My dog whines on weekend mornings

My dog Ace is on a schedule.

I’m up and feeding him at around 7 a.m. on weekday mornings. My husband gets up at 6 a.m. and Ace does not move until he hears me. This is his routine.

Saturday and Sunday mornings are a little different.

Josh and I don’t get up until about 8:30. By that time our dog is at our door making all kinds of noise licking and scratching himself and flapping his ears around. It’s his “subtle” way of waking us up without barking.

It drives me nuts.

This is a problem people ask me about from time to time.

How do I get my dog to stop whining on Saturday mornings?

For me, the answer is simple.

The dog does not get to decide when we’re getting up (and neither do the cats). The humans get to decide.

I know my dog can hold it for 9 hours. He does so every night. If I let him out two hours later on a Friday night, there’s no reason why he can’t sleep in two hours later on a Saturday morning. There’s also no reason why he can’t – God forbid – wait an extra two hours to eat breakfast like the rest of us.

How to stop a dog from whining on Saturday mornings

So, I simply block my dog from accessing our bedroom door on weekend mornings.

Our bedroom is at the end of a narrow hallway, so on Friday and Saturday nights I put a laundry basket in front of it to block Ace.

My dog can then lick and scratch himself and do the “dog body shake” all he wants on the other end of the hall and I won’t hear him.

Sleep is important. Find a way to block your own dog.

Each dog is different, so if you’re having a similar problem, just think about how you can block your dog from waking you up.

Maybe you need to use a baby gate to block your dog. Maybe your dog needs to go back to sleeping in a kennel or in the guest bedroom with the door closed. Maybe you need to move the kennel further away from where you sleep. Or maybe you could just put a blanket over the kennel so your dog can’t tell when it’s light out.

You know what will work best for your dog, and I recommend you do it. We need our sleep!

“You know what will work best for your dog, and I recommend you do it.”

If your dog seems to have a hard time with slightly different sleeping arrangements on the weekends, then follow the same routine during the week. For example, maybe your dog needs to sleep in the guest bedroom instead of your bedroom every night, not just on the weekends.

Ignore the whining.

Ignore any whining, barking, licking or scratching from your dog. These are all attention-seeking behaviors in this context.

If you absolutely have to go to your dog and let him out while he’s whining, ask him to do something like “sit” first. I got this idea from a trainer who helped me with a foster dog. She said the dog will then think he’s being rewarded for the “sit” instead of the whining.

Ideally, if you know your dog has to go out, you would let him out before he has a chance to start whining.

Other tips to stop the dog from whining on weekends:

  • Let your dog out later Friday night if you’re going to sleep in Saturday morning
  • Don’t have unrealistic expectations. Sleep in an extra hour or two – not four or five hours.
  • If your dog throws up a yellow bile in the morning, it’s because his digestive system was anticipating a meal. Sometimes it helps to feed the dog a small snack before bed if you know breaksfast will be delayed.
  • Most dogs will stop crying or whining eventually if they are not rewarded for it. If your dog is used to getting attention for whining, it will take longer to get him to stop. Just be consistent. Earplugs help!
  • Try a citronella spray collar or an anti-bark collar if needed. Sleep is important.

What about the rest of you? What tips do you have to stop a dog from whining?

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  1. jan on March 4, 2014

    I’ve never had that problem. Even though we sleep in the same room no dog stirs until I do. I wish I could tell you my training method, but it was probably years ago yelling something like IT’S SATURDAY, DUMB MUTT.

  2. Elizabeth on March 4, 2014

    I don’t care for the yellow bile so I keep them on a pretty regular feeding schedule (Belle is my culprit in this). She’s even had bad breath from it. So (depending on your size of dog) you can give them human antacids at night, or the small meal. But only for 10 days and it works for about 6months. On the weekends we do regularly sleep in. And both dogs are pretty good about not waking us up till its absolute potty time. And then they are really good about letting us go back to sleep! I also follow your tip on getting one extra potty break in. It’s helped when D.O.G. was used to one shecedule and it was NOT condusive to my sleeping!

    I do worry about blocking them from our door. I don’t like waking up to puke on carpet, etc. So I don’t mind if someone comes to wake me up in the middle of the night, but if they go out they better be quick. I understand the reasons for kenneling, however my dogs job is to guard the house, so them being in a kennel just doesn’t work for me. And CV doesn’t care for it either. I’ve purchesed a couple of airline kennels for emergency’s and CV is talking about taking the dogs to the bush so I am sure, pretty soon I’ll drag them out and start getting the dogs used to them.

    Great tips and ideas!

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on March 5, 2014

      That’s actually the same reason I don’t use a kennel for Ace. Well, he doesn’t need one anymore but even when I first got him I let him be out of the kennel at night. He’s not much of a protector, but at least he’s a big dog that would bark (hopefully). He used to sleep in our bedroom, but now he sleeps out in the main area of the house.

  3. Emma on March 4, 2014

    At my house, it is the human that wakes up the dogs too early, but the one cat wakes up the human. We have tried everything to silence that cat but no luck. Darn cats!

  4. alex white on March 4, 2014

    I totally agree with you on your point regarding “If you absolutely have to go to your dog and let him out while he’s whining, ask him to do something like β€œsit” first. “. I’d definitely try with my Siberian husky. Anyways thanks a lot for the help. πŸ˜€

  5. Kimberly Gauthier on March 5, 2014

    On the weekends our dogs get a lot more exercise allowing us to sleep in a bit. Puppy class was really great, but now that we don’t have that, we’ll have to start longer walks and play sessions so that we can get that precious extra couple hours. πŸ™‚

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on March 5, 2014

      Training classes really tire Ace out as well! I love that!

  6. Sarah at on March 6, 2014

    Wow… we have it pretty good. Our dogs sleep until we get up, but I guess that’s how they’ve been conditioned since they were little. Our schedules are often different on different days (well, my boyfriend’s is) and so they are always used to being woken up whenever we do. Otherwise on the weekend, Lola & Rio will sleep in with me and they are perfectly content with that ;).

  7. Bax sleeps until I get up and adapts pretty well to a different sleeping and eating schedule on the weekends. However, once we’re up, he knows the first thing on the agenda is a walk, so he gets pretty talkative if he thinks we’re not moving fast enough… at least he does on the weekends. During the week he’s become less and less of a morning dog. There are lots of grumbles at the 6am wake-up call, and our morning walks have gotten shorter and shorter over the past few months. As the weather warms and the sun rises earlier, I expect that will change.