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Hello, my husband and I have a 4 month old retriever who we got at 9 weeks old. After the first 3 nights of barking straight through he started sleeping from about 11-7 am. Over time his wake up started to get earlier and earlier (by about 30 minutes at a time) We take him out to do his business and then back in the crate. Lately he wakes up anywhere between 330-530am. After we let him out he will usually be quiet for another hour max (or sometimes not at all) and then start barking continuously until we let him out again.

We've tried increasing exercise, challenging him mentally with training, changing dinner time, etc but can't figure out a rhyme or reason for this new early wake up. He seems to be completely regressing and it's beginning to impact our sleep significantly. We want to avoid encouraging this behavior but ignoring him doesn't seem to help as he will just bark continuously until we go downstairs.

We're starting to wonder if it's a separation/loneliness thing but he's fine for the first part of the night. Sometimes when I go down at 4am or so and open his crate he doesn't even come out right away or he will come out then go right back and sit in the crate again. I'll have to guide him outside to do his business. (Other times he runs right out to go though.) Does it sound like he just wants to be near someone? Even though he's fine for the first part of the night?

Any experiences or advice would be greatly appreciated!!
 

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I think the issue might have been that you answered his calls regardless of the time of night. At 4 months old, if you stop giving him water 2 hours before bed and take him out for his business right before there should be no reason for him to be waking up. And he should definitely not be waking up after an HOUR. That is unless he has an infection or is sick and cannot hold it. Has he ever had an accident in his crate before?

By him calming down and sometimes not even leaving his crate it sounds like he just wants your attention and/or you to be near him. Unfortunately once a dog knows what they need to do to get your attention they're going to do it, and KEEP doing it. If you want to move your crate into your room you can but that could (could, but might not) run the risk of him now requiring you to always be near his crate in order for him to sleep at night. He might also keep barking but now he's in the same room with you.

When you ignore him, you need to ignore him COMPLETELY. He will go through something called "extinction barking" which means he is going to get LOUDER and more INSISTENT because his barking used to work and now it doesn't and he doesn't understand why. Does he know the quiet command? When we first got our pup he barked 3 nights straight and we were adviced by our breeder to sleep on the couch near him and tell him to be "quiet" and "go to bed." But NEVER go near his crate or take him out. After 2 nights of that he was fine in his crate...but that was when he was 9 weeks old. At 4 months it might take longer, and more patience.
 

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It's a good idea to teach him that barking during the night is wrong and he isn't going to get anything out of it, but if he has separation anxiety then I think it's a good idea to move the crate closer to where he can see you, just as Dawnben suggested:p
 

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But there is a difference between separation anxiety and barking for attention. I know it's tough hearing your dog barking all night and hearing it get more desperate and frantic. Separation anxiety is when your dog is literally losing their minds without you - chewing at their cage, throwing themselves against the cage, peeing/pooping themselves, throwing up, drooling excessively, chewing on their skin, etc. I would look up common symptoms before you start to feel bad and reward behavior that might have just been attention seeking.

Not saying that's not the case, or that anyone else is wrong! But you don't want to mistaken the behavior, plus if the dog really does have separation anxiety you will need to change your tactics to help them.
 

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My puppy is now 4 month old and we are having the same issue. She just wants to come out to play, and as mentioned, we fell for it too many times and now she learned its what worked. So I know we gotta just let her exhaust herself with that horrible bark/whine/yelp noise until she knows its not going to work. I bought earplugs and they work. My partner refuses and is getting super stressed out with her 4am freak-outs. I keep telling him to stop being stubborn and use the plugs too. I keep telling him (and myself) it WILL stop eventually. Hoping that's true! Its really hard to be patient. Cant offer much help other than the earplugs! I'm in the same boat! we don't feed/water for 2 hours before bed so she is truly empty, just bored and ready to wake up. in our case its not just barking but also nasty yelp/howling...terrier noises...i'm just worried someone will think we are torturing her
 

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It was suggested to me in another post that when my pup started waking up earlier was that she might be hungry and experiencing some hunger pains. They burn through their food really fast. So prepare a kong in the freezer the night before, when they get restless give them the kong and leave them.

I honestly just waited my pup out. It lasted 2 weeks and then she started sleeping in later than before her regression on her own. I now sometimes wake up before her, its the weirdest feeling.
 

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I promise it gets better. Whenever we took our pup to our parents house for a weekend he would act out like it was his first time in the crate. After he was already 5 months old. It took almost one month (on weekends) for him to get the hint again (and I won't lie I think my fiance's parents would feel bad and let him out which didn't help.) Boy does he have lungs on him...and as their owner the barking breaks your heart but I promise they'll learn its not worth it and save their breath.

There have been a few times when he was still a young pup (about 3-4 months) where my fiancé and I both slept through our alarms and woke up at noon on a weekend. We ran to our pup's crate and he was calmly waiting for us. He was in there for 12 hours and not one sound or accident. The key is to NEVER let him out of his crate if he is barking or whining. (Again unless he is sick.) They do not get to decide when it's time for them to come out.
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Also - last thing I promise. If you feel that your dog has issues with being in his crate at all, make his experience with the crate a happy one. Feed him his food in the crate (with the door open), if you want to give him any food as treats tell him to go to his crate for it, leave the crate open during the day and give him access so he can go in and out and he sees its not a bad thing.

At night you can also try putting on some really soft music or the television. Our puppy is calmer when there is a dark sheet over his crate to block our light so it feels more like a den. Put a Kong toy or sturdy nylabone in there to entertain your pup at night.


I'm sorry I'm being a little thorough but I've dealt with the experience of restless nights and constant anxiety about this issue so I want to help anyone as best I can with things that have helped in our house! :)
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I promise it gets better. Whenever we took our pup to our parents house for a weekend he would act out like it was his first time in the crate. After he was already 5 months old. It took almost one month (on weekends) for him to get the hint again (and I won't lie I think my fiance's parents would feel bad and let him out which didn't help.) Boy does he have lungs on him...and as their owner the barking breaks your heart but I promise they'll learn its not worth it and save their breath.

There have been a few times when he was still a young pup (about 3-4 months) where my fiancé and I both slept through our alarms and woke up at noon on a weekend. We ran to our pup's crate and he was calmly waiting for us. He was in there for 12 hours and not one sound or accident. The key is to NEVER let him out of his crate if he is barking or whining. (Again unless he is sick.) They do not get to decide when it's time for them to come out.
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Pax started having similar behavior...wanting to get up earlier and earlier after he finally started sleeping trough the night. Turns out he wanted food and was hungry...he was a growin pup after all!

Once I started giving him a good sized handful of kibble right before we went to bed...which was also his reward for going outside to go potty at bedtime, he started sleeping in much longer immediately.

Now I have a dog that will pee on command without hesitation at bedtime and I have to wake HIM up to get outta bed in the morning!

I know I have him hooked when at night I say "Time to go out" and he licks his lips and bolts out the door!
 

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Pax started having similar behavior...wanting to get up earlier and earlier after he finally started sleeping trough the night. Turns out he wanted food and was hungry...he was a growin pup after all!

Once I started giving him a good sized handful of kibble right before we went to bed...which was also his reward for going outside to go potty at bedtime, he started sleeping in much longer immediately.

Now I have a dog that will pee on command without hesitation at bedtime and I have to wake HIM up to get outta bed in the morning!

I know I have him hooked when at night I say "Time to go out" and he licks his lips and bolts out the door!

I have a 10 week old puppy and he gets "dinner" at 4pm. He is waking upp at 5am for the day. I would feed him later but am worried he will need to poop in the middle of the night. Right now he is sleeping through from 9:30-5am. Woulkd feeding him later like at 6pm maybe help him sleep later?
 
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