Night-time woes: Your dog's restlessness after dark
18th May, 2023
Does your dog pace back and forth, whine, or exhibit other signs of restlessness after dark? If you've found yourself asking, "Why does my dog become restless at night?" you're not alone.
Many pet owners experience this issue, and it can be frustrating for both you and your furry friend. In this article, we'll explore the common reasons for dog restlessness at night, age-specific factors, and tips for addressing and preventing this behaviour.
By the end, you'll have a better understanding of what it means when a dog is restless at night and how to help them get a good night's sleep.
Introduction to night-time restlessness in dogs
Night-time restlessness in dogs can manifest in various ways, including pacing, whining, panting, and even destructive behaviour. It can disrupt your sleep, cause stress for your pet, and leave you wondering, "Why is my dog so restless at night?" The answer to this question is not always straightforward, as various factors can contribute to your dog's night-time restlessness.
To help your dog get the rest they need, it's a good idea to identify the root cause of their restlessness and address it accordingly. This article will help you decode your dog's behaviour and provide practical tips for ensuring a peaceful night for both of you.
What is restless at night?
While sleepless nights are often experienced with new puppies or younger dogs, this restlessness typically subsides as the dog grows older. Nevertheless, if you observe your dog not sleeping soundly, constantly changing positions, and wandering around the room, there might be a deeper issue that requires attention.
Sleepless nights are generally a temporary problem and can be resolved. In some cases, it might be due to an excess of energy, which can be managed by offering your dog additional exercise options.
At times, the restlessness could stem from environmental changes, and it may stop once your dog adapts to the new surroundings.
9 common reasons for dog restlessness at night
Similar to humans, a dog's restless slumber may be caused by discomfort, which is no longer masked by the day's activities. Various factors can contribute to the pain or unease, including:
- Ear Infections
- Dental Problems
- Skin Conditions such as irritating rashes or hot spots
- Arthritis or other Joint Disorders
To eliminate these potential causes, it's crucial to take your dog to the veterinarian for an examination. Once the root of the discomfort is addressed, your furry friend may finally enjoy a more tranquil night's rest.
2. More frequent toilet breaks
When a dog experiences alterations in their bathroom routine, it could be a result of conditions like diarrhoea, cystitis, or kidney disease, potentially causing them to wake up more frequently at night.
Conducting examinations at the vets, including blood tests, urine assessments, and faecal analysis, can guide us toward the proper course of action, enabling us to initiate the most suitable treatment.
3. Canine Dementia (CCD)
Canine dementia, also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), is a condition that affects ageing dogs and can lead to significant behavioural changes, including restlessness at night.
One of the primary symptoms of canine dementia is disrupted sleep patterns, which can manifest as restlessness and increased activity during night-time hours. This change in behaviour can be attributed to a decline in cognitive function, making it difficult for dogs to differentiate between day and night.
As a result, our furry friends may exhibit signs of confusion, pacing, and disorientation, leading to a restless and unsettled night for both the dog and its owner.
This progressive joint disease can cause significant distress for our furry friends, making it difficult for them to find a comfortable position to sleep, ultimately leading to night-time agitation. Arthritis in dogs can stem from various factors such as age, obesity, joint injuries, or genetic predisposition.
As a dog owner, it's essential to recognise the early signs of arthritis, including a noticeable decrease in activity levels, stiffness after rest, or reluctance to climb stairs. These symptoms can be exacerbated at night, causing your pet to become restless and struggle to settle down.
Ensuring your dog receives the appropriate veterinary care, including pain management and weight control, can go a long way in alleviating their discomfort and improving their overall quality of the dog's life.
One common reason for this nocturnal unrest is hyperthyroidism, a medical condition that affects the thyroid gland, causing it to produce excessive amounts of hormones. This hormonal imbalance can lead to a myriad of symptoms, including increased energy levels and restlessness, particularly during the night.
Hyperthyroidism can be a significant contributor to your dog's night-time agitation, as the excessive hormones can make it difficult for them to relax and fall asleep. This can lead to pacing, whining, and other restless behaviours that can leave both you and your pet feeling exhausted the next day.
6. Anxiety and Stress
Senior dog anxiety and stress are common causes of night-time restlessness in dogs. Some dogs may experience separation anxiety when their owners go to bed, leading them to become restless and anxious.
Other stressors, such as thunderstorms or fireworks, can also cause dogs to become restless at night. If you believe that your dog's anxiety or stress is the root cause of your dog's night-time restlessness, it's essential to work on addressing these issues and finding ways to help your dog feel more secure and relaxed.
7. Boredom and lack of stimulation
A lack of mental and physical stimulation during the day can lead to night-time restlessness in dogs. If your dog spends most of their day alone or without engaging in any physical or mental activity, they may become restless at night as they try to burn off pent up energy.
To address this issue, make sure to provide your dog with ample opportunities for enough exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day.
8. Hunger or thirst
Sometimes, the answer to "why is my dog so restless at night" can be as simple as hunger or thirst. If your dog isn't getting enough food or water during the day, they may become restless at night in search of sustenance.
Ensure that your dog has access to fresh water and is being fed an appropriate amount of food for their size and activity level.
9. Environmental factors
Environmental factors, such as noise, temperature, and lighting, can also contribute to night-time restlessness in dogs. If your dog is sensitive to noise, they may become restless due to sounds from outside or within your home.
Additionally, a room that is too hot or too cold can cause discomfort and restlessness in dogs. Finally, some dogs may be sensitive to light and have difficulty sleeping in a room with too much or too little of it.
Addressing these environmental factors can help create a more comfortable sleep environment for your dog.
Are some breeds more anxious than others?
Are some dog breeds more anxious than others? This is a question that many dog owners and enthusiasts often ponder. The truth is, just like humans, dogs exhibit a wide range of personalities, and some breeds are indeed predisposed to higher levels of anxiety than others.
Understanding these breed-specific traits is helpful in ensuring a happy and healthy relationship between you and your furry companion. Genetics and breeding history play a significant role in a dog's predisposition to a dog's anxiety.
For instance, certain dogs were specifically bred to perform tasks requiring high levels of focus and energy, such as herding or hunting. These dogs often have a heightened sensitivity to their environment, which can translate to increased anxiety if not properly stimulated or cared for.
Breeds like Border Collies, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers are prime examples of dogs that may be more prone to anxiety due to their working backgrounds.
On the other hand, some breeds are naturally more relaxed and easygoing, making them less likely to experience anxiety. Breeds like the Basset Hound, Newfoundland, and Great Dane are often noted for their laid-back demeanour and ability to adapt well to various situations.
Age-specific restlessness factors: Why is my senior dog so restless at night?
As mentioned earlier, senior dogs may experience specific restlessness factors due to their old age.
Cognitive Canine Dysfunction (CCD) is one such factor that can cause night-time restlessness in older dogs. CCD is a neurological disorder that affects memory, learning, and awareness in senior dogs, leading to disorientation and restlessness.
Other age-related issues, such as arthritis and decreased bladder control, can also contribute to night-time restlessness in senior dogs. If you're asking, "Why is my senior dog so restless at night?" it may be a good idea to consult with your dog's veterinarian to address any age-specific concerns and ensure your dog's well-being.
When does canine dementia usually start?
Canine dementia usually starts to manifest between the dog ages of 8 and 10 years old, with symptoms becoming more prevalent as they grow older. In fact, it is estimated that more than half of dogs aged 11 years and older show signs of cognitive decline.
However, it is crucial to understand that this is a general guideline and not a strict rule, as the onset of canine dementia can vary based on factors such as breed, genetics, and overall health.
Decoding your dog's behaviour: What does it mean when a dog is restless at night?
Understanding what it means when a dog is restless at night involves carefully observing your dog's behaviour and identifying any patterns or triggers.
Do they become restless only on certain nights, or is it a consistent issue? Are there specific noises or events that seem to cause their restlessness?
By paying attention to these details, you'll be better equipped to address the underlying causes of why your dog is restless at night and help them feel more comfortable and secure.
Tips for addressing your dog's night-time restlessness
1. Establishing a routine
One of the most effective ways to address night-time restlessness in dogs is by establishing a consistent daily routine. This includes regular feeding times, enough exercise, and bedtime.
By sticking to a routine, your dog will know what to expect and feel more secure, which can help reduce canine anxiety and restlessness at night.
2. Providing mental and physical stimulation
Ensuring that your dog gets enough mental and physical stimulation during the day is crucial in preventing them being restless at night. This can include:
- Engaging in mentally stimulating activities such as puzzle toys or obedience training
A well-exercised and mentally stimulated older dog is more likely to sleep soundly at night.
3. Creating a comfortable sleep environment
Make sure your dog has a comfortable and secure place to sleep at night. This may involve providing a cosy bed or crate, adjusting the room temperature, and minimising noise and light disruptions.
By creating a comfortable sleep environment, you can help your dog feel more at ease and reduce the likelihood of a restless night
4. Consulting with a veterinarian
If you've tried the above tips and your dog is still being increasingly restless at night, you should then consult with your veterinarian. They can help determine if there are any underlying medical issues causing the restlessness and provide appropriate treatment options.
Should I sleep with my dog?
The age-old debate of "Should I sleep with my dog?" has dog owners all over the world pondering this question. While some people swear by the benefits of sharing a bed with their furry companion, others are concerned about the potential drawbacks of this sleeping arrangement.
So, before you decide to let your beloved canine join you in your slumber, let's dive into the pros and cons of this topic.
- Sleeping with your dog can provide a sense of comfort and security. Many pet parents find it reassuring to have their loyal companion by their side, providing warmth and a calming presence. In fact, studies have shown that co-sleeping with pets can lead to better sleep quality and reduced feelings of loneliness.
- If you suffer from anxiety or stress, the rhythmic breathing and heartbeat of your dog may help to soothe your nerves and promote relaxation.
- Sharing a bed with your dog can trigger allergies, as pet dander and allergens can easily become trapped in your bedding.
- Dogs can be restless sleepers, meaning you might experience disrupted sleep due to their movements or noises.
- Some experts argue that allowing your older dog to sleep in your bed may interfere with establishing boundaries and a healthy pack dynamic.
Preventing future night-time restlessness in dogs
By addressing the root causes of your dog's night-time restlessness and implementing the tips provided in this article, you can help prevent future restlessness episodes:
- Make sure to maintain a consistent daily routine, provide ample mental and physical stimulation, and create a comfortable sleep environment for your dog.
- Keep an eye out for any changes in your dog's behaviour and consult with a veterinarian if necessary.
How do you calm a restless senior dog?
There are several things that you can do to calm down a restless dog and these may include:
- Provide a comfortable and familiar sleeping environment. A cosy bed, soft blankets, and a quiet, dark room can help your dog feel safe and secure.
- Easy access to food, water, and a potty area to avoid any unnecessary stress.
- Regular exercise and activity. Even though your dog may be slowing down due to age, regular walks and moderate exercise can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Engaging in low-impact activities like swimming or gentle playtime can also help your dog stay active without causing unnecessary strain.
When to seek professional help for your dog's restlessness
If your dog's night-time restlessness persists despite implementing the tips provided in this article, or if you notice any signs of a potential medical issue, it's essential to seek professional help.
A veterinarian can help diagnose and treat any underlying medical conditions, while a professional dog trainer or behaviourist can assist with addressing night-time anxiety or stress-related restlessness.
Ensuring a peaceful night for you and your dog
Night-time restlessness in dogs can be caused by various factors, including medical issues, anxiety, boredom, hunger, and environmental factors.
By understanding the root cause of a restless dog and implementing the tips provided in this article, you can help your dog feel more comfortable and secure at night, ensuring a peaceful night's rest for both of you.