When Your Dog Wakes Up With the Sun

Are you like me? Do you often say to yourself, “How can I get even less sleep?”

If you find that you are spending far too much time in your bed when you could be giving a dead-eyed stare to your emails or clumsily stepping in the dog’s water bowl, then I have suggestions for you.


This all started two years ago upon earning my summer break after a grueling May when I graded more than 500 essays entirely online. For whatever reason, I had created an essay assignment for my 11th graders and required 4 drafts of it – and I did it all on GoogleDrive, thinking that this would be the most efficient means possible. This paper-free assignment took a toll on my shoulders and neck as I found myself hunched over my laptop to read and offer comments on 125 students’ work. That, along with a full school year of feeling sleep deprived and over-worked, I looked forward to simple relaxation.

Break started in early June, and I relished the idea of sleeping in until about 7 or 7:30. The first few days are always tough to readjust – after a year of teaching, my internal clock wants to wake up at 5:30. I figured I’d have a few early days before slowly settling into a comfortable sleeping existence where 8 hours meant at least 8 hours.

That was my dream. What actually happened was reality. Rufus allowed me approximately 15 minutes of leisure before deciding that he was fully awake at 5:45 am. That was about when the sun was coming up, and he was excited to greet the day. Or at least, he was excited to go pee and eat his breakfast. He did this all summer long.

I tried resisting. The resistance was squashed.

Now, two years later, I have finally attempted to remedy this annoyance. I learned that I’ve basically enabled my dogs’ early rising behavior – no surprise there. As for breaking this habit, I’m sincerely hoping that it will not be an uphill climb.

I am not looking to sleep in until 9:30 or later – I stopped being able to do that decades ago. (My all time record in college for sleeping late without a hangover was 2 pm. With a hangover it was 5 pm.) I can still wake up early. In fact, I will need to get up well before the day temps hit the 70’s. One of my spring-summer projects has been to tackle my yard issue: I am determined to vanquish the weeds that have taken over. In order to do this effectively I have to get up early before it gets hot. At the same time, it would be nice if I could be the one determining when to get out of bed in the morning, and not, say, a 2-year-old Rotty-Boxer-SharPei mix.

Rufus at night, not sleeping in.

But if you have decided that you are the tail your dog wags, here are the steps for making your dog the boss of your morning and determining your get-out-of-bed time. (If you want to establish yourself as the rule-setter, then it’s best to do the opposite of what I list here.)

  1. Get out of bed as soon as you hear them stir. Sunlight means it’s time to work, slackers!  That dog has to jump off the bed to check stuff out and look out the window, waking you up. As long as you’re awake, you might as well pull the sheets back and get up too. (If you do not want this you can a) play possum and don’t move, and b) cover your windows with something heavier that more effectively blocks out light.)
  2. Set an early last call time. 8 or 9pm for the final trip to pee should be the latest, if you want to wake up early. (Conversely, having a later final pee break means that the bladder can last a little bit longer.)
  3. Fall for their bullying. Rufus likes to stick a cold nose in my face. Sometimes he’ll throw a whine or two. One time in his adolescent phase, I ignored him and he literally peed on the carpet next to the bed. THAT got me up quickly. Of course I can recognize that the night before he drank more water than usual before going to bed, but why do the obvious? I got bullied once, and now I let him make the rules. (If this seems unappealing to you, make sure that late night drinks are followed an hour later by a trip outside. Also, positive reactions to obnoxious behavior does not stop the obnoxious behavior, strangely enough. Giving their whines attention lets them know they’re pushing your buttons.)
  4. Feed them as soon as you are up. Nothing reinforces behavior like a bowl full of food. Getting a tasty breakfast early in the morning will ensure that this will be one of their favorite hours of the day. Why even risk sleeping though it? (Find this to be seriously not fun? If you feed your dog more than once per day, you can shift those times to suit your needs and your schedule. They will not starve by waiting a few hours. Not that they’d ever let you know that.)
  5. Lather, rinse, repeat. The more used to this behavior they get, the more they’ll know that this is what is expected of them. (Nipping it in the bud seems like a logical way to deal with it, even if it has happened a couple of times.)

It’s only summertime when we really have this issue. A bright sun is hard to say no to, especially when we get so much sunlight – Colorado has 300 days of sunshine a year. I just wish my dogs knew the joy of waking up to an already-risen sun rather than peeking-in-the-window sun.

Or I could just invest in a coffee drip…






17 Thoughts

  1. I hope you get to sleep in a little longer this summer! My dogs are pretty awesome in that regard, but it might because I’m a night owl, and consequently they are too.


  2. Oh no!

    I get up early if I can’t sleep or they wake me up, feed the cats then go back to bed for more sleep 😉 I am rumoured to feed them without opening eyes (although this is not true mostly). I do get slept on however, especially winter.


    1. I’ve fed my dogs completely bleary eyed in the past, and have given them each other’s food bowl in the past. That’s also when I stepped in the water bowl by mistake.


  3. This!! I’m going back to basics and trying a reset! Me- not so much but rarely am Inalone with the pups, hubby is totally abused by these pups!! Next house- fewer windows and heavy heavy curtains. The current on is for sale!


  4. Oh how I can relate! I am normally an early riser, but not a 5am early riser, that is until our newest puppy came to our home. My days begin with her “full on and ready to go” at no later than 5:20am. Oh how I miss the days I would lounge in bed until 6-630am, those were the days 😉 I know I need to make her wait, if only a few extra minutes before I release the hounds, but a little puppy means a little bladder. So for now, hook up that coffee drip.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bawhahahahaha! This rings very true for me. I worked 9-5 until last July and would wake up before my day job usually about 4 am to work on my blog and personal projects. My fur kids (2 cats, a rabbit, and a dog) got used to a full bowl of food before dawn. Now that I’m working from home they still expect me to rise at before dawn. My dog is the most patient, but the cats get really mad and occasionally give me a nice swipe if I try and sleep in – and by sleep in, I mean 6 am.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hehehehee… Aside from an occasional two-in-the-mornin’ whackin’ of a plastic ball ’round the house, I’m pretty good at lettin’ the peeps sleep BUT Peep #1 knows this other peep who was complaining ’bout her kitty wantin’ to be fed at four in the mornin’, EVERY mornin’. So my first peep asked her, “What do you do?” She said, “Get up and feed him.” Well MOUSES woman, it’s no WONDER he now gets up every mornin’ at four, expectin’ to be fed. You allowed him to train you do to do that. Some peeps never learn. MOUSES!


  7. I have managed to get my dog in the routine of waking up to use the potty, and then going back to bed. He may take 15 minutes to himself to get that morning burst of energy out, but then he is ok with laying back down…as long as I am. If I want to get work done during this time period, I have learned, I HAVE to do it in bed. Which is ok with me. I don’t even bother with making coffee or taking any chances to convince him that it time to get up for morning play. He doesn’t eat breakfast (on his own accord) so that is not an issue. But I did learn the same lesson you did, if I don’t give in to the first wines, it is very possible Darby will find a place to potty inside the house. But oddly enough for some reason recently things have shifted and I am usually up before him, I don’t know what he is doing any more.


  8. Chuckling here, I know how you feel but Layla has a habit of waking me up at about 5 in the morning to get under the covers, I let her and then try go back to sleep, some days it works and others it does not. She will then sleep till like 9 in the morning as I take her out one last time at 11 pm every night unless raining. But I would not change anything that she does including sometimes drinking cold coffee LOL


  9. Oh boy can I identify with this! Gonzo is a gem. However, Beau is a whole other story. He constantly acts like we’re starving him and will start whimpering and crying the second he hears someone stir. Unfortunately, my daughter is an early riser. I will not feed him or let him out right away but of course, my husband does. So this perpetuates. Then my husband complains…..can I send my husband for training?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Felines are a different story, The Tribe of Five adapts to our schedule but if we vary too much from the soft food feeding time, they let us know they are not pleased, often sitting outside the bedroom door and singing a chorus of the song of their people.
    Anita, Purrsonal Asisstant to The Tribe of Five


  11. Lexy used to wake me up when it was still dark out, but thankfully she’s gotten out of that habit. She’ll meow every now and then to see if I stir, but won’t cause any mischief. Lola usually just lays on top of me and purrs.


  12. I avoided having the girls wake me up first thing in the morning by not feeding them immediately as soon as I got out of bed. Luckily, they don’t need to be let out to go to the bathroom. Now, since I’ve retired, all of us are lazy in the mornings.


  13. How about sun blocking shades on your windows? But Rufus would probably still hear the birds. Although I’ve had many dogs, they usually let me sleep later and don’t get up until I do. I let my dogs out right away, but they don’t get fed for at least an hour or so later – maybe this helps.


  14. There’s a cat version of that game too. I tell them not til the sun comes up, and then daylight savings comes and the sun is up early. So now I am too. I don’t have to worry about taking them out to pee at least. But the young ones will have “wild time” and race around like crazy things – right across my face if I’m not moving fast enough. I’m trying to train them into at least waiting til the alarm goes off at 7 before they expect more than snuggles and pets. They are sort of buying it. Some days.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Cookie is a very good girl when it comes to respecting our rest. The only time she’d get us out of bed is when she really needs to go and do some business out there. Otherwise, she gets up when we do. Actually, more accurately, when we are ready to do something fun.


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