Is going to bed at a set time good for your puppy, and if so, what time?
A puppy bedtime is something just makes sense, I mean, think about human babies! They thrive so much more when they have structure and routine.
When you bring puppy to their new home for the first time, introduce them to their new family, it’s a lot! So, setting up a puppy sleep schedule is pretty important to help your pup sleep, ensure your new dog sleeps sufficiently, and that you start creating that toilet training routine, by giving appropriate bathroom breaks – we all know this!
But night time? Does that matter? Is there a best time for your growing pup? Let’s investigate!
Dogs Are Crepuscular
The first thing to know is that dogs are crepuscular! Which means that they are most active at dawn and at dusk, as this is when their body and eyes and such are atuned to working in. This, conveniently, also really aligns with how human schedules work, because then in the morning and evening they can have walks, breakfast, dinner, human interaction and cuddles and then snooze whilst we work!
So naps should be prioritised through the middle of the day, and at night to avail of your puppy’s natural rhythms.
Whilst this is ideal, most dogs will shift their schedule. For example, if you work nights? They’ll normally shift around that quite nicely.
Dogs Need More Sleep Than You’d Think
Dogs, and especially a young puppy, will need a lot of sleep.
Typically, a young dog (under 6 months) will need 18-20 hours of sleep per day. And if they’re not getting that, you’re likely to have an overtired dog.
Older puppies, in that teenage phase (6-18 months) is still likely looking at 16-18 hours of sleep. This will reduce for an adult dog for 14-16 hours a day, and increase in an older dog again. Even though, to be honest, my dogs all thrive at 16-18 hours of sleep a day, and Shelby will get 20hrs a day if she can!
And remember, there’s no such thing as too much sleep (unless they’re sick and lethargic!).
Healthy development takes a lot of energy, whether we’re talking about growth spurts, the amount of information your puppy’s brain is doing, brain development, and that takes a lot of food, and a lot of sleep!
A good rule of thumb is give your puppy the most sleep you possibly can.
Note: if your dog doesn’t get enough sleep, it can absolutely impact their immune system for viruses! Which is really important when you have a young puppy whose immune system isn’t at it’s strongest!
What Time Should A Puppy Go To Bed?
Usually, it should be an hour or two before you go to bed, in my home, we’re usually in bed at 10/11pm, so our dogs typically settle themselves down at 8 or 9pm. For a puppy? That might be a little earlier, so around 7 or 8 pm would be ideal.
This said, do remember that young puppies will need a potty break in the middle of the night. This can be a super simple short walk in the garden/yard to get their business done, and go back to their bed.
How Do I Know If Puppy Is Going To Bed Too Late?
That last hour before puppy goes to bed, how is their behaviour? Are they calm? Or do they get the zoomies? Are they getting bitey and ferocious? If so, then it’s likely your puppy’s bed time is too late, and they’re overtired!
Consequently, they need their schedule adjusted. You can either change the time of day puppy goes to bed, or increase one of the day time naps.
How Do We Create A Healthy Sleep Schedule?
A good sleep schedule involves a set bedtime (or approximately), then balance that with their activity level and mental stimulation. This balance gives out dogs pretty much everything they need.
Do I Have To Enforce Naps?
Enforce is a strong word, but it does have to be the case. It’s enviable, but your puppy lives for fun. So, if they have the choice of fun, or sleep, they’re going to choose fun, every time. And a tired puppy is not a good puppy. So, yes, if your puppy is struggling from a lack of sleep, and isn’t getting roughly the right total amount of sleep, then it can absolutely create more sleepless nights, emotional issues (for us humans) and stress for new puppy owners.
Grab an edible chew (that’s puppy appropriate) or create another calming activity, like a snuffle mat, create a super comfortable bed in the right part of the house, and pop pup to bed. If it has to be a crate with a closed door? So be it. If it’s a play pen, this works too whilst we’re teaching puppy to self-regulate.
This is a really important skill that young dogs need to master for your success together in the future.
Also, if you might have a slightly noisier home, maybe try some white noise?
Is It Beneficial To Have Puppy Go To Bed At The Same Time?
Yes! Routine is so so powerful for puppies. A Daily routine will typically involve a certain amount of nap or quiet time, exercise, training, toilet training and play time! And doing certain things at a specific time will give your puppy an instinct as o when sleep time is, when their bed time is, or when to expect to go for their walk, and even makes potty training easier.
Should My Puppy Sleep In A Dog Bed Or A Dog Crate?
This depends on your home and whether you can manage your curious, nosy, inquisitive and energetic puppy without the assistance of a crate (or a play pen), because it’s so important that pet parents ensure their puppy gets sufficient sleep. And the best way to do this is up to you. (This said, Crates are really useful in families with children because they’re a visual cue for your kids to keep them apart from your puppy and create a safe space.
Customise This To Your Routine
A good routine is one you can stick to, and one that suits your puppy, and your puppy’s bladder, frankly. These things are kind of tough at first, but when you get through that initial meshing, you will find that it gets easier.
Just remember, the more time you give your puppy, the more they’ll give you in the long run.
If you want help with your puppy, go check out pupdates because that is seriously the best help you can get – hence it winning awards!
Need help? Book a bark day!
Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!