Why Your Dog Is Barking at Night — and How to Prevent It
If your dog won’t stop barking at night, it’s important to pinpoint and address the cause so you can discourage the disruptive behavior. With patience and dedication, you can help create peace and quiet in your household without resorting to expensive dog trainers or facing a string of sleepless nights.
Why Does My Dog Bark at Night?
Almost all dogs bark occasionally, but excessive barking is one of the most common behavioral problems reported in dogs. It’s particularly problematic at nighttime, as a good night’s sleep is important for our own health and well-being. Learning why your dog barks through the night can help arm you with the training tools to correct the behavior.
For the most part, dogs bark at night for the same reasons they bark during the day, including:
1. Stress or Anxiety
Dogs may become stressed or anxious for a number of reasons, some which are not obvious. Finding the source of the stress — such as a change in their environment or routine — and addressing the problem may help fix a number of behavioral problems, barking included.
2. Seeking Attention
Dogs are generally considered to be one of the easiest animals to train, but their learning ability can be a double-edged sword. If you give your dog a treat, pet them or play with them when they bark, they may learn to bark for attention.
3. Loneliness or Boredom
Dogs, like all animals, are driven by instincts to hunt and interact with their pack. If you don’t stimulate your dog through activities like walks, playtime or socialization, your pup might signify their unhappiness by barking.
4. Threat or Noise Response
Another instinct common in dogs is to alert their pack to potential threats and scare away intruders. If a dog perceives a threat to themselves or their owner, they will likely bark in response.
Pain or discomfort, which may be caused by a medical condition, could lead to your pet whining or barking excessively. Additionally, your dog, especially if a puppy, might simply bark because their bladder is full and they need to go outside to relieve themselves.
How to Help Stop Your Dog from Barking at Night
After you identify (often with the help of a veterinarian) why your dog is barking through the night, you can take steps to help stop the behavior.
Don’t Give In to Attention-seeking Behavior
If your dog barks to get attention or stimulation, the most tried-and-true method for curbing this behavior is to ignore it. Common mistakes owners make when their dogs bark at night include:
- Petting the dog
- Speaking in a soothing tone
- Offering toys or treats
Refrain from engaging your dog if they bark at night; doing so will reward them for making noise. This method takes time and patience — ignoring your barking dog can be a challenge at any time of the day, but especially at night when you’re trying to sleep. Purchase some earplugs, a fan or a white noise machine and try to tune it out.
Exercise Your Dog Regularly
Often, dogs bark to relieve pent-up energy. If you leave your dog alone all day, or if they only get a few hours out of the crate when you get home from work, they simply might not be tired at bedtime. It’s often said that a tired dog is a good dog — that holds true for many problem behaviors, including barking at night.
When you get home from work, take your dog to the park, or go for a walk or a jog together. Take time to play with your dog in the yard or in the house, and give them some mental exercise as well by teaching them commands or letting them play with an interactive toy.
By tiring them out, your dog should get a better night’s sleep. Repeating this and establishing a routine will help them learn the purpose of bedtime: rest.
Remove Triggering Stimuli
If your dog barks in response to stimuli, such as neighborhood dogs barking, passing cars or other outside noises, try to drown out the sound with a white noise machine, a fan or soft classical music. You can also take measures to soundproof your house by weather-stripping doors and windows, insulating your walls and installing sound-deadening curtains.
Additionally, if your dog can see outside through a window, consider blocking their access with heavy curtains, blinds or shutters to prevent them from barking at every raccoon or passing car.
If you have other pets, such as a cat, lock them out of your room at night, or otherwise keep them away from your dog. In the absence of a stimulus, your dog may be more inclined to fall asleep at the appropriate time.
Consider Separation Anxiety as a Cause
Loneliness and separation anxiety are two common reasons dogs bark. Dogs are our companions and want to be close to us. If you shut your dog in another room or in a crate at night, or if you put them on a chain or in an outdoor kennel, they may be more likely to bark. While this could benefit your sleep in the short term, it can set back your training efforts.
By identifying and addressing the root of your dog’s nighttime barking, you can help prevent the noisy behavior and help everyone in your household get a better night’s sleep.