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  • When the dog won't sleep

    When the dog won't sleep

    Mikenna is, and always has been, a very opinionated dog. There have been many nights that she has decided it is time for bed. Rather than going to bed, she'll sit at my feet and stare, followed by soft whine, and then pacing and letting out short, demanding barks. This dog looooooves her sleep.

    Except, in the past few months, she's had more than enough rough nights for me to be, well, annoyed.

    There are, of course, sleepless nights where I certainly can't blame her. If she eats the wrong food or drinks way too much water and winds up with an upset stomach, well, all you can do is wait that out. She had a couple rough nights this summer because she'd caught an upper respiratory infection. And if I forget to fill her water bowl before bed, well, that's just my fault.

    I still can't decide how much of her night behavior has been my fault, and how much is on her. At eleven years old, it's certainly not unheard of for dogs to get their days/nights mixed up, or to have aches keep them awake.

    However, it seems like the overall trend started when I switched her dog treats to something she really liked. I usually give her a treat before bed, because with her stomach issues, it helps if she isn't completely empty. Well, one whiny night, I got up, gave her a second cookie, and then stumbled back to bed. That seemed to catch on, and in a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum, I'm not sure whether she was restless, or she started waking herself up and thinking, "COOKIE TIME!'

    Usually, I can figure out what Mikenna wants. But when getting me out of bed once for a cookie started becoming two or three times for unknown reasons*, I began to panic. I'm not a person who does well on consistently bad sleep! (*She would sit in her 'cookie' spot, so I tend to think that's what she wanted, but she's never been an incessant cookie beggar before. I refused to believe she was trying to get me up 2-3x a night for cookies.)

    I ended up deciding to give her melatonin. I did research before doing this, and I STRONGLY recommend you do yours, as well. Mikenna is in good health, but don't do this to your dog without verifying that your dog is, too.

    She's cleared for a dose of up to 1.5mg, but right now, I've got her on 1 mg per night, and that is working well enough, so I don't see any reason to up it. I can't tell you what happens from her perspective, but it seems to help her settle down, without noticible grogginess.

    If her feline sister decides to misbehave at 3 am, Mikenna will react. If Mikenna can't find her ball and thinks she needs it, she has no problem hopping out of bed to go grab it. But, giving it to her 30-45 minutes before I go to bed has her hopping into bed and zonking out pretty fast.

    I don't like 'drugging' her, and I'm not sure whether I'm going to continue this for an extended period of time, or take her off of it in a few weeks and see how she does. But I appreciate the uninterrupted sleep, and she loves getting her piece of cheese at night. (And she hasn't seemed to notice that I stopped giving her a cookie right before bed)