HomeDogsDog Barking At Night: Reasons, Indicators and Ways To Stop It

Dog Barking At Night: Reasons, Indicators and Ways To Stop It

It’s late at night and you’re just about to sleep when you hear a barking sound that jolts you right awake. This has been happening for a while and aside from fearing neighbour complaints, you may wonder if it’s normal.

Discover more about the possible reasons for your dog barking at night, how to stop it, what not to do, and more as informed by vets!  


We’d like to thank the following contributors for their valuable input towards this topic:

  • Dr. Georgina Ushi Phillips (DVM) from Not A Bully,
  • Dr. Michelle Burch (DVM) from Safe Hounds Pet Insurance and
  • Dr. Sarah Wooten (DVM) from Pumpkin.

  • *Disclaimer: The information in this article is not meant to replace the advice and expertise of vets. You should consult a vet on your dog’s health condition for an accurate diagnosis.

    Reasons for dog barking at night

    dog resting on a couch

    1. Boredom and loneliness

    Dr. Phillips (DVM) mentions that dogs bark at night because they just don’t know what else to do. They tend to sleep while you’re at work, leaving them with high levels of unspent energy.

    Long workdays spent away from them can also make them feel lonely. This may cause them to bark for attention as they want you to make up for your absence.

    Dog barking pattern: Random barking or playful yipping



    Indicators:
    • Chewing on objects
    • Making a mess when you’re not home
    • Jumping on you and your guests
    Solutions:
    • Physical exercise
    • Creative games and activities
    • Training 
    • Socialisation
    • Ignoring barking

    2. Noise sensitivity and alertness

    Dogs are known for their heightened senses. But they might also be extra sensitive to sudden or unfamiliar sounds, resulting in negative reactions such as excessive barking.

    Sometimes you can’t hear the sounds that cause their reactions, which further complicates the issue. Dogs can hear much higher frequencies than humans, Dr. Joanna Woodnutt (MRCVS) of The Vets points out. They also have to hear at a lower volume than us. If you aren’t aware of why they’re barking so much, examine their body language.

    Dog barking pattern: Higher-pitched, continuous barking



    Indicators:
    • Shaking
    • Clinginess to you when there are loud sounds
    • Heightened response to loud sounds
    • Peering for the source of sound
    • Keeping ears back
    Solutions:
    • Going for therapy
    • Putting on white noise
    • Training

    3. Need to pee or poop

    Like humans, dogs might find the intense need to relieve themselves at night. Barking could be their way of getting your attention if they find that other methods aren’t successful.

    It’s commonly seen with puppies as they aren’t toilet trained and their bladders are underdeveloped. You’ll need to accept this as part of their care routine.

    Dog barking pattern: A single bark, followed by a wait, then another bark



    Indicators:
    • Scratching at the door or crate
    • Restlessness and whining
    • Running towards the door
    Solutions:

    4. Hunger or issues with diet

    dog waiting for food

    Barking can also arise when a dog is hungry. It could be that she hasn’t been fed enough, there were significantly long waiting times between meals, or she dislikes her food.

    Aside from not getting enough food, your dog might not be getting the right nutrients from her current diet.

    Dog barking pattern: Slight howling while barking



    Indicators:
    • Doesn’t finish meals 
    • Inconsistent bowel movements
    • Ribs are showing
    • Finishing meals quickly and begs for more
    Solutions:
    • Consult a vet for proper dietary needs
    • Smaller, consistent meals

    5. Pain or illness

    Barking at night can also be a sign of pain. Dogs may find themselves in uncomfortable sleeping positions, or that their beds just aren’t soft enough.

    But if she’s displaying other signs such as limping, this could signal other underlying conditions and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Allergies and illnesses are possible reasons for discomfort at night.

    Dog barking pattern: Barking with whimpers, yelps and whines



    Indicators:
    • Limping or reluctance to walk
    • Agitation
    • Lethargy
    • Rapid, shallow breathing and increased heart rate
    • Appetite changes
    Solutions:

    6. Separation anxiety

    Dogs are social and loyal creatures, so being away from you can sometimes cause severe anxiety issues. This may happen when they don’t sleep in the same room as you, or if they’re left alone most of the time.

    Dog barking pattern:

    Continuous loud barking and howling





    Indicators:
    • Urinating and defecating when you leave
    • Pacing around
    • Chewing and destroying things
    • Barking when she’s not in the same room as you
    Solutions:
    • Take dog on a walk before leaving the house
    • Short intervals of alone time
    • Medication
    • Calming supplements

    7. Lack of crate training (for puppies)

    Puppies are like babies, so it’s normal for them to bark or cry at night when they feel terrified and lonely in their crates. 

    Giving proper crate training to your puppies will help you feel less anxious over their welfare and also prevent negative barking habits in the future.

    Dog barking pattern: Whining while barking



    Indicators:
    • Destructive acts with toys and objects
    • Pacing, whining and trembling before owners leave
    • Urinating and defecating before owner leaves
    Solutions:
    • Crate training

    Tips to stop dog barking at night

    dog sleeping soundly on comfortable dog bed

    1. Provide a comfortable sleeping space

    A bad sleeping environment can result in a very unhappy dog.  If a dog only barks in a certain area or enclosure, it’s likely that she has problems sleeping there and should be removed from the space.

    If your dog is currently sleeping outside, you can consider bringing her indoors or into your room for bedtime. You could also get a larger crate or a comfier bed to help her sleep better. 

    2. Increase exercise

    Dr. Burch (DVM) mentions that exercise is a foolproof method that helps alleviate barking and other behavioural issues. On top of that, it tires them out and gets them, and you, a good night’s rest!

    Set aside 1 hour to bring your dog on a walk or other fun activities that stimulate their thinking. One tip is to do this in the late afternoon or evening so they’re ready to go to sleep. 

    3. Make use of calming products

    Instead of using medication to make your dog sleep, try products that help soothe them. These include dog-friendly essential oils and white noise generators.

    These can help to relieve their anxieties from the day without adverse side effects from medicinal methods. 

    4. Disregard the barking

    As a result of boredom and loneliness, your dog could be barking at night because she’s trying to gain extra attention from you. In such cases, Dr. Wooten (DVM) highly recommends that you try to ignore them. 

    You’ll still need to investigate what else might be ongoing, but entertaining them while they’re barking might make them think that it’s a good and rewardable habit.

    5. Proper training

    Crate training is especially important for puppies as you’re teaching them to be comfortable and safe inside their puppy crate. This also conditions them to feel secure at night when you’re not physically around.

    For adult dogs, get them to recognise certain commands that mean ‘stop barking’. If you’re unsure of how to do so, bring your furry friend to a professional trainer.

    6. Bring him to the vet

    If your dog’s excessive barking is accompanied by other symptoms of pain or illness, you should visit the vet immediately.

    You’ll be able to discover if there are any harmful medical reasons and also get proper treatment that’s catered towards your beloved pet.

    Things to avoid when handling dog barking

    Scolding a dog

    1. Negative methods

    Yelling at your dog to be quiet is equivalent to barking with them – it encourages them to do it more! You should also avoid punishing them with violence because it makes them more timid and prone to howling.

    Be firm with your instructions and use positive reinforcement methods when they display good or progressive behaviour. Dr. Miriam Collister (MRCVS) on behalf of Original Calming Bed agrees that rewarding your dog’s good behaviour with a favourite toy or dog-friendly treat is best. You’ll develop a strong bond with your dog by training them this way.

    2. Inconsistent training

    You can’t just tell your dog to not bark once and never do it again. Consistency in training is essential because your dog might get confused if they can get away with barking sometimes.

    It also helps that your family members apply the same training methods to address their barking.

    3. Usage of a muzzle while you’re absent

    You should never keep a muzzle on your dog while you’re gone for long periods of time or throughout the night as a method of prevention.

    This is harmful because muzzles inhibit panting, which is necessary for dogs to regulate their temperature. It also stops them from eating and drinking water.

    Frequently asked questions

    dog barking while in a field

    Why is my dog barking at night all of a sudden?

    When a dog suddenly begins barking at night, it could be due to one of the following reasons: boredom, loneliness, noise sensitivity, hunger, pain, illness, or anxiety from separation.

    If she’s a puppy, she’s most likely terrified of being alone in her crate.

    Should I ignore my dog barking at night?

    You should only ignore your dog if you sense that they’re barking for your attention. Engaging them will only motivate them to continue barking.

    But if you think that they’re doing it due to other reasons, it’s important to investigate and address the matter promptly.

    How do I stop my dog barking at night?

    To stop dog barking at night, you need to first find out the reason. Different reasons will require different solutions.

    If you find that she’s barking for attention, don’t respond until she stops. But if it’s due to other issues, engage a vet or dog behaviourist for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

    Why is my old dog barking at night?

    If your older dog is barking unusually, this might be a symptom of Canine Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). The condition is similar to Alzheimer’s Disease in humans, and may result in your older dog feeling confused, lost or dazed for long periods.

    How can I get my dog to sleep all night?

    Dogs don’t sleep easily when they’re fidgety and filled with energy. To help with this, take your dog out for an hour of exercise or activities during the day. 

    You could also play with them before bedtime, which tires them out and helps them sleep better throughout the night. 

    Maintain dog barking at night

    Sudden dog barking at night can be disruptive and worrying for you as a pet owner. If it starts happening more consistently, it could be a sign of a bad habit or an underlying problem.

    It’s important to correct the barking with the right solution. Enlisting the help of a vet or a dog behaviourist will help with effective diagnosis and treatment!

    Article by:
    Andrea
    Contributors:
    There's nothing Andrea loves more than dancing and playing the Sims 4. She is highly intrigued by astrology and enjoys fantasy novels of any sort. You can often find her obsessing over adorable animal videos.
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