Our Shaped by Dog podcast is designed to be heard or viewed. If you are able, we encourage you to listen to the audio or watch the video, as each includes nuances of emotion and emphasis that might not come through on the written word. Transcripts are generated from the audio, then humans review with love and care, and then there's a double check by our dogs. If you are quoting in print, please check the audio first for full context. Thank you!

Speaker Key

SG Susan Garrett


SG Hey everybody. Welcome to Shaped by Dog. I am Susan Garrett. Today's topic comes from one of you. Yeah. Actually I've gotten two requests for this topic and that is, how do I get my puppy to stop waking me up earlier and earlier in the morning. Common, common problem. Actually, it is more than likely one of three reasons, but the most common is that you, my friend have been shaped by dog. I'll tell you the story. I had a student who was a dog trainer who, ummm … this is another little pet peeve of mine, dog trainers who call themselves behaviorists. We'll not get into that, but she was a dog trainer.


I would help her with her own dog training, and I would also help her with some of her client's problems. Anyway, she had a young Border Collie, it was six months old. During one of our sessions she says, “listen, this whole session I want to dedicate to getting my dog to sleep through the night because it’s not”. Number one, it could be a medical condition.


So, she said I've been to the veterinarian. We've had all kinds of tests run. There's physically nothing wrong with the dog. But she won't sleep through the night. And I find this fascinating because personally my puppies almost never wake me up ever. I have a rule. Don't wake da mama. I'll tell you more about that later.


However, I get a brand-new puppy, seven weeks old. They might wake me up the first night I have them and they never wake me up again. Right. You can get that to. So, let's get back to the student of mine. I said, “all right just tell me your routine”, because I'm going to refer to episode 16 in this podcast a lot, the thing before the thing.


And so, if you have a problem, if you have a problem with the thing, I want to know what's the thing before the thing and that's going to tell me how to fix it. She said, “well, um, I go to bed, you know, I make sure that I play some games with the dog, with a puppy and then, uh, I make sure that I don't give her any water three hours before we would go to bed, [which I think is a little extreme, but that's okay]. Every morning at two o'clock in the morning, she wakes me up.” And I said, “okay, what do you do?”. “Well, I let her at her crate. We go outside and she's bouncing and bouncing, and you know, she's like got all his energy. So, she goes out and she pees every time, like, Hey, bounce, like play bowing in front of me. So, I'll just like throw the Frisbee a few times for her because she's got all this energy, I wanted her to be tired. And then we go back and then she'll sleep.”


The thing before the thing. Border Collie, you say we can have a play session - a Frisbee at 2:00 AM. Yeah. I'll be your alarm clock every day of the week. I got that. I got that for you. The thing before the thing. Okay. Let's get your issue fixed and I'm going to tell you what my routine looks like so that my puppies do sleep through the night.


First of all, three reasons it may happen. Number one, medical condition. Make sure you rule that out. Number two, it could be stress that maybe the only time that your puppy is in a kennel or in a crate is when you go and leave the house. Other times that puppy is always with you. So, you've got to make it a point of maybe you're just watching TV. Your puppy is going to be in a crate near you so that they can see you, but they don't have access to you. And they've got to, you know, get them a nice meaty bone or give them a topple filled with cookies in there and give them something to do so that they get used to “sometimes you can be kennel and I am here”.


Now, if you have a dog who sleeps on your bed or sleeps with you, if you have a puppy, not something I'd recommend, this is going to be much, much more difficult for you. So, I always recommend go to Crate Games Online. Our online training program that makes your dog love their crates.


Dogs, they like to have a den, so they will love their crates. All right. You play the Crate Games. All right. So, the third reason… the first reason is something medical. Second reason is their stress because you don't use a kennel with your dog or a crate at any other time, except when you leave the house. And so, they're used to if you're home, I'm always with you. The third reason is, bingo, you've been shaped my friend, it’s the inappropriate reinforcement that you may not realize is happening. It's routine because dogs are brilliant at figuring out patterns of reinforcement.


A lot of people, they wake up, they go to the bathroom, they take their dog out. Maybe they take their dog out first. Then they go to the bathroom and then they feed the dog. That's the routine. And for a lot of dogs, that's a highlight of their day. And so, they're like, okay, I can't wait till you get out of bed because when you get out of bed and we're going to have breakfast. And so, I know you roll over, you take a deep sigh, you scratch your head and then you get out of bed. So those are the things that happen before I get you out of bed. And then we get to have my breakfast. So how can I get you out of bed faster? Are you awake? Excuse me. Are you awake? Are you, are you awake? Uh, it's time for breakfast, right? Are you awake? So that's what happens. Dogs learn to bug you to get you out.


I've had people who say, “Oh, I'll get up at four o'clock and just feed them and then I can go back.” They'll leave you alone after they've had their breakfast. Are you Cray-Cray? What if you want to just have like a, you know, you're not feeling well, and you want to nap in the middle of the day. You have the right to sleep when you need to sleep. So, let's change things. A lot of times it starts with routines that you have during the day that we might need to change. For example, you might have, say an hour and a half between when you get up and when you have to leave for work, but I don't want you to always do the same thing.


Put the dog's meal in there at different times. They can't predict what the thing before the thing. So, then they'll just relax and go, “up at some point, I'm going to get fed.” My dogs get fed anywhere between five in the morning and 10 in the morning, they will get fed. They can't predict when it's going to happen.


It's whatever goes on that day. It's not always the same person feeding either. All right. Change up that routine, both when you're feeding at night and when you're feeding in the morning. Next thing, I want you to become more observant of times during the day when your dog is soliciting you to do things. I think it was episode number five on here on Shaped by Dog, where I talk about how our dogs shape us. So, what happens during the day? Maybe you're watching TV and your dog comes and puts their head under your hand and flipped your hand and says, “yeah, you can pat me now”. And then you go, “Oh yeah, okay. I'll come pat you”.


Or they see a tennis ball on the counter, and they start whining and barking at the counter, “I need my tennis ball now”. “Oh, okay. Here's your tennis ball”. I had a friend who loved to knit and every time she'd sit down to knit, her Border Collie would retrieve something and put it on her knee and she would then throw the toy whenever she, and so it interrupted her knitting all the time. I'm like, well, the Border Collie has learned, “I work when you relax. When you relax that's when I've got to start pacing and find something for you to throw”.


When I relax, I like my dogs to relax too. And so, you've got to look at times during the day when your dog has got you to do what they would like you to do. And we have this little rule. Forget it to get it. So, if I'm watching the basketball game, which is my one time I watch TV is when my Raptors are playing. Then if a dog retrieved something to me and puts it on my leg, I take it and I put it behind my back. And it'll stay there until the dogs forgot about it. In order to get it, you have to forget it.


My dogs, when I'm relaxing, reading a book or watching TV, they don't solicit things from me. They know, this is our chill time. So, your chill time needs to be your chill time and you need to observe things that your dog is doing to solicit things from you and put in the rule forget it to get it. It might be when you are getting their dinner ready. So, you take out the dog bowls. Now, do you have dogs that start spinning and barking? If my dogs did that, I walk away from the counter. Spinning and barking is saying, “I don't feel like eating right now. Why don't you go back and work on your computer some more?” All right, I'll do that. When you forget it, then you can get it.


So after, I don't know, I'll do something at the computer and then I'll come back downstairs, and I'll start putting the bowls out again. If I get spinning and barking, then I'll go back upstairs. Spinning and barking means I don't want to eat right now.


So, if your dog is in the habit of saying, “yo, I need this now”, during the day, then at night of course it makes sense for them to go, “ah, hello, I'm done sleeping, so how about you and I get up and you feed me?” We need to, we need to take back control of the cookie jar people. Right. So, you need to, there's four things that are going to make a massive difference. And I am going to get to what is my process that I use with all my puppies that I get them to sleep through the night perfectly. But there's four things that you need to know that are going to make massive difference. Number one is exercise.


All puppies need age appropriate exercise, which means if you have an eight, eight-week-old puppy, you're not going to take them on like a 20-mile hike. Age appropriate exercise. A lot of the times just interacting games of tug, some recalls where I have a friend hold and I do a restraint recall. Recalls during the day, those sorts of things, or the exercise that my puppies… I don't actually take puppies on big long walks. It might go on like five-minute training walks, that's it. All right. So, age appropriate, but all puppies need exercise.


And I don't say they, I only exercise them for five minutes a day. We'll do several sessions of that. Like first thing, like somewhere in my morning routine, before I sit down to go to work, puppy will get exercise via training. I work at home so I can do something at lunchtime. I can do something as soon as you would get home from work, you can do something else. After supper you can do something else before bed. You can do something else. Okay. So, age appropriate exercise, all dogs need exercise guys.


And heads up, if you have a fenced in backyard, putting the dog in the backyard is not exercise. I want to say that again. Even if you have two dogs, even when you have three dogs. Putting a dog in a backyard is not exercise. As a matter of fact, it's something I have never done. In all the years I have owned a dog, I have never even owned a fenced in backyard because I believe exercise involves me. So, I will take them for a walk. Okay. So, exercise number one. I don't care if you live on a high rise in downtown New York city, get that dog out and exercise them.


Number two, mental stimulation. That is engage the dog's brain. I can't tell you how exhausting it is for dogs to have their brain engaged. And if you don't have games that you can think of to play with your dog, then go to episode 18, all the puppy games that I have listed there, or go to the show notes for this episode, episode 26, shapedbydog.com/26. The number two and six. And in the show notes, I'm going to have a link that you can go, and we will send you to learn just a simple game that you can play with your dog, ItsYerChoice. All right. Physical exercise, mental stimulation. Those are the two biggies. The third one. Oh, this is huge. Your dog needs to learn to, or your puppy needs to potty on leash.


So, if you have a fenced in backyard with a young puppy, always, always take them on a leash. And wait for them to potty, super important. So, you know, when the puppies are going to have to go to the bathroom. First thing, when they get up, they're going to have to go to the bathroom. After they've eaten, they'll have to go to the bathroom. After you've trained them, they'll have to go to the bathroom. Like they've had some cookies and some stimulation, some exercise they'll have to go the bathroom.


Take them on a leash. If I get up in the morning, I've taken my puppy on leash and they're going to go, “Oh, Oh, I'm on a leash. I don't want to be, I don't want to be on a leash”. So, at first you might just have the leash on the ground. Take them to wherever is in the backyard you want them to potty and have them potty there. But eventually we need that leash in your hand. And so, if my puppy doesn't potty within five minutes, I pick them up and I put them back in the crate and I'll try them in 10 minutes.


I'm like, go and start my morning routine and then say, “do you want to come back out and do a potty again?” I'll keep doing that until they potty. I need my dogs to potty on leash. I got to tell you, if you do this, you will have a dog who doesn't go outside and start reading P-Mail for an hour and a half before they decide to do their business.


What your dogs will do … I can get my dogs to go outside and do their business within a television advertisement break of a basketball game. So, in the time it takes them to run a few ads. my dogs will go out and do number one and number two, and we're all back in the house. That's because you do pottying on leash when they're puppies.


Super important. All right. And the number four thing is, this is important, so the four thing that make a massive difference is your responses, your responses. We've got to look for the thing before the thing. You might not be playing Frisbee at two o'clock in the morning with your dog when they wake you up. But there is something, there is some reinforcement that's happening there. Okay. So, this is the setup. My rule is don't wake the mama. Don't wake the mama. If you have to wake the mama, something needs to be projectile coming out of an orifice somewhere. That's my rule.


Okay. So, here's how I get it with the puppies. I have our little routine. I don't give them water an hour before bedtime. I've read some websites that they say, don't give your puppy water three hours before bedtime. Now, if you're sleeping for eight hours, that means a puppy's going hours without water. I don't think that's good for the kidneys.


I'm not a veterinarian. I wouldn't think that's great for the kidneys. I cut off water an hour before bedtime. And then what I do is I will have a little fun interactive play session … so, if I go to bed at nine o'clock at 7:30, I'll have a fun interactive play session where the puppy might get goofy and go craycray so that they want a drink of water.


So, they'll take a big drink of water. And then at eight o'clock, I'll let them out again. So, by then it's probably like they've had a big gulp, they're thirsty, so I don't feel bad taking away their water because I've made them thirsty and they've had a big gulp of water. And then, you know, take them outside. They might have little pee then, but then I just give them some chill time. They might have some little interactive games. They can play by themselves in an ex-pen, something like that. And then at nine o'clock, I will take them out and they will have their final go to the bathroom and then lights out for everybody. We're going to bed. Say this is day one of the puppy living with me.


What's important is the setup of when we go to bed. Right beside my bed on a chair, maybe even on some books so that, I want to puppies’ face, I want the puppies’ crate right at my face level. So, I always arrange it, so it's a little inconvenient, but the puppies’ crate is right beside my bed, my breath goes right into their crate.


When I go to bed for the first night with them, I might even stick my fingers in their crates so they can nibble on my fingers a little bit. They might whine because it's their first night, but they're probably tired because I did give them all this mental stimulation and physical stimulation. They're very likely going to go to bed or go to sleep.


Now, what happens is when they wake me up and this is the most important thing. They start whining or fussing, like if they just get up and flip flop around, I won't do anything. But if they start whining and go, “I got to go. I got to go.” So important, you do not say anything to the puppy. By the crate, I will have a big oversized leash with a clip, like a German Shepherd clip, like it's a massive clip. So that I open the crate, this is the one time I don't even play crate games with my puppies. I just open the crate. I reach in, I pick the puppy up and I hook this oversize leash over the entire collar of the puppy. I do that so I don't fuss with a little tiny clip and a little tiny islet on the collar. I just want to make it fast.


Pull them out. Clip. If it's winter, I just put on my boots and my coat over my pajamas. I've said nothing to the puppy. We go outside. I put the puppy down. I have still said nothing. The puppy, if they jump on me and go, “Hey hey, it's me, it's me.” I just turn away. I don't give them any eye contact. I don't engage with them in any way. They potty, they do whatever, number one, number two, whatever they have to do. And it's the only time in their life when they're baby, when they're learning. It's the only time I don't praise them. It's the only time I don't reinforce them for potting outside.


Most of the time I make a big deal about my puppies potting outside but when you wake the mama, oh nay-nay to the reinforcement. I do not give them any kind of reinforcement. So, they've pottied, I don't even let them walk guys. I don't let them walk from the crate to the outside, I carry them. So, if you've got a great big gluten Stein, maybe you're going to have to make a change, but don't talk to them.


So, I take them outside. They potty, I pick them back up. I walked back into the bedroom. I unclipped the collar. I put them in. I close the crate door. I go right back to sleep. Now I can put my fingers back in the crate, but I don't say anything to them. And that's why my puppies never wake me up a second night because it's like, well, that was no fun.


They really, I mean, I think if you woke up at two in the morning, you would probably go to the bathroom wouldn't you. But you could probably sleep through. Well, depending on your age and stage. You probably could sleep through the night without getting up. Your puppy can too.


However, if somebody woke me up in the middle of the night, because they were delivering the most amazing reinforcement to me, then yeah, I think I might be looking forward to being woken up in the middle of the night.


So, engage the don't wake the mama, unless you're a daddy. And then you can name this, anything you want, but remember, you've got to look for things during the day that you may be doing, and you've got to change that behavior. You've got to look for routines that you've set up, that your dog can predict when they're going to get bed to the moment you've got to change that up.


And you've got to instill those four things: exercise, mental stimulation, pottying on a leash, and your responses to when your dog does wake you up. I.e. only time there's no reinforcement. Remember go to the show notes, shapedbydog.com/26 and click the link and I will give you resources that's going to help you with your new puppy.


And if you've got an older dog, it doesn't matter. And if you've not trained your dog to love their crate, start with CrateGames.Com. That's it for me. We'll see you next time on Shaped by Dog.