Being unsettled at nighttime is a not-uncommon issue when settling a new hound into your home. Remember that everything is new to your hound, and typically nighttime is when they are alone, their usual sleep routine has been changed and we need to support them while they adjust to their new routine. Here are some practical suggestions to try if your hound is unsettled at bedtime or overnight.
Where did everybody go?
If possible, position the dog bed where the hound is still able to sense your presence. A great option is to use a baby gate instead of closing your bedroom door, so they know you are there. If they are sleeping away from you, for example on another level of the home, leave some soft relaxing music on as they are often not used to silence. This will also help to mask some neighbourhood nocturnal noises that may wake them.
Hounds can be sensitive creatures and might need some help to settle. Try sitting not far from your hound while they are drifting off and then take yourself to bed once they’re asleep. You can leave a piece of your clothing (preferably recently worn) on their bed as the smell may be comforting, or try a favourite soft and snuggly toy. If bed is comfortable and welcoming it will certainly help them to relax.
Bedtime is boring
Place a Lickimat on their bed at bedtime so they associate going to bed with a positive, relaxing experience. As licking is a self-soothing behaviour for dogs, use this to your advantage! Make sure that their sleeping area is comfortable and calm, and create a routine around bedtime so that your hound will start to recognise the cues. Don’t wind your hound up by playing energetic games or doing anything too exciting close to bedtime.
Need a nighttime pit-stop?
Make sure that your hound has the opportunity to toilet last thing at night. Most healthy hounds will be able to “hold it” overnight given enough opportunity to really empty out before bed. Sometimes even if your hound has done a wee it’s worth taking them for a wee-walk right before bed, let them have a really good sniffy wander so they have several opportunities to empty their bladder.
The coldest part of the night is usually the hour before dawn. Particularly when the weather starts to cool, your hound may wake overnight due to cold. Make sure that they have a nice warm coat in cooler weather and that they have access to blankets that they can use to regulate their temperature. If you find that your hound wakes from cold you can use a timer to safely heat the room.
What’s that noise?
Your hound may wake in response to neighbourhood noises, things like the garbage truck or possums outside are common ones! The key here is to reassure your hound that it’s okay. If you think of it as a conversation, your hound is vocalising to let you know that there’s a noise and they aren’t sure if they should worry about it. It’s much more productive to acknowledge and reassure than to shout. If you shout back you’re validating your hound’s concern! It might take a little while for your hound to learn not to worry over new sounds, but by reassuring them that they are safe they’ll come to view the sounds as part of the landscape of life. You can also consider introducing white noise or quiet music to mask those neighbourhood noises.
If your hound is suddenly waking in the night when they have previously slept through and there is no clear reason why it is important to take your hound to the vet for a check up. Please remember at can take time for your hound to adjust, especially in their settling in period, but with some support and guidance your hound will adjust to their new sleeping routine.