WHY DOES MY PUPPY WAKE UP AT 4AM?
It’s 4 am. The Universe is quiet, well at least yours is at that time. Everybody is asleep, there is the peace and quiet we all yearn for at this time of the day, or is that the case. Because there seems to be sounds of Whining, crying, sniffing, playing, stomping, and barking. All seems to pierce your sleep and suddenly you are awake. Not exactly how you would want to wake up. Some of us would get a splitting headache waking up like this making us start having a bad feeling about the day.
This is definitely not what we want. So “Why does my puppy wake up at 4 am?” and what can I do about it.
Well, here are some of the reasons why your puppy is waking up earlier than normal.
Your puppy may be waking up at 4 am due to separation anxiety. As you already know by now, our puppies are social creatures, as they grow they need lots of company and social interaction to feel safe and content in their environment. No puppy likes to be left alone for a long time.
Having said the above, some puppies are more disposed to separation anxiety than others, that your 5-month-old puppy wakes up too early and frequently to make sure you are nearby, your loving puppy if suffering from separation anxiety will watch your every move so closely and make sure to stick by you because they are afraid to be left alone.
Read more on Separation anxiety here: DEALING WITH SEPARATION ANXIETY IN DOGS
Dogs generally are known to be light sleepers, and your puppy is no exemption. Puppies are predisposed to sleep in chunks of time throughout the day. They basically eat, play, and sleep throughout the day. So your puppy waking up at 4 am every day should not be such a surprise.
This in itself should not be a problem, but if your puppy starts doing things to get your attention because he or she is awake early at 4 am in the morning, then you will have to restrategize and resolve the problem without causing harm to your puppy.
Your Puppy needs to Potty.
Unless you have prepared an indoor area where your puppy can do their business. That your 4-month-old puppy wakes up too early because they need to potty and they cannot do it indoors.
At this stage, the amount of liquid their bladder can hold is small, this leads to it needing to be emptied regularly. An average puppy needs to pee at least two to three times at night. As they get mature, they need to frequently pee at night or early in the morning will be reduced.
Setting a potty schedule for your puppy usually deals with this problem. Better still providing your puppy with an indoor potty place would help solve this problem without your puppy having to bother you every time.
Their sleeping area is not conducive.
Your young puppy wakes up too early because the place he or she is sleeping in is not conducive. The surface might just be uncomfortable for them, the place might just be noisy, there may be too much light coming into the area even at night or the place is too hot or cold to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Also, a change in environment can make your puppy not to be comfortable in their sleep place. Did you move to a new house, or you currently did some renovations in your house and some sceneries seem to have changed. All these things would leave your puppy a little weary and they would keep on waking up early till they have adjusted to the changes.
Puppies are still young and fragile. They are in the developmental stage of their life and are prone to so many health issues at this stage of their life. Digestive problems are common at this stage. UTI, respiratory problems, and more can contribute to keeping your puppy so uncomfortable that they won’t be able to have a good night’s rest.
There is also the need to keep to the vaccination schedule for your puppy or puppies.
Puppies have small tummies, it is actually impossible for them to hold enough food at once to last eight hours at a stretch. They need to have lots of small meals every now and then to sustain them (at least every two hours). As they grow, this need reduces but as puppies, not feeding constantly can keep you puppies awake and this includes waking up at 4 am and demanding attention.
A quick note, most puppies at the early stages of their lives are still with their dog mums, so this would not be a problem. The ones that would exhibit this hunger problem are ones that were weaned from their mothers early in life.
Injury and Pain.
An injured puppy is very likely to disturb you not just at 4 am in the morning but throughout the night. People tend to overlook this possibility. We all know that puppies are small and fragile, we also know that most times, puppies are safe either with their mums or in the reserved area which you have prepared for them.
Even at this, puppies can get injured by other puppies while playing, their mum can easily injure them by lying on them mistakenly, even we as humans can mistakenly step on them especially if they are hidden from view. All these are part of the risk that our puppies face as young ones.
It is important that we remain vigilant and get professional advice if we suspect that our puppies are injured and need medical help.
Now we have answered the question “Why does my puppy wake up at 4 am?” The next question would be what should I be doing to manage the situation properly.
HOW TO STOP MY PUPPY WAKING AT 4AM
1. Create a Conducive bedtime space.
Preparing a conducive bedtime space should be the number one thing to do if you want to stop your puppy from waking up every 4 am. You can use the following points to guide you in creating this sleeping place:
a. Make sure the room is dark and un-entertaining: Draw all curtains closed and make sure all blinds are shut, you do not want a situation where the sunlight can come into this sleeping area and make your puppy start reacting and disturbing you.
b. Turn off all forms of noise: Making sure the television or radio is off for the nighttime is also a good way to make the sleeping area conducive, if you live in areas that are prone to loud noises e.g trains passing by, large trucks, airplanes. You might consider investing in earplugs for your puppy.
c. Remove any interactive toy: Interactive toys are a big form of distraction for your puppy if you want them to sleep. If you should leave any toy with them, make sure it is none interactive, non-squeaky, and no noise toy. Better still remove all toys from the space
d. Make sure the sleeping place is comfortable: Consider investing in a dog crate or better still a dog bed to make sure your puppy is comfortable whenever he or she decides to sleep. The crate may be covered with a blanket at night to create the illusion of complete darkness for your puppies.
2. Use a sleep schedule
Now, we all know that puppies sleep every now and then, they do not understand the way things work and try to understand the meaning of things as they grow, so this makes it perfect to teach them when everyone is expected to sleep and vice-versa.
Teaching them to adapt to such a schedule makes them easier to manage and they also start to relax more and enjoy the environment as they will start building an understanding of what is expected of them.
You can begin this process by going to bed at the same time every night. Do this a few times with your puppy and he or she will start to notice the trend. They would notice that lights go off around the house and a particular time and most noise-making appliances are turned off at this same time, more important they see you get into your bed if you are still keeping them in the same room and this way they start to understand that this is sleep time for you or quiet time for them if they can’t sleep.
Either way, as time goes on, they start to adapt to this schedule. You can take things a step further by engaging them in some playtime or exercise just before sleep. The idea is to make them tired so that by the time you start turning off the lights for bed, they would easily go along with the flow and sleep easy.
3. Begin Potty Training for your puppy.
Now Potty Training a newborn puppy is next to impossible, but as they grow a bit, it is always advisable to begin the potty training process. This not only stops that 4 to 5 months old puppy from waking up too early. It also helps so that they don’t make a mess of the house.
The best way to start is to try and make sure your puppy does the potty just before they go to bed. This way, it is highly likely that they would hold their bladder for a longer period before needing to potty again. If you can, also make them potty in the middle of the night, usually the same time you release your own bladder content at night. This way your puppy won’t be waking up at 4 am to pee.
4. Confirm your puppy’s health status.
Puppies have immune systems that are still developing and bodies that are still fragile. At this stage, they are prone to a lot of diseases and illnesses. They can also be hurt if involved in an accident of any sort. Being observant of them is important, especially at the early stages of their life.
If you suspect your puppy is limping, losing weight, losing appetite, having a high fever, etc, then it is probably time to visit your vet doctor. But even before this, you should have a schedule for how often you visit your vet clinic for routine check-ups.
Also, it is important to be up to date with all vaccination requirements for your puppies to prevent any death from a preventable disease.
5. Make sure your puppy is getting a good diet.
Puppies that are still with their mum do not really have this problem. As far as their mum is still strong and healthy, they get the benefit of suckling her nipples for milk anytime they feel hungry. But for those puppies that have been weaned from their mums earlier on, special care should be taken so that they are not just fed properly, but also get all nutrients that they need to develop into strong healthy dogs.
6. Start Crate Training your Puppy.
Crate training is a good way of solving the problem of your puppy waking up at 4 am every morning. More importantly, it gives your dog the feeling that he or she has their own special space where they can retreat to and cool off if need be.
Starting the crate training early for your puppy also gives them that structured lifestyle which all dogs yearn for. Keep in mind that you should not use crate training as a form of punishment for your dog. Also, dogs and puppies should not be left in a crate for more than 4 hours at a stretch.
7. Don’t give in to your Puppy.
We saved the best for the last. If you have implemented everything we mentioned above, good, now it’s all about the battle of the wits. If your puppy keeps getting your attention any time they make some noise early in the morning, well guess what, there is no incentive for him or her to stop. Getting your attention for dogs is the equivalent of getting paid for us humans.
If you want to wake up at 6 am each day, then you have to learn how to ignore your puppies’ calls early in the morning. Unless your instinct tells you this might be an emergency, the best you can do for them now is to ignore them till it’s time to wake up. This might as well be the hardest thing you will ever do but if you stick to it, you will be happy with the result you will get in the end.
Also, when you get up from bed, do not easily rush to the puppies. Give yourself some time to attend to other things and even serve yourself a meal before you start engaging them. Again it all boils down to routine and perception. If you feel that you can sustain feeding your puppies first thing as soon as you get up be my guest. But experience says you are likely not to be able to keep up with this schedule and nothing affects a young dog more than a disjointed schedule especially when it comes to feeding.
Hi, I am Charles Nwankwo Editor-in-Chief, Mydoggything.com. Gleaning from Professional Dog Trainers, behaviorist, Registered Veterinarians, and Breeders. We are passionate about making dog care easy for you. My job is to make sure that you get the best-updated dog care information to understand and take care of your dog or dogs.