Why Is My Dog Freaking Out At Night? Learn The Answer

If you have a dog freaking out at night, these are the main reasons why he can’t sleep through the night:

  • Unfulfilled Basic Needs
  • Excess Energy
  • Anxiety
  • Changes In The Environment
  • Aging
  • Dementia
  • Pain


Why Is My Dog Freaking Out At Night? 

A dog being restless at night means an uneasy night and a very tired owner. Although restlessness is common with pups and younger dogs, it should subside as the dog matures.

However, an adult dog can suddenly start acting weird once the lights are off, refusing to sleep through the night and making us wonder, why is my dog freaking out at night?

There are many reasons for a sudden change in a dog’s sleeping habits.

We’ll take a closer look at several potential causes and we’ll see what we can do to limit the nighttime activity of our canine friends.

Nighttime can be a really stressful period for our pooches, especially if they are young, anxious, or ill.

Oftentimes, sleepless nights are a temporary issue that calls for no action because it may cease on its own.

However, if the behavior persists, it’s time to take action.

There are a number of things we can do to help our pooches (and ourselves) sleep tight once again.


Unfulfilled Basic Needs

A full bladder or a growling stomach is likely to wake a pooch up. Puppies need to do their business often but might not have had enough training and lack routine.

The same goes for older dogs. Young dogs eat little but often, and hunger can make them edgy.

Furthermore, the need for a bathroom break or thirst can make our dogs fidgety at night, too.

Occasionally, our furry friends will bother us for food or a potty break and that’s ok, but if the issue continues we should consider a different routine.

My six-year-old doxie and I have a pretty strict routine when it comes to feeding and taking walks.

He eats at around the same time every day and I’m certain that is one of the reasons he sleeps tight at night.

In addition to that, we go out for a walk around the block right before bedtime.

By the time we return home, he’s done his business and has had enough exercise to go directly to sleep.

Also, he has easy access to his water bowl at all times in case he gets thirsty at night.

So, fulfilling the basic needs of our dogs properly can go a long way. We can try to adjust the routine our dogs are familiar with to suit their current needs.


Excess Energy 

Different dog breeds have different energy levels, but energy also decreases with age.

Although every dog is different, the truth all owners would agree with is that a tired dog is a good dog.

Getting enough exercise is a great way to help a pooch fall asleep easily. Lack of activity can easily leave you wondering why is my dog freaking out at night?

If your dog is hyper and edgy in the evening, the root of the problem might be boredom and lack of stimulation.

It simply means that he’s been snoozing too much during the day and now he’s ready to play.

We should rethink the kind of activities we offer to our dogs and the interaction we have with them.

By giving our dogs plenty of chances to exercise and keeping them busy and engaged, we ensure a good night’s sleep both for them and us.

My dog and I go for long, vigorous walks, we play fetch, we constantly learn new tricks and we search for hidden objects around the house.

These help him burn the built-up energy. By the end of the day, he finds it much easier to relax and fall asleep.



Nighttime can be a particularly stressful time for dogs, especially if they suffer from separation anxiety.

Our furry friends are affectionate and loyal to their owners and it’s not uncommon for them to become overly attached.

Us going to sleep without them can easily leave them feeling stressed and anxious.

Nighttime anxiety and separation anxiety are closely linked, but we can address and correct both of them with persistence.

Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety and don’t sleep in their beds or our bedrooms tend to exhibit more severe nighttime anxiety symptoms.

The symptoms might include pacing, scratching, pawing at the door, walking around, crying, and howling.

The reason behind this behavior is simple — they feel a strong urge to be close to us.

Personally, I applied the most obvious solution to this problem and allowed my dog, Pablo to sleep in my bed.

Now I have to put up a fight for a tiny space on the pillow, I’ve got a constant backache, and I wake up covered in dog hair. But at least we sleep well through the night.

Whether we allow our dog to sleep with us or not is a matter of personal preference, but the decision also might be affected by conditions such as allergies.

Allowing the pooch to sleep in closer proximity to us or our rooms is another possible solution.

Whichever option we go for, we should make sure to create a comfortable, quiet environment for our distressed friend.

Ultimately, providing calming aids to alleviate the anxiety could be the solution, but only after discussing it with the vet.


Changes In The Environment

However small they seem to us, changes in the environment can deeply affect our dog’s mood and behavior.

Seemingly unimportant events can trigger sleeplessness and distress in dogs.

Before we ask ourselves Why is my dog freaking out at night? we should figure out whether the restlessness might be a response to any external factors.

Dogs are creatures of habit and they enjoy having a routine. The slightest change, such as a new piece of furniture in the room where they sleep, can throw them off.

Maybe the owner has changed jobs recently and the evening walk starts half an hour later than usual.

Are there loud noises coming from the neighbors’ place and freaking out the pooch?

Dogs have an extremely developed sense of hearing and get scared away by the weirdest of noises.

Bigger changes, such as an addition to the family (a new baby, a new flatmate), or the absence of the owner can cause dogs to freak out.

Eventually, they will adapt to the situation and relax.

Many dogs are highly sensitive to changes in weather as they can feel the rain coming and they generally fear the thunder.

As a breed, doxies are known to dislike the rain.

Regardless of whether it’s causing him actual discomfort or not, my sausage dog absolutely hates the rain and everything it comes with.


Health Issues Causing Your Dog to Freak Out

These are more common than you might think…



Old age causes all sorts of physiological changes, including sleep cycle changes, so older dogs sleep a lot less than puppies.

This comes as no surprise because age-related physiological changes are inevitable in humans, too.

A pup can sleep for up to twenty hours, while an adult dog should sleep for up to fourteen hours per day.

Sleeping habits in older dogs change as they are not as active as they used to be, and they rarely play with their doggy friends.

The aging pooch might suffer from a variety of medical conditions preventing him from getting through the night peacefully.

He might experience hearing and vision impairment, dementia, pain, and illness. There’s little we can do to change that, as it’s only natural.



Just like people, dogs have a higher risk of developing dementia as they get older.

This cognitive dysfunction is associated with old age and can cause a host of problems in dogs, particularly in their sleeping habits.

There’s no cure for the condition, but there is a medication that could ease its effects of it.

Dogs with dementia become anxious because they feel disoriented and confused.

Often, they slowly start to lose their senses and have trouble remembering familiar people, smells, and places.

A trip to the vet is required to diagnose the condition and although the disease is incurable, with proper diet, prescribed medication, and supplements, owners can improve their dog’s quality of life and ease the symptoms.



The first time I asked myself Why is my dog freaking out at night? It was a few years back.

Every time I noticed a sudden change in Pablo’s sleeping cycle, I later found out there was an underlying physical condition.

Namely, he suffers from skin allergies, so each spring we go through a period of restless, sleepless nights accompanied by extensive licking and scratching.

He’s hurting and he can’t get comfortable.

Whenever a pup is experiencing pain or discomfort, they’re likely to keep us awake at night.

Pain can stem from rashes, itches, bites, injuries, arthritis, cancer, and many other illnesses. At night, the pain tends to intensify because there are no distractions.

Other signs to look out for are a tucked tail, enlarged pupils, and salivation because, ultimately, the pooch is afraid and is manifesting all the signs of fear.

In this case, it’s best to visit the vet for a detailed checkup in order to determine the root of the problem.

Certain conditions, such as cancer, urgent vet care, and proper treatment are crucial for the dog’s wellbeing.


Dog Freaking Out At Night – Final Thoughts

As much as humans, dogs can suffer from various ailments, serious medical conditions, old age, or stress.

They don’t always express their concerns clearly, but it’s up to us to identify the causes of their issues and help them live a longer, happier life.

As dog parents, we quickly learn to tune into the feelings and moods of our pets.

The list of possible causes I have created is just to give owners a general idea of what can be the reason for their sleepless nights.

Finally, I think we feel our pets, we understand them, and we can tell when something is amiss.

Next time you need the answer to the question why is my dog freaking out at night (or ever)? maybe you need to take a look at your canine friends and listen to what they’re trying to tell you.

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