Depending on whether or not your dog sleeps all day and is more nocturnal as a result or if their activity is due to separation anxiety, there are a number of things that you can do to help minimize their night-time activity. A restless dog at night is no fun for anyone and can lead to sleep deprivation for the entire household.
Why does it happen?
Muscle pain, sensory changes such as deafness or failing sight, and some other medical conditions can all affect your dog’s night-time behaviour. Many dogs also experience night-time anxiety and symptoms can range from pacing, loss of appetite, crying when left alone, trembling, and general restlessness. Night-time anxiety is very common in older dogs, for example, especially as separation anxiety tends to grow as dogs get older.
What can you do?
Distance Training: One solution is to try letting your dog sleep in closer proximity to you, whether in your bedroom or just outside. The goal is to try to make them be able to be just close enough to you at night so their anxiety is alleviated. Each night, you move their bed a little farther away until they can slowly adjust to sleeping at a greater distance from you.
Exercise: One of the best things you can do is to exercise with your dog more often. This could help your pet get through the stress and anxiety, and it could potentially help him get rid of the excess energy that he has. At the same time, exercising is good for your dog’s overall health, and it keeps him in proper condition Toilet before bed: Make sure you take him to the toilet before bed each evening. If you come down to accidents then this could well be the problem. He could be waking you up because he’s desperate for the bathroom.
Food and water: He could also be waking you because he’s hungry or thirsty. Make sure his water bowl is full every evening before you go to bed. Dehydration is not only bad for his health but it could massively disrupt his sleep. The same goes for making sure he has a proper meal a couple of hours before bed, as no one likes to go to sleep with a rumbling tummy!
Attention: Set aside at least 15 minutes each day solely for playing with him. The not sleeping may be attention-seeking behaviour. If you ensure you give him enough during the day he may be more content sleeping at night.
In any case, the most important thing to consider here is that a restless dog at night is a condition that’s symptomatic of something more serious – that’s what you should be aware of. It suggests that your pup is having some issues and they need to be addressed as quickly as possible.
You shouldn’t underestimate the situation and, by no means, should you use negative reinforcement. It’s not the dog’s fault – it’s not doing it because he wants to. Imagine being unable to go to sleep for whatever reason – that’s the last thing you’d want to experience, isn’t it?