It’s a common problem many dog owners have. It’s 3 AM; you’re sound asleep. Then you start hearing your dog growling, whining, and panting. It happened to me many times. I didn’t make a big deal out of it at first until it became a nightly habit for my dog. So I started wondering why my dog keeps waking me up in the middle of the night?
For few nights, I monitored the issue to see why he wakes up at night; his food intake, the time he ate last, exercise, sleeping arrangement, etc. In this post, I will share with you the reasons why my dog keeps waking me up at night, along with other cases that I researched about other dogs.
Reasons Why My Dog Wakes Up in the Middle of the Night
Dogs can wake up immediately when they hear outside noises. These noises can be from a neighbor’s house, a leaky faucet, or heavy rain. The worst of them all is thunder. My Shih Tzu is so scared of thunder; oddly enough, we named him Thunder. So what I do when this happens is move his bed to another room and put blankets around him to make him feel safer. So, ensure that your dog is sleeping in a quiet and distraction-free room.
- Lack of exercises
When you don’t take your dog out for exercise and walk during the day, it means your dog will have excess energy at night. Exercising during the day helps him sleep better at night. I try to take Thunder out once in the morning and once early in the evening. The days that it’s too cold outside or I’m too busy to walk him in the evening, I know he won’t have a full night sleep. So, ensure that your dog is getting the required amount of exercise according to his breed.
- Separation Anxiety
I noticed that the older my dog gets, the more he gets attached to me. Some nights he would wake up and starts panting and pacing the area where he’s sleeping and he growls trying to get my attention. I go downstairs to check if there are any issues, nothing. So I lie down on the couch in the room where his bed is, and he goes straight to his bed and sleep.
Dogs cannot tell time. When you’re away from them whether you’re at work or sleeping, they feel lonely; especially older dogs.
Related read: Best dog beds for separation anxiety.
- Change of sleeping arrangement
A very dark room is not an ideal setting for my Shih Tzu. I tried different light settings. Now I leave the light dimmed enough for him to see his way to the pee pad if he needs to go in the middle of the night. I also noticed that he would have a hard time sleeping throughout the night when I move the bed to another room.
Other Reasons Why Dogs Wake Up At Night
- Pee break
It can be another reason why your dog is waking up during the night. It’s essential to toilet train your dog so that he can straightaway go to the toilet when he needs to pee. Older dogs and young pups don’t have full control over the bladder, so you have to be patient with them. Take your dog to the toilet before going to bed; it will prevent your dog from waking up in the middle of the night.
If your dog wakes up during the night, it might be because of hunger, whether it’s a change in dieting schedule or different food. Also, the amount of food that your dog is eating can affect his night sleep. If you want your dog to enjoy a sound sleep, feed him the right and balanced diet.
- Routine change
Dogs love to follow a routine, and when the routine is disturbed, they show abnormal behavior. Change in routine includes diet change, feeding time, sleeping and wake up time, and exercise. When you change the routine you should do it gradually.
- Illness or injury
Illness, injury, or other medical conditions might be causing discomfort during the night. Older dogs develop joint problems, hip dysplasia or other mobility issues. If your dog starts to show this behavior suddenly and starts to show anxiousness, it’s time to take him to the vet.
What To Do
You can do the following things to prevent your dog from waking up in the middle of the night:
- Provide the right diet: The proper diet will ensure that your dog sleeps better. Moreover, when you feed your dog a balanced diet, it means you’re dog gets all the nutrients to stay healthy. I use an automatic dog feeder. It helps regulate the mealtime and amount of food your dog is eating. It makes it consistent every day.
- A comfortable sleeping environment: A night light helps your senior dog feel comfortable in a dark place. Also, make sure the room temperature is average, not too cold or too hot.
- Dog bed: A good cushioned dog bed or orthopedic dog bed helps with sore joints or back pain due to old age. Introduce your dog to the new bed by leading them there with a treat. Then give it to them once they get in bed.
- Daily walks: An excellent habit to have is walking your dog twice daily if possible. It can be extended walk sessions and more playtime. If you can’t spare time for your dog during the day, you can buy toys to keep them occupied and engaged throughout the day. It will prevent them from sleeping during the day.
- Sleeping routine: When you set up a predictable and regular sleeping pattern, your dog can adapt to it. Try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Dogs have different sleeping patterns than that of humans and sleep up to 20 hours per day.
- Veterinary help: When all else fails, it’s best to consult with your vet. He or she might prescribe some medications for anxiety and to help with restlessness at night.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Let My Dog Out In The Middle Of The Night?
That depends on many factors. In the winter, when it’s cold, it’s hard to take the dog out. Older dogs cannot hold their bladders, so in my case, I put a pee pad right by the backyard door. So I night he can do his business on it without waking me up. I also take him out as soon he wakes up. Make it part of your routine, and it will prevent you from letting your dog out in the middle of the night. Housetraining your dog can make your job easy.
Can I Crate Train A Senior Dog?
Definitely, with the right attitude and patience, crate training an older mutt is not hard. It would be best if you tempted your older dog into his crate with treats and lots of praise. Then gradually, try closing the door while he’s inside until he gets used to it. A crate cover is helpful at night to make your dog feel cozy and safe.
Do dogs sleep better in the dark?
For a very detailed answer to this question, check out my other blog on Dog sleep.
So there you have it, all the reasons why my dog keeps waking me up in the middle of the night, and what I did to solve that problem. I hope this helps you find the right solution for a good night’s sleep for you and your pup. Our dogs love us, and we love our dogs, so it’s only natural that we provide them all the comfort in the world. With the right training and proper routine, everyone will be comfortable and sleeps through the night.
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