If your dog is restless and pacing at night, it might be because of:
- Insufficient physical activity — if dogs don’t get their daily dose of exercise, their energy will pile up—and explode, when you least expect it.
- Anxiety — Have you moved recently or changed anything major about your home? Your dog will notice.
- Pain — If your pet suffers from pain, it will disrupt their sleep cycles until it is managed.
- Old Age — Getting old will cause a number of physical and behavioral changes in your dog.
My Dog Is Restless and Pacing at Night
As a lifetime friend of a great old fluff-ball, finding that my dog is restless and pacing at night came as a shock to me. “Is he suffering? What can I do to help? Is this my fault?” The questions kept piling up.
Years upon years, my furry friend was there for me. Lively yet polite, goofy yet wise, he was the one constant in my turbulent life. No matter how my day was, returning home to find my doggo waiting with that unconditional love in his eyes would always bring a smile to my face. And when the time would come for me to turn in for the night, the gentle soul wouldn’t make a sound until morning.
I can’t put a finger on the exact moment when that changed. The tells must have been there before, but at one point, after wrestling with poor sleep for a week, I realized that I wasn’t the only one with the problem. My dog was moving around in the other room, and his episodes didn’t stop after mine did.
I told myself, my dog is restless and pacing at night. There must be something that I can do. So I dove into research, digging around the internet, asking friends and their friends, and eventually consulting a vet. As it turned out, my dog was one of the lucky ones and is much better now.
But I’ve piled up a fair bit of knowledge along the way, and I want to make it available. So if your fuzz-ball has trouble resting, then this one is for you.
My Dog Is Restless And Pacing At Night — Why? And What To Do?
While trying to learn why my dog is restless and pacing at night, I found plenty of possible reasons for a dog to have trouble falling (and staying) asleep. Some are fairly harmless and easy to resolve, others far less so. And then there are things so sad, that simply reading about them was enough to bring me to tears.
Insufficient Physical Activity
As we all know, dogs are some of the liveliest pets that we can get. They love running around, exploring, finding new things, and figuring out what to do with them. And when the owner is involved in their activity, they’re just about ready to burst from happiness.
That is exactly why a lack of activity hits them hard. Dogs are both built and programmed to move a lot. If they don’t get to run and play, not only can they get depressed, but their energy may spike at any time. A doggo that doesn’t get to tire himself out by day will try to do so during the night.
So what should I do when my dog is restless and pacing at night due to insufficient activity? “Take him out for a walk or play frisbee,” is easy to say, until the time comes to actually do it. Like most people, I lead a busy life and don’t have the energy to match that of my dog. Still, if I had no time to commit to my furry friend, I’d have no right to call him as such.
I play with my dog whenever I can, which isn’t nearly as much as I’d like to. When I can’t, I ask a friend to come over and do so in my stead. It may not be much, but every little bit counts. And when everyone else is just as occupied, there are always dog play centers.
Have you moved recently? Or altered anything major about your home? Despite their love of excitement, dogs are territorial and need a certain routine. A lot of changes within a short period of time can make them anxious, which will impede their sleep.
We must remember that dogs have their own way of seeing, hearing, and otherwise experiencing the world. A neighbor redecorating, a change in the way things smell, or even our own anxiety, may end up agitating them. If we do nothing to ease them into the new state of things, they may take a long time to get better.
This can be tricky to deal with, especially if whatever had disrupted the dog’s pattern will not go away. In this case, our best bet would be to try and relax our doggo with some good old-fashioned attention.
If that doesn’t work though, there is always the vet. A veterinarian can prescribe medicine to help the dog cope with his new circumstances. Just make sure to follow the dosage, along with any other advice the vet may have.
This is what scared me the most. Pain is a way for the body to say, “something is wrong with me,” and I shuddered at the thought of my furry friend getting sick or worse. That is why I took him to the vet, which is always a good thing to do.
Plenty of factors can cause pain to a dog, from injuries to a parasite infestation, to the dreaded big C. The vet may be able to cure some ailments entirely, while others may need to be treated for years—perhaps for the remainder of the dog’s life. Sometimes, though—and I hate having to say this, the poor furball is truly beyond help.
When pain is in the equation, a visit to the vet is mandatory. A veterinarian is a professional and will be able to determine both the cause of the pain and the appropriate course of action.
Whether we will like what they have to say, however, will come down to the role of the cosmic dice. Whatever may result from this visit, we should remember one thing: we’ve done the best we could.
It happens to people, it happens to dogs, and it’s never pretty. I always knew that my doggo won’t be with me forever, but it took research for me to learn that the passage of time would change the way he saw the world. He wouldn’t be able to smell, hear, or see that well anymore, and this would affect his behavior. He might start to look for toys or food in the middle of the night, and be unable to find them.
If dementia sets in, a dog may not even be certain of what he is searching for. On the other hand, his ailments may be physical, like joint and muscle pain keeping him up at night. Also, old age will often force a canine to wake up and urinate more frequently.
Since old age often goes hand in hand with pain, aging dogs will get their fair share of vet visits. dementia can be treated, but it can never be cured. Joint and muscle pain can also be held at bay with medication and perhaps an orthopedic bed for dogs, but it will steadily keep getting worse. At some point, we may be forced to ask ourselves the unpleasant question, “Has my friend suffered enough?”
While realizing that my dog is restless and pacing at night did come as a shock to me, I was able to learn a lot from the experience. Hopefully what I’ve compiled will be of help to anyone whose furry friend is facing similar hardships.