How to get a puppy to sleep at night – 9 ideas you may not know about

Whatever your puppy gets up to during the day, it will all seem so much easier if your puppy sleeps at night, allowing you to do the same.

If you're very lucky, your puppy will settle straight away. Most will take time to settle and some will become very distressed if left alone. I’m afraid there's no way to tell in advance how your puppy will behave. Even puppies from the same litter may vary.

The advice used to be to leave the puppy, put up with the noise and eventually, after a number of noisy nights for everyone, the puppy would learn to sleep alone. We've moved on from this 'tough love' approach. Most trainers would suggest having the puppy in your room for the first few nights until they’re more settled. Many owners who couldn't bear the sound of a distressed pup would have done this anyway! 

In Puppy Home School, I go through the best way to prepare for your first night with your puppy in detail. But however closely you follow all the protocols for getting your puppy to sleep at night, some just don’t settle. I'm afraid that, according to fairly recent research, it may be as high as 60% of them.

And oh boy, what a heart-wrenching sound they can make – it's designed to go through you (and the party wall)! It won’t take long before you’re on to Google desperately seeking relief by way of tips to make it stop because you just want to sleep, and you’re worried about the neighbours …

So, what else can you try? 

It’s difficult to know if what Mary on a forum says is brilliant for getting her puppy to sleep will actually work for other puppies, or if it just so happens that by the time Mary got round to trying it her own puppy was about to resign itself to settling down anyway.

In the absence of a magic wand or an off-switch, I'm afraid all suggestions are a bit try-it-and-see. What works for some doesn’t for others. In all honesty, time a comfortable bed with soft sides for the puppy to lean on (although if it’s hot, some pups will prefer a flat bed – you see nothing is perfect for every puppy) is quite likely all you need.

But by the second night of being kept awake by a very unsettled puppy, human nature will send you to Google anyway, so here are my top 9 most likely to work suggestions. No guarantees – but nor will they do any harm. 

  1. Another dog …

    If you happen to have an older, quieter dog handy, and your puppy is safely crated or otherwise separated until you know how they get on, this may well help (especially if you’re not prepared to sleep with your puppy). But obviously not much use if you haven’t already got the older dog, and not something you can get Amazon to deliver tomorrow.
  2. Sounds

    This might be as simple as leaving a music channel playing on the radio or maybe try a talk show. Or you can search online for any number of sounds that are specifically recorded with the aim of calming a puppy.      
  3. A ticking clock

    This isn't actually an everyday item these days, but if you have one it's certainly worth a try.

  4. A t-shirt or similar

    You can try putting an item of worn clothing in the puppy’s bed or hung nearby so the puppy can smell your presence (the theory being pup thinks you’re nearby). If you’re in the room anyway it's probably not so relevant, although having your t-shirt in the bed may help – or it may just become a new chew toy (don’t use one you expect to wear again!). ·         
  5. Scent diffusers or wipes.

    You can try a DAP diffuser or wipe which replicates a mother-like pheromone, or there is Pet Remedy's calming oil.  
  6. Beating heart toy.

    I tried this with my own sleepless puppy a few months ago and she was not remotely interested in it, other than for regular disemboweling (the pumping ‘heartbeat’ object is held in the toy with Velcro fastenings).

    They’re not cheap but I was about to bin it when a very tired client asked me if I had any other suggestions to help her, so I dropped it round for them to try. And, almost magically, their puppy settled immediately. So, there you go …
  7. A soft toy (heartless)

    Soft toys, Kongs or other chew toys that are safe to leave with a puppy.
  8. Hot water bottle

    A hot water bottle tucked under a blanket.
  9. Massage

    Try gently massaging your pup using small circular motions just before bedtime.

Most importantly, if your puppy doesn’t settle alone at night for some time it’s not your fault! In all likelihood, you’re not doing anything ‘wrong’. As you now know, it’s the same in more than half of puppy households.




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