FAQ: How can I get my pets to stop waking me up so early?

alarm clockFinally you have a day off and you’re looking forward to sleeping in late. Then your dog or cat wakes you up at dawn. Or they constantly wake you at 5:00 am instead of waiting for the alarm clock. Sound familiar? It’s one of the most common complaints I hear from pet owners. Try this simple solution to teach your animals about wake-up times.

Each evening, tell your pets what time you’ll be waking up the next morning. If you know the specific time, tell them, such as, “Tomorrow I’ll wake up at 6:00 o’clock to go to work”. If you want to sleep in, tell them that. I use the phrase “tomorrow is a sleep-in-late day”.
Once they master the concept that’s all you’ll need to do. When you’re first teaching this it helps to give them additional cues. When you tell them your wake-up time also think of how it looks and sounds at the time, such as the sun position, if the neighborhood will be quiet or maybe it’s 15 minutes after the neighbor leaves for work.

Tell your animals you’d like them to let you sleep until that time and why it’s important to you. (“If I don’t get enough sleep I’ll be grouchy and too tired to play ball with you.”) Give the animals suggestions for what to do until you wake up. Maybe they could play quietly with their toys in another room, check the house for bugs, or watch the birds from a window. Anything interesting and quiet.

In the morning, if your animals did not wake you up, thank them for letting you sleep until your set wake-up time. Tell them how good you feel because you got enough sleep. Even if you feel it was a fluke and they didn’t intentionally let you sleep, thank them anyway.

If they do wake you up before your designated time, try to stay calm. If you got mad, calm yourself before talking with your pets. Tell them they goofed and remind them what time you wanted to wake up. (“Did you forget that I wanted to sleep until 6:00? It’s only 5:30. You’re 30 minutes early.”) It helps to keep the mood light as you tell them this, so they listen and learn instead of becoming defensive. Then try again the next night.

People laugh when I tell them this is all they have to do to teach their pets to not wake them. But it works, even for people who have never tried communicating with their pets in this way before. When they try it they report significant improvement in a very short time. I’d love to hear how it works for you. Send comments to feedback@TheAnimalsTellMe.com.