How to Help Your Dog Sleep Better

By Kristie Leong M.D.

Need suggestions on how to help your dog sleep better when your dog is experiencing problems sleeping at night? This is a rather common problem seen most frequently in older dogs. When the lights go out, your dog may wander around the house and become generally restless and uneasy. If your dog is accustomed to sleeping in the same room with you, this can cause disruption in the sleep patterns of both of you. Is there a solution?

Step1 – Give your dog his own space.
Establish a sleeping area for your dog in a room with a comfortable temperature. Dogs tend to become restless if they’re too hot. Ideally, your dog should have an enclosed area to sleep in since dogs tend to feel more secure when in a smaller space. You may want to consider a dog igloo or cage that has a roof for added security. Encourage your dog to lie down on his bed at the same time each night and give him a small treat and praise when he does.

Step2 – Give your dog daily exercise.
A brisk walk early in the day for at least thirty minutes can help your dog release excess nervous energy which may contribute to doggy insomnia. Exercise also causes natural endorphin release which gives your dog a sense of well being and may help him to feel more secure. Don’t walk your dog too close to bedtime since this may further aggravate sleep problems.

Step3 – Provide sensory aids.
Dogs with declining vision may feel more comfortable if a small light is placed by their sleeping area to make them feel more secure and less isolated. Dogs with hearing problems may benefit from the sounds of soothing music coming from a radio. This added sensory stimulus can make a significant difference in your dog’s ability to sleep.

Step4 – Give a bedtime massage.
Give your dog a soothing, fifteen minute massage around bedtime. This can help to calm your dog and make him feel more secure. There are a variety of videos and books that show the exact procedure for doing this.

Sleep problems in dogs can often be resolved by making a few simple changes to his sleeping quarters and this can mean better sleep for the whole family.