Do Dogs Need a Bedtime (Owners Surveyed!)

If you thought bedtimes were just for human children think again. You may be surprised at how many pet owners have bedtimes for their dogs. Honestly, though it makes sense! Being a good dog parent means anticipating your dog’s needs and knowing your pup’s schedule. This includes bedtime.

Dogs don’t necessarily need to have a bedtime, but many dog owners do have their dogs on a nightly routine that includes a general bedtime. Dogs thrive on routine! Having your dog go to bed at a certain time each night can help them get good consistent sleep from the time they are a puppy to when they are very old.

two akitas sleeping side by side

Benefits to having a bedtime/nighttime routine for your dog

  • Your dog knows what to expect.
    • This can help reduce stress and anxiety in your dog.
  • Your dog will anticipate when it’s time to go to bed and make settling down easier.
    • No one wants to deal with zoomies when you’ve had a long day!
  • You and your dog will both get more consistent sleep.
    • Science has proven that a consistent schedule is great for the body in helping both you and your pup produce the needed hormones to get some good shut-eye!
  • Better rest will help them stay healthier overall.
    • Avoid behavior problems.
    • Prevent disease.
  • You will be able to spot pattern changes more easily.
    • Being able to notice if your dog’s sleep patterns change will help you to detect health problems earlier than you may have been able to otherwise.
  • Helps young puppies start sleeping through the night faster.
    • Consistency is the most important thing for training young dogs.

Have you heard of puppy sleep regression? You may think your dog has been doing great at sleeping then all of a sudden things change (and not for the better) It can be super challenging. If you think your dog is suffering from a sleep regression this article will walk you through what to expect.

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What Other Owners Say About their Dog’s Bedtime

The most popular answer is that their dog sleeps generally on the same schedule as they do. It does take some time for a puppy to adjust to their owner’s schedule but usually by age 9 months to 1-year dogs have figured out and adjusted to their owner’s sleep schedule.

Most owners say that their dog settles down for the night between 7-10 pm with one last potty break just before their final bedtime anytime between 9-11 pm. This is exactly what we do with our dog Bear.

Dog Bedtime Routine Examples From Owners

When trying to figure out a good bedtime for our dog it’s often helpful to know what others do. If not just for curiosity’s sake it can give us some good ideas about how to get our dogs and puppies to wind down for the evening.

Chess Dog 300 x 600

Sarah W. “Take him out for potty then do 10 mins of command training. He is strangely responsive to that before bed! Then give him a sprat when he goes in the crate and I play Dog TV on YouTube for 5 mins and he’s out like a light.”

Megan S. “From a young age, mine got a filled Kong at bedtime. It totally helped with crate training and to relax him. He is almost 2 and we still do the Kong routine. I never had issues with him waking up in the middle of the night.”

Katherine S. “In the fall my puppy ate at 5 followed by a 30-minute walk, then I played with him in the yard till 6. Then inside a chew toy followed by a potty break. Nap between 7 pm and 9 pm followed by potty break cuddling and lights out at 10 30.

It’s more or less the same now except walks are earlier and outdoor play is shorter due to the cold and dark. At 7 months old he’s more or less dozing or quietly playing in the living room as soon as it’s dark. We walk 4 miles a day still even when it’s raining or snowing or I’m sick.”

Light brown Cockapoo sleeping on its blanket in a cage.

Celeste M. “I crate trained our dog with a 9 pm bedtime. She will come lay next to the couch and fall asleep there if I don’t put her in her crate on time. And, if she gets enough exercise during the day she will put herself to bed.”

Rachel F. “My guy is up at 5:30-6:30 am, we go almost all day. There are a few naps but unless I go out they are brief. He is a bit needy around 6:00-7:00 around 7:00-7:30 he lays down and falls out. I get him up to pee at 8:00 and again at 9:00 then I take off his collar he runs into his crate and that is it for the night. Give or take a half hour.”

When Should My Dog Go to Bed at Night?

The best time for your dog to settle down for bedtime is when you are ready to go to bed. Even though dogs’ sleep patterns are different than ours (read here to learn more) they generally do well going to bed when it’s getting dark between 7-11 pm.

Should I Put My Dog to Bed at a Certain Time?

The time of day that you train your dog to go to bed is not as important as how consistent you are with it. The best time to put them to bed is what works well for you and your household.

Consistency is great, but that doesn’t mean that your dog can’t be flexible for weekends or changing shifts. Lots of dog owners we talked to said that on the weekend they get up at the same general time to let their dog out for a potty break but then they will go back to bed and sleep in for a few hours.

Do Dogs know it’s Bedtime?

Dogs don’t know how to tell time, but they do have an innate instinct that helps them to know what time of day it is and what may be happening next. This instinct is often referred to as their Circadian rhythm and can help them to predict when bedtime is. A dog’s circadian rhythm is its body’s internal clock that responds to light and dark over a 24hr period of time.

Why Does My Dog Bark at Bedtime?

If your Maltese is barking more around bedtime or only barking at night then it is most likely because they are hearing something that isn’t there in the daytime, or they might be hearing other dogs barking or making noise. If they are by themselves it could also be separation anxiety or loneliness.

A lot of different animals and creatures are more active at night and since dogs have much better hearing than we humans do they will pick up on every little sound. Especially if you are trying to settle down and get ready for the night your dog may want to go into protection mode to warn you of possible disturbances before you go to sleep.

This type of barking is a protective or alarm type barking. You can refer to our other articles all about barking to understand how to address the root cause.

Why Does My Dog Have Anxiety at Bedtime?

Anxiety at bedtime or nighttime can happen for many reasons. One of the most common causes of nighttime anxiety is fear. If you are trying to crate train your dog and they do well during the day but don’t like to sleep in the crate at night it could be because they are afraid of being alone. It could also be that the sounds and atmosphere of the household is much different at night than in the day.

Again addressing the root cause of the anxiety is the best way to prevent nighttime anxiety for your dog. You can learn more in-depth solutions about addressing anxiety in your dog by reading these articles.

Why Does My Dog Want to Play at Bedtime?

The most common cause of your dog wanting to play at bedtime or right before is because they have unspent energy from the day.

Remember that Circadian rhythm we talked about a few minutes ago. Your dog is smart and knows that they are about to be put to bed and expected to sleep and rest for the next 8-10 hours. Their body will alert them to what they need to do before settling down for the night and often that can look like playfulness.

Our dog Bear (a Chihuahua Maltese mix) gets the zoomies every night around 8 pm. Luckily it only lasts for about 20 minutes and we really enjoy a play session just before we calm down for the night.

If you need some tips or tricks on how to get your pup to stop playing at night and settle down instead you can read any of these great articles.