There are a few things that could make a dog suddenly anxious at night:
- Fear of something
- separation anxiety
- Lack of exercise
Sometimes, and mostly in old dogs, anxiety can be caused by an illness. If that’s the case, you will need to consult a veterinarian.
Dog Suddenly Anxious at Night: Common Causes and Solutions
Although there are several things that could make a dog suddenly anxious at night, its coping mechanism usually comes down to making some noise by:
- pacing around
Canine anxiety is difficult to deal with, but not impossible. So, today, I will talk about the three main causes of anxiety in dogs. More importantly, I will explain how to deal with each one.
Dog Suddenly Anxious at Night: The Fear Factor
Canines may be fearless when it comes to protecting their owners, but you’d be surprised by what some of them are afraid of. For instance, would you believe it if I told you that I’ve witnessed a huge dog cower away at the sight of a squirrel?
I’ll admit that even I was taken aback by the dog’s reaction. But, after talking to its owner, I found out that the poor pup had never seen a squirrel until that very day! Obviously, it wasn’t scared of the squirrel itself, but rather of seeing something unfamiliar.
No matter how irrational the fear may seem, it could be the cause of your dog’s nightly anxiety attacks. Now, all you need to consider is what your dog is afraid of.
Things That Go Bump in the Night
Depending on whether your pup is an inside or outside dog, several things can cause anxiety. However, I’ve come to find that the most common causes are sound-related.
Tree branches, creaky floorboards, and old plumbing — these things might not be scary to me and you, but it’s different for your pup. To your furry friend, a tree branch banging on your house in the middle of the night may sound like an intruder trying to get in.
As you probably already know, dogs have a keen sense of hearing. In fact, they can hear four times better than humans. So, all those things that go bump in the night may be stressing out your dog and causing its nighttime anxiety.
If your dog sleeps outside, then there are plenty of different sounds that could be causing its anxiety. The neighbor’s dog, stray cats, nocturnal animals — all of these are bound to disturb the pup from its slumber!
How to Fix the Problem
The first step toward fixing the problem is finding out what’s causing it. This requires a bit of detective work and plenty of coffee!
Regardless of whether or not your dog sleeps inside, I encourage you to stay awake for at least one night to see what’s making it howl, bark, whimper, or pace.
If, for example, you determine that the cause of your dog’s unwanted behavior is a pesky raccoon rummaging through your trash cans at night, you may want to consider securing the lids better or even taking in the trash at night. Personally, I recommend taking it in, as raccoons can be pretty sneaky!
On the other hand, if your neighbor’s dog keeps barking at night, which, in turn, causes your dog to whine, you’ll need to talk to your neighbor about it. In short, once you find out what’s causing your dog’s strange behavior, the only way to stop it is to get rid of the problem.
Unfortunately, in some cases, this may not be as easy as you hope. But don’t worry — I’ve got a few other solutions for you.
If stray cats are the problem, or your neighbors simply refuse to bring in their dog at night (or at least deal with the unwanted behavior), then it’s time to take a different approach. For starters, I suggest that you relocate your dog’s house (if it sleeps outside) or sleeping area (if it sleeps inside). The main idea is to find a safe, quiet place where your dog can get a good night’s rest.
Most people set up their dog’s sleeping area near their front or back entrance. The problem with this is that there is always plenty of activity going on in those areas. This may keep your pup on high alert at all times.
For instance, when you get home from work, your dog might hear your keys jiggle in the lock and start barking before you even get through the door. Ultimately, the dog may start to expect something to come through the door whenever it hears a sound, whether it’s day or night. With that in mind, it’s easy to see how even the slightest creak can make it anxious at 3 AM.
To eliminate this behavior, I suggest that you set up your dog’s sleeping area in your bedroom, or anywhere where there isn’t a lot of activity going on at all times. It may take some getting used to (for your dog), but after a few days, your pup should be able to sleep through the night.
If your dog sleeps outside in a doggy house, then you have two options:
- Bring your dog inside at night
- Relocate your dog’s house somewhere quiet
If your dog’s nighttime anxiety is starting to concern you, my advice is to bring your pup inside as soon as it gets dark. Your dog will feel the safest when it knows you’re by its side.
However, if this isn’t an option for you, consider putting your dog’s house in your garage, or a more secluded part of your yard. This will help keep out all the unwanted sounds and allow your pup (and you!) to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Dog Suddenly Anxious at Night: Separation Anxiety
Your pup loves having you around at all times. Yet, although this may be endearing, it can lead to separation anxiety.
Dog owners who allow their pets to sleep with them in their beds are likely to deal with this problem at some point. Once your dog gets older, you’ll want to teach it to sleep in its doggy bed. However, your pooch might have other plans.
How to Deal With it
Training your dog to overcome separation anxiety takes time and plenty of patience.
The first thing you need to do is buy your dog a comfy bed of its own. Also, while you’re at the pet store, make sure to get some fun toys for it to play with. But, don’t buy the squeaky kind, or you’ll have another problem on your hands!
Place the doggy bed next to your bed and add the toys. Keep in mind that your dog won’t want to sleep in its doggy bed at first. in fact, it will try to cuddle up next to you every chance it gets.
Now, this part is important: don’t let your dog sleep next to you! No matter how much it pains you, you will need to stand your ground. That means putting your pup back in its bed each time it tries to crawl into yours.
I’ll be honest — it will probably take your dog up to a week to get used to its new surroundings. It’s likely that you won’t be getting a lot of sleep, but it’s important to stick with the plan.
Once your pup gets used to sleeping in its doggy bed, you’ll both finally get some well-deserved sleep.
Dog Suddenly Anxious at Night: Lack of Exercise
Some dogs get anxious when they don’t get enough exercise during the day. If you notice that your dog keeps pacing in the middle of the night, it’s time to change up its daily exercise routine.
How to Deal With it
If you keep your pooch on a chain in your yard, consider letting it loose for longer periods of time. However, before doing so, make sure that you have a secure fence and that you aren’t leaving the dog unsupervised the entire time.
Next, try taking your dog out for a walk once in the morning and again at night. I know that for some of you, this isn’t a possibility, so I have another solution. If you can only take your dog out in the morning, then increase your dog’s playtime throughout the day. Even something as simple as playing fetch with your dog is a great way to stimulate your pup’s physical and mental activity.
Ultimately, the best way to make sure your dog sleeps throughout the night is to take it for regular walks. Alternatively, have a fun playtime session at least once a day. Take it from me — a tired dog is a happy dog!
Most dog owners have to deal with what I like to call the dog suddenly anxious at night syndrome. Sometimes, the problem is easy to fix. However, in other cases, it may take plenty of time and effort to find a viable solution. The bottom line is that our fluffy friends are more than worth it.
On a final note, I would like to add that if you suspect that the problem is more severe (i.e., that your dog might be suffering from an illness), my advice is to consult a veterinarian.
Ultimately, there are several things that can make a dog suddenly anxious at night. Luckily, in most cases, this behavior can be managed. I sincerely hope my article has helped shed some light on the matter; you should be ready to tackle this problem right away.