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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Please forgive any typos in this post but as you can imagine, I'm rather underslept. Our 20-week-old mini, Sweeney, went through the usual adjustment period as a young puppy, crying when put in his crate and waking in the middle of the night needing a potty break. We expected that, and we got past it. We had a wonderful streak of a month or two in which he slept contentedly in his crate and woke around 5:45 or 6.

But for the last month or so he's been waking between 4:30 and 4:45 AM. He mutters with his quasi-human vocalizations, then does the "burf" low bark, and then, if one of us doesn't let him out of the cage, he starts with the loud, piercing barks. And that does it, we're all awake.

Does anyone know what could be causing him to wake earlier and earlier? There've been no changes in food or walks or anything I can think of. Is there some way to get his circadian rhythm back in sync with ours? We're turning into zombies, which is sad, because there he is at 5 AM after his walk, rarin' to go, wanting to play, and we're shuffling around like Dawn of the Dead, clutching coffees and staring blankly at nothing, half asleep. The Guilty Party is pictured below.

Dog Blue Dog breed Carnivore Wood
 

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He’s got you trained to get up when he wants you to. So why would he wait ? I would let him out as late as you can before going to bed (like midnight) and then set an alarm around 3:30 am and let him out before he whines. Take him out, and always make it very boring. No talking, no petting, just give the pee/poo command and praise quietly when done, then put him back right in the crate without saying anything.

This is to give you assurance that he doesn’t need out the next time he whines. You’ll have to let him fuss and yell and not take him out. Only take him out when it’s time to get up, and only if he’s been calm for at least 3 minutes, ideally more.

You will have a very rough 7-10 days. Maybe less, maybe more. But after that you’ll be done for life.
 

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What time do you feed him? Do you withhold water before bed? Some owners have noted that sometimes a dog gets hungry or thirsty if you mistime either.

Otherwise I would wait him out like Dechi suggests. I feed my boys right before bed and after they got old enough to sleep through the night I've always maintained that they get up when I'm ready. YMMV though, Ranna's brother wakes Park Friend up at 7:00AM or earlier every day, and if she doesn't get up he potties in his crate. But I think she might have moved the divider way too early.
 

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We always proactively took puppy Peggy out in the middle of the night. We then slowly pushed that time back further and further until just before sunrise, at which point we stopped doing a nighttime outing and just woke her up as early as we could bear. Then we continued pushing the time back, incrementally, until a more sustainable hour.

By doing this, we ensured her potty needs were met while also teaching her that the humans decide when puppies wake up.

In addition to this process, a spacious crate, 24/7 access to water, and a small bedtime snack (we just use kibble) are generally the key to a full night’s sleep. Covering the crate (keeping the wall wide open for air flow) is also helpful.
 

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I want my dogs to know how to if they have to go out for some reason (just the other week some stomach upset led to asking to go out two nights in a row- better than waking up to a mess).
So I respond to the earlier, quieter noises if ag all possible. But the response is: first I grab by slip ons and house coat, pup gets leashed on opening crate, we walk outside and I stand there for a few minutes. No talking, no petting, ideally no lights on.
Minimal or no praise for eliminating- that's saved for more reasonable hours!
Then straight back in the crate, and I go to bed.
Yes, there's often a stage of puppy crying on being put back in, this is the only time I let them cry it out (one caveat, if pup has bee quiet for 15+ minutes but then wants out, I usually do go again. Learned the hard way that this is often a true request lol).
The whole process is so boring that it has never taken long for the puppy to give up trying to start the day early.
 

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I would look at what he is predominantly wanting to do at 5am. Does he want to eat? Does he want to pee/poop? Or does he want to play? Or maybe all three.
Is there a change in the amount of light coming into the room at 5am that is different to how it was a few months ago? Is he seeing the daylight and his bodyclock is saying wakey wakey time?
 

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At that age my pups all still needed to go potty in the middle of the night. Usually they woke up at 1 or 2; by 5 they certainly would have been crying. I like Peggy's idea of setting an alarm. I also found my guys got restless if the crate was too small or if they were hungry.
 

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My pup (small standard poodle) is 21 weeks. She's been sleeping through for weeks and weeks now... I cannot recall the last time I had to take her out in the middle of the night.
She's crated between 9 and 10pm and comes out between 7 am and 8 am when I am ready and coffee is made.
Some of that is luck, I'll admit. I certainly wasn't expecting her to be sleeping through the night by the time she was, and I'd be ready to take her out to do her business if she needed to. That said, I'd be responding to those earlier, quieter vocalizations (as suggested by others) but waiting for a few moments of quiet so she didn't learn that loud protests get her what she wants.

What I WILL say is training on my part-- and this would be regardless of whether she slept through or needed to legitimately potty-- is that morning routines are CHIIIIIIIIIIILL.
I have three kids and they too know that we're not hyped and loud and running around at 8 am or earlier. No ma'am!

That means we get up, we go outside to do business, we eat breakfast, and then we ease into the day. My pup's temperament lends itself to an easy on/off switch, it seems, but I have also invested a ton of time rewarding calm and doing mat training. Of course those expectations would be totally unfair if I didn't schedule in a run around and play time in the later morning (which I do plenty of).

Edited to add: we too also cover the crate... with part of the back and one wall side uncovered. I find that when she cannot see us moving around, she is less inclined to want to be out.
 

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One disclaimer about our method: Peggy did alert us the three times she had urgent upset tummy situations. But we could trust those alerts because we hadn’t established that routine as the norm. It was obvious there was something unusual going on.
 

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I try to let Happy out for her last bathroom break after 9:30pm, any earlier and I have a 50/50 chance she’s going to wake me up during the night. If I can push it to 10pm or later, my chances of undisturbed sleep increases to about 90%. Happy sleeps in bed with us, so she just stares at me until I wake up – no barking required. If she does bark, I’m running to let her out because she really needs to go. On occasion, I do think she wakes me just to go clear the backyard of fox or whatever other creature she thinks might be out there. The worst is being waken within an hour of my regular get up time because I’ll never get back to sleep. So, you have my sympathies. My only suggestion would be to push his last walk outside to later. It does help when you have a yard where you can just release them to do their business. Hang in there and good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Once again, PF came through with excellent advice -- thanks so much to you all. I'm going to start implementing as much of this as I can, including things I would never have thought of, like pre-bed snacks and being extremely boring in the mornings. We did just get a larger crate where Sweeney can stand up more comfortably and stretch out a bit. We installed it yesterday but it didn't seem to help last night. Could be he's just not used to the new size and smells yet.

I'm hopeful that he turns a corner at the magic 6 month mark, and with housetraining too. He still sometimes goes in the hallway, even though we have two pads available and try hard to be alert to the slightest hint that he needs to go out. Maybe he just plain isn't mature enough yet?
 

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We did just get a larger crate where Sweeney can stand up more comfortably and stretch out a bit.
What size is your current crate?

He should be able to stand up comfortably, turn around comfortably, and stretch out comfortably in a variety of positions. If not, that’s not a crate for long-term confinement. Definitely not for overnight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
What size is your current crate?

He should be able to stand up comfortably, turn around comfortably, and stretch out comfortably in a variety of positions. If not, that’s not a crate for long-term confinement. Definitely not for overnight.
It's 30 x 19 x 21 inches. He can definitely stand and turn around with room to spare, and stretch out in most positions other than "Superman pose," as I call it. We put the smaller crate away for travel/car use.

Our goal is to get him off crate sleeping altogether and just let him sleep on the floor and/or in his nest, whichever he likes. (I'd love to have him on the bed but I'm a very restless sleeper and it would probably disrupt both of us.) But right now, he just can't be trusted by himself all night.
 

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Just give it time, it will get better.

When you feel it's a good time to introduce him to the bed then do it. Im somewhat restless and I just keep in mind the fact that Basils only priorities all day is 1) sleep, 2) eat, 3) play. She sleeps a ton during the day, so I don't feel bad about disrupting her sleep if I have to get up in the middle of the night.
 

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. (I'd love to have him on the bed but I'm a very restless sleeper and it would probably disrupt both of us.)
I've let Elmer in my bed periodically since he was about 4 months old because it was the only way he would sleep through the night. When he was in his crate the entire night, he'd wake up around 2am for what turned out to be an unnecessary potty break. In my bed, he would just wake up, move to another corner of the mattress, and go back to sleep.

After a couple months of that, he started waking up again. Not to go out, but wanting a midnight/2am chew-break. I'd try to let him out, but he'd detour to his pen, grab a bully stick, and try bringing it back to my bedroom. When he started that nonsense, I started putting him back in his pen if he wasn't interested in sleeping. Now he's much more likely to make it through the night in his pen, but I'll still give him the opportunity to move to my bed if he's having a restless night.
 
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