Your dog probably has a good reason to bark at night. If your dog only barks occasionally and it’s sparked off by a loud noise such as a car backfiring, then you can probably ignore it. Once you can determine what makes your dog bark, you are halfway there to solving the problem.
Dogs bark for seemingly no reason, but it pays not to ignore it, or it can become a habit.
- Your dog may be lonely and feel afraid.
- They may be scared of stormy weather.
- Toileting – they need to go!
- Noises outside.
- Appliance noises inside may startle them.
- They aren’t tired.
- Hunger – especially for one meal a day pooches.
- Boredom – they are awake and want action.
If you are a country dweller, having a barking dog at night may not be an issue. However, if you are in a townhouse or unit in the city, your neighbours will be soon be knocking on your door to have a word!
And I get it… I have owned a dog that loved to bark at night, and it can be frustrating.
So do you ignore them or do something about it. I would opt for doing something about it.
Some experts say to ignore them and they will adapt, but that can shatter your nerves, your sleep and our neighbourhood relationships, so I am all for trying to solve whatever is upsetting them before going down that path.
Help A Lonely Dog to Stop Barking at Night
Puppies or young dogs most often feel a bit lonely at night, and if they are new to your family, they may be afraid to be away from their birthplace and mom.
They normally adapt after a few weeks of getting to know you and your home. Whether they are outdoor or indoor dogs, it is usually a sound they don’t understand that sets them off barking.
These triggers to bark include:
- Sudden noises can wake them with a start and set them off.
- People walking past and talking loudly.
- A very quiet house can be intimidating so they bark at every sound they hear.
- They may see or hear an animal in your yard, and they are warning you.
- They might find being alone very scary.
- Street lighting may flicker and wake them up.
While it’s ok to give a warning bark or two, constant barking is not acceptable, and you need to find ways to stop your pup from waking the dead, as they say.
The above problems can be solved by doing the following.
- If they are next to a busy road and footpath, move them into another room at the rear of the house that is away from the roadside frontage noises.
- Play some soft relaxing music in the room your dog is in to relax their nerves and take away the heavy silence of the home.
- Draw the curtains so your dog cannot see the light, and the talking sounds from pedestrians is muffled.
- Give them a special toy such as a Snuggle Puppy soft toy that has a comforting beating heart which is almost like having a littermate to cuddle at night. They have been proven to quieten a new pup or dog and give them confidence at night.
- If they are scared on their own, maybe you could have them sleep in a crate with a bed beside you in your bedroom. That would give them confidence, and you can stop them from barking before they can get their bark on.
Solve Hunger or Toilet Requirements.
Puppies can’t hold onto their bladder for long periods like an older dog can when it comes to toileting. Often they will start barking during the night to tell you that they need to go, which is a good thing, although it may not feel like it at 3 am.
The best thing is to accept this gracefully and get up and let them out to do their business.
The right way is to keep this visit for toileting only. Keep calm and don’t play with them or get them excited. Just take them out, and when they are finished, take them right back to their bed.
If they are a young dog where the number of meals they have per day has just been reduced, give them a special treat to munch on that will calm their tummy and take the bite off their hunger so they go back to sleep.
Before going to bed, take your dog out for a toilet run which may get them over that midnight callout.
Dogs do get better at holding on as they age.
Use Up Your Dogs Energy Before Bed
If your dog has had a non-active day, they may not be sleepy when they are put to bed. This can result in barking at bedtime or in the early hours of the morning.
The way to overcome this is to plan some high energy games for the evening. You have to time it right so that you are not playing just before bedtime. Give them time to wind down before bed.
A fast and furious walk (or run), a game of tug of war, or if you are tired just toss the ball for them to retrieve. Most dogs never tire of this game, and they will run back and forth for hours.
Then when you start to settle them down, play some puzzle games or let them cuddle up for some together time and watch television with you.
A final walk for toileting needs just before bed, and they should settle down for a much-needed rest.
The secret is to tire them out and rid them of their energy before calming them down, so they want to have a snooze. A tired dog is a quiet dog.
Overcome Household Noise
A bark now and then is ok; after all, your dog’s sense of hearing is stronger than yours, and they may bark occasionally to warn intruders away.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could teach them to wear earmuffs at night? But most dogs would probably pull them off and destroy them in five minutes, so sadly, earmuffs are not an option.
But you can stop a lot of household noise by turning off appliances, using your dishwasher during the day, and removing clocks that chime from the room. Flashing appliances also need to be turned off.
Or just put your dog into a quieter room.
Drawing the drapes at night can block out a bit of outside noise, like people walking past, storm noise, or vehicle noise.
Our modern homes are very noisy, and most appliances seem to have lights, so having your dog in the kitchen area is probably not the best place for your dog’s bed.
Keeping your dog confined to a room or a crate means they won’t be able to get out and wander at night. They can get into a lot of trouble if they start exploring during the moonlight hours.
By minimizing the distracting household noises and providing your dog with a super comfortable bed and an array of toys to cuddle, is a lot better than listening to them yodel in the dark!
Use Crate Training Methods to Quieten Your Dog
Step 1. Try to make the crate a soothing environment where your puppy or dog will want to be. Soft bedding, toys, and pheromones (room diffusers or sprays that help calm your dog naturally) will help them relax.
Step 2. Pick a nice cozy spot for the crate. Perhaps in your bedroom at night. A blanket draped over the crate will keep it dark and cozy for them.
Step 3. It takes a while for a dog to get used to the crate. Try feeding them in the crate or giving tasty treats which will win them over. Sit outside the crate and play with their toys and your dog so they associate the crate with fun and attention.
Step 4. Your dog should associate the crate with good things i.e. soft toys, rewards, a warm location, or if you have hot weather, a cooling breeze.
Step 5. Should your puppy or young dog fall asleep in the house, carry them gently and put them into the crate. When they wake up, the open door will make them associate the crate with sleeping.
It would pay to close the door to the crate at night to prevent wandering.
Step 6. You need a lot of patience. Young dogs take a while to learn, while older dogs will catch on quicker.
Whatever you can do to make your dog feel safe and confident at night will pay off in the long run.
Patience And Sorting Out Their Concerns Pays Off
Ignoring your dog is not always the answer. Finding out why they bark and solving that problem is less stressful than listen to your dog bark itself hoarse.
Be considerate to your neighbors as nothing ruins a friendship quicker than a noisy dog at night. Do you want the police arriving on your doorstep to accuse you of disturbing the neighborhood peace?
Please don’t blame your dog for its barking. You are their pack leader, you should be training them not to bark but do it without physical or verbal abuse.
Your dog can be taught to relax and sleep at night without barking all night, but you have to start training them as soon as possible.
From the moment you get your dog, you should start teaching them not to bark at night, unless a prowler is about of course!
Use the suggestions in this article to see what ones your dog responds best to.
If they are just lonely for your company, keeping them in their bed in your room will help. But not everyone wants that, so try to work out what works best for you.
You can do it, it will take time and test your patience, but it will be worth it. Don’t ignore your dog barking, as it will end up driving you mad!
Writer: Jean Brewer