My Cocker Spaniel's Not Sleeping

Help! My Cocker Spaniel's Not Sleeping At Night!
Question By: Tracy
United Kingdom

My 6 month old working cocker spaniel bitch has recently started to wake up very early in the mornings, around 5-ish. 

Beautiful blue roan cocker spaniel sitting in a garden surrounded by plants.Shush, I'm hiding!

She sleeps in her crate in my bedroom.

We go to bed at the same time of night, around 11-ish and our routine has always been the same.

She has never slept in very late, around 6.30am since she was 8 weeks old, which is fine and acceptable, but I would appreciate some help.

Why is she waking so early now? Any ideas would be really appreciated.

Reply from Pauline (Website Owner)

Hi Tracy,

Sorry to hear your cocker spaniel's not sleeping much during the night.

First things first. Can you be sure that your dog doesn't have bladder or bowel problems? If not, have her checked by your vet.

Once you get the all clear, you'll then be able to address your cocker's problem with sleep.

There are a few things you can try to help your cocker spaniel sleep a little longer each morning, as follows.

If Your Cocker Spaniel's Not Sleeping, Try Some Of These

Keep Her in the Dark

This might sound obvious, but do you close the curtains at night? Keeping the room in which she sleeps in darkness could help her to sleep longer.

Alternatively, you could try placing a thick dark coloured blanket over her crate to block out the light.

If she wakes early, she may think it's still night-time and with a bit of luck she'll lie quietly a little longer.

If Your Cocker Spaniel's Not Sleeping, Keep The Noise Down!

Is there anything in the room or around the house that could be waking her?

For example, an open window, the sound of cars, birds chirping, or a ticking clock? It's surprising how distractions such as these can either wake your dog or stop your pet from sleeping.

Or could it be the fact that it's that time of year when the clocks go back and her body clock is still on the old time? I know it happens to me every year until my body clock adjusts!

Tire Her Out Before Bedtime!

Make sure your cocker spaniel is tired out before she goes to bed at night. Take her for a walk or play with her for a while before bedtime. A few training exercises may help too.

Tire her out and she may sleep longer.

Could Toilet Needs Be Why Your Cocker Spaniel's Not Sleeping?

If she's waking early because she wants to do her toilet, let her out at night (as late as possible) just before you go to bed.

You could also consider lifting her water bowl off the floor at around 7 or 8:00pm to help her to 'go all night'.

I am assuming that you're not feeding her after 6:00pm, otherwise this may be contributing to her waking early with the need to go to the toilet.

If Your Cocker Spaniel's Not Sleeping, Don't Make A Fuss!

Dogs learn behaviour.

When your cocker spaniel wakes early, what do you do? Do you immediately see to her needs, ie., feed her, make a fuss of her, let her out etc?

If you give her attention when she 'demands' it she will learn to do it all the more to get what she wants. It only takes a few instances for your dog to learn that you will respond to her. Who said Cockers were daft?

You can learn more about attention seeking behaviour here.

Well, that's about it - I can't think of anything else to suggest. Perhaps our visitors can - come on girls and guys, what do you think?

My Cocker Spaniel's Not Sleeping
Visitor Comment: CAW 

I have read all your suggestions for helping a cocker who's not sleeping well, and I totally agree. However, I am in an apartment complex and there is no space to put her that a neighbour would not hear her crying. This means that I can't just ignore her in the hope that she would just cry it out and go back to sleep. 

I do get up when she starts crying as I cannot afford to have a neighbour complain. I do not have any neighbours above or below or to one side of me, but someone is behind me and on the other side. I personally am hoping she will eventually grow out of getting up and learning that night time is for sleeping. 

She is perfectly potty trained and crate trained and currently sleeps in her crate by my bed that is covered and has baby blankets and a toy inside. 

Unfortunately, it does not seem to help. 

Anyone have any additional ideas I would really appreciate it.

Cocker Not Sleeping?
Visitor Comment: Norman 

Take your dog for an extra run or a fast walk before bedtime. If nothing else, it will make you sleep! Ha Ha!