Why Is My Dog Freaking out at Night?

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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.

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.

About the author

Li-ran Bukovza

Li-ran believes that our dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He's fascinated by the dog-human bond and loves researching and writing about new pet trends. With the help of Richie (his trusty Maltese sidekick), he hopes to help as many people as possible understand the beautiful, complex world of canine companionship.