Karen B. London
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Early to Rise
Many dogs love the morning
This dog is ready to face the day. Are you?

It’s typical to suffer some sleep deprivation when living with a puppy, but it’s not only young dogs who encourage people to start the day earlier than we might like. A lot of dogs wake up early, ready to begin the day’s adventures at first light.

Puppies, and some of the older dogs, too, simply need to relieve themselves, but others are peppy and ready to go without any such bathroom urgency. Of course, many of these dogs have ample time in their schedules for daily naps, so there are well rested and refreshed when many people would still prefer some extra Zs.

With training, lots of dogs learn that they will not be going outside at dawn and must amuse themselves or simply wait until the humans have arisen on their own, or at least with the help of their alarm clock. A few pester people by jumping on the bed, licking faces, barking, whining, or otherwise failing to allow the people to sleep in.

I’ve only ever had one dog who was not naturally an early riser. When I woke up to go to work or out for a run, he was dragging. As I got ready to take him out, he would yawn, stretch, and look at me pathetically as he lumbered over to the door. It required encouragement to get him going on the days I was up early, but it was delightful on the days I slept in. It was such a pleasure to sleep late knowing that my dog was not waiting eagerly for the day to begin or crossing his paws in desperation as I snoozed. On weekend mornings, we both happily began the day in a leisurely way. He was rare in that way. I appreciated that trait then, and remember it fondly now.

How early does your dog wake up to greet you and greet the day, and what tactics are used to convince you to haul yourself out of bed prematurely?


Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

Photo by sukesu/Flickr

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Submitted by Frances | August 13 2013 |

I am not by nature a lark, and instituted going back to bed for a snooze if my pups got me up too early. By carefully refusing to ever be woken up by them (any efforts got a cold shoulder, and I would resolutely keep my eyes shut for another minute), I taught them that I decide when it is morning. I do try not to overdo it, and we are usually up by 7.30 or 8am - any later than that and the cats are up and expecting breakfast, and somehow they are far less easy to convince, as anyone who has been on the receiving end of those favourite cat tricks of dropping-from-a-great-height or catching-toes-under-the-duvet will know only too well!

Submitted by Sue Pownall | August 13 2013 |

My 7 month old pup stretches herself across my middle, so I awake with her deadweight on me - about 18k. She then nibbles my fingers and forearms before rolling over me.

Submitted by Tracey | August 17 2013 |

I have one dog who loves to sleep in and one that wakes at first light. The early riser gently scrapes her nails on the wall, until I open my eyes, and she then jumps on the bed and licks my face. Sometimes, after a pee break and breakfast, she will further slumber, but not always.

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