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15 Reasons Why Your Dog Growls At Night + 7 Tips To Stop It

Why Does My Dog Growl At Night

Are your neighbors fed up with your pooch’s unending vocalizations at night?

Do you want to sleep peacefully from now on?

You know your dog could be telling you something…

But what is it?

Good news! You don’t need to enroll in some kind of an academy just to know their language. Instead…

Keep reading to learn:

  • What makes your dog so vocal at nighttime.
  • When you should be alarmed and take them to the vet.
  • 7 helpful tips on how to stop this yapping madness for good.
  • Whether they’re muttering at nothing or they’re onto something.
  • And a lot more…

Why does my dog growl at night?

Your dog growls at night because they’re having bad dreams, hearing weird sounds and loud snoring, scaring off strangers, warning you, asking for attention, or responding to other hounds. It can also be due to pain, trauma, loneliness, frustration, sleep aggression, lack of exercise, and dementia.

15 reasons why your dog growls at night

#1: ‘Nightmares’

Does your dog often growl in their sleep?

If so, they might be having bad dreams.

They might be seeing flashbacks of their first vet visit. Or when you left them alone in the car for a bit and got scared.

But if it’s with violent movements, biting, and chewing, it might be something else.

It could be a rapid eye movement (REM) sleep disorder. And dogs who have this will have awful dreams regularly.

They’ll act out whatever it is in their minds, and it’s usually a terrible experience.

Based on a study with 14 canines with this condition, 64% are 1 year old and below. But some may have it as early as 8 weeks.

#2: Sleep aggression

Your Dog Growls At Night Due To Sleep Aggression

“Let sleeping dogs lie.”

Some canines may growl and snap out at anyone who touches them while they’re sleepy

And this might usually happen when you try to pick them up and put them in their beds.

Is yours friendly in the day but turns grumpy at night?

If so, they could be startled, tired, and don’t want to be disturbed at the moment.

I mean, even humans can get grumpy when you wake them up. But in your dog’s case, there are more signs of this, such as:

  • Biting.
  • Yawning.
  • Lip licking.
  • Turning their head.
  • Showing their teeth.

#3: You have sleeping problems

Does your dog growl while you’re in slumber then stop when you wake up?

You looked everywhere to find what they’re so mad about…

But can’t see anything?

Uh-oh. You might not know this yet. But, you might be snoring loud at night.

Or it could also be your roommate or your family member in the next room.

Teeth grinding and sleep apnea are also common in some people. And your pooch might be disturbed by it. Or they grumble out of concern for you.

#4: Weird noises and scents

“-Woof! Woof!

-What is it your snarling at, doggo? There’s nothing in here…”

Wait, are they seeing something our eyes can’t perceive?

You’re sure there’s no one outside. And your dog only seems to grumble in that corner…

Spooky, isn’t it?

Oh my! Could it be a ghost they’re talking with?

I hate to break this but…

No, the strange noises your dog hears at night have nothing to do with supernatural events. But the sounds could be night-specific.

In most situations, canines will not growl without a reason. And given they have incredible ears, they could even hear frequencies we can’t discern.

They can also smell something 20km away. That’s why nothing could escape their heightened senses.

So they might have heard some critters inside the wall. Or the sound of a car parked a few blocks from your house.

Reading tip: 9 Real Reasons Why Your Dog Growls At Nothing + 7 Tips

#5: Territorial instincts

If your dog usually does it whenever they see a stray dog outside, they might be telling them to, “Get off my place! NOW!”

They could be more protective of their ‘territory’ at night. And anything that comes near it is considered a threat.

This might also happen when they hear some neighbors walking or see a cat hunting in the yard. There could also be some wild animals or rodents around your area.

#6: Trauma

Does your dog growl only in the evening?

Do they always look scared, and their hair is standing up?

If yes, they might have a trauma that’s linked to nighttime or darkness. 

Some canines may get more anxious during that time. And it might be in their nature.

But if they’re rescued, they might have PTSD or posttraumatic stress disorder. And some bad memories might still be haunting them until now.

In the army, it was found that military dogs are also prone to this, aside from soldiers.

Research says that 5 to 10% of canines exposed to a shocking event might develop this condition.

For your pooch, they might hate being in a dark place. Or it could be the act of turning the lights off. As it might remind them of an awful scenario that happened in the past.

According to PetMD, they may also show these symptoms:

  • Sudden aggression.
  • Always fearful and clingy.
  • Flattened ears and tucked tail.
  • Pooping or peeing in the house.

Check out: 11 causes of clinginess in dogs

#7: They’re asking for attention

Your Dog Is Asking For Attention

If your dog growls at you, they might just want to get noticed.

It could be for some cuddles, or they’re up for playtime.

And there’s a huge chance that you encouraged this behavior. Especially when they always do it.

They might have learned that when they mutter, they’ll get your attention in an instant.

You might have talked to or petted them as snarling might also mean they’re scared.

But they’re not. So they thought that you like it whenever they do it.

#8: Loneliness

Your dog might also be sad if they’re left outside the house or your room every night.

So they growl to express what they feel in hopes that you’ll come and put them inside.

They don’t want to be separated from you. And they probably can’t sleep well too.

Most dogs are very social. So they would really like it if they’re close to their humans at all times.

And when they’re stressed, being with them will make them feel relaxed.

#9: Group barking

They might also do this as a response to the other canines in the area.

It usually happens in the middle of the night. When it’s quiet, and the streets are empty.

This can start with one hound growling at a stray, or for any reason that’s not clear to us. 

Followed by a muttering of someone nearby. Until one by one, every dog in the neighborhood will bark along.

So your pooch will also have the urge to grumble just like them. As they do it mostly out of habit.

#10: To warn you

“Oh no, I can sniff danger.

Human, quick!”

Your dog might also be calling your attention because they sensed that something’s off.

They might have smelled a stranger outside who’s up to no good. Or someone might have left their stove on.

And they’re letting you know them by growling as it’s one of the ways to be noticed.

Apart from their instincts to keep you safe, it’s also known that their senses are much better than us.

What you might have perceived as an annoying sound (muttering) might be something that’ll help you.

So when it comes to these things, you can put your trust in them. But only if your dog isn’t a habitual yapper who does it for fun.

#11: They want something

As growling is an attention-seeking behavior, they might also need something from you.

It could be they’re hungry or thirsty, and they want you to refill their bowl. Or…

They might need to pee or go potty. So they want you to get the door and let them outside.

#12: Frustration

“Ugh. I’m so confused and it’s making me mad!”

Dogs will also express themselves loudly when they want to do or get something, but they can’t.

They’ll also be frustrated if they can’t figure some things out.

Their toy might have gone under the cabinet. Or they see a friend outside but couldn’t meet them.

They are also very aware of the things around them. And they’ll know if something’s changed.

So if they keep on growling on a big vase you bought earlier, they might remember that the spot is usually empty. And they’ve never seen the object before.

#13: Pent up energy

Does your dog snarl a lot and seem hyper in the evening?

Oh no! They might not be getting enough physical and mental exercises during the day.

That’s why they have so much energy at night and would tend to grunt at anything.

It’s never a good thing to let their day pass with only little stimulation. As it may cause this and other unwanted behaviors.

They might be bored without anything to do in the house. So they might be asking you to play with them. Or they just vocalize to entertain themselves.

#14: Discomfort due to injury or old age

Have you noticed any changes in their behavior aside from frequent yapping?

If so, it could be due to an injury or illness. 

Some medical problems might hurt more at night. And they may find it difficult to rest.

Their sleeping area might also be uncomfortable. It could be their bed, or it might be too hot in the room.

But if they’re old, they might have poorer vision or hearing.

A study shows that more than 90% of dogs with dementia are suffering from loss of vision.

So it’ll be hard for them to recognize you or other things in the house. And that makes them so anxious.

As a result, they’ll be confused and growl at you.

#15: Sundowners syndrome

Does your pooch grumble and stare at a wall every night?

And does it seem like they’re upset during that time?

If so, they might have ‘Sundowners.’

This is when their delusions and anxiety usually intensifies when the sun’s down. Hence the name.

And this is observed in most old dogs with dementia.

Note: Some hounds might even growl at a random object or spot at a specific time.

5 tips on what to do if your dog growls at night 

#1: Correct the rewarded behavior

As you may have motivated this, it would be best to modify it into a positive one.

No yelling

First of all, don’t scold your dog whenever they do it.

It won’t make them stop. They would only think you’re joining them and be encouraged to growl more.

Acknowledge and train them to be “quiet”

Now, if your dog is really warning you about something, say “Alright” and ask them what it is.

You should take a peek outside the windows showing them that you’re serious about it.

By doing this, you’re recognizing their efforts to alert you. But don’t touch them yet as you don’t want it to be mistaken as a sign of encouraging their snarling.

If they stay silent after you check things out, only then you can praise them and give them a small treat.

Just ignore

But, if your dog only asks for attention and it happens every time, it’s not good. And you mustn’t allow it.

You should ignore them by not having eye contact and petting them.

Don’t punish them or even say anything. Just try to do something else.

They should settle and calm themselves down first before you approach them.

Do this until they’ve learned that growling isn’t the way to be noticed.

It won’t be easy, and there’s going to be a lot of unending yapping. But don’t give in no matter what.

#2: Let them “speak” on command

It’s only right to train them how to “speak” after teaching them how to be silent.

They go hand in hand. And you don’t want their muttering to be totally gone.

You mustn’t also expect it not to happen sometimes. Especially if they have strong protective instincts.

So when they growl, say “speak” in a high-pitched voice and reward them.

Repeat this a few times. 

You may also make them do the “quiet” command to see if they’ve understood it.

Train them other ways to communicate

It might get problematic when they yap every hour while you’re sleeping. And this will also be helpful during the day.

You can teach them to tap their food bowls instead of asking for water. Or they can grab their leash or stay by the door when they want out.

You must only do what they’re asking if they kept quiet.

#3: Fix sleep aggression

Now, if moving your dog to bed at night becomes a problem, there are things you can try.

First, understand that growling means warning.

They’re not in the mood to be petted. And they don’t like it when you startle them while they’re in a deep sleep.

Keep your distance from them.

You can wake them up by calling their name instead of touching them.

When they’re awake, show a treat but don’t feed it to them. Just leave it nearby so they can get it by themselves.

It’s because if you hand-feed them and they still growl, you’ll only be rewarding them for being stubborn.

If they’re still irritable, don’t force them. And just do this again until they’ve started to expect the treats more.

#4: Combat their anxiety

If your pooch is lonely outside, keep them in from now on. You don’t want them to get sad every night.

But if they have destructive behaviors, you may crate train them, so they learn to settle on their own. 

This will also give you peace of mind while sleeping. So, less stress and worries for both of you. 🙂

You can watch this video to learn how to do it:

If they’re too anxious and curious about their surroundings, you may cover their crate with a blanket. This should make them relaxed and less vocal.

Also, provide them with treats and chewy toys inside. You may also put any old shirt of yours in to soothe them. As it’s known that the scent of their favorite people gives dogs comfort.

If they’re afraid of darkness and have trouble seeing, you may put a lamp beside them. Motion sensor ones will also help them if they have to navigate around the room.

These will make them more confident. And it’ll help them to feel insecure as well.

Note: Playing soothing music for dogs might also help in calming their nerves.

#5: The comfier, the better

Before dozing off, make sure they’re comfortable with their spot to avoid growling.

You can lower the temperature or open the windows if the weather’s hot. Or do the opposite if it’s too chilly.

And if it seems like they’re not happy with their bed, see if it’s too small or dirty. Offer them a rug or a place beside you.

If they can’t rest because of weird noises, you can play some ‘white noises’ or put the radio on. 

It’ll make the outside sounds less audible. And they might get a good night’s sleep.

Just make sure that it’s on a low volume and don’t disturb you instead.

#6: Wear them out

You don’t want them to have so much energy at night, making them go crazy and yap.

So always make time to play and exercise with them during the day.

You must also stimulate their minds when inside the house. Give them puzzle toys that challenge their brains. Or play games such as hiding some treats and letting them find them.

Remember, a happily tired pooch will be a calm one. 🙂

#7: See an expert

Lastly, if it seems like they’re in pain, visit a vet immediately.

You need to know their actual condition, and it’s always best to detect any illness asap.

If your dog is considered old, this will also help you to know how to take care of them.

There might be some needed adjustments at home and in their routine, like keeping their things like bowl and bed in the same accessible place.