Struggling to get your pets to sleep alone? Here’s what to do

Katie Court
Authored by Katie Court
Posted: Tuesday, May 14, 2024 - 12:00

Pet owners are being offered tips on how to get their four-legged friends to sleep comfortably by themselves.

The experts at Winstons Beds have revealed how pet owners can help teach their dogs to sleep independently without panicking.

One of the most common reasons dog struggle to sleep by themselves is due to separation anxiety.  The problem is widespread across the country with research highlighting that eight out of ten dogs struggle to be alone.

This can make it difficult for owners to get some much-needed shut-eye and it can be extremely distressing for a dog who has unfortunately developed a fear of loneliness.

Sleep experts are encouraging pet owners to establish a routine and be patient with their pups when trying to get them to sleep alone.

Rebecca Swain, an expert at Winstons Beds, said: "Teaching a dog to sleep by themselves is not a straightforward process, it takes time and a lot of patience.  Many stand by the old approach of letting dogs cry it out, however, we urge pet owners not to do this as it can cause them to become distressed and can make the fear of being alone even worse.

"Research shows that eight out of ten dogs feel distressed from being by themselves so it's important to be patient and take the time to discover what works best for your pet.  That's why we've put together seven ways to help anxious dogs learn to sleep independently, including making the space a cosy den and using treat-based training to help them settle."


Here are seven ways to help dogs sleep by themselves:

  1. Make the bed a cosy den

 One of the most important elements of a dog bed is safety. Dogs want to feel protected in the place they sleep in and making their bed into a cosy den will help with this.

If your dog sleeps in a crate at night, have a blanket inside and over the top so they feel snug in the space.


  1. Treat based training

 To get your dog used to the idea of sleeping in their bed through positive reinforcement. When they get into bed on their own reward them with their favourite treat to encourage their good behaviour.


  1. Place them in the bed when napping

 If your dog takes a nap on the sofa or a blanket, immediately take them over to their bed. This will help to associate the idea of their bed as a space where they can sleep safely and comfortably.


  1. Keep time of when you leave the room

It's a trial-and-error process. Leave the room for 10 seconds, then 30, then for a few minutes and reward them with a treat for not reacting badly to being alone.


  1. Cuddle them before placing them in the bed

As a dog owner, you're their safe space where they feel comfortable and relaxed. However, they also need to associate the same feeling with their sleeping area. To help them settle, gently cuddle and stroke them for 10 minutes before placing them in their bed.


  1. Establish a routine

Building a regular bedtime routine will help indicate to your dog it's almost bedtime. Choose some wind-down activities like gentle grooming or quiet playtime to help them relax. Avoid anything too stimulating like long walks.


  1. Be patient

 If a dog has a serious fear of being alone, the problem isn't going to fix itself overnight. Try different approaches and stick with them for a week or so. If one doesn't work, try the next one as every dog reacts differently.

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