Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Share Button

We have probably all heard the phrase “Let sleeping dogs lie”. Wikitionary defines it as meaning: To leave things as they are; especially, to avoid restarting or rekindling an old argument; to leave disagreements in the past.

I think that is sound advice to be followed in many situations. The phrase has it’s origins in the bible actually, with it first being cited in Book of Proverbs (26:17) where it says: He that passes by, and meddles with strife belonging not to him, is like one that takes a dog by the ears.

It’s also used in a Chaucer story, in the Troilus and Criseyde tale: It is nought good a sleepyng hound to wake.
I think of it each night as I try to wake Maggie & Jack for our nightly constitutional up the driveway so they can each do their business before bed. As the get older, their evening sleep is soooo deep and so sound it’s hard to wake them. I typically have to call them, whistle and slowly shake them to wake them up sometimes.
Sometimes I think I shouldn’t bother, but both of them have an incontinence issue, so I like them to go just before bed. I did a little research about waking your dog and most things I read say you shouldn’t touch them to wake them as it might startle them and even lead to an aggressive response. It does startle Jack when I touch him and he’s usually a little disoriented for a few seconds. But he is also hard of hearing, so just calling him or whistling doesn’t rouse him.
How about you, do your dogs wake easily, or is it a chore to get them up sometimes? Any helpful tips?
sleeping dogs

Additional Readings:

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Should You Wake Your Dog from a Dream?

Share Button


  1. I agree with this saying… it’s the “you wake him-you take him” here :o) I try not to wake him up even when he sleeps on my legs… he looks too cute when he sleeps… and for my legs I can call the chiro-guy LOL
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog MISCHIEF MO(A)NDAYMy Profile

  2. We have this dilemma with Katie most nights. She can go without peeing forever, but she has trouble holding the poop if she misses a walk. Mom goes up to her gently and blows a gentle breath into her nose area and very gently runs her hand over her head. Sometimes she has to pet a bit more, or rub her ears, but she will usually wake up. Once and a while it does scare her, but she seems to know what is going on most of the time. Last week, Mom shook her and tried everything, couldn’t even tell if she was breathing she was so deep into her sleep, but she finally woke up.
    Emma recently posted…How To Prevent Ear Infections In DogsMy Profile

  3. I got a tip several years ago that is similar to Emma’s: pass your hand, or the dog’s favorite toy, under her/his nose so the gentle wafting of the scent will awaken the dog slowly and without startling her/him. Callie was a sound sleeper, so I always did this with her. It always worked for her.

    Now Shadow is beginning to sleep a bit more soundly than she used to; but so far just calling her a second time is still working.
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky\’s Mom recently posted…Play With Me!My Profile

    • I’ve tried that – put a smelly treat right under their nose…nothing.
      mkob recently posted…Let Sleeping Dogs LieMy Profile

  4. You have the greatest posts!! I raised Cash from a pup, so I often kiss him when he is sleeping and he responds with a tail wag or a lick back, or just changes position – he is used to “people” loving on him and would therefore most likely be quite shocked if a human being did anything other than love on him. If he has dreams that he cries in, I either run to him and caress him or call to him and tell him it will be o.k.. Cash had to have surgery on his eye once (thread-like foreign object was under his eyeball) and everyone commented on how sweet and trusting he was. Interestingly, I remember the vet letting me see Gracie (my dog prior to Cash) once after anesthesia and saying, “Don’t wake them because they can bite.” But Gracie was also raised by me from a puppy and had many years of getting her ‘daily dozens of kisses’ by me – she did not bite me while awakening after anesthesia (I got Gracie at 8 months old). That said, I have had dogs not raised by me while young and I remember a little one once biting me when being awakened (my mom’s dog that I adopted for her). Obviously she had not had the love from her former owner and I believe was therefore on her guard. So I tend to believe it is how they were conditioned when young, and if they can overcome their fear of humans not being “good.” The little one (I called her Baby Lola) came to stay with me for the last years of her life, and I made it clear her biting – even if awakened – was not to be tolerated. My guess was that he former owner(s) were not nice to her so she was not trusting, and then it became a habit. ?? Once Lola felt secure, she was better. She slept on the pillow next to me. But I still did not give her as many ‘face kisses’ as I did Cash. I do spend a lot of time cuddling and kissing my dogs, so the ones that have been with me when they were young would probably “know” that when awakened by touch or my voice, would mean safety as they have always been safe. Poor little Baby Lola was not afforded that love and security and probably felt she needed to fend for herself. πŸ™

    • Such sweet stories. I love on Jack a lot too as well as our previous dogs. Jack wakes with a start, but is never aggressive. Maggie doesn’t like the snuggles, so I try to wake her with whistles and claps – doesn’t always work.
      mkob recently posted…Let Sleeping Dogs LieMy Profile

  5. I actually just posted about this very issue. My two have a very nuanced set of rules about how they like to sleep. So when they do get settled, we agree it’s best to leave them alone unless absolutely necessary.

    • Great minds come up with the same kind of blog posts πŸ˜‰
      mkob recently posted…Let Sleeping Dogs LieMy Profile

  6. Pierre is a very light sleeper and will snap right awake when he hears a banana being peeled. I’m not kidding, the boy can hear you try to sneak and peel a banana! Bentley, on the other paw, LOVES his sleep. I usually have to give him a couple of minutes to rouse himself.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…BFTB NETWoof News February 1, 2016 #dognewsMy Profile

    • Ha…banana peeling. Jack used to be like that, but no more.
      mkob recently posted…Let Sleeping Dogs LieMy Profile

  7. Our beagle Kobi was known to get a little snarly if you woke him from a dead sleep, so we learned to go easy when waking any of the dogs up. As he got older and slept sounder it was tougher…there were times we thought he was gone because he was so difficult to rouse. Usually I’ll just give them a light touch or say their name…right now that still works for the current crew. But as the girls get older I’m sure that will change.
    Jan K recently posted…The Unfortunate Demise of Mr. BillMy Profile

  8. I move about in the room purposely before getting Jaxson’s leash. My movements seem to “stir” the Boys a bit, and if I have to – I will go over and cuddle with them while they try to wake up. It just depends on how tired they are.
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…OBSESSIVE DOODLE DISORDERMy Profile

  9. Even at 10+ years of age, Sam is still a pretty light sleeper (except after a couple hours at hospice-then he’s pretty much dead to the world for a few hours but I think it’s because it takes so much out of him-and his age is not a factor).

  10. This is great! I have to get Preacher up to pee as I don’t want her peeing in the house in the middle of the night since I leave her run loose. I just rub her back and talk to her and sometimes I have to stand her up. Now Nellie at 11 thinks she doesn’t have to go outside at night, she will be konked out and and I used to wake her up and send her out and now I just go to bed and leave her and she gets up comes to bed and then at 2 am I have to take her out.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Chalkboard Art With Some BloopersMy Profile

  11. I have the same issue. Ace sleeps so hard in the evenings I have to pet him or gently shake him to wake him up sometimes. He won’t hear me (or ignores me?) otherwise. I have had him snap at me once doing this but I always want to let him out before bed even though I’m sure he’d hold it for 12+ hours. Sometimes going to the food/treat cupboard seems to magically wake him! πŸ˜‰
    Lindsay recently posted…How to Train A Dog to Be Off LeashMy Profile

  12. Such interesting posts. My two girls (Labs) are so used to me kissing them full on in the lips that I don’t hesitate or refrain from doing so while they are dreaming. If they seem especially disturbed in sleep I either 1. Touch them with a foot, or 2. Plant a body hug over them, depending on the situation. One of my girls is well whistle trained. If I thought it would be beneficial, I could whistle her to “come” and deal with her waking up afterward.

Comments are now closed on this post.