Why Is My Dog Freaking out at Night?

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why is my dog freaking out at night

Does your pup experience nighttime restlessness? As you may already know, this can cause loss of sleep not only for your furry friend, but for you and others in your home as well.

There could be several reasons why your dog is freaking out at bedtime and throughout the night.

Whether it’s separation anxiety, excessive energy, or something else entirely, try to work with your dog’s particular situation to make sure your evenings are as enjoyable as possible.

In this post, I’ll talk about why dogs freak out at night, and what you can do about it.

10 Reasons Your Dog Is Freaking out at Night

1. Separation Anxiety

Truth is, many dogs suffer from separation anxiety and become agitated when forcibly separated from their owners.

If your dog scratches and howls at your bedroom door at night, he probably just wants to be close to you to feel safe and secure (and in some cases, protect you as well).

Some pet owners allow their dogs to sleep in the bed or bedroom with them. If this isn’t an option for you, you can distance train your pup by allowing him to sleep in a dog bed by your side

Then, gradually move it farther away from you night after night until he’s comfortable enough being separated from you.

2. Lack of Safe Space

On the other hand, you might actually be the one disturbing your dog’s sleep, causing him to be uneasy and act up. While dogs love being with their owners, it’s also best if they have a place to call their own.

If you kick in your sleep, have an erratic sleep schedule, or do any other behaviors that disturb your dog in the night, having his own space is more important than ever.

Here, too, you’ll need to get him a dog bed, and set him up with his own blanket and some toys. Let that be his safe retreat for when you’re restless.

3. Routine Change

Dogs thrive on routine, and if their routine is disrupted, even by something as seemingly small as moved furniture, it can throw them off.

Keeping your dog on a strict schedule for feedings, walks, and more can help keep him feel secure and calm, and make bedtime just a part of his normal routine instead of something to be feared.

4. Unfulfilled Needs

This calls back to the importance of structure. Your dog may be fidgety at night because he’s hungry, thirsty, or needs a potty break.

Bothering you in the night for food or a bathroom break every once in a while is normal, and puppies especially are likely to do this due to their increased hunger, smaller bladders, and lack of training.

If it’s a continuous problem, you need to adjust your dog’s routine.

Try letting him out or walking him to go to the bathroom right before bed, instead of hours beforehand, or give him larger portions of food and water at mealtimes.

Plus, your pup might just be too cold or too hot and needs the temperature adjusted or access to a warmer blanket.

Change a few things to see what works, and then stick to it.

5. Excessive Energy

Another basic need for dogs, along with food and water, is exercise. If your dog is restless, it could be because he doesn’t get enough activity and movement during the day.

Just like we’re advised to exercise regularly to improve our sleep habits, the same is true for pets.

In case your pup is rowdy at night, try going for longer walks with him during the day and doing more playful activities. It will be good for both of you and should help you sleep better.

6. Natural Aging

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that sleep habits in dogs change as they get older. This mainly depends on your dog’s age, breed, activity level, and health.

Puppies sleep a lot more than adult dogs, for example (sometimes even up to 20 hours a day), while older canines may experience changes in sleep patterns as they age.

This is especially true if they’re suffering from any illness associated with old age.

7. Illness or Pain

If your pup is normally a great sleeper and suddenly starts freaking out at night, it could be a symptom of a physical problem.

In fact, your dog is more likely to notice something like joint pain or soreness in his body only when it’s time to settle down and rest.

So, when he just can’t get comfortable, it’s time to see a vet and determine what could be causing it. If your pup whimpers and whines like he’s in pain, then definitely see a vet right away.

8. Weather Changes

Dogs are more sensitive to changes in the weather than humans.

Some believe that they can even feel electromagnetic changes in the air when it storms, and that rain can cause them actual physical discomfort due to the static electricity in the air.

If you live somewhere with frequent rain or severe weather, this could be what’s keeping your dog up at night.

9. Fear of Noises

Talking about superpowers, dogs also have extremely good hearing, and they may be hearing things in the night that you can’t.

In that case, do your best to soundproof the area where your dog sleeps, or place a fan or white noise machine near him to drown out the disturbing noises.

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A white noise machine not only blocks out the sounds that can potentially disturb dogs (such as neighbors, cars, etc.), but it can also soothe them to sleep.

10. Other Causes

Finally, many pets, just like many people, suffer from stress or sleep problems that have no discernible cause.

There are many calming agents on the market for pets, such as homeopathic calming treats, drops, toys, and more. However, only use ones that are designed for dogs.

Don’t try to give your pup medicine or anything else meant for humans to calm him down. If this fails, talk to your vet about medication options for your canine companion.

How do you deal with a dog that’s freaking out at night? Let us know in the comments!

18 thoughts on “Why Is My Dog Freaking out at Night?”

  1. My dog keeps waking up in the middle of the night, waking me up, trembling, and seeking close comfort. She sleeps with me in bed already, but usually under the covers at the bottom of the bed. It’s become more and more frequent that she will wake me up trembling and scared, and the only way to appease her is to hold her and put my arms around her. Normal she doesn’t sleep like this; she’ll make her own little den at a different spot in the bed.
    I don’t notice any sign of distress during her sleep because I am asleep also. I got her from the Humane Society when she was barely a month old. She is a Pointer mix…… we think Beagle (because apparently and sadly the “Boingle”) is becoming a sought after breed. She is a velcro dog, and even though there are always other people in the house, she will hide, mope, eat/drink or go outside to use the bathroom while I’m gone. I don’t know what to do. my vet prescribed her Prozac, but I immediately stopped giving it to her like 3 days, because it made her more upset.

    • Hey Pennylane,

      Your dog could simply be hearing or sensing something that you don’t. Before anything else, I would try to use some kind of pressure wrap (like the ThunderShirt) and see if that calms her down.

  2. I have a Chihuahua, 11 years old, we have never had any problems with him, always very calm, sleeps a lot, and only sometimes barks at strangers, he has been used to sleeping alone ever since he was a few weeks old, but for the past week has been waking up in the middle of the night, like screaming, like if he was in pain, and as soon as we go to him, he calms down and falls asleep. He only does this for a few seconds if we dont go check on him.

    • Hey Israel,

      Your dog may have bad dreams, a muscle spasm causing pain or something else entirely. If this continues, it’s best to visit your vet for a check-up.

  3. Our dog is scared of something down the hallway towards the bedrooms. At night, when we all go to bed, he comes halfway into the hallway and whines for someone to come be with him in the front room.

    • Hey Sandra,

      Has something changed in the house? If not, it may just be a cry for attention. Try to ignore the whining for a few days and see if it stops.

    • Hello Sandra, I was reluctant to post this reply because I’m not in the business of making someone not feel at ease and out of respect for certain beliefs. Considering your dog only gets anxiety in a specific location of the house it’s quite possible that your dog is either sensing or seeing a presence (spirit) in the house. Not only did this happen to a friend of mine but it is widely believed, and in some cases documented, that dogs can actually see spirits that we cannot. With that said I hope this is not the case but also something one may want to investigate. Your dog may be trying to tell you something.

  4. I rescued a pit bull mix terrier she was estimated to be 2 years old. She has been with me 5 1/2 years. She appears to be very happy. But we found out a year in. that she has anxiety. And separation anxiety when I leave the house. She will try to escape when I leave. So now I close the doggie door. Because she forced her way out and put a huge gash on her leg which required medical treatment. She doesn’t like noises. When left alone she will chew up boxes. Once on New Years when we arrived home she had chewed through a wall. She was in a cage but bent the wires and got out. And broke her canine teeth. She is starting to have very bad anxiety when we are home sleeping. It has now become a daily occurrence. Pacing, hyperventilating, shaking, I just don’t understand. Her medication that was given to her never worked. Her bed is in our room. And she has free range of our home. We are losing sleep. I just ordered a steel cage to put her in. And a comfy bed along with a new chew toy and blanket To see if this will help. If this does not help it may be time for her to find a new home. Any ideas with our doggie will be appreciated.

    • Hey Elizabeth,

      Try to ask your vet about Melatonin supplementation. If things don’t work out well, you should probably consult with a dog behaviorist.

  5. I just adopted 2 puppies both from the same litter one is calm at night the other is always following me as the other does but at night the one tends to cry out hysterically. I tried leaving the cage door open once the training was coming along thinkingvtgat would ease it but that made it worse… she would cry loud hysterically at my door until I get up and hold her til she would calm down and fall asleep on the couch so I could finally go to bed… i know that is a bad habit to start but its the only way I was getting any sleep… why is this attatchment happening with just the one pup and not the other…

    • Hey Keri,

      Some puppies are more prone to separation anxiety than others. The best thing to do is to stop rewarding your pup’s unwanted behavior and ignore her until she calms down.

  6. My yorkie/Maltese mix whines at the tv all the time whenever it’s on and will try to jump on it, he will also do this to the kitchen sink. Any ideas on what’s happening? He’s turning 1 on July 31st

  7. My dog is 12 years old and wakes up in the middle of the night whining. I let her out to potty but when she goes back to bed she starts agaimree

  8. Just tonight my 9 year old boxer has randomly had some freak out moments and sometimes causes destruction because of it. He had two freak outs that broke a chair in my sibling’s bedroom and then in my bedroom randomly, he started a freak out and ran into the bathroom and was slipping on the tile. But then he was all smiley and wagging his tail when my mom came to see what happened. Me and my sibling have off sleeping schedules that are way off from his and he just started sleeping in my sibling and I’s room and going back and forth (our bedroom doors are open so he can decide which room he wants to sleep in) and idk if the sleep thing is what’s causing this or something else. We also recently got an 8 week old puppy who is very hyper active while he is not. Should I take him to a vet or what should I do?

    • Hey Xander,

      It’s possible that your dog is jealous or upset by the new puppy and he’s going out of his way to get your attention. When did this behavior start?


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