I have a 4-month-old Shih Tzu cross and every morning it's getting earlier and earlier for him to start barking. I let him out to go toilet and put him back in and he barks constantly. Can anyone help me with getting him to sleep through the night, please? Any help would be much appreciated.
-------------------------------------- Hi, Janice Here from Miracle Shih Tzu --------------------------------------
This is a very common question I get asked over and over again, so when people tell me their Shih Tzu puppy slept through the night it actually surprises me.
Puppies are a lot like human babies. They get lonely, need to use the bathroom, or even get hungry in the middle of the night. The difference between puppies and human babies is that we will respond to our human babies, but puppies should learn to make it through the night without too much intervention.
Puppies are still learning the routine and what is expected of them, so if we give in too much, they will assume that what we do is normal and to be expected. We don't want to get them into the habit of thinking they should wake up in the middle of the night.
It sounds as though this puppy not only needs to go out but also wants attention, maybe to eat or play.
There are some things that we can do to ease their discomfort during the night.
1. Provide a comfortable bed for them with a soft stuffed toy. Puppies seem to love using a stuffed animal as a pillow.
2. Take away their water earlier in the evening if the reason they are waking is that they need to go out. The same is true of food. If possible feed as early as you can.
3. Be sure to let them out the last thing before you go to bed. Take enough time so they do what they need to do before coming back inside.
4. If they sleep in a crate, you might want to put the crate near your bed. If they start to whimper, cry, or bark, you are close enough to tell them shhh.
5. Make sure the puppy is getting totally exhausted before going to bed. This means some rigorous play time in the evening or a walk if the puppy has learned to manage the leash. Most Shih Tzu dogs love to play and will be very active indoors, even more so than outdoors. (This is just the opposite of many breeds). You know what they say, "I tired puppy is a good puppy."
6. Along the same lines as above, if the puppy spends most of their day sleeping while the owner works, they are not going to need as much sleep at night. If this is the problem, make sure they have plenty of toys and chews to keep them occupied. If you can't come home at lunchtime, consider getting someone to come in and play with him at some point during the day.
7. Lastly, take a look at the puppy's sleep patterns. Is he falling asleep in the evening before you go to bed? How long is he sleeping before awakening? Puppies do need a lot of sleep but they get their sleep quota throughout the day.
For example, as I am writing this, it is about 10 AM. here. All 13 of my adult dogs are asleep and 5 puppies are too. It wasn't so quiet around here early. They were up at about 6 AM and ready to play, eat, go out and everything else that puppies do in the morning. After a few hours of being very busy, they are exhausted and ready to sleep again. After a couple hours of napping, they will be up again and ready to play.
The reason that I mention this is because of dogs, eat, drink water, play, go outside, chew on a bone and then settle down for a nap. This routine gets repeated throughout the day unless a person intervenes to keep them awake longer. Puppies, like young children, will sleep more than adults.
Sometimes just making a small adjustment in their schedule will keep them sleeping longer and also at the same time as you sleep.
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