Monday, March 16, 2009

Labrador Retriever won't sleep through the night

Subject:My Labrador Retriever won't sleep through the night.

From: Suzanne (USA)

Labrador Retriever Name: Graham

Reader's E-mail - Suzanne Writes:

Graham is now 9 months old. From ground up he is about 29 inches. When I took him for his 6 month old shots he weighed 78 pounds. There is no fat on him. He eats a ton of food. Some days he eats 11 cups of food. He loves to go on walks, play fetch, jumping in the lake.

Here is my problem....

He won't sleep through the night. He will sleep for a few hours and then he is wide awake, sometimes he has to go outside, most of the time he wants to play...... any suggestions. We are crate training him to a degree, he is almost to big for the crate.

All About Labradors Response:

Hi Suzanne,

My apologies on the delay as I receive many questions and it takes me some time to try and answer them all. I do have a couple of questions to ask in regards to Graham's sleeping problems.

Has he had this problem since day one or is this fairly new?

What does it mean when you state "We are crate training him to a degree"? (please be specific)

Does he sleep in the crate at night?

In what room of your home does he sleep?

Is Graham ever left along in your home for long periods of time? If so where does he stay?
Does he have access to water whenever he wants?

Has he been urinating in the house recently?

When he goes outside to the bathroom does he urinate in one spot or numerous different places?

Have there been any changes involving him (changes in his routines, changes in your home, family members, etc)?

Does he get plenty of exercise?

Anything else you think might be helpful, please let me know.

Talk to you soon,


Reader's E-mail - Suzanne Answers:

He has had this problem since 6 months old. That is when we got him from my brother in law who kept him tied up all day and night.

We crate train him when we go out or to work. He is so big for a puppy 29 1/2 " from the ground up, that he can't get comfortable at night in the crate so he sleeps with us. He only has access to water when he is out of the crate.

He has had a hand full of accidents since we got him. He is 10 months old now. He urinates in different areas. We have a privacy fence so we take outside without a leash. We changed his environment but kept the same crate that they were using with him. He has a better environment now.

I walk him most nights and 4 miles a day on the weekend.

Thanks Suzanne

All About Labradors Answer:

Dear Suzanne,

The information given here is to help you learn more about your Labrador Retriever and not to replace your veterinarian's advice. Disclaimer

From your answers, I'm still not sure if Graham has gotten crate training down. I'm assuming he received no crate training when he was with your brother-in-law. I don't know how far along you are with your crate training but I believe you need to condition Graham to see his crate as a positive place.

The crate should not be any bigger than he can comfortably stand up and turn around. If given too much space he may quickly learn to urinate or defecate in one end, and will not be forced to have to lay in it. Dogs are very clean animals, and prefer to be as clean as possible, they will learn quickly if they have to lay in their mess at least once.

I have two wonderful articles that will be off great help to you with crate training:

Crating Your Dog -

Dog Crate Training -

Just be advise Suzanne, All About Labradors is NOT affiliated with any links in the two articles.

Some tips in regards to crate training:

If Graham becomes upset or scared while in the crate, tell him “NO”, don't sweet talk him in an attempt to calm him, as he will only see the sweet talk as praise.

You can place a unwanted article of clothing with your scent in the crate for him to lay on. Throw the item in the bottom of your hamper for a few days will help embed your scent into the item. Remove the item if Graham starts tearing it.

As for adding toys in the crate, I highly recommend the Kong line of toys. They will help to keep Graham occupied as well as providing plenty of physical exercise as well as mental exercise. I personally love stuffing them full of dog treats and freezing them. Make sure you buy the right size for your Labrador Retriever and discard when pieces start to fall off of them. You can also place these these items in the bottom of the laundry basket for a few days to help embed your scent. The toys will also help to provide an activity at night if Graham chooses to get up.

I also recommend that you limit the water intake, by removing any water source after eight pm. At ten months, Graham should have a bladder capacity that can hold full for six to eight hours.

Provide plenty of exercise for Graham. You stated that you walk him most nights, four miles on the weekend and that you have a privacy fence. Besides the walking or if you can't walk him for the day, you could take him out in the fenced area and let him run around or play games such as fetch. A tired dog (one with no medical problems) will usually have no problem sleeping through the night.

I also recommend that you think about having Graham neutered. Having him neutered may help in eliminating his territorial marking, roaming, aggressive behavior and inappropriate mounting. Not to mention numerous health benefits.

I hope this will be of some help to you and Graham. If you don't understand anything, please let me know. If sometime down the road, you could also keep me updated on how it is going with Graham, it would be greatly appreciated.

Take care of yourself and Graham,


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