My dog won't sleep through the night
June 16, 2005 1:48 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I purchased a Bichon Frise pup about 6 months ago; he was 3 months old when we bought him. He's great, but the problem is he refuses to remain quiet all night.

We typically go to bed around 10 or 11, and we put him in his crate in the living room. He whines and yelps usually around 1, then 4, then 5:30, when my wife gets up with him for good. Sometimes he has to pee, sometimes he wants a drink of water, and sometimes he just wants to run a few laps in the living room and go back to sleep.

I know that we aren't supposed to respond to him, so we don't reinforce the behavior; however, he keeps us awake and since we live in an apartment building, we fear that he's keeping our neighbors awake too (although they claim they haven't heard anything... yet). When we take him to doggie day care, that tires him out enough to sleep most if not all of the night, but that gets mighty expensive to do 5 days a week.

I'm *hoping* this will get better as he gets older, but any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.
posted by surferboy to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
The good news is he should grow out of it soon -- cross your fingers. In the meantime, since doggie day care seems to do the trick, I would think exercising him in the evening before you two wind down would also help him sleep through the night.
posted by pmbuko at 1:59 PM on June 16, 2005

Depending on your personal preference, you may want to try letting him sleep in your room (or, if you're very adventurous/understanding, in your bed) at night. Puppies, IME, are prone to separation anxiety and if they can't be around you all the time (especially at night), they get more than a little worried.

My own dog was already crate-trained, but she sleeps with us and doesn't whine or yelp, though she will sometimes wake us when she needs to be taken out to do her business.

Yours will probably get better with time. On preview, I'll second pmbuko's suggestion of exercise before bed. It seems to help for ours; we walk her and play games of tug-of-war to get her antsiness out before bedding down for the night.
posted by staresbynight at 2:00 PM on June 16, 2005

My chihuahua, who is almost 2 years old now, used to be a lot more hyper at night AND prone to separation anxiety than he is now.

I used to allow him to sleep with me, and he'd move around and want to play and just generally terrorize me while I tired to sleep. When I'd crate him, he'd cry for hours. When I'd leave him along in the living room, he'd throw himself against my door while crying...

Sometimes he sleeps with us, and he sleeps like a rock through the night (getting up to use a pee pad if he has to). sometimes he prefers his bed or his crate in the living room. When we'd prefer to sleep dogless, he rarely makes a fuss. He's a pretty well-adjusted little guy.

I think he just grew out of it, but we did make an extra effort to crate-and-ignore when his anxiety seemed to reach an all time high.
posted by lalalana at 2:11 PM on June 16, 2005

My understanding is that since dogs are pack animals, it's fairly mean to make them sleep alone. Put the crate in your room for a few weeks to see if that helps the wake-and-bark routine. Also, tire him out during the day: regular dog-to-dog interaction (such as at the doggie daycare), lots of exercise, and some general playing with you. Biscotti will hopefully see this thread, and she'll know what to do; all of her pet-related advice has been superb.
posted by fionab at 2:15 PM on June 16, 2005

PS: we had a Bichon when I was little, and she slept with me every night. When I went away to university, she slept on a couch in my parents' bedroom. She slept all night that way, until she got very old and needed to use the bathroom once in a while.
posted by fionab at 2:39 PM on June 16, 2005

Let the puppy sleep with you in the same room. That should do it and it does no harm.
posted by NorthCoastCafe at 2:58 PM on June 16, 2005

Another vote for putting the crate in your bedroom. As has been mentioned before, dogs are pack animals, and being separated from the pack feels like exile and can create anxiety. Other trainers have observed that sleeping in your bedroom gives the dog an uninterrupted stretch of time with your scent, and helps them bond with you.

Good luck!
posted by ambrosia at 4:41 PM on June 16, 2005

Another vote for crate in the bedroom. I'm not a stellar role model, because we quickly moved from gating our puppy into the bathroom alcove in our bedroom to letting him loose in the bedroom with the door closed, but he's happiest when he wedges his ever-increasing bulk under our bed. If we gate or crate him, he wakes us up 2-3 times a night, but under the bed he just wakes up around 6 to go outside.

I used to be a rescue foster, though, and the dogs were much quieter in the same room, even crated.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:20 PM on June 16, 2005

Crate in bedroom is solid advice, although I would add, you may want to cover the crate with a blanket. I've seen many dogs, especially puppies, that do a lot better with crates when they feel more secure. It's a cheap (probably free) way to try to settle things.

Also (and I don't mean this as an industry shill) it may be worth your while to try a dog walker in lieu of puppy day care. They should be much less expensive and can help get rid of some of your kiddo's energy. If you want some advice on finding one, feel free to e-mail me.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:05 PM on June 16, 2005

I'll also second Ufez's advice on trying a blanket over the crate. Our pug pup (1 year) has a tendency to whine in an attempt to wake us up if she sees any movement at all, which can be very annoying. If she can't see, then she just relaxes until it's potty time.
posted by MrZero at 8:38 AM on June 17, 2005

He's nine months now right? IIRC, he's just hit adulthood. (Smaller dogs like the bichon hit adulthood even earlier than 9 months, from what I hear).

I agree absolutely with the comments about the crate in the room with you and moreso the exercising a plenty. However, my SO and I had quite the trouble with our little Havanese. She would get quite whiny even AFTER all these things were done. We were scared of, well, making her a scared dog, so we were super cautious.

A few gut wrenching nights later, we called up the breeder, and she recommended we just give it a firm NO when it's whiny (for no good reason). Worked like a charm. Sometimes dogs are anxious because it's not clear to them that there is an alpha dog in the pack, if there isn't, then they think THEY might have to be the alpha dog, which worries them.

FWIW, our dog sleeps in a pen with a crate (crate is open) so she's free to go to the bathroom whenever. Doesn't make a peep until the alarm goes off. She's around .. 6 or 7 months now.
posted by eurasian at 10:44 AM on June 17, 2005

Thanks, everyone, for your advice. We originally had him in our room, but his whining would wake us, so we tried putting him out in the living room. That actually made things worse, and funnily enough since we've put him back in the bedroom he's gotten a lot better. Maybe it was just the threat that did it :)

I'm attributing it to the fact that he's getting older and able to hold it longer, combined with his preference to be in the room with us.

Now if I could just get rid of his skin allergies ...
posted by surferboy at 11:48 AM on June 21, 2005

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