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Ask the Expert: Early Riser

By Kim Fernandez, For The Baltimore Sun

March 31, 2013

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Featured in SceneMy dog wakes me up at 5:30 every morning and won't leave me alone until I get up for her walk and breakfast. I want to sleep in during the week — how can I get her to sleep later?

Unfortunately, you've trained yourself an excellent alarm clock, and the fastest and easiest way to turn that clock off is to put it in another room the night before you want to sleep late. Be warned that asking her to wait a little longer to eat won't cause any damage, but asking her to hold it when she has to go out can have messy consequences. You may find it's worth a few minutes of lost sleep to take her out, toss her a frozen stuffed Kong or other goodie, and then head back to dreamland without guilt.

If keeping her separate isn't an option, you can start adjusting the signals she's reading that tell her you'll take her out. Instead of doing those things first, do something else that will delay you five minutes: brush your teeth, start your coffee, make your bed — something short and simple. Then carry on your routine with her. After a few days of this, find some other way to delay things another five minutes. Give it another few days, then delay again. You want to gradually teach her that you'll take her out before you leave, but not right at 5:30. Obviously you want to make sure she's gone to the bathroom thoroughly before bed, and give her body time to adjust. Remember, daylight saving time throws most humans off for a few weeks, and a similar adjustment to your dog's schedule can be difficult, too.

This week's expert is Amie Glasgow, behavior and training coordinator with the Maryland SPCA. Send your pet-related questions to sun.unleashed@gmail.com