Dog Suddenly Anxious at Night. The Why and The Fix

Here are the things that can make your dog suddenly anxious at night. Sometimes, doggies can get restless out of the blue in the nighttime:

  • Lack of physical and mental exercise
  • Ultrasounds
  • Fear of abandonment or PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Night blindness


Why is My Dog Suddenly Anxious at Night

About two months ago, my dog started experiencing energy bursts in the middle of the night.

Out of nowhere, it would become restless and loud, preventing me from getting any sleep.

After a week of sleepless nights (followed by too much coffee in the morning), I decided I’ve had enough.

So, I put my detective hat on to find out what was making my dog suddenly anxious at night.

Not long after I started doing my research, I realized there were many dog owners like me. Instead of spending their nights catching Z’s, they too were dealing with a restless pooch.

Therefore, I know that some of you would be curious about my findings.

Hopefully, this article will help you calm your doggy and catch up on your lost sleep.


Common Reasons

Did you know that dogs are neither diurnal nor nocturnal animals? For the most part, they prefer to sleep when their human friends do.

So, random spurts of energy in the nighttime are unusual for doggies and should always be investigated.

Unfortunately, determining the exact cause behind your pooch’s unusual behavior is often a long and difficult process.

Since your furry friend can’t tell you what’s wrong with it, you will need to do some guesswork.

However, I’ve learned that the factors that can make a dog suddenly anxious at night are either psychological or physiological.

Let’s look at each of them separately.


Psychological Causes

Usually, the psychological factors that cause restlessness in dogs boil down to either behavioral problems or a mental health issue.

Luckily, both can be successfully handled and even eliminated.


PTSD or Fear of Abandonment

When dogs are still little puppies, they are quite impressionable because that’s when their brains are developing.

Therefore, young doggies tend to be oversensitive to their environment.

As a result, they can have extreme reactions to changes that happen around them.

For example, it’s common for new dog owners to want to be around their cute pets constantly. So, initially, they avoid leaving their fluffy companion alone for too long.

However, that is not a good tactic, because the pooch gets used to the constant presence of their human.

Eventually, when they are left alone for several hours, canines end up developing a fear of abandonment.

Sometimes, that fear can be so extreme that your fluffy buddy will have panic attacks when its environment quiets down.

For instance, when you go to bed, your dog may start worrying that you have abandoned it forever.

In comparison to pups that were bought, rescue dogs are more prone to having a fear of abandonment and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Many of them grew up under rough circumstances or were victims of violence.

So, if you own a rescue that has energy spikes at night, the odds are it has some form of PTSD.

The good news is that you can eliminate your dog’s fear of abandonment through behavioral training.

Also, you can try turning bedtime into your pup’s favorite part of the day. A great way to do that is by “showering” your doggy with pre-bedtime cuddles.

That will relax your pet and help it go to sleep quickly.



Another thing that can make your dog suddenly anxious at night is (drumroll) an anxiety disorder. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

Still, don’t be too quick to embrace this theory because, typically, anxiety symptoms are not only exhibited during the night.

If your doggy does suffer from this disorder, you will notice telltale signs throughout the day.

Some of the most common anxiety symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Shaking and shivering
  • Self-mutilation
  • Undereating
  • Excessive digging
  • Destructive chewing
  • Excessive howling and barking


To check if your furry buddy has anxiety issues, try spending a few full days with it. For example, skip going out with your friends on the weekend and just stay home with your pup.

By doing so, you will be able to observe its behavior throughout the day and the night.

If anxiety is indeed the issue, you will need to rule out medical problems as the cause of it.

So, make a trip to the vet’s office and ask for your dog to get a full medical examination.

When it comes to non-medical reasons dogs may develop anxiety, the list is quite long.

The cause of the issue can be anything from loud noises to moving to a new home.

Like with PTSD, behavioral training can prove to be effective here. Also, you can try using aromatherapy on your pooch.

There are various homeopathic solutions you can buy, including dog colognes and essential oils for canines.

Usually, these products contain extracts from plants like lavender, evening primrose, and chamomile.


Physiological Causes

Don’t let the word “physiological” worry you, because it doesn’t necessarily suggest a medical problem.

Usually, most physiological factors that make a dog suddenly anxious at night have to do with the pup’s daily schedule.

When that’s the case, the solutions tend to be easy and simple.

Still, a doggy may also become restless in the middle of the night due to a serious health issue.

Even then, however, there’s usually an appropriate treatment that will cure your dog or reduce any symptoms it may exhibit.


Lack of Physical and Mental Exercise 

In my experience, the most common reason canines get unusually active at night is a lack of exercise during the day.

I have many friends who have complained about this issue. The majority of them spend long hours at work and are unable to take their doggies for long walks regularly.

As a result, the pups end up sleeping during the day and running around the house in the nighttime.

If this sounds familiar to you, you’ll need to find a way to tire out your canine companion before bedtime.

No matter how busy your day is, you should take the time to play with your pup. Otherwise, it won’t let you get a good night’s sleep any time soon.

Personally, I’d suggest taking your pooch for a walk around the neighborhood shortly before going to bed. By doing so, you’ll help your pet use up some of its energy.

That should make it feel calm and ready to sleep.

Also, try to provide your dog with plenty of mental stimulation by teaching it new tricks. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that puzzle toys can work a dog’s brain just as effectively.

So, make sure you have a few of them at home.



I had to learn that high-pitched noises and dogs don’t mix well the hard way.

Shortly before my pooch started acting strangely during the night, I had a new smoke detector installed in my home.

It was one of those high-tech, new-gen fire alarms that can pick up the smoke before it’s even visible.

Sadly, it was the thing that made my dog suddenly anxious at night.

As I later found out, our furry friends can hear noises of up to 65,000 Hz. In comparison, we can’t detect sounds higher than 20,000 Hz.

As a result, dogs find the ultrasounds coming from some consumer electronics to be quite upsetting.

If you suspect that there are sources of high ultrasonic emissions in your house, unplug any devices you’re not using.

Also, set up a room that is free of electronics and LED bulbs. It will serve as a safe space where your doggy can retire at night.

Still, it’s best if you find out which of your electronics is causing the problem. In my case, my canine companion stopped feeling tense as soon as I removed the new fire alarm.

So, I didn’t have to make any other changes around my home.


Night Blindness in Senior Dogs

Night blindness is yet another thing that can make a dog suddenly anxious at night.

Usually, it occurs in senior canines, and it’s a sign of an eye condition such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).

This symptom can make your doggy nervous during the night, as it can’t see well in the dark.

Aside from causing anxiety, night blindness can also change the appearance of your pooch’s eyes.

For instance, its pupils may dilate for no reason.

If left untreated, this condition can lead to complete blindness.

Therefore, it’s essential to take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.


Final Thoughts

As you can see, the list of things that can make your dog suddenly anxious at night is rather long. Luckily, I’ve already done the research for you.

So, all you need to do now is check which of these causes is the culprit for your dog’s problem.

Hopefully, you will get a happy resolution, just like I did.

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