My dog Ace is on a schedule.
I’m up and feeding him at around 6:30 a.m. weekday mornings. Josh gets up around 6 a.m. and Ace does not move until he hears me. This is his routine.
Saturday and Sunday mornings are a little different. We “attempt” to sleep in, but our dogs have other plans.
By 6:30 Ace 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. (And now that we have a puppy, there is also some “yipping” from the other room.)
This is a problem people ask me about from time to time.
My dog whines on weekend mornings. How do I stop him?
For me, the answer is simple but it’s not easy.
The dog does not get to decide when we’re getting up (and neither do the cats). The humans decide.
I know my dogs can hold it for 8 hours. They do so every night. If I let him out two hours later on a Friday night, there’s no reason why they can’t sleep in two hours later on Saturday morning. There’s also no reason why they can’t – God forbid – wait an extra half-hour to eat breakfast like the rest of us.
So, I block my dogs from accessing our bedroom door on weekend mornings.
Remy sleeps in another room in his crate with a sheet over his crate and the blinds closed.
Ace sleeps in the living room with a baby gate blocking his access to the hallway so he can’t linger in front of our door licking himself, scratching himself, flopping his ears around or whining. I won’t hear him in the living room.
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 like I do. 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. That seems to help with Remy, along with a loud fan to block noise from outside.
You know what will work best for your dog, and I recommend you do it. We need our sleep!
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 half-hour or hour – not three 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 breakfast 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.
- One reader suggested setting a separate alarm clock near your dog’s kennel every morning. Start by setting the alarm before your dog normally whines, and then gradually move the time later and later. The dog should learn that the alarm is what determines when it’s time to get up. His yipping is not what determines it. I might try this with Remy.