If your dog sleeps alone, you might wonder if they get lonely at night. Or maybe you’re wondering because you’d like to choose a sleeping arrangement that’s best for your dog.
Dogs sometimes get lonely at night, especially if they aren’t used to sleeping alone, are very clingy during the day, or aren’t getting enough attention or exercise during the day. Some signs of loneliness are daytime sleeping and anxious behaviors.
In this article, I’ll talk all about dogs’ sleep and loneliness. I’ll tell you how you can know if your dog is lonely at night, what you can do when it comes to their sleeping arrangements, and more.
It Depends How they Were Raised
A lot of your dog’s personality, though not all of it, depends on how they were raised and what they’re used to.
For instance, a dog who’s always slept in bed with you or another person is likely to get lonely if forced to sleep outside of the bedroom.
On the other hand, dogs used to sleeping alone are less likely to feel lonely at night. It’s just normal for them to be by themselves, and they know they’ll be able to spend time with you again in the morning.
Of course, you can’t always know your dog’s background and may have to go on their preferences. They’re likely to show you what those are!
When I adopted my dog Charlie, I actually wanted him to sleep in my bed. When I called him into the bedroom, he pouted and refused to come up.
Later I learned that he doesn’t like anyone touching him when he sleeps, including other dogs and cats. He’ll grumble, be irritated, and move away if it happens.
He ended up sleeping happily on the floor that first night and every night after. Because he was nearly full-grown and well behaved at night, I’ve always allowed him to roam the house—sometimes he sleeps near me or family members, but more often he’s in his dog bed or on the cool tile floor.
Where your dog sleeps should be a mix of what makes each of you comfortable. I’ll discuss more about your options below so that you can make the best decision.
How to Tell Your Dog is Lonely at Night
It can be difficult to know how your dog is feeling when you aren’t with them. It’s also easy to worry about how they’re feeling.
Luckily, there are some signs that your dog is lonely at night. Here they are:
- They were used to sleeping with you and their routine has now changed. This isn’t a guarantee that your dog is lonely, but it does make it more likely than if your dog has always been used to sleeping without you.
- Whining, barking, howling, or scratching the bedroom door. All of these behaviors are attention-seeking. Your dog is trying to get you to come out or let them come into the room because they want to be near you.
- Sleeping more during the day than at night. If your dog is restless at night and sleeps a lot during the day, they might be lonely or stressed.
- Your dog sleeps right outside your door. If you keep your door closed, but end up tripping on your pup when you get up to use the bathroom at night, they might be sticking close by out of loneliness.
- They’re being destructive. Dogs with separation anxiety in particular, are quite destructive when left alone! Dogs might also chew inappropriate things due to teething, lack of training, boredom, or lack of exercise.
- Your dog follows you around during the day. While this isn’t necessarily a sign your dog is lonely at night, it does mean they are more likely to be due to their clinginess. Dogs who follow you around show you that they prefer to be at your side when allowed!
- You don’t spend enough time together during the day. If your dog is alone too often, they’re much more likely to feel lonely. Dogs have social needs just like me and you!
If you spend enough time with your dog during the day, they’re less likely to feel lonely at night, even if they’re left alone.
- They’re a breed that’s predisposed to separation anxiety. Some breeds tend to be clingier than others, such as lap dogs. Other dogs were bred to be more independent. Clingier breeds will be more likely to feel lonely or anxious if left alone at night.
- They don’t get enough exercise. If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise during the day, they’re more likely to be restless at night. They might not sleep because they’ve been napping too much.
Your dog will be more likely to yearn for activity and attention, which will make them feel lonely.
You Can Train Your Dog to be Alone
Being alone is an important skill for any dog to learn. Ideally, they are trained as puppies so that they’re okay with you leaving the house or sleeping in another room. However, adult dogs can also be trained!
If you’d like your dog to sleep on their own, there are three options:
1. Crate Training
Proper crate training takes time, but the crate benefits your dog in many ways. One of these is having a place to sleep at night where they feel safe and secure.
Take crate training slowly and never use the crate as a punishment. You can either leave the crate door open or closed at night, depending on your preference.
Some people leave the crate closed when their dog is a puppy or during early training, then leave it open later in their dog’s life.
Lastly, be sure not to crate your dog too often. An example of this would be keeping your dog locked in their crate while you sleep and while you’re at work.
On average, that would be 16 hours a day—or a third of your dog’s life!—that they’d spend crated. This isn’t fair and doesn’t provide for your dog’s exercise or social needs adequately.
2. Doggy Bedrooms
If you want your dog to have more space than a crate, but still want them to be confined and outside of your room, you can give them their own “doggy bedroom” to sleep in.
This doesn’t literally have to be a bedroom made special for your dog—just a dog-proofed room in your house where they can sleep.
Designate a corner or a couch to your pup, providing them with a bed, blanket, a water dish, and maybe a chew toy.
You could also place your dog’s crate in their “bedroom” if you don’t want it in your room.
3. House Roaming
I suggest free-roaming the house last because some dogs can’t handle the freedom! If you allow your dog to roam the house at night, make sure your house is dog-proofed and they are well trained.
This is often a better option for adult dogs than it is for puppies, as puppies need more monitoring. They might have an accident indoors or chew something they shouldn’t while you sleep.
It’s definitely hard to keep the whole house puppy-proofed if you have a mischievous pup. If you feel like you can trust your dog or trust yourself to have any dangers put away, feel free to try allowing them to roam the house at night.
The benefit to this is that you’ll know exactly where they want to sleep, and they’ll be able to come to you if they’re lonely!
Some Dogs Prefer Sleeping Nearby
Some dogs don’t want to be too far from you at night, like in the options I discussed above. They’d rather be close so that they don’t get lonely!
If you’re worried your dog is lonely at night, try the following:
1. Keep the Crate in the Bedroom
An easy way to keep your dog close is to move their crate into the bedroom. This way, they can see you, and you can see them.
This is especially important for puppies, seniors, or dogs with health conditions so that you can monitor them! It also helps lonely dogs feel less alone.
Like I discussed above, crate training takes time if you haven’t already gone through the process. However, it gives your dog a place where they can go to feel safe and secure for the rest of their lives.
Never crate a dog day and night, as this is too much time for them to be in the crate.
It’s fine, though, if your dog chooses to spend some time in the crate during the day. This means they like it!
2. Have them Sleep on the Floor
A very simple option is to have your dog sleep on the floor of your room, rather than on your bed.
Try dog beds or blankets to make it more cozy, or let your dog sleep on the floor itself if they prefer (my dog seems to, especially in hot weather!)
You can keep your door closed if you need to keep track of them or open it if you trust them around the house while you sleep.
It might take some training to teach your dog not to jump on the bed, but it can definitely be done. Expect it to take longer if your dog is used to sleeping with you, though!
3. Allow your Dog to Sleep with You
Lastly, you can always allow your dog to sleep with you if you’d like! While this isn’t for everyone, some people like cuddling with their pup at night.
It’s not recommended if you’re a light sleeper or your dog tends to move a lot in their sleep, as you might get kicked awake in the middle of the night!
Having large dogs in your bed might be more difficult than allowing small dogs to sleep with you, although in my experience, the smallest dog will still lay in the middle of the bed and leave you with little room to sleep without moving them!
No matter what you choose, what’s most important is that you take your dog’s needs into consideration and that they feel safe and secure. I’m wishing you and your dog both a good night’s sleep!
Writer: Katelynn Sobus