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Old 05-22-2009, 09:32 AM   #1
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Unhappy hyper at 3 am

I recently got a new puppy for my daughter after our family dog passed away from cancer. The first dog was a 10 year old lab and he was wonderful. However, I now have a 6 month old minature schnauzer, which the vet told me would be a good fit for my 6 year old because she would be able to help with it and manage it a little easier and it is also hypoallergenic. All of this is well and good. However, he has decided that 3 am is playtime EVERY MORNING and I don't know how to break this terrible habit. I've tried taking him out to play and run in the evening in an attempt to wear him down. Don't get me wrong he does get tired, but come 3 am he is ready to start playing all over again. Of course, I am the primary caregiver so it is me that he keeps up all night. If we try to ignore him he starts to bark and just gets progressively louder and louder and higher pitched. Please help..........Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by Scottywunderdog : 05-22-2009 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 05-22-2009, 10:38 AM   #2
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Hi i had a dog like that once, i broke the habit by leaving the radio on low and placed a few favourite toys and snacks around the room. after a while he came back so i placed a bag of dog biscuits in the draw next to bed and threw one on the floor, not great idea as he wanted to play and get a reward for the trouble so he only got them every night he was good. this worked the best...
Its the quiet time of night and noise of tv or radio will help heaps to relax him and keep him a pup, hot water bottle and a clock...
Good luck
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Old 05-22-2009, 10:43 AM   #3
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How long have you had the dog?

What are you doing when he starts at 3am?

Where is he sleeping?

What was his routine before he went to live with you?
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Old 05-22-2009, 12:29 PM   #4
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A funny story about that sort of habit. My other half had two shepards once some time ago before I can into the picture. When he would go away his parents would care for the dogs. The dogs would awaken the parents early am to go ouside. They never did this when they were with him. I think because the parents allowed this behavior they associated it with them and would wake them up.
I think if you were to ignore the pup for a few nights and just put up with the barking eventually the habit would change and maybe everyone could sleep through the night.
The newly adopted Zoey was also the same way when my neighbor took her. She carried on and barked and howled for the first week in the crate. Now she will willingly go into her crate and sleep soundly through the night with no fuss.
Just insist that the pup follow your schedule not his own.
Good Luck.
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Old 05-22-2009, 02:08 PM   #5
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Most, or a lot of puppies, have this tendency I think. I have gone through this with all three of mine.
My suggestion would be to take him out potty and bring him in immediately and put him into his crate (are you crate training?).
It's a personal preference, but we put the crate in our room where they could see us to minimize the chance of the crying/howling waking up the kids.
Yes, we had about a week of very sleepless nights but eventually they get used to the schedule and will go potty/wake up and go back to bed until you wake up for the morning.
At 6 months they shouldn't really have to go potty in the middle of the night anymore though, so as long as you are taking him out kinda late for his last potty (11 pm for us), when he wakes up in the middle of the night let him cry him back to sleep like a baby.

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Old 05-22-2009, 02:26 PM   #6
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We originally started him in a crate as we had previously done with our first dog. He did good for the first couple of weeks, but after that he would not settle. He did not want to go into the crate for anything in the worldl let alone sleep in it at night. He would bark and I swear he hit a tone that I didn't even know that he could make. I would let him work it out that way, but my daughter has to go to school and my husband has to work and therefore allowing him to work it out on his own is not something that is really feasible.

We all love him dearly and during the day he is actually a pretty well-behaved little dog. I know it will take some getting used to for me because I'm used to dealing with a 75-85 pound dog and now I have to deal with a 10-12 pound dog. But like I said, I have tried taking him out to run hard and to play ball and just play in general in order to get him tired, but its like he takes a power nap for about 2-3 hours and then he is raring to go once again. I just can't keep doing this. It started because he would get up and go to the bathroom at that time, but now it is because he wants to play and nothing else. Any suggestions would be helpful. I am going to try and get him one of the little Kong toys and trying filling it with the mixture that you can buy for it and freezing. I have read a lot of people have had some successful with this for playing and keeping them entertained.
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Old 05-22-2009, 03:44 PM   #7
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I dont really know enough about your specific situation so I'm writing this in "general" terms and assuming a lot of things ... That being said:

The dog MUST work it out ... and it could very likely mean a few sleepless night. But you can help by doing some training too.

After his evening play session, you may want to consider taking him for a walk. You will need to judge the amount of distance you go. You dont want to go to far, but you want to go long enough to be able to set yourself up as a trusted leader and be able to gain his respect. This is commonly known as "bonding" ...

When you get back from the walk, give a small reward and then do a bit of training. The basics should include Sit, Stay, Down and Come. If he knows these, this part of the job should be easy. Daily reinforcement is never a bad thing! You also need to teach the "NO" command ... This is the key to your problem. If he learns "NO" you can simply tell him no and he should get the point rather quickly.

The key is to build trust and respect, then train the behaivours you want, and remove the ones you dont ... if he doesn't repect human authority you might as well go out and get a fish!!!

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Old 05-22-2009, 04:01 PM   #8
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Is there anything in the house that could possibly be giving him a clue it is time to get up and play? A water softener regenerating? Most people don't time their coffee maker to start at 3 AM. A plant light? Early rising neighbors are hard to fix. In this tweener weather could the furnace or A/C be kicking on at 3 AM?

A 6 months old shouldn't need to go out, but if he does, you might have the vet check him.

I think going back to the crate is a good idea, but at the moment, I can't think of how to convince him. You could maybe shut him in a different part of the house than he is sleeping in now and see if it makes any difference.
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Old 05-22-2009, 04:51 PM   #9
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You will just have to ignore him fully, don't yell at him, don't get up to see what he is doing, don't respond in any way to his barking and howling. With every response you give him, including yelling 'Shut the #@!^ up!' you reinforce in his little brain that barking = attention and their sole reason for being at that stage is your attention. Yes you will have a few sleepless nights but that is the price of puppyhood, just like if it was a baby.

I am a firm believer in kennel training as it makes for easier handling of the pup, keeps messes to a localized area, makes housetraining easier, keeps pup safe from household hazards and keeps the house safe from wayward chewing.

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Old 05-22-2009, 06:25 PM   #10
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Actually at around 6 months, he is barely gaining control over his bladder and bowel system. So it could be that he wants to go outside to relieve himself. On average most pups don't gain this control until about 8 months some even later. Therefore I don't think that this is a physical illness warranting the visit to a vet. If you think this might be the problem then take him out when he gets active but do so without making such a fuss over the pooch himself, this should be uneventful so that he doesn't get the idea that these action are getting him the attention he wants.

Also try feeding him a bit later in the night or even at this time when he wakes up, feeling full will sometimes cause a pooch to get sleepy.

I wouldn't give up on the crate training. Something must've gone wrong with it if your pup doesn't want to go in it anymore. Try the following guidelines and see if they work for for re-crate training, in the long run it will help you out a lot:

"Crate Training

When done correctly and used in appropriate circumstances, crate training can work wonders. Crate training is sometimes misunderstood and may be seen as cruel. The fact is that it is far from cruel because 1) no one is advocating crating a dog all day and 2) most dogs love their crates. Why do I say most dogs love them? I say this because dogs are, by nature, den animals. Dogs will feel comfortable and secure in their crate. However, some dogs do not like them because of past negative experiences or simply because the novelty of it. With these dogs, and any dog that is hesitant with the crate, it is important to take it slow and avoid being pushy. The dog has must be slowly conditioned to like the crate and view it as a place where it can to go be safe and unperturbed.

Getting Acquainted

Crate training is most successful when started with a puppy, but the following guidelines can be used with older dogs as long as more patience is put forth by the owner.

The first step is helping the pup getting acquainted with the crate and helping establish a positive association. This is done by placing a small enticing treat, such as a piece of ham, inside the crate and encouraging the pooch to get it. You can take it a step further and give the pup his dinner inside the crate. For these exercises, do not close the crate door nor step away, you must stay there to reassure the pup, but don‘t coddle him because he may think that there IS something to be afraid of. Maybe while playing fetch with a toy, you could throw the toy inside the crate once or twice just to get the pup accustomed to going in and out of the crate.

Next step is to get the pup inside and close the crate door. Placing a kong filled with tasty treats, rewards the pup for being alone and quiet. Do this for a couple minutes at a time, no extended periods of time yet. Maybe 2 minutes the first time, then 5 minutes later 10 minutes, etc. While placing the pup in the crate for these times, do not leave the room, but don’t stand in front of the crate either. Pretend you are doing something else and do are not paying too much attention to the crate, especially if the puppy is whining. You may let the puppy out once it has been in the crate for the designated time and as long as it is quite. If the puppy is constantly whining and he does not seem like he will stop, then wait for a moment where the whining or barking is not as bad to let him out. Try not to fuss over the puppy after releasing him from the crate is because it might start to look forward to being let out of the crate which may lead to whining or barking while crated. It is all right to praise the pup for doing a good job as long as it is done in a manner that will not excite the puppy. If the pooch does not take well to the crate being closed, keep on trying to help him associate the crate with positive things.

After getting a pooch comfortable with the crate, it is time to put it in the appropriate place. The ideal area for a crate is in a corner of the room that is out of the way, yet not isolated, from human traffic. The dog will most likely enjoy an area where he can observe everyone and monitor what is going on. Placing a sleeping matt in the crate (if potty trained) will make it all the much more comfortable to be in. Even if the pooch does not go in there willingly to retire, the pup is less likely to make a fuss when it is necessary to crate him.


There are a couple problems that may arise when crate training, probably the most common is barking and whining. It is of utmost important never to give in and take the puppy out in order to stop its fussing. If we take out a puppy when it is whining, it teaches him that it can get out by whining, causing more persistent whining the next time he is crated. Feeding it tidbits will also reinforce the effectiveness of barking or whining. For noisy pups it is just a matter of ignoring it until it quiets down (easier said than done, I know). If the pup is taken out when it is quiet, this teaches the puppy that it will get what it wants if it is quiet. However if the puppy is quiet for a time and all of the sudden starts to whine, suspect that he might need to go to the bathroom, and take him outside quickly and without much fuss.

Sometimes the reassuring presence of an owner will be enough to stop the constant whining. Putting the crate in the owner’s room is an option. If this alternative is not convenient in your particular circumstance, another reassuring method is to take clothing with your scent (such as a sweater) and place it in the crate with the pup. If you have just recently acquired your puppy from its litter, the most probable thing is that your scent will not be as comforting as the scent of its littermates. In this case give the breeder a blanket or cloth that can be put near the litter to acquire its scent, this way when it comes times to take the puppy, it has something familiar to help cope with the change. Placing this blanket wrapped around a bottle of warm water (to imitate the warmth of the litter) in the crate might do wonders to quiet down a puppy and get it very comfortable with its crate. If for some reason the pup takes to chewing and shredding whatever you place in the crate yet isn‘t quiet without it, then simply place the blanket over the crate to allow the scent to soothe the pup but also prevent the him from chewing on it.

Potty Training

Using a crate to help with the house breaking process has helped many dog owners teach their dogs where it should be relieving itself. Avoid unintentionally setting up your puppy for failure. Do not feeding or give the pup water prior to crating. Next step is to get a crate that is the right size, there should only be room enough for the pup to get up, turn around, and lay down. If there is excess room in the crate the pup might see fit to use one side of the crate to sleep while using the other side to relieve itself. If a crate you possess is already too big, use a divider to cut down the size. It would be best to purchase a crate that will be just the right size for the dog when it is grown up, meanwhile using the divider while he is a puppy. As stated in the house breaking guidelines, a dog is a clean creature by nature, and will avoid soiling its sleeping quarters if at all possible. If you allow the pup to go out and relieve itself in the proper place and do not feed it before crating, the pup will learn where it is ok to go to the bathroom quicker.

Seeing how young puppies have little control over their system, there might be occasional accidents in the crate; therefore, it will be considerate to use a crate with a bottom with holes to avoid having the pup sit in its own waste. Check the crate every now and then to make sure that the puppy hasn’t soiled it. Unless it is time to go to sleep, it would be best not to leave the puppy inside his crate for long periods of time. If you must go to work and the puppy has to stay in his crate, designate someone you trust to come and check on the pooch allowing him to go out and relieve himself."

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