Dog wont Sleep

Posted by jmbodel
Sep 16, 2010
We have a dog that is about 8 months old. When we first put her to bed, she would wake up in the middle of the night and bark. We learned that we needed to just let her bark and she would learn that nothing was going to happen. That worked and for about 5 months she slept for ~10:00-5:30. Now, about 5 months later, she has started barking again and also become very agressive to our other dog. We are concerned about both issues, but for right now we want to get this waking up in the middle of the night and barking, whinning, etc fixed. (Currently we have given our other dog to my wifes mother until we can get some training done for our 8 month old puppy.)

During the months she was sleeping through the night she got a little exercise and I do realize that she should always get more, but she was sleeping without much. Now she is getting a more exercise but not sleeping. My wife is pregnant and needs her sleep.

Her crate is covered. She has two toys in her crate with lots of blankets.

Does anyone have any suggestions? My only thought is that my wife is a teacher and has gone back to work. Before she was home during the day. Could this be the reason? If so, any suggestions on how to get the dog used to be home all day?
Posted by KOPCaroline
Sep 17, 2010
Hey jmbodel,

Where does the dog sleep? Is she in the room with you and your wife, or elsewhere in the house? You could try putting her in a room by herself for overnights, so that there is no noise or other bodies in the room to worry about.

Her sudden change in behaviour could indeed be linked to your wife's return to work. Dogs can take actions like this as a sort of abandonment, and if your girl is acting out on your other dog, it sounds like your wife's sudden absence made her question her standing in the "pack". Was your other dog usually the dominant one, or has the puppy been dominant since you got her?

You can help by clearing establishing the pecking order in your home. You and your wife are the alphas, obviously, but you should decide which dog will be the dominant one, and start making it obvious to every one in the house. Feed the dominant dog first, give them toys first, give them attention first when you come home, everything, and everytime. Displaying your "preference" (which its not, not asking you to pick a favourite!!!) for "first dog" helps the dogs themselves figure out the hierarchy.

For helping her sleep through the night you can try a few things. Firstly I'd definately recommend upping the exercise idea, I know you said she's getting more now, but the more you can wear her out during the day the better she'll sleep for longer. Stick to a "bedtime" ritual; do things in the same order so that she knows when bedtime is and won't get worked up over it. If she starts barking in the night, as you've been doing, ignore her. Once she re-figures out that barking doesn't get her anywhere, she should stop. You can try getting a DAP pheromone plug-in, and putting it in the room she sleeps in.

It all sounds anxiety related to me, with regard to your wife's sudden absence. Give your dog heaps of good loving when you get home, make sure she knows she's still loved and that the family's not going anywhere. Again, a DAP plug in can help reduce stress in dogs, it might be worth a try.

If its possible, at least for the first bit, you or your wife could try coming home on a lunch break, or have a friend go by the house to see the dogs in the day, to break up all the alone time. Even just for 15 minutes, it'll help your pup cope a bit better. This is what I did with my dog when I started leaving him while I was at university all day, I came home during class breaks, just to spend a bit of time with him. Now I can leave him from 8am to 5pm or later, and he's fine. Also make sure she's got lots of enrichment around her while she is alone: Kong toys (even homemade versions), chews, squeakers, anything. You can leave a TV or radio on, to give her noise to comfort her with.

I hope this helps, the situation might improve when your wife returns home for maturnity leave. Definitely work on setting up a hierarchy with the 2 dogs, I'm pretty sure the sudden aggression is due to anxiety within the house, so work on overall stress relief and reminding your puppy that she's still very much loved