My Dog Won’t Sleep Through the Night: Reasons Why and What to Do

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Dogs are a part of the family, but when they aren’t enjoying a sound slumber at night like the rest of you, it can be a worry and lead to other family members losing out on sleep as a result.

Reasons why my dog won’t sleep through the night

  • Your dog may be lonely, have too much energy, anxiety, or a medical problem.
  • If your dog scratches or drools excessively, it may be a medical issue.
  • A good walk and some playtime can help address non-medical causes of canine insomnia.

When you bring home a dog, it’s like you’re also taking home a brand new human being. They need that dose of tender, loving care, too.

Yes, dogs are a part of the family, and when you’ve trained them to sleep, but they aren’t enjoying a sound slumber at night like the rest of you, it can be a worry and can lead to other members of the family losing out on sleep as a result too. 

When your dog is sleepless at night, it’s normal for you to wonder what’s wrong. After all, unlike human beings, dogs don’t have all the stresses and strains of daily life, so what’s there to worry about that could prevent them from having a solid 40 winks? 

Because dogs also can’t relay verbally what they feel, it can be a difficult task on your part also to appease your dog when you notice them becoming restless. 

If you’ve been struggling with a dog that doesn’t quite sleep well through the night, you’re in the right place. Here, we will look at answers to a common question faced by dog owners: what are the reasons my dog won’t sleep through the night?

First, Be On The Lookout For Signs

Before determining what could be a bother and why your dog won’t sleep through the night, it’s important to touch on the warning signs that may point to why they may not be sleeping as well as they should

 Keep an eye out for these signs: 

  •  Whining
  • Barking
  • Pacing late at night

Problem 1: Being Lonely 

For younger or new dogs to a home, it’s very common to find that they might take a while to settle into their new surroundings. They’re almost certainly not going to fall asleep soundly on the first night. 

They’ll need time to adjust, so, given that they’re going to be on their own after being around other dogs or with their mother, or if they are young puppies, they will feel lonely.

They’ll typically express this through barking, whining, and scratching lots at whatever is stopping them from getting to you, such as a door.

A good tip here is to have a ticking clock in the room near your dog, particularly if they’re young, as it is said to mimic their mum’s heartbeat. 

Problem 2: Excess Energy

If you leave your dog at home while you go off to work, the chances are that they will be super-hyper when you arrive home. They will be pleased to see you, but they’ll also have been sitting and lying around throughout the day waiting for some stimulation. The result? Tons of pent-up energy. 

For this reason, you need to make sure to find the time in the day to take your dog outdoors for some exercise, even if it is just a walk. There are many benefits of walking your dog every day, and this includes giving them the exercise they need while also spending some much-needed time with them after you have been at work all day.

If they’re not sleeping well at night, it is usually because they’ve not been able to work off the energy from the daytime; after all, they’ve been sleeping lots during the day too! Essentially, dogs require exercise and mental stimulation to be met as a minimum. Depending on the breed, this can be increased. A Border Collie or Spaniel, for example, requires more exercise and mental stimulation.  

To prevent them from being full of beans at night and unable to sleep when you are resting too, consider employing a walker to take your doggy out during the day. According to The Dogington Post, around 15 minutes of walk time per day is recommended at a minimum for canines.   

It’s also worth thinking about walking them before heading off to work and when you get home in the evening. You can leave them with some toys that provide mental stimulation while you’re away.

Problem 3: A Build-Up Of Emotions 

 Dogs are very sensitive. In some instances, they might not show it much or at all, but that doesn’t mean they’re not. 

 Merely having people around to visit you at home can be a super overwhelming experience for them to deal with. Think of it this way; there’s a range of fresh scents, new sights, and first-hand sounds for them to encounter. 

 New sights and sounds can break their very well-drilled in routine. This can inadvertently startle them and leave them unable to relax. If your four-legged friend can’t unwind and is feeling anxious, they won’t be able to sleep. 

 This can be the case when they encounter a loud noise like those on New Year’s Eve with fireworks or during thunderstorms. Their natural hormone release associated with the fear they feel puts them at a heightened level of alertness. 

 Help them stay calm in all situations and control their emotions with reassurance, soothing music, dog-specific herbal anxiety supplements, or other useful sleep aids for dogs.

Calming supplements should be taken about thirty minutes before bedtime. Their active ingredients include melatonin and L-tryptophan. These can help soothe an anxious dog and help them get to sleep.

Problem 4: Something’s Up Physically 

Does your dog sleep like a log most of the time? That’s great, but they will let you know if they suddenly don’t do this and they’re restless, anxious, or just won’t settle.

Because dogs aren’t verbal, you have to note their action and behavior, as this can often tell you if there’s any physical discomfort health issue they may be feeling.

It can even be an early sign that your dog may be feeling sick, so you’ll have to see a veterinarian to verify your doubts. The vet can also prescribe pain medication if it is a health issue causing the sleep disturbance.

 For instance: 

  •  They might be licking an area of their body a lot. If this is the case, there might be a problem like an issue around a joint or a wound. They might have a rash or skin irritation that they just need you to notice and help them with. If you don’t see anything visible, try to feel through the area for any lumps or something that could be unusual. Perhaps when you touch a certain area, it makes your dog twitch.
  •  If your pooch is drooling excessively and smacking its lips, they might be enduring issues with their digestion. They could also have problems if they’re standing and the back door constantly and nipping out for toilet breaks more frequently. This is usually an ailment associated with urinary tract infections, bladder, and/or kidney conditions.
  • Another possibility is a cognitive dysfunction. One of the more common symptoms of a cognitive dysfunction in dogs is a change in sleep patterns or disruption in circadian rhythms during a deep sleep. Instead of sleeping, the dog may pace all night. Watch for other symptoms that could signify a cognitive decline, including anxiety, restlessness, irritability, disorientation, a decreased desire to play, and the inability to follow familiar routines. A cognitive dysfunction will be more common in an elderly dog.
  • Dogs can experience sleep apnea the same way we can. They may temporarily stop breathing, which can cause them to jolt awake. Your dog may be suffering from sleep apnea if there is loud and frequent snoring, gasping, or choking while they sleep, sleeping during the day instead of at night, tiredness, and irritability.

Problem 5: Separation anxiety

 Along with all the other anxieties that may be plaguing your dog, separation anxiety may be another one. If your dog is overly attached to you as his pet parent or is overly dependent on the other family members, they may become anxious and display distress behaviors when you leave. It can also cause a sleep disturbance and an interruption in their usual sleeping pattern.

Nighttime hours can prove to be especially nerve-wracking for your dog. Some symptoms of separation anxiety in addition to the loss of sleep and restlessness are pacing, loss of appetite, crying when alone, and trembling.

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Summary of strategies and solutions

Let’s summarize the best ways to help when you find that your dog can no longer sleep at night.

Increase exercise

burning off excess energy is one of the best ways to tire your dog out so he can sleep better at night. Try incorporating an extra walk into the day or explore new activities you can do together. If you have an older dog with limited mobility, try some interactive toys that don’t require them to move much but keep them mentally stimulated. Remember, even senior dogs need some physical and mental stimulation.

Set up a more consistent schedule

Dogs, just like children, thrive and do well when they have a solid routine. Make sure to follow through with regular feeding times and a consistent bathroom schedule. This can help sync up his inner clock and help him sleep better at night.

Make sure they feel secure

If your furry friend is anxious and dealing with extra stress, it is important to make them feel as comfortable as possible at night. If they sleep in a dog crate at night, make sure to get them a comfy dog bed, a good blanket, or even a garment like the Thundershirt (affiliate links) to offer them some relief.

Move their sleeping spot

If your furry friend suffers from anxiety, especially separation anxiety, moving their sleeping quarters closer to where you are may be a good solution. They don’t necessarily have to be with you physically, but sometimes getting a bit closer can help ease their minds and help them sleep. They will feel much more secure.

Try hemp oil and other calming supplements

Some pet owners recommend hemp oil and supplements to help relax an anxious dog and aid their sleep. You can find hemp in oil or treat form, and it can be used as an ongoing treatment for sleeplessness and nighttime anxiety.

Create a comfy sleeping area

Like we can’t sleep if we don’t have the right bed and sleeping arrangements, dogs can’t either. Dog beds are an important component to consider when determining why your pup won’t sleep. Memory foam dog beds are always a great option, and some can easily fit into a dog crate if that is where your pup sleeps at night.

Final thoughts 

No pet owner wants their dog to be out of sorts or uncomfortable or struggling at all. If your dog is displaying these types of signs and continue to have a sleepless night, you should pay a visit to the vet, so they can help you get them treated and have them sleeping in peace before you know it.

When your dog is crying and whining at night, unable to sleep, you won’t be able to sleep yourself. This article has provided you with some valuable insights you need to know, so you can help your dog go from sleepless nights to a good nights sleep.

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