Ask the Trainer | Just ten more minutes … please
Special to the Sun
My boyfriend and I just moved in together and his 5-year-old dog Milton consistently wakes us up at 6 a.m. This is way too early for me! Can I teach him how to sleep in? At this rate, out relationship won’t last because I’m always grouchy and tired.
Dear Sleep Deprived,
An adult dog can and should wait for you to get up rather than demanding you get up because they want to. It sounds like Milton has always been an early riser, but if a dog suddenly starts to wake up early you need to see a vet to rule out medical conditions such as a urinary tract infection or digestive problems that cause him to have to go out more frequently. Once you rule these out, there are some practical solutions you can try:
1. Give him as much exercise as possible during the day. He needs to really run and exert himself everyday. A tired dog is a good dog!
2. Move dinner time up and take him out for a walk before bedtime. This will decrease the chance that he’s waking you up early because he has to go potty. Also, make sure he is eating a high quality dog food that his digestion system handles well. Consistently loose stool is not healthy and causes discomfort.
3. Does Milton sleep in bed with you? We all tend to toss and turn in the morning and you might be contributing to the problem by waking him. Consider teaching him to sleep on the floor, in a crate, or in another room.
4. Train him to sleep later. If you want to wake up at 6:30 a.m. and he wakes you at 6 a.m., set the alarm for 5:50 a.m. for one week then move to 5:55 the next week, adding 5 minutes each week until you reach your desired wake up time. Do not get up until the alarm goes off. This will condition him to get up to the sound of the alarm.
You may need to use a combination of management and training to solve this problem, but soon you should be able to sleep a little later.
– Carla Brown, CPDT is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owner of The Savvy Dog Training and Education Center in Truckee. If you have a pet topic/issue you would like to see covered in the Ask the Trainer column, please email her at email@example.com.
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