Why Is My Dog Barking At Night?: Walkthrough any neighborhood at night and you’ll hear it: the sound of barking dogs. It seems that night barking is just a part of life. But what causes dogs to sound off so much at night? Why does your dog bark when the sun goes down, even to the point of keeping you and your neighbors awake?
Causes (Why Is My Dog Barking At Night?)
The truth is there’s no one answer to why dogs bark at night. It really depends on the dog and what is going on in his environment. Most dogs who bark at night do it while they are outside, which means causes of the behavior are related to the outdoors. Here are a few clues that can lead to understanding the barking-at-night phenomenon.
- Noises. Dogs have very good hearing, and it’s significantly better than ours. They can hear sounds that we can’t notice. So, while you may not hear anything while standing in your backyard at night, your dog might. If your dog is noise-sensitive and reacts to strange sounds with barking, you can be sure faraway sounds will set him off.
- Wildlife. Most dogs are interested in wild animals, whether it’s a squirrel, raccoon, or deer. Although you can’t see or hear wildlife near your yard at night, your dog can. Jill Goldman, PhD, a certified applied animal behaviorist located in Laguna Beach, California, shared her expertise on dogs and wild animals. “Dogs will bark at sounds and movement in the night, and raccoons and coyotes are often the culprits.”
- Other dogs. Socially facilitated barking, or “group barking,” results when a dog hears another dog barking and follows suit. Since dogs are pack animals, they are very reactive to the behavior of other dogs. The assumption is that if a dog in the neighborhood is barking, there must be a good reason. So, your dog and all the other dogs in the area chime in. Jill Goldman adds, “There are coyotes in my neighborhood, and every so often, one visits our street at night. The neighborhood dogs will alarm bark, which will trigger socially facilitated barking, and of course, territorial barking to any foreign visitor. Depending upon how many dogs are outside and in earshot, a group barking bout may ensue.”
- Boredom. Dogs become bored easily when they have nothing to do and will make their own fun. Barking at every sound they hear, joining in with the neighbor dogs in a group barking session, or just barking to let out energy are all reasons behind night barking.
- Loneliness. Dogs are very social animals, and they can become lonely when left outside alone at night. Howling is one-way dogs’ express loneliness, but they can also bark incessantly to try and gain human attention.
Encouraging the behavior
It could also be the case that you have encouraged it to bark at night by giving it things it wants when it does it. If it does not seem to bark for any particular reason such as needing to pee, but you give it attention when it starts barking, it will likely bark more in order to get more attention.
Instead, it would help to give it attention in the mornings when it does not bark, and to avoid giving it attention at night when it starts barking unless necessary.
It might be the case that something has been causing it to be in pain at night. This would be more likely if it has been showing other signs of being in pain such as limping and if it has started doing it suddenly. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
A problem with its diet
It could also be the case that there is an issue with its diet. It might be the case that it is not eating enough, it’s eating things that it shouldn’t be or it might not be getting the nutrients it needs in its diet. It would help to make sure that you have been giving it an appropriate diet and that it has not been eating things that it shouldn’t be.
Another possible reason why it barks at night is that it is hungry. It might be the case that it has not been eating enough or it might be having to wait for too long between meals. If it currently is only getting fed in the mornings, it might help to feed it less in the mornings but to feed it in the evenings as well instead.
The cause might be that it has separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and it gets anxious when it is left alone. This would be more likely if it sleeps in a different room than you or if it has started barking since not being able to sleep with you. It would also be more likely if it starts getting anxious when you would normally leave home or when you are going to bed.
It might help to follow the tips given in this book on Amazon which is about how to deal with dog separation anxiety.
A problem with your dog’s sleeping environment
The cause could also be that there is an issue with the room that it has to sleep in. It might be too hot, too loud, too bright, too noisy or there might not be enough space for it to lay down comfortably.
Your dog needs to pee during the night
Another possible cause is that it needs to pee. This would be more likely if it is a puppy and if it tends to bark more when it does not get to pee in the evenings.
A change in your dog’s routine at night
Dogs generally like having a set routine that they can follow. If your dog has started barking since changing its routine at night, it might be the case that it has been barking due to confusion about what is going on.
For example, it might be struggling to adapt to the new routine if you have started going to bed sooner or if you have started getting it to sleep somewhere else.
In this case, it would likely help to wait for it to get accustomed to the new routine and to avoid rewarding it when it barks unless it seems to be due to something such as needing to pee.
As dogs get older their joints become painful and it might be causing it to bark at night. This would be more likely if your dog is old and if it has been showing signs of being in discomfort during the day and at night. In this case, it would help to consult with your vet about it.
Things to consider about your dog barking at night
Below are some things you can consider to help figure out why it has been barking at night.
When your dog first started barking at night
If it did not always bark at night, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it.
If it started doing it suddenly, it would make it more likely to be due to things such as a change in its diet, a change in its sleeping environment, illness, injury or another change in its lifestyle.
What is different when your dog does not bark at night
It would also help to consider if there are some nights when it does not bark and what is different on those nights.
For example, if it does not bark on nights when it does not eat a certain food, it could be the case that there is an issue with what it has been eating.
How old your dog is
The age of your dog will also be a big factor in the most likely cause. If it is a puppy, it would make it more likely to be due to things such as needing to pee or wanting extra attention. Whereas, if it is an adult, it would be more likely to be due to things such as a change in its routine, getting less exercise, an issue with its sleeping environment or being in pain at night.
How to stop your dog from barking at night
Below are some things you can do to get your dog to stop barking at night.
Avoid encouraging the barking
As mentioned above, it could be the case that it does it because it is trying to get extra attention or rewards from you. It would help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it barks at night so that it learns that barking doesn’t get it extra attention. That is unless it seems to be barking for a different reason such as to go outside to pee, an issue with the room it sleeps in or because of an injury.
Give it exercise
If your dog is healthy, it would also help to make sure that it is able to get the daily recommended amount of exercise for its breed. It might also help to get it to wear itself out more by doing things such as playing fetch.
Ensure that your dog is getting the right diet
As mentioned above, it could be the case that there is an issue with its diet. It would help to make sure that it has been getting the right diet, that no one has been feeding it without you knowing, that it has not got access to things it shouldn’t be eating and to feed it earlier in the evening.
Don’t feed your dog too late
It might also help to avoid feeding it right before bedtime since it might be causing it to struggle to fall asleep.
Ensure your dog’s sleeping environment is ideal
It would also help to make sure that the room it sleeps in is cool, not too bright, not too loud and that there is room for it to sleep comfortably.
Crate training is where you teach your dog to learn to be comfortable inside of a crate designed for dogs.
If you crate train your dog in the right way it will give it a space where it can feel safe. This will give your dog a space where it will be able to feel secure at night without you being around.
Give your dog a chance to pee before bedtime
It would also help to make sure that it can pee before bedtime since it might be the case that it has been barking because it needs to pee.
If it has started barking since a change in its routine at night, such as since making it sleep in a different room without you, it would be likely that it will stop barking after a few days or weeks. In this case, it would help to be patient and to avoid rewarding it for barking. In this case, if it does not improve after a few weeks, it would help to get help from a dog behaviorist or to take it to a vet.
Take it to a vet
If it has been showing signs of being in pain or it has been barking excessively, it would help to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to rule out medical causes and to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog.
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Why is my dog barking at me at night?
It’s usually a happy bark, accompanied with tail wags and sometimes jumping.
Dogs often bark when they want something, such as going outside, playing, or getting a treat.
Separation Anxiety/Compulsive Barking
Dogs with separation anxiety often bark excessively when left alone.