Snuggled in bed about to fall asleep when all of a sudden, your dog starts barking? You didn’t hear anything, but your dog got your attention.
Sometimes, dogs alert you for perfectly good reasons. Other times… not so much. It’s important to find out why your dog barks at night. You don’t want to break the behavior if they are truly trying to alert you to a threat.
For those dogs that chronically bark at night, you might find they aren’t barking for a good reason. They just wake up the house and possibly even neighbors for apartment dwellers.
So, it’s time to ask ourselves: “why do dogs bark at night?”
There are a Few Possibilities
There isn’t just one reason a dog barks at night. Each dog is unique and their reasons for barking are equally unique. Unfortunately, you’ll need to do your best as a dog owner to figure out why your dog barks.
Learning the triggers will help you train your dog to stop barking at night. Or at least, it will help you avoid the trigger.
It’s night time. You’re sleepy, but your dog isn’t! That means your pup may get bored. The best way to get your attention is to bark. This is why stimulating your dog during the day is so important.
If you’re concerned that your dog isn’t getting enough exercise during the day, start integrating more playtime into your routine. Take your dog for a walk after dinner. This is a good habit for both you and your pet.
Now, if your dog is home alone much of the day because you work or for other reasons, you might need to rethink your situation. Dogs who spend too much time alone might become destructive, or even bark at night.
Getting a dog sitter, a dog walker or taking your dog to day camp is a great solution for getting your dog lots of exercise. A tired dog sleeps through the night.
Some dogs are way more aware than other dogs. If there are people walking or cars driving by at night, dogs might hear them and react. This vigilance is common is watchdogs.
However, you might not want to break your dog of this habit if you like their alertness at other times during the day. In situations like this, it’s best to avoid the trigger or let your dog know you hear them.
Your dog is trying to alert you as a good dog should. So, try just telling them “okay, thank you” in a strong but kind voice. That shows them you heard them but you need them to stop now. Next time your dog gives an alert bark, give it a try.
Now, this is another common reason why dogs bark at night. There are some dogs that bark at night because they hear everything. And we mean everything: a neighbor getting home at night, a dog barking two blocks away or even your home’s air conditioner turning on.
This is a tougher habit to break and it will take time. So, remember to be patient. Start by slowly exposing your dog to noises in order to desensitize them.
Not addressing these issues can lead to a noise phobia in your dog that can impact their day-to-day lives.
Taking a walk, eating food or even hanging out in your yard could lead to anxiety. That means even more behavior issues, which come in many forms and may sometimes be difficult to interpret.
Dogs like to talk to each other through barking. You may have walked around the neighborhood and heard one dog in a yard barking to another in a different yard.
Dogs are pack animals, so they participate in something called socially facilitated barking. This is also known as group barking. If one dog bark starts barking, dogs located close by may start barking as well.
It’s a totally common social behavior, it can be a pain if your dog responds at night. This one is hard to control. You can never tell when a local dog is going to start a group bark!
How to Stop the Late-Night Barking
First, if your dog barking at night is a real issue that’s disrupting our household, talk to a vet. Your dog might have an underlying medical issue. Pain, illness and discomfort are some reasons dogs bark for no reason.
Another reason? Dementia. Older dogs will often bark for no reason at all hours of the night. In fact, one study showed that elderly dogs with an average of 11 to 12 years of age suffer from cognitive canine dysfunction (CDD).
“Using a provisional diagnosis based on 27 significant behavioral items, the prevalence rate of CCD was estimated to be 14.2%.”
The next way to stop your dog from barking at night is to try to eliminate the trigger. Sometimes, however, the trigger is not within your power to stop. However, yelling at your dog to stop is not the way to halt the behavior.
It might lead to more issues and trauma in the long run. No matter how frustrated you become, you need to be patient with your pet. Work with them to understand their behavior and change it or do your best to stop the trigger.
If you’re really struggling to stop nighttime barking, talk to your vet about seeing a pet behaviorist.
So, Why do Dogs Bark at Night?
In summary, there are plenty of reasons that dogs bark at night. Not all of them are easily remedied. Boredom, alertness, noise sensitivity, other dogs and medical issues are just some of the common reasons.
As your dog’s owner and caretaker, the responsibility falls on you to discover your dog’s triggers. Hopefully, this leads to better sleep for you and your household. Remember that patience is the key to overcoming this behavior.
You might have to get a little creative in finding solutions, but remember your vet is a wonderful resource for anything regarding your dog’s behavior.
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