Basic care

How to Get a Dog to Sleep - Tips and Home Remedies

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. Updated: July 18, 2019
How to Get a Dog to Sleep - Tips and Home Remedies

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A lot of dogs do not need any help getting to sleep. Although all dogs will need some form of exercise, many are happy to pass away hours sleeping. The amount of time a dog will spend sleeping depends on many factors. These range from their genetic history to the busyness of a household and many more. Why your dog isn't able to sleep is a key factor in knowing how to get them to sleep. The reasons for this will depend on the individual, so we need to look at the context of their insomnia. The best way to find this out is to take your dog to the veterinarian.

However, if your dog is having general trouble getting to sleep, then there are some things you can do to help them. AnimalWised brings you information on how to get a dog to sleep by providing these tips and home remedies. We also look into the differences in helping a dog to sleep and putting a dog to sleep.

You may also be interested in: How to Entertain a Dog Home Alone
  1. Why is my dog not sleeping?
  2. Can you teach a dog to sleep?
  3. How to get a puppy to sleep
  4. How to get a hyperactive dog to sleep
  5. How to sleep a dog with pills?
  6. What does it mean to put a dog to sleep?
  7. How to get a dog to sleep naturally

Why is my dog not sleeping?

Before explaining some of the ways we can help a dog to get to sleep, we need to look into factors for insomnia in dogs. By knowing what negatively affects a dog's sleep, we can find ways to avoid them as much as possible. These factors include:

  • Illness: if the dog is unwell, they can manifest many different symptoms. Some of these symptoms make it much more difficult for a dog to get to sleep. Vomiting, diarrhea or excessive itching can disturb their rest. So too can other internal issues such as gastrointestinal obstruction. Any sign of these symptoms needs to be considered and they should be taken to the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.
  • Stress: the psychic illness of stress is well known for disturbing a human's sleep. Unfortunately, our dog can similarly be affected by stress. The reason for this stress is varied, but the result is disturbed sleeping patterns. For example, a dog may find a new home stressful and will not sleep well until they feel comfortable in their new environment.
  • Excitement: if a dog becomes over excited, it can provide them with a state of restlessness which is difficult to shake. It can happen to dogs of any age, but is particularly common in young dogs, especially if they have been poorly socialized. Agitated dogs, even if they are otherwise happy, can find it difficult to bed down.
  • Sexual maturity: once a dog has become sexually mature, they will begin to look for a mate. For females this results in a heat period, stimulating males for copulation. When the dog is unable to have these sexual needs met, they may find it difficult to get to sleep.

Can you teach a dog to sleep?

The first thing we need to remember when helping our dog get to sleep, is that sleep is natural. It is not a learned behavior which requires training to understand. Puppies will do it from birth and a dog will feel the need to sleep to maintain general well-being. The amount of sleep a dog requires will evolve throughout their lives. puppies will sleep the vast majority of the day as their body acclimatizes to the world. Adults will generally sleep less, but senior dogs will require more due to the effects of ageing.

Dogs generally sleep without much problem, but environmental factors can make it difficult. There are certain things we need when adopting a dog, a dog bed being an important one. For various reasons, a dog may not take to their dog bed. It may be too small, too uncomfortable or even placed somewhere unconducive to sleep. Some of the reasons may be down to the individual. They may feel too warm and prefer sleeping on the relative cool of the floor.

Some dogs will want to sleep in their human guardian's bed, something which is down to the whole family. Dogs can sleep in your bed if certain health and hygiene requirements are met. However, you rightfully may not want to share your bed with a dog. The whole family will need to come to a consensus over whether the dog can sleep in a bed. If not, you will give them contradictory impressions and cause confusion. It will depend on your preference and whether the dog will disturb you.

You cannot ‘teach’ a dog to sleep, but you can provide a conducive environment to help them rest better. One of the best things we can do for our dog is establish a routine. Dogs will often adapt to our daily rhythms. If our rhythm is upset, it can affect the dog's sleep pattern. Even providing the right amount of food at the right time can be very useful. It means they won't be hungry through the night, but their appetite will help them to rise in the morning.

Walking and exercising will help them to become tired and fall asleep. Not only is it good for healthier sleep patterns, but exercise is necessary for their overall health. This does not mean we should get them worked up and excited before it is time to sleep. Turning off distractions and removing any stimuli which may disturb their sleep is also helpful. It is important to establish guidelines, whatever age of the dog.

How to Get a Dog to Sleep - Tips and Home Remedies - Can you teach a dog to sleep?

How to get a puppy to sleep

One of the most important factors when helping a puppy to sleep is company. As they are used to being with their mother and siblings, the puppy can become anxious once separated from them. This is one of the reasons it is so important to keep a puppy with their mother for a minimum of 8 weeks, although 12 is usually ideal. If the puppy has not yet become assimilated into the family, they may cry and fail to sleep well.

Previously, it was believed that we should leave puppies alone and ignore them until they settle down, even when they cry out. At present, it is believed the opposite is more beneficial. When a puppy wants to get to sleep, we should spend time with them and comfort them. Holding them in our arms will draw them close and remind of them of sleeping next to their mother. Not only will it help the puppy to fall asleep, but it will help establish a healthy bond between the two of you.

You may not want to encourage your dog to sleep in your bed, but you can still try to keep the puppy close. Move their bed into your room so that they can feel close to you, even if they are not on top of the bed. This is something which might be advised if the puppy howls as soon as you leave them alone. Little by little, you can move their bed out again and help them to become used to sleeping on their own. Once you build up their confidence and their sense of security, they will settle in better.

When bringing a new puppy into the home, it might not be suitable to keep them in your room. However, you should still keep your door open, just in case. In the first few nights especially, it is understandable the puppy might cry and search for comfort. If they can't get t you, it can generate stress, frustration and anxiety in the young dog. By having access, they can feel calmer and more secure. If they don't, they can develop behavioral problems and it may negatively affect your bond. To find out more how you can help a puppy adjust, check out our article on how long it takes for a puppy to adapt to a new home.

How to Get a Dog to Sleep - Tips and Home Remedies - How to get a puppy to sleep

How to get a hyperactive dog to sleep

There is a difference between helping a dog to sleep better in general and helping a dog sleep for specific reasons. The latter most commonly concern sedation. When we have a hyperactive dog, this is particularly important. If the dog needs to be groomed, taken to the vet or have any necessary procedure, helping them to be relaxed is essential. If they cannot be relaxed on their own, they will need to be sedated.

If our dog needs to be sedated, then it is imperative this be carried out by a veterinarian. This not only because the vet will have to prescribe the sedatives. It is also because they will be able to monitor the dog and ensure they are sedated correctly. They will also give an examination of the dog, check their medical records and perform any precautions need to get the dog to sleep. We should never give a dog human anti-anxiety medication. Not only might it not be effective, it may pose serious health risks.

The vet will likely give the dog an intramuscular injection. This sedative will be calculated to keep the dog asleep for as long as needed, until the procedure can be carried out. The veterinarian will give us a consultation to understand the dog's needs and may require us to sign a consent form. Dog groomers may recommend using sedatives for particularly hyperactive dogs which cannot stay still. However, in most jurisdictions, this is illegal. The groomer must need to have an association with a licensed vet or have some other qualification to sedate a dog. If your groomer tries to sedate your dog, you have every right to question them.

How to sleep a dog with pills?

You may need to sedate your dog, but the vet is not present. The reason for the sedation could be for a procedure which needs to be carried out, but is best done at home. This may not be enough to make them unconscious, but it can reduce their anxiety and, therefore, help the dog to get to sleep.

Before we give the dog any medication, the vet will brief you on how to administer it and provide the appropriate dosage. Pills have a slower action that intramuscular injections. This is why it is typical to give the medication to the dog about half an hour before the sedative effect is needed. Not all animals will react the same way to the same drug and dosage. Even if they do not seem to be very effective, we should not increase the dosage without approval from the veterinarian. The duration of the sedative effect will also depend on the metabolism of an individual dog.

In some cases, it is also known for dogs to be given anti-anxiety medication on a regular basis to help keep them calm. Dogs which have suffered trauma are likely to have anxiety related issues. This will be a different type of drug to the sedative which will be designed to treat generalized anxiety. Sedation isn't something which should be carried out regularly as it can lead to negative secondary effects. Anti-anxiety medication should only be used in acute circumstances and before alternative methods (such as those used to treat separation anxiety) have been exhausted.

What does it mean to put a dog to sleep?

While so far we have discussed tips to help a dog get to sleep, we need to make a clear distinction. When someone questions “how to put a dog to sleep”, they are not likely speaking of a short nap. While the phrase ‘put a dog to sleep’ literally means to make a dog sleep, it is also a euphemism for euthanasia. Euthanasia is the humane killing of a dog which should only be carried out when the dog is unable to recover from an illness or injury or if their suffering is too acute to maintain well-being.

Although a last resort, euthanasia is often the most humane course of action. We need to speak to our veterinarian to discuss all the options. We should not carry out canine euthanasia on our own. If we have no experience, we may carry it out incorrectly and exacerbate the animal's suffering. We also need a veterinarian to examine the dog as it is possible they may be able to make a recovery.

The most common method of canine euthanasia is through lethal injection. The vet will administer the injection which will lead to cardiac arrest in the dog. Once sedated, the effect is almost immediate and should not cause the dog any pain in their last moments. If you want to know more, we can provide some useful information on what to do when a dog is dying.

How to Get a Dog to Sleep - Tips and Home Remedies - What does it mean to put a dog to sleep?

How to get a dog to sleep naturally

There are no home remedies to put a dog to sleep. As we said, it is something which should only be carried out by a veterinary medical professional. To get a dog to sleep, we should also speak to a veterinarian about any medical reason they may not be able to rest effectively.

Many people are turning to home remedies for both themselves and their pets. We must state that this form of natural treatment often has little in the way of scientific backing. Unfortunately, the claimed effectiveness is often a placebo at best. At worst, you may end up causing the dog more harm. However, there are some mild home remedies which may be able to help.

One example is a chamomile tea infusion, served at room temperature. This is believed to help relax the dog and alleviate gastrointestinal issues which may be causing restlessness. Valerian root has some evidence to suggest it can help positively affect fatigue in humans[1], although other reports show that further study is required for a conclusive outcome[2]. Valerian root may be used moderately for your dog with little side effects. If you are considering these home remedies for your dog, contact a vet first. There may be a medical reason not to take them.

In general, the best home remedies to help a dog sleep do not require roots or tea. Providing adequate exercise, using positive reinforcement, employing calming signals and providing a relaxed environment can be very effective in helping your dog get to sleep. Only acute cases will require medical intervention.

Finally, a practical way to help your dog get to sleep is to play relaxing music for dogs. Fortunately, we just the video to help you out:

If you want to read similar articles to How to Get a Dog to Sleep - Tips and Home Remedies, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.

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1 comment
My Pomerania is all most 16yrs. old. He is all most completely blind and losing control of his back legs to be able to standup and walk. He is not sleeping hardly at all. He just wants to walk in circles very fast, he does this for hours at a time repeatively until he finally fall a sleep for a short time the he starts all over.He doesn't want to be held. He is eating fairly good and does drink a lot of water. Is this a sign that his time had come?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Kathy,

I am afraid we simply cannot say. It is certainly possible considering their age, but you will need to take them to a veterinarian for assessment.
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How to Get a Dog to Sleep - Tips and Home Remedies