Teaching a baby to sleep through the night has so many connections with potty and crate training a puppy. It blows my mind! Even down to the very specific ages that both babies and puppies are neurologically ready for the next level of training.
Will I Ever Sleep Again? How I Came Upon Sleep Training.
When I was pregnant with our 7th baby, I saw one of my good mom friends post about how she did a sleep training course with her 5th baby and it worked wonders. I was 8 months pregnant at the time where I’m super uncomfortable but excited to meet this new baby…and equally nervous about what that particular newborn experience will bring.
The first few months were always a wild card for me. Will this baby magically start sleeping through the night by day 4 (as our Lilly did) or will I be up at some point every single night for the rest of…eternity?
I would hear some moms talk about how awful nights were with their kids and, comparatively, I had nothing to complain about. So, I just “got through it.” By month 2, generally things were a lot more manageable. I would just get up, feed the baby, and then the baby would go right back to sleep. But it was common for me to have a lingering 4am waking with each of my kids for 8 months or more.
Pulling the Trigger on a Sleep-Training Course and Which One I Took
Well, child #7 came along and I believe it was during one of those 4am feedings that the sleep training post from my friend came to mind. I scrounged up her old post and read that she had done the “Taking Cara Babies” course. And thus, it began.
Unfortunately, it took me a couple months of research (because that’s how I am) before I pulled the trigger and just took the dang course. Those were a couple months I could have been sleeping instead of researching…but I digress.
Mind Blown! Connections Between Baby Sleep Training and Crate and Potty-Training Puppies
During that time, I became increasingly excited about the connections I was seeing between baby sleep training and puppy training. Many of the correlations where so exact they blew my mind.
Developmental Milestones for Both Babies and Puppies
For example, although there are principles that apply across the board, Taking Cara Babies explains that a different approach is needed for these exact age groups of babies:
What?! Those are the EXACT age groups we, by necessity, have divided our dog training programs into. We have seen definite cognitive shifts that happen in dogs at those exact ages and a need for training that meets the puppy where they are developmentally. Puppies and babies both experience huge developmental shifts at some of the same, predictable ages. It’s fascinating!
Puppies at 3-4 months old
The ages of 3-4 months is an interesting one. Did you know that often babies have what is referred to as a sleep “regression” at 3-4 months of age? It’s where you thought you had this sleeping-through-the-night thing down pat, and suddenly your baby starts waking up in the night again.
It feels like a regression, but biologically what is actually happening during that time is a cognitive “PROgression” which is why there’s also a shift in behavior. (If you’re interested, Cara explains deeper about this specific baby sleep regression here). And if you know how to handle it, you can sail through pretty seamlessly.
We see a strong cognitive progression happen in dogs around 3-4 months as well.
A 10-week-old puppy may be very responsive to you, heeling like a champ even without a leash, and having no crate training issues. Then at 12-16 weeks there will be a shift and the same dog becomes more hyper and “awake,” less likely to respond to your direction, heeling goes out the window, there’s pulling on the leash, and he just seems to want to push all the boundaries.
The owner comes to us so frustrated that their perfect puppy isn’t acting so perfect anymore. It’s not alarming to us, though, because we see how it really is a progression for the dog. The dog is cognitively ready for higher levels of training. They are more apt to explore and curious about the world, and at the same time ready for clear direction from you and more able to perform higher levels of obedience.
Dogs at 5 months old
Then that brain development really starts to pay off at 5 months! That’s when puppies are ready to really fly!
At 5 months, dogs are ready for our most advanced level of obedience (our “Chaos to Calm” course) and a different set of tools. It’s when you take all the foundation you’ve laid during those first few puppy months and really turn it into functional skills. That’s why our transformational “Chaos to Calm” course is specifically for dogs 5 months or older. They truly aren’t biologically ready until then.
Ideal Bedtime for a Puppies (and Babies)
Another aha moment I had was when Cara explained that 8pm or earlier is an ideal bedtime and if you keep them up any later, a stress hormone is released in the baby’s body in order to keep them awake. So they stay awake, but tend to act more grumpy, irritable, or hyper. It also affects their ability to fall asleep at night and to stay asleep (ultimately adding to the baby being grumpy and irritable).
Hmmm…have you ever heard of the 8:00pm puppy zoomies?? Or a puppy’s “evening witching hour”? I haven’t been able to find any research on this, but my theory is that a stress hormone is perhaps released in a puppy’s body as well.
We always say, “If your puppy is wired, they’re likely tired.” Put your puppy in their crate and get them to bed sometime between 7 and 8pm, but no later than 8:00. We found that is the best way to avoid the zoomies. Simple. Puppies need sleep too.
Sleep Training with my Baby
Back to my sleep-training journey with our 7th baby. The course I took from “Taking Cara Babies” was a 14-day course, but by night 3 of following the “Taking Cara Babies” method, my baby was sleeping through the night! Night 3! It felt amazing! You forget how awesome a night of a solid eight hours of sleep even feels.
I’m not going to lie, the first couple nights were a lot of work. It was tempting in the moment to just go feed the baby and get back to sleep. But I was committed to stay the course and do what Cara said. And boy, am I glad that I did!
That was 4 years ago and that same little boy is still a great sleeper. I can’t think of a time I’ve been up in the night with him in years. Hallelujah! That’s a LOT of nights of awesome sleep for both him and me! Thank you, Cara!
The Crate and Potty Training Course
Our “Potty and Crate Training” course is geared to puppies needing crate and potty training, but is wonderful for dogs of all ages that are still struggling. The course is 14 days. That’s what we have found to be the magic number for really making these changes last long term. Although we’ve seen most dogs will make huge strides within just the first 2 or 3 days.
Just like we want to teach our babies to be able to calm down and relaxed in their cribs so they can get the rest they need, we want to teach our puppies how to be calm in the crate.
And the huge added bonus? Potty training can happen at the same time. Now if only potty training was also a benefit of baby sleep training. That would be sweet! We’re still working on potty training with our said 4-year-old. So yeah, that would have been nice.
Definite puppy benefit: potty training can start now! Especially if you jump into the “Crate and Potty Training” course. See you there!