The most common cause of canine insomnia is pent-up energy. Help your dog sleep through the night by ensuring she gets plenty of exercise.

Many issues can prevent quality dog sleep overnight. That may be a surprise since most dogs sleep 12 to 14 hours daily.

But some dogs, especially ones with health issues, have trouble sleeping all night.

Puppies, overweight dogs, and senior dogs all can experience poor sleep. Sleep problems include: 

  • Puppies are used to being comforted at night by their littermates and mother, but now they are alone and may have trouble settling down at night to sleep.
  • Overweight dogs can be prone to sleep apnea, a condition where they stop breathing while they sleep. That can cause the dog to wake in a panic in the middle of the night, and because it is a severe condition, you should check with your veterinarian.
  • Bladder control for puppies and senior dogs sometimes makes it impossible to sleep through the night without a “pit stop” and causes them to wake up too early or in the middle of the night.
  • Fleas or skin conditions that cause never-ending itching also can keep any dog awake. But giving your dog CBD for pets can soothe the itch and help your pup sleep through the night.

Even ordinarily healthy adult dogs may occasionally experience insomnia, but that should rarely happen.

The most common cause of canine insomnia is pent-up energy and inadequate exercise.

Save your breath! Don’t even say it! A fenced-in backyard is not exercising!

Here are a few suggestions to help your dog get a good night’s sleep.

Experiment to find the ones that work best for you and your pup.


Making sure your dog gets lots of exercise a few hours before bedtime is helpful. If you do it immediately before bedtime, they may still be “wired” and have trouble going to sleep. A bath also can be too stimulating before you want to put your dog to bed.

Sometimes, a trip to the dog park or a long walk is enough to take the edge off and help with falling asleep.

Pick up the water!

If your dog is a heavy drinker, leave some water, but not a full bowl.

Fill the water bowl with ice cubes. That way, your dog has something to do — crunch the cubes — and the ice gives them enough water to stay hydrated without filling their bladder.

Make “last call” as late as possible. The mission is to go out, tend to business and then come inside and go to bed. Do not get conned into playing!

Use the dog’s crate to create a sleeping area

If taught properly, a crate can provide a safe and puppy-proofed area for your dog to sleep in while you are away, or not able to keep that constant eye on him.
If taught correctly, a crate can provide a safe and puppy-proofed area for your dog to sleep in while you are away or not able to keep that constant eye on him.

If your dog is a night owl, crate training can help your dog get quality sleep.

Crating or confining your dog will limit their access to the entire house. Being in a confined space usually is enough to help your dog chill out for the night. If you use an air foam mattress that provides the right amount of softness to support your solid nighttime sleep routine, your good example will help your dog relax and get a good night’s sleep. 

Make your dog look forward to going into the crate or confined area. With a smile, say, “Bedtime!” and toss a treat or toy where you want them to go.

Praise your dog when she complies. Tell her “good night” and then leave her alone. You want to establish a routine without making your dog think it’s punishment.

Get on a dog sleep schedule!

Even if you are a night owl, get your dog on a scheduled bedtime to help your dog sleep through the night. Setting a schedule can help your dog develop a healthy sleeping pattern.

If you are up late at night, don’t be surprised if your dog wants to join you. Remember, being with you is the high point of their life.

Consider placing a calming dog bed in the room where you spend time to encourage your dog to sleep.

Are they hungry?

You know what it’s like going to bed with your belly growling. You toss, you turn, and next thing you know; there you are, staring into the refrigerator at 2 a.m. with Fido at your side!

An empty belly can keep your dog up, too.

Watch the timing of meals. You may be feeding your pup too early or not enough. See if going to bed with a little something in his tummy helps. 

Leave a radio on

Some dogs cannot cope with too much quiet.

The silence boosts their anxiety. Leave a radio on low, preferably on a talk show or weather channel, rather than music.

The sound of voices may comfort your dog.

Lights on or off?

Some puppies and dogs prefer a nightlight. They find it comforting.

But for others, the light can provide too much stimulation and keep them awake and busy.

For those dogs, make the house dark and quiet.

Too hot or too cold?

Keep the temperature comfortable in the room where your pet sleeps.

You might feel a bit like your dog has Goldilocks tendencies, but like with light, some dogs are more sensitive to temperature.

Experiment to find out what temperature works best.

Create a special spot

Science says sleep with your dog. Jack Russell terrier snuggles with his teddy bear.
Some dogs prefer to have their own sleep spot.

Get your puppy or dog their comfy bed.

Don’t let your dog sleep with you on your bed or in your room.

Close your bedroom door if you don’t confine your dog at night.

Bathe them!

Fleas, fleabites, and itchy skin conditions can keep your pet awake at night. Use a shampoo designed to ease itchy skin

Make sure they are flea-free. And if your dog has an itchy skin condition, talk to your veterinarian.

Massage them!

A good massage will knock most dogs off their feet for hours!

Older dogs often suffer chronic insomnia. Risk factors for senior dogs’ poor sleep include arthritis and hip dysplasia. If your senior dog experiences aches and pains, a buffered aspirin, dosage of approximately a quarter of a 325-milligram tablet per 10 pounds, may help slow your dog’s heart rate and let him relax enough to get a good night’s sleep. One dose in the morning and one in the evening may make your pet much happier and more comfortable.

If your dog’s problem is more serious, your veterinarian may prescribe something stronger like Trazodone to help them relax.

Sleep with your dog

Science says sleep with your dog. Sleeping woman cuddles with her Cavapoo.
Most dogs like to sleep snuggled in to touch pet owners.

Nearly half of Americans’ dogs sleep in bed with their owners. Because they are pack animals, most dogs like to sleep snuggled in to touch pet owners. That might mean your dog wants to rest between your legs or against the back of your legs. Other dogs will reach out a single paw to touch their owners.

Confident dogs sleep on their backs with their legs in the air. They know they are safe and secure in your bed.

Other dogs want to fulfill their role as the house’s protector and will sleep with their backs toward you so they can be ready to spring into action should there be any threat.

The bottom line on sleep quality

Usually, when a dog is comfortable, their belly isn’t growling at them, they have empty bowels and bladders, they have a comfortable place to rest, and they are tired, they will go to sleep.

Nightie-night! Sleep tight!

Karen A. Soukiasian is the owner of Good Dog! — Dog Training in St. Augustine, Florida. You can follow Karen on Facebook.

Puppy training 101: 10 tips to prepare your dog for success


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