If your dog is waking and walking around at night, it can be hard for both you and your dog to get a good night’s rest. Night restlessness is a common occurrence in puppies but this is typically a habit they outgrow. Since there can be multiple causes of poor sleep patterns in dogs, figuring out whether the problem is behavioral or medical can help you find a solution.
Some normal reasons to dog waking and walking around
If your dog no longer sleeps through the night, there may be an underlying behavioral issue or health problem. Fortunately in most cases, once you understand why your fur buddy is getting restless at night the situation can be remedied. The most common reasons why dogs wake and walk around at night include:
Lack of Exercise
Dogs need daily exercise to expend their energy. When your dog does not get enough exercise during the day, they are likely to become restless. This restlessness can last into the night disrupting your pup’s sleep.
It is important to ensure that your dog gets sufficient exercise during the day to curb behavioral problems. While smaller breeds can get by with thirty minutes of exercise daily, more energetic breeds may require at least 60 minutes of daily exercise.
Your vet should be able to advise you on the best activity levels for your dog based on their breed, age and health condition.
Just like humans, dogs experience anxiety and stress. An anxious dog will have trouble sleeping through the night. If you notice behavior such as constant repositioning or pacing at night, your dog may be too anxious to sleep.
New environments, the addition of a pet or family member to the home or separation anxiety are some situations that could trigger your dog’s anxiety. Loud noises such as fireworks or loud music at night may also cause your dog anxiety resulting in night restlessness.
If you have recently adopted a new pup, they may also take time to adjust to their new home. However, if you cannot pinpoint the source of your dog’s anxiety, it is important to speak to your vet. Unresolved anxiety can eventually lead to destructive behavior.
Illness or Injury
If your dog is in pain or unwell they are likely to keep waking through the night. This is because pain or illness can cause discomfort that makes it difficult for your dog to fall asleep.
Some conditions such as kidney disease or gastrointestinal issues will increase your pup’s need to poop or pee. This constant need to eliminate will keep your dog up at night causing them to become restless. Conditions such as arthritis make it difficult for your fur buddy to lie comfortably causing them to constantly reposition themselves.
If your dog has a chronic condition, you can ask your vet for a suitable solution to their sleep disorders. However, in some cases, your dog may have an undiagnosed condition that is causing them to have sleep problems. In such cases, it is important to observe for other symptoms of ill health.
If you notice symptoms such as lethargy, stomach upset or frequent urination, your dog probably has an underlying condition that is causing them to be restless at night. Consult your vet for a diagnosis.
If you have an older or senior dog, their restless sleep may be a consequence of aging. As dogs age, they start to suffer from both physical and cognitive decline.
Restless sleep is one of the first symptoms of canine dementia. Old age also comes with physical aches and pains that may make your fur buddy uncomfortable and restless at night. Older dogs may also have more problems with bladder control and as a result, may wake up more during the night.
Your dog’s diet may have a direct impact on their ability to get a good night’s rest. This is because digestive issues such as indigestion or bloating will cause discomfort. In such cases, you may notice your dog waking constantly and pacing around at night.
If you are overfeeding your pup, feeding them late at night or feeding them foods that they are sensitive to, this can cause sleep restlessness. You may also notice a change in your dog’s sleeping habits after a change in diet.
Poor Sleeping environment
If your dog’s sleeping area is less than ideal they may have trouble falling asleep. This may include putting them to sleep in a room that is too bright, noisy or poorly aerated. Dog’s need a conducive sleeping environment to help them sleep well. If the sleeping environment is not comfortable, your pup will have problems sleeping and may resort to walking around at night.
Your response to your dog’s night restlessness could be reinforcing the behavior. Giving your dog treats or paying them attention when they start walking around at night could help to reinforce the behavior.
solutions to Dog waking and walking around at night
For young puppies and dogs with behavioral problems, crate training can help reduce night restlessness. A puppy may feel more secure in the contained environment of a crate and this may help them sleep better.
Create a Conducive Environment
Set aside a quiet, dark and well-aerated space or room for your dog to sleep in. One of the reasons your dog may be restless is because they are uncomfortable or constantly being disrupted. A conducive sleep environment is one of the most effective ways to ensure your pooch gets a good night’s sleep.
Exercise Your Dog
All dogs need physical activity to stay healthy and happy. Making sure that your dog gets sufficient daily exercise will ensure that they do not have excess energy at night. A dog that is not physically active is more likely to have problems sleeping.
You can schedule exercise and play times for later in the evenings to ensure your dog’s energy is expended by bedtime.
Seek Veterinary Assistance
Any existing underlying conditions need to be treated to resolve any pain or discomfort that may be preventing your dog from sleeping. Your vet will be able to advise you on what to do based on your dog’s condition.
Senior dogs may require orthopedic beds which are easier on the joints and ease discomfort making it easier for your dog to sleep.
Watch Your Dog’s Diet
A healthy diet is essential for a healthy dog. It is important to understand whether certain foods are causing your dog digestive issues and keeping them up at night.
Take time to observe how your dog sleeps after you introduce new foods to their diet. If they seem to be especially restless after eating a certain type of food you may want to eliminate it from their diet altogether.
It is also important to avoid letting your dog eat or snack late into the night. Late-night meals can increase the urge to pee or poop which will make your dog restless at night.
Let Your Dog out to Pee Before bedtime
Sometimes your dog’s night restlessness is simply due to a full bladder or the need to eliminate. Make sure that you have let your dog out to poop or pee before bedtime. You may also want to avoid giving them water late at night to ensure they do not get the urge to pee when they are sleeping.
Sleep training is important for dogs from a young age. If you notice your dog wakes up frequently at night, avoid encouraging the behavior. Avoid offering treats or cuddling the dog when they keep waking at night. These rewards will only reinforce the behavior.
You can also seek help from a professional trainer if you are having trouble training your pup. This will ensure that any problem behavior is eliminated and your pup has a proper sleep time routine.
Other factors to Consider when dog waking and walking around
Is there a pattern to your dog’s sleep restlessness?
If your dog only has trouble sleeping in certain situations, that could point to the root of the problem. For instance, if they sleep well in your bed but cannot sleep on their own, the problem could be separation anxiety. In such cases, training could help resolve the problem.
Is the onset sudden or gradual?
If your dog has suddenly started waking and walking around at night, this often indicates that there is an underlying problem. If the environment has not changed but you suddenly notice changes in your dog’s sleep patterns seek veterinary assistance to rule out illness or injury.