dog owners become attuned to over time.

It’s also advisable not to feed your dog immediately after waking. That way, they’ll learn to associate waking up with food - and it can be another reason why they want to disturb your sleep before you’re ready.

Amy Davies

Amy Davies is a freelance writer and photographer with over 15 years experience. She has a degree in journalism from Cardiff University and has written about a huge variety of topics over the years. These days she mostly specialises in technology and pets, writing across a number of different titles including TechRadar, Stuff, Expert Reviews, T3, Digital Camera World, and of course PetsRadar. She lives in Cardiff and has two dogs, Lola, a rescue miniature dachshund and Raven, a black Labrador who thinks she’s the same size as Lola.