Does your dog wake up in the middle of the night? Disruptions in your dog’s sleep schedule often mean disruptions in yours as well. If your dog is regularly waking up in the middle of the night, you might be eager to figure out what’s causing the disruption.
Below are ten reasons why your dog might be waking up in the middle of the night, as well as tips to address sleep disruptions.
- Your dog needs to pee
- She’s hungry (or her diet change has interrupted sleep)
- He heard a strange noise
- She’s had a recent change in routine
- To get what he wants
- She’s dealing with an illness or injury
- There’s a problem with the environment where he sleeps
- She has separation anxiety
- He’s an older dog
- She has excess energy
1. Your dog needs to pee
One of the most common reasons for your dog to wake up in the middle of the night is his urge to pee. Fortunately, it’s easy to tell if this is the reason for your dog’s sleep disturbance. If your dog goes outside and does his business, that’s a good indication that the urge to pee is what’s disrupting his rest.
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It’s very important to take your dog outside to pee whenever he needs to go. If you want to reduce late-night excursions into the yard, make sure to let your dog out to pee right before bed. A fully trained, adult dog should be able to hold their pee throughout the night.
However, both puppies and elderly dogs may need overnight potty breaks. If your dog’s sleep disturbances are caused by the need to pee, taking him out will allow him (and you!) to quickly get back to sleep.
2. She’s hungry (or her diet change has interrupted sleep)
Dogs may experience sleep disturbances when there’s a change in their diet. If your dog seems to wake up overnight due to hunger, it may be time to evaluate her diet. New foods or changed feeding times may lead to your dog’s disrupted sleep patterns.
It’s important to ensure that your dog has enough food with good nutritional content. You may choose to feed part of your dog’s daily food right before bed to help her stay asleep through the night. If the sleep disturbances are a new problem, consider any recent dietary changes.
3. He heard a strange noise
Sometimes your dog only wakes up on certain nights or while sleeping in certain rooms. If you can pinpoint the sounds disrupting your pup’s sleep, you can make adjustments to help him get his rest.
In some cases, dogs will wake up or bark at noises they hear outside. If these sounds are not a threat (like rustling leaves or passing cars), you should make changes to help mask these sounds. A white noise machine may help your dog tune out sounds from outside your home.
If your dog only wakes up when sleeping in a certain room, consider moving him to a different room. It’s best to find a nice, quiet spot for your dog to sleep overnight.
4. She’s had a recent change in routine
Dogs like to stick to a routine, which means changes to their routine can be quite jarring. If your dog has recently experienced changes to her routine, this may cause her to wake up in the middle of the night. This is especially true if there have been changes to your dog’s bedtime, wake-up time, feedings, and trips outside to pee.
If your dog’s sleep disturbances are new, consider any recent changes to her schedule. In some cases, changes to your pup’s routine are unavoidable. However, if you can make slow adjustments to your dog’s routine, you may help prevent unwanted sleep interruptions.
Sometimes a slow change just isn’t possible. If you need to make drastic changes to your dog’s routine (due to a change in your own), be aware that it may take some time for her to adjust to those necessary changes.
5. He’s learned that waking up in the middle of the night allows him to get what he wants
If your dog gets a treat or attention when he wakes you up in the middle of the night, you might be inadvertently encouraging the behavior. Since your dog views these things as rewards, he may learn that waking you up in the middle of the night allows your dog to get what he wants.
You should only give your dog a treat when he sleeps through the entire night. The only exception is when your dog wakes you up to use the restroom in the middle of the night. If you’re still trying to potty train your pup, you should give him treats and praise (even if it’s in the middle of the night).
6. She’s dealing with an illness or injury
Just like humans, dogs can have interrupted sleep when dealing with an illness or injury. If your dog is experiencing discomfort overnight, it may cause her to wake up.
It’s important to monitor your dog’s behavior. If she is also experiencing lethargy, decreased energy, or a change in eating habits, it may be time to see your veterinarian.
When you take your dog in for her checkups, make sure to mention any sleep disturbances. You may find that there’s a medical explanation to their nighttime behavior. Urinary tract infections, sleep disorders, and other illnesses can all contribute to interruptions in your dog’s sleep.
7. There’s a problem with the environment where he sleeps
Your dog might struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep if the space isn’t comfortable enough. Your dog should have a quiet, comfortable place to sleep at night. If the room is too bright, too hot, too cold, too cramped, or too noisy, he may experience interrupted sleep.
Pay special attention to your dog’s bedding. If you’ve recently switched to a different pet bed, it may take some time for him to adjust to the changes.
8. She has separation anxiety
If your dog shows signs of anxiety before bedtime, it might be a sign that she’s experiencing separation anxiety at night. Some dogs don’t like being left alone, especially when they know they’ll be away from you for several hours.
There’s lots of great advice out there to help you manage your dog’s separation anxiety. If putting your dog’s bed in your room isn’t an option, you should take steps to address your dog’s overnight separation anxiety.
You should make sure your dog’s crate or bed is somewhere they want to go. When your dog has a comfortable and pleasant place to sleep, she’s more likely to get settled down at night. Working with your dog can help her enjoy the time she gets to herself overnight.
9. He’s an older dog
As dogs get older, their joints become painful. Their aging joints may cause discomfort, which may lead to disturbances in sleep. If your dog exhibits signs of pain or discomfort during the day, it’s a good indication that he’s experiencing discomfort at night.
Make sure to talk to your dog’s vet about how to best care for your aging dog. Your dog’s vet can give you feedback on how to take care of your dog’s needs, especially when it comes to aching and painful joints.
While a comfortable sleeping spot is important at all ages, it’s especially important for older dogs. Make sure your older dog has plenty of bedding and a soft place to sleep. While this won’t alleviate all of his discomforts, it may reduce the number of late-night sleep interruptions.
Dementia is another problem that plagues aging dogs. Your older dog’s sleep disturbances may be caused by dementia.
Symptoms of dog dementia include disorientation, failure to remember routines, irritability, forgetting common commands, staring blankly at walls, loss of appetite, and changes in sleep routines.
If you suspect your aging dog may have dementia, make sure to discuss these concerns with your dog’s veterinarian.
10. She has excess energy
If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise during the day, she may have excess energy at night. It’s pretty easy to figure out if lack of exercise is contributing to your dog’s sleep disturbances. If she sleeps well on nights she gets enough exercise, excess energy may be the problem.
Make sure to find out how much exercise is recommended for your dog, based on her age and breed. Some breeds require significantly more exercise than others. Even if you’ve had a dog before, each dog’s needs differ.
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It’s also important to provide mental stimulation for your dog. There are lots of activities that provide both physical and mental stimulation.
When your dog exhausts her energy during the day, she will sleep better at night. Snuffle mats, Kong balls, puzzles, and other similar activities can give your dog the mental and physical stimulation she needs to burn off excess energy.
Disruptions in your dog’s sleep schedule often lead to disturbed sleep for the whole family. When you find out the root causes of your dog’s sleep disturbances, you’re better equipped to treat their needs.
If you’re unable to uncover the reasons for your dog’s sleep problems, schedule an appointment with their veterinarian.
Your dog’s vet can help you uncover and address any underlying issues that may be contributing to your dog’s interrupted sleep.