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9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is So Restless At Night + 9 Tips

Why Is My Dog Restless At Night All Of A Sudden

Your dog used to sleep like a baby at night. 

And so did you. Until they became restless all of a sudden. 

Pacing, panting, barking are some of the things your dog could be doing at night. Basically, anything but sleeping.

So now you’re worried, confused and… underslept.

Not to worry! This article will give you an insight into why this is happening. 

Plus, what you can do to get your dog snoozing at bedtime.

Read on and discover:

  • The symptoms and causes of anxiety in dogs.
  • What critters have to do with your dog’s odd behavior. 
  • Whether a change in your dog’s life is causing them to act this way. 
  • How a simple mental-stimulation dog toy can put a stop to your dog’s restlessness.
  • And much much more…

Why is my dog restless at night all of sudden?

Your dog is restless at night all of a sudden because of a medical issue such as digestive tract problems, a headache, loss of bladder control, or they’re bothered by noises that we humans can’t hear. For example from nocturnal critters. Another reason is a recent change in the dog’s life.

Specific situations:

9 reasons why your dog is suddenly restless at night

#1: Anxiety

If your dog is sensitive to noises, they could have noise sensitivity. This type of condition could be triggered by certain types of noises at night.

Thunder or fireworks might leave your dog restless and panting all of a sudden. 

According to research, noise sensitivity, fear in general and separation anxiety were the most common causes of anxiety in dogs. 

Other symptoms of anxiety in dogs include:

  • Barking.
  • Whining.
  • Trembling.
  • Increased salivating.
  • Loss of bladder control.

Reading tip: 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Checks On You When You’re Sleeping

#2: Cognitive dysfunction (a.k.a. canine cognitive disorder (CCD) or dementia)

Vets cannot diagnose dementia in dogs by running cognitive tests. 

A dog suffering from dementia could wake up and be disoriented. This will cause the old dog to be fearful of the surroundings. 

Researchers found out that most dogs who were above 16 years had CCD. And that the symptoms increased as soon as dogs reached 10 years of age. 

The conclusion was that physical signs of discomfort could be seen in the early stages of CCD.

#3: Pain

Does your dog sleep and wake up all of a sudden? 

If so, their body could be hurting somewhere.

A dog in pain is likely to be:

  • Pacing.
  • Panting.
  • Restless.
  • Vocalizing. 
  • Licking the part that hurts.

All of this can happen during the night. The main reason could be either joint, muscle, or spinal pain. But also a headache. 

What also causes dogs to be restless and pant is arthritis. The reason is that they have a hard time finding a comfortable position. And because they’re in pain, they pant. 

And what if your dog is restless at night, drooling and licking their lips? Then they might have a digestive tract problem. 

#4: Lack of exercise

If your dog has spent the day all alone, they have likely not done much. Except for sleeping. So once you come home, they expect more than just a walk and food.

That’s because lack of exercise often leads to pent-up energy. Which will make your dog less likely to sleep. 

But if you’re not available to interact with them, your pooch will be bored. This in turn will “force” them to think of fun activities they can do. 

There’s only one problem here. It’s that your dog’s idea of fun is different from yours. So you might be bothered by the “solution” your dog has found for themselves. 

#5: Call of nature

Well, this one is a pretty plain but nevertheless valid reason. I mean, if you feel like you need to go, you’d get up out of bed, right? 

Because if you don’t, you won’t be able to relax and continue that nice dream of yours. This can happen occasionally.

But if your dog starts doing it more often, the behavior could indicate a medical condition. 

Medical conditions that make dogs urinate more often include:

  • Kidney disease.
  • Gastrointestinal disease.
  • Neuro-muscular disease.
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTI).
  • Hormonal disease (such as diabetes or Cushing’s disease).

For more information, head to your vet. They’ll run some blood and/or urine tests. 

#6: A change in your dog’s life

Any life changes could affect your dog in a major way. This includes switching homes, partners, a family member dying or being born, having a new dog, and so on.

Let’s take moving house for example. You might think that is not a big deal. Especially if you’ve done it several times in your life already.

Sure-it’s a lot of work and time. But once you move into the new home, it seems like all the hassle’s over. 

But for your dog, it could feel the opposite. It’s a new environment. And they need to adjust to it in order to feel safe. 

On top of moving house, your dog’s walking routine has changed. Maybe due to your dedication to set up your new home asap. 

So while it’s understandable, your dog has no clue what’s going on. And why. All they know is that walks are being delayed and/or are lasting shorter.

As to you, you’ve been so busy with chores recently, that you had barely any time to realize this might be distressing your dog. 

So once you see them restless at night, it comes as a big surprise.

#7: “What to do with this toy?” whining

Dog Restless At Night Carrying Toy In Mouth

Have you recently given your dog a new bone or a chew toy? 

Sometimes dogs see certain toys as high-value ones. Or in other words, as favorites. As a result, the dog would want to do something special with that toy. 

They have several options:

They’ll do the latter when they want to hide the toy but are unsure of where to do that. It’s normal if your dog hasn’t previously hidden toys to be confused.

The confusion could also stem from the fact that they know they should do something with it. But they have no idea what it is. 

It’s kind of like a person who’s not strong at maths. And when they’re presented with a complicated math problem, they bang their heads against the wall. Yep – frustrating. 

But hey, after some time your dog will either chew on the toy or find a hidden place.

#8: Critter alert 

A lot of dog parents wonder why their dogs seem to be looking at or barking at nothing. In reality, there’s always a reason. Most often we’re unable to hear what our dogs can.

But this doesn’t mean your pooch can see paranormal stuff like ghosts. 

Meaning, at night your dog could hear cats or opossums that are roaming the neighborhood. As then these animals go unbothered by people or pet dogs. 

Or, there could be some critters in the house. And since everyone else is asleep at night, the sounds could be more noticeable for your dog. 

Your dog is unsettled because they cannot go hunt the critter down. It could be because the critter is outside the house while your dog is in. Or the critters are in the attic or cellar.

Examples of critters you might have at home include:

  • Bats.
  • Squirrels.
  • Mice/Rats.
  • Raccoons.
  • Opossums.

#9: Loneliness

Have you recently got a puppy? 

If the answer is “yes”, there are several things you need to consider. 

The pup misses their mom and littermates. Plus, the puppy hasn’t bonded with you yet. So, they have no one to comfort them at the moment. And they feel all alone.

What’s more, if you’ve put the pup in a crate, they’ll feel isolated. After all, dogs are social animals. If there’s no one in the room with them, they’ll most likely be scared.

As a result, the pup will try to draw your attention by barking, whining, and scratching at the crate. While all they’re trying to say is “Please, don’t leave me!”.

Read further: 13 reasons why your dog is suddenly sad

Bonus: Side effects of medication

Is your dog under medication?

If so, there might be some side effects. 

Dogs who take steroids for example could drink more water and urinate frequently.

Whenever you have to give your dog medicine, check what side effects are listed. Look whether insomnia, restlessness, and incontinence are on the list. 

How do you calm a restless dog at night? 9 tips

#1: Before you take a trip to the vet do this

Whatever you think the reason might be, it’s still best to rule out any medical condition. Check with your vet whether your dog is feeling under the weather.

But before you rush to the vet’s office, create a journal. Keep an eye out for any patterns that might occur and note them down. 

Consider this:

  • At what time is your dog restless?
  • How much does the restlessness continue?
  • What do they do in the meantime (do they pant, bark, whine)?
  • Do you notice any recurring event happening just before your dog gets restless?

Having an answer to these questions can help your vet decipher the situation quicker. 

#2: Get your dog the best bed you can

Comfort above all. 

If you have a dog that’s aging or a pooch that underwent surgery, a suitable bed is a must-have. 

Old dogs tend to suffer from arthritis. And operation patients need time to recover and a soft space where they can lie unbothered. 

Here’s an example of an orthopedic dog bed: the PetFusion Ultimate Dog Bed, Solid CertiPUR-US Orthopedic Memory Foam on Amazon. 

Besides the memory foam that adjusts based on your dog’s posture, it also has head-supporting bolsters. And dogs love to put their head on an elevated soft surface.

Note: Even if you have a perfectly healthy dog, a dog bed is still something each dog benefits from. 

#3: Give your dog some calming aids

If your dog is anxious at night, you can give them calming aids.

Such ones are:

  • Valerian.
  • Hemp oil.
  • L-theanine.
  • Chamomile.
  • L-tryptophan.

Note: It’s best to purchase such supplements with the approval of your vet. Also, if your dog suffers from severe anxiety, consult your vet for the most effective options to give to your furry friend.

#4: Don’t cut short on the exercise

Exercise Your Dog Meme

Address your dog’s exercise needs. These vary depending on age, size, and personality. The golden rule though is that each dog gets 30 minutes of exercise a day. 

But besides physical exercise, you should consider mental as well. 

And here’s the thing…

It’s important and achievable even if you’re not available to interact with your dog at the moment. 

Not to mention that it saves you from unwanted behaviors. Some of which are barking and chewing of furniture and other valuable items.

With this in mind, you can get your dog…

Mental puzzles

Mental puzzles provide your dog with entertainment throughout the day. And a reward once your dog gets the hang of the toy in question.

Interactive treat dispenser 

Such ones are treat dispensers like thе LC-dolida Dog Puzzle Toys for Beginner

on Amazon. This interactive toy promotes fun and slow feeding.

Snuffle mat

Then there’s also the AWOOF Snuffle Mat Pet Dog Feeding Mat. It stands out with its cool design. Plus, it could be folded like a bag and put somewhere after your dog is done. 

Not to mention all the amazing feedback it gets. From people with small dogs to dog parents with big ones. And it also keeps old dogs engaged. 

Some dog parents buy it as a B-Day present to their pooches. The aim is to keep the dogs engaged while their human is at work. Others get it to alleviate their dog’s anxiety. 

Stuffed Kong

Last but not least, there’s the so famous Stuffed Kong. It’s often recommended not only by but dog trainers but also by vets. 

It helps dogs cope with:

  • Anxiety.
  • Barking.
  • Boredom. 
Teeth cleaning ball

You could also get a toy that has the best of both worlds. For example, a treat dispenser teeth cleaning toy such as the Idepet Dog Toy Ball, Nontoxic Bite Resistant Toy Ball.

I have this one at home. And my dog Lissa is crazy about it. I don’t even fill it with treats. All I do is throw it, then Lissa goes to fetch it. And once she has it, she nibbles on it.  

A dog sitter/walker

If you can’t spend enough time with your dog, get someone who can. This could be a pet sitter or a dog walker.

Or one of your relatives or friends. 

For one of my free days during the weekend, I like to get away from the city for a day. And I can’t always get Lissa. But I’m not okay with my dog having only 2 walks. 

That’s why I’ve asked one of my dog-loving friends to spend a few hours with her. Preferably not just walking her but also playing. 

Since he des that occasionally, Lissa’s used to him. Plus they have a lot of fun. And I get my peace of mind. It’s a win-win for all sides.

#5: Establish a bedtime routine

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a routine for dogs. By this, I mean feeding, walking, and sleeping routine. 

Dogs love having a set-in-stone schedule. And you will too when you realize how much it can help you.

By establishing a feeding, walking and sleeping schedule, you’ll benefit from your dog’s biological clock. 

Your dog will get used to the routine and you won’t have to worry when they’ll go potty. Or whether they’ll feel like going to bed or not. 

#6: Recreate a litter environment for your new puppy 

This might sound tricky to do. But it’s not that hard. 

Option 1

All you need is a warm bottle of water wrapped in a blanket. And a ticking clock. 

I know, it sounds weird. But all of this has a purpose. 

The ticking clock will play the role of a heartbeat. As to the bottle, it serves as a substitute for another pup’s body. 

Option 2

Another thing you can do is buy a special companion toy like the SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Toy. It will come of use not only at night but also during the day while you’re away. 

What’s special about it is that it has a heartbeat function. Plus it’s warm. Precisely what the pup is used to.

You can choose either of these 2 options and go with it for the first few nights. It’ll help your puppy adjust smoother in your home after leaving the litter. 

#7: Have the crated puppy sleeping in your room

Your puppy was with their littermates until now. But all of a sudden the pup is left all by themselves. And in an unknown place. That can be very stressful. 

To avoid your pup getting too stressed out, have them sleep in your room. It’s best to leave them in a crate for their own safety. Despite being closed off, they’ll sense your presence.

That will already serve as reassuring. After spending several nights like that, you can start moving the crate further away. But do it step by step. 

#8: Have your house checked by pest control

If you suspect your dog might be reacting to a nocturnal critter, have your house checked. You might be surprised.

#9: Get your dog an anxiety calming wrap

If anxiety’s torturing your dog at night, try an anxiety calming wrap. This is a common and effective method of calming an anxious dog down.

Check out this Mellow Shirt Dog Anxiety Calming Wrap. It comes in different sizes. 

Plus, it provides comfort during: 

  • Crating.
  • Barking.
  • Fireworks.
  • Thunderstorms.

And that’s not all. You can also use it when your travel with your dog.