5 things to do when your dog wakes you up before you need to be up

Those last few minutes of sleep before the alarm goes off are a treasured sanctuary where we hide before the reality of the world intrudes. Few dog owners appreciate their dog robbing them of those moments. But some dogs seem to have an uncanny knack for anticipating the alarm by 15 or 20 minutes, and manage to routinely do just that.


Of course, puppy owners expect to be awakened by their pups. It’s unreasonable to think a youngster can make it through the night without a potty break. Crated or otherwise appropriately confined, even an eight-week-old puppy will normally cry when his bowels and bladder need emptying, rather than soil his own bed. When this happens you must get up and take her out to poop and pee, and then immediately return her to her crate so she doesn’t learn to wake you up for a wee-hours play or cuddle session.

Adult dogs, however, barring a health issue, should wait for you to get up rather than pushing back your wake-up time in eager anticipation of breakfast. If your grown-up dog has made it her mission to make sure you’re never late for work by waking you up every morning before your alarm does, try this:

1) Rule out medical conditions.

Make sure your dog doesn’t have a legitimate reason for getting up early. If she has a urinary tract infection or digestive upset, or some other medical issue that affects her elimination habits or otherwise makes her uncomfortable, she may have to go out 30 minutes before you normally get up to let her out.

2) Tire her out the night before.

A tired dog is a well-behaved happy dog, and a late sleeper. Exercise uses up much of the energy that she presently can’t wait to wake you up with and also releases endorphins, which regulate mood, producing a feeling of well-being. Tiredness promotes sleeping in, and endorphins help reduce anxieties that may play a role in her early-bird activities.

3) Feed her earlier.

Increase the time between your dog’s last meal and her last bathroom opportunity to minimize the chance that she’s waking you up because she really has to go. It only takes a few “I really have to go” mornings to set an early-riser routine.

4) Reduce stimuli in the bedroom.

The less there is to awaken your dog, the less likely she is to awaken you. Close the drapes. Turn off the television. Turn on a white noise machine or soft classical music.

5) Train her to sleep in.

If these solutions alone don’t work, you may be able to train her to sleep later. If your normal wake up time is 6:30 am and she consistently wakes you at 6:15, for one week set your alarm for 6:05. For the second week, set it for 6:10. Do not get up before the alarm goes off. This will condition her to the sound of the alarm as her cue to wake up.

Each week set the alarm forward five more minutes, until you’re at your desired wake-up time. It might take you a few weeks to get there, but it’s simple, and it works.

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