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If you’re struggling to get your puppy to take naps, it can be incredibly frustrating! This is especially true if you know your puppy is tired, but your puppy just won’t settle down.

Puppies need to sleep 18-20 hours a day in most cases – and some puppies may sleep even more than that. Luckily, there are some things you can do when your puppy won’t nap alone, or even take naps at all.

How to Get a Puppy to Nap

If you feel like your puppy isn’t napping enough, and you find yourself wondering what to do when your puppy just won’t settle down, you’ve come to the right place. Teaching your puppy how to relax and settle is an important skill that not all puppies know right away.

The first step to encouraging your puppy to nap more often is to make sure that when they are awake, they are getting plenty of mental and physical activity.

When I raise my puppies, they very rarely eat from an actual bowl. Instead, my puppies earn their food through training sessions, or eat out of a snuffle mat, or play with a new puzzle toy. We of course recommend our Hide’n’Treat puzzle toys for this!

Sometimes, they just get “scatter fed” with kibble spread across the ground for them to find by sniffing with their nose.

We also spend time going on short socialization adventures, such as a busy parking lot to watch people coming and going from a store, or to visit a friend with dogs that enjoy playing with puppies.

By making sure your puppy is fulfilled during the time they are awake, they’ll be more likely to be tired and ready to take a nap when it’s nap time.

Be sure to read our complete guide on puppy exercise.

It’s also important to teach your puppy how to settle. Some puppies will just go-go-go until they crash, and knowing how to relax is an important life skill.

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With young puppies, I often spend time watching TV, writing, or reading a book and teaching the puppy how to relax at the same time.

I’ll take a handful of treats or kibble, and toss them a reward when they do something that’s one step closer to relaxing.

They may get rewarded for simply standing or sitting still at first, and then for laying down, and then maybe for putting their head down on the ground or sighing.

I ignore behavior that’s pushy and rude and is trying to get the treats, such as puppies that jump up at me or bark.

Soon, with practice, your puppy will learn how to settle. As a bonus, if you’ve been practicing having your puppy settle when you’re busy doing something else (like working from home), your puppy will now associate the context of you working (or doing whatever else) with it being time to settle and take a nap.

Another great thing to teach your puppy is the “Place” command, as you can use it when your puppy is over-stimulated and in need of a nap (as well as it being very useful when I’m in the kitchen cooking!). I’ve gone into detail on teaching this useful command and its various benefits here.

puppy won't sleep

The Relaxation Protocol by Dr. Karen Overall can also be a great resource when you’re trying to teach your puppy how to settle down and relax.

Finally, you can encourage settling and naps by giving your puppy a soothing activity to do when you put them away for a nap.

Toys such as the Kong or Toppl are great options since they can be stuffed with your puppy’s food, and even frozen to help soothe sore teething gums.

Other chew toys can also make a great option for a soothing chew, such as Nylabones or Benebones.

Here is a good video put together by McCann Dog Training on how to teach a puppy to settle:

If you’re finding it difficult to calm down your puppy, then be sure to read our extensive post: Calm Down Your Crazy Puppy.

Puppy Won’t Nap Without You

If your puppy won’t nap without you, you’re not alone. Many puppies struggle to nap by themselves, especially when they first come to their new home. It makes sense, after all, your puppy is used to sleeping in a big warm pile with their siblings!

You’ll need to spend time gradually getting your puppy used to being on their own. You may want to compromise on puppy napping situations to start – let your puppy sleep in an exercise pen close by you instead of in their crate in another room, for example.

It’s also worth looking at some ways you can make your puppy’s naptime set up more comfortable and appealing for your puppy.

If they don’t shred fabric, they may benefit from a blanket in a pile that they can cozily snuggle into.

There are also some stuffed toys that mimic the heartbeat of their mother as well as the warmth of the litter, and the familiar sound and warmth can be soothing to a puppy who is worried about napping alone.

This is the Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy with a heartbeat.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t just let your puppy “cry it out” if they are distressed when napping alone.

Leaving an upset puppy to cry alone can cause them to be more fearful in the future, and can actually increase their risk of developing separation anxiety.

Instead, take time to comfort your puppy. They’re just a little baby! Soothing them and helping them feel safe and secure is the best way to have your puppy be confident and comfortable moving forward.

puppy napping with owner

Puppy Won’t Nap in Their Crate

If your puppy is OK being alone from you for naps but is refusing to nap in their crate, that’s OK and normal, too! Unless your puppy’s breeder started exposing them to crates early in their life, it’s a new and potentially scary experience for your puppy.

Letting your puppy panic and cry in the crate and hoping they learn to take a nap can not only cause them to be even more worried and fearful, but it can cause them to dislike crates for the rest of their lives, too.

Instead, if your puppy is unable to nap in the crate, try having them nap in a different setup for now.

Exercise pens are often a great compromise to crates for young puppies. They are more open, and can easily be placed in more areas of your home, making your puppy more comfortable.

You can even set up an exercise pen to have a litter box or designated bathroom corner, a blanket or bed for napping, and some toys if your puppy wants to play and keep themselves occupied.

In the meantime, play fun crate games with your puppy to get them comfortable about going in their crate.

Start by teaching your puppy to go inside the crate for treats, without worrying about closing the door.

When your puppy has started to hang out in their crate and wait for more treats, rather than darting in and out, you can start closing the door for a brief moment as you toss treats inside.

If your puppy gets stressed or panics at any point, you’ve just progressed too quickly and need to go back a step.

With time and practice, your puppy will learn to love their crate, and may even choose to go in their crate for naps on their own.

Overtired Puppy Symptoms

What does an overtired puppy look like, anyway? It can be difficult to tell sometimes if your puppy is overly tired and in desperate need of a nap, or if they are bored and need a lot more exercise than you’re giving them.

The overtired puppy may:

  • Bite and nip more frequently, often to the point you cannot redirect them to a toy
  • Zoom around the house endlessly, when you know they have had plenty of exercise and should be tired
  • Find troublesome things to do, such as chewing up cords or sneaking behind furniture
  • In general, they often act like an overtired toddler protesting their naptime!

If you notice your puppy displaying any of these behaviors, it’s often best to try and get them to take a nap.

Ideally, you’ve already had a place for naps established, such as a crate or exercise pen.

Giving your puppy a Kong, Toppl, or chew toy will help to ease the transition from wild-and-crazy-I-don’t-want-to-sleep-puppy to a calm puppy that is able to take a nap.

In the future, if you notice that your puppy tends to become overtired after certain activities or times of day, it’s best to try and set them up for a nap before they display the symptoms of an overtired puppy.

You might also be interested in reading: 9 Awesome Indoor Games to Play with Your Puppy.

You might also be interested in reading: Puppy Wakes Up Early; A Guide to Sleeping in.