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Puppy Insomnia and What To Do

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Treatment for Insomnia

Charlie Blue sleeps peacefully, but insomniac puppies can keep you up at night when they wake up and want to play.

Image © Aurel Muzzio/Flickr

Dog insomnia isn't as common as in people, but high energy puppies may benefit from natural treatment for insomnia. It's not unusual for new puppies to cry and have trouble sleeping especially after they've first arrived in a new home. After all, they've just left their Mom-dog and siblings where they probably slept in a pile, and now are asked to sleep by themselves in a strange new place.

Even older pups can have issues with sleeping through the night. In fact, I find that when I suffer from insomnia it can impact how well the pets sleep, too.

Once puppies have settled into their new home, puppies rarely have trouble sleeping. They get plenty of naps while you're at work. That way puppies have plenty of energy to stay awake at night to guard the house, play, and pester snoozing owners.

When you must arise for work early each morning, midnight games stealing sleep won't thrill you. There are a number of methods you can use to prompt pets to sleep on your timetable.

Natural Treatments for Puppy Insomnia

  • Check out the bed placement. Very young pups do better when they can hear and smell you, so moving the puppy's bed near your own may improve the baby's rest--and your own.

  • The pheromone product Comfort Zone with D.A.P. may relieve the stress and fear of the strange new place. This product replicates the "no fear" chemical signal that mom-dogs produce when nursing their babies. You can get D.A.P. from pet product stores, or the veterinary product Adaptil from the vet clinic.

  • Schedule playtime a half hour before bedtime, and wear out your pets so they'll crash when you do. Chasing the ball for dogs, or a flashlight beam for cats works well. You can also provide a late night meal to keep pets from pestering you at 3 a.m. to fill the bowl.

  • Music therapy can work wonders to act as a natural sedative for your pets. Slow, calm, instrumental music can be soothing and help lullaby pets to sleep. Actually, slow calm music works well for me, too. I reserve The Chieftans rollicking music for when I need energy, and play my cello CD's to help me concentrate or snooze.
  • The time-keeper hormone melatonin tell us when to sleep and when to wake up and has been used in people to treat jet lag and sleep disorders. Some veterinarians recommend using it to help pets sleep, too. Melatonin is available at health food stores, but you'll need to ask your vet for the proper dosage.

  • Rescue Remedy can relieve the stress that may turn your restless pup into an insomniac. You can add several drops to the pet's water bowl for all day sipping.

  • Milk contains the chemical tryptophan that helps promote sleep. A quarter cup of warm milk as a bedtime snack may help pets snooze more readily. However, some dogs and cats don't digest milk easily so nix the snack if diarrhea develops.

  • Try giving your pets a bedtime massage to slow down the energy and soothe them into a restful state. Slow gentle strokes can relax the uptight puppy so he sleeps better throughout the night.

In most cases just ignoring the antics teaches the pet he won't get attention for disturbing your slumber. Any sort of attention (even lobbing a pillow at the offender) reinforces the behavior, so he'll continue the pester routine. Close your eyes, grit your teeth, and don't move a muscle (even when the puppy nibbles your toes). If you have trouble practicing tough puppy love, you can always resort to earplugs.

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