Every day, in every way, Manny is a wonder. By keeping an open mind, I can learn as much as he does as he grows physically, emotionally, and intellectually. And there’s the pressing motivation of that fleeting time when he’s a puppy … moldable, impressionable, as Rush says, a “skull full of mush” just waiting to be influenced.
He’s going on 15 weeks old today and so we’re still working on basics of all sorts. (I’m sure I’ll be able to say that for quite a while.) Many of the lessons don’t have a place of prominence, or even a place, in most of the books and videos I’ve seen. So here’s hoping my putting electronic pen to electronic paper will help you with your next (or current) pup.
Today’s lesson: sleeping through the night.
[Anyone who brags that their 10-week-old pup sleeps through the night is either a). very lucky; or b). hallucinating. A young dog’s bladder simply isn’t big enough to retain the fluid his body creates, so is likely somewhat dehydrated if he can “hold it” all night.]
That said, we were getting a good five hours of blissful REM sleep before the whimpering started when Manny was 10 weeks old. At 12 weeks, six hours. Eventually we figured out that factors other than bladder capacity were also at work. Maybe these suggestions will help you gain another hour of rest.
- Darkness to light: Around here, the sky is lightening at about 4:30 a.m. Gaps in the window shades let in that glimmer of sun and soon after, strident puppy voices were heard. Better window coverings would help. But to a remarkable degree, when Manny graduated to a larger, dark-colored crate (with fewer holes and more solid sides), he “slept in” (everything’s relative).
- Crate size: Not putting your pup in a crate at night? No lectures here about housebreaking, but my experience might be added incentive. A pup needs a cozy “den” he can call all his own. But not too cozy. He needs enough room to stretch full length to sleep. Another indicator that the crate is too small: his feet bang up against the sides frequently, waking him – and you (thanks Anna).
- Pick up the water. A tiny bladder stays empty … if you don’t refill it. Empty the water bowl a couple hours before bedtime and enjoy a few more minutes of slumber.
- When you pee him, poop him. Or you’ll be back outside in another hour. Take my word for it. Be patient once he’s out there and let him get ‘er done.
- Lights out when you take him. Like humans, brightening the surroundings sends wake-up signals to the brain that take time to counteract.
- Don’t let him run, or when really young, even walk, very far to pee. Remember when your kids were young? Carrying them from the car to the bed often ensured an uninterrupted snooze.
- Toys and chewies are great as incentives to go into, and enjoy “crate time.” But when it’s sleepy time, eliminate the physical distractions.
I don’t have kids, but bet those of you who do can add to the list. In fact, why don’t you? I look forward to seeing your comments. Right after my nap.