You bid “goodnight” at bedtime, but sometimes your sleep is anything but.
If you experience endless disruption courtesy of your pet at bedtime — whining, too much activity, or multiple potty breaks — you’ve clearly got a lack of sleep situation going on. Yawn.
We’re tired for you, and, being the problem-solvers that we are, we consulted with Nicole Ellis, professional dog trainer with Rover.com, for her best tips for taking on bedtime with your snuggle buddy (cats included).
If the idea of changing your little love’s habits has you feeling anxious, don’t be — a little training will go a long way.
“Just remember when changing your pets bedtime routine or schedule, that you’ll see the most progress with consistency and commitment from everyone in the family,” Ellis explains, “and in no time your pet will be sleeping soundly through the night and so will you.”
Read on for more ways to facilitate a speedy drift off into dreamland.
1. Limit water in the evenings. You know all about those late night trips to the bathroom when you’ve consumed just a little too much water. Ellis recommends limiting your dog’s water intake during evening hours so the same thing doesn’t happen to them. “Around 8pm is a good time to pick up [the bowl],” she says. “If your dog has any medical issues consult your vet prior to removing water.”
2. Go outside before bedtime. An evening walk may be just what you both need to signal the end of a day. “Take your dog outside as close to bedtime as possible, this is a great time for a longer walk that will tire them out for bed — just don’t get sucked into a game of fetch, it’s time for a relaxing walk,” Ellis says.
3. Exercise is a good afternoon activity. More active exercise during the day is always a good way to facilitate a good uninterrupted sleep at night. “Exercise in the afternoon or evenings, a nice walk and game of fetch can bring a lot of joy to you both and tire your pup out for a nice peaceful sleep at night,” she says.
4. No pet toys in the bedroom! If your pet associates toys with play, those things shouldn’t be in the area where he or she needs to sleep. “Take toys out of the room to reduce the amount of stimulation and items that might entice play, for both cats and dogs,” Ellis recommends. “Remember a cat’s mind finds some items to play with that aren’t toys such as shopping bags and jewelry, so keep an eye out.”
5. Buy items that will make nighttime easier for your pet. For instance, a senior dog may need a step stool for ease getting on and off the bed at night. If there are interruptions during nighttime hours — is your dog waking because he’s cold or hot? — think about what pet products might solve those problems.
6. Aim for chill evenings. If your 30-minute fat burning workout in the living room makes your dog do jumping jacks all night, think about trading it for something more calm. “Make the time before bed relaxing, it’s not the time to get your pup super excited with a fun game as he may be too excited to sleep, instead try giving a nice belly rub on the couch together,” she says.
7. Try new ways to bring on the calm. A pet-appeasing pheromone electric diffuser that you plug into an outlet could reduce stress and calm animals who need it. “For some pets (cats and dogs) DAP wall plugs and collars help pets relax and sleep comfortably,” Ellis says.
8. Pay attention to lighting and temperature. Some humans need blackout shades in order to sleep soundly, others like a little light and max air conditioning, so take some time to determine what makes your furry roommate most comfortable. “For some pets the ambient light and temperature helps them sleep,” she says, “my own puppy Rossi sleeps much better when he has a cooling mat available while some dogs prefer a warming pad.”
9. Be consistent. Once you come up with a nighttime routine that works for you both, stick with it — and bear in mind that changes may not happen overnight. “If you regularly get your pup out at 2 a.m., that is what he’s going to be used to,” she explains, “it may take some time of slowly pushing that time back and resetting the schedule to one that fits you both better.”
10. Stay strong! Changing anyone’s routine — whether they are a person, pup or kitty — isn’t easy. If a pet tries to deviate from your new plan (like whining for playtime, for instance) try to stay strong. The end goal of a solid night’s sleep will be worth the effort.
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