Last Updated on 11/05/2020 by Veronica Jones
It’s completely normal for dogs of all ages to have nights when they don’t sleep well. Puppies and younger dogs especially may have a difficult time telling day from night and think that 2am is the perfect time to play. As dogs age they can become more restless at night as well. However, if your dog is making more of a habit of out being up at night, you may want have them checked out. Whether your dog’s change in sleeping behavior is sudden or has been gradually coming, it’s always something to look into as many underlying conditions may cause your dog to be restless at night. Here are some reasons why it could be happening and some ways that you can try to fix it.
Why Young Puppies May Be Restless at Night
For those of you out there that have ever had a newborn baby, you’re very familiar with the fact that young humans, as well as young dogs, have to develop a normal circadian rhythm. They aren’t born knowing that night equal sleep and day equals play. Because of this they may be sleeping too much during the daytime hours, especially if you’re gone at work, and then are ready for playtime when you’re home and trying to sleep.
Puppies may also be restless at night because they haven’t developed bladder control. As a rule of thumb, a puppy can hold their bladder for the number of hours that they are months old. So, it’s no wonder that your two-month-old puppy needs to be taken out every couple of hours. That goes for nighttime too. A puppy’s restlessness may be due to needing to potty frequently.
To help negate these reasons that your young dog may be restless at night, work on sleep training. If you can, limit the number and duration of naps during the day. Be sure to give your puppy lots of stimulation, exercise, and attention. Limit their water intake for an hour before bedtime and be sure to take them out right before you want to go to sleep. Unfortunately, potty training and getting up in the middle of the night can’t really be avoided, but rest assured that this phase won’t last long. If you properly prepare your puppy for bed every night it won’t be long before everyone is sleeping soundly the whole night through.
Why Adult Dogs May Be Restless at Night
Young adult dogs and even some of the more mature dogs, depending on the breed, are still very active. They need lots of exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day. If your pup is having a hard time sleeping at night, it may be because they’re taking too many daytime naps and not getting those much needed energy burn-off sessions in.
Anxiety may also be an issue in adult dogs, especially if they’re new to your home. Dogs experience stress in the same way that we do. Some don’t take well to change, while others don’t take well to being left alone. If there’s something new in your home, like a new child, pet, furniture arrangement, whatever, be aware that your pup may lash out with some sleepless nights.
Make sure to give your pup the proper amount of exercise. This is going to vary by breed and personality, so you may have to experiment a little bit to find that sweet spot. Also, be sure to interact with your dog. They live to be with you, so the more you can incorporate exercise and attention, the better your pup will sleep at night. Consider hiring a dog walker for a midday outing or look into interactive toys that will keep them entertained and moving while you can’t be with them.
For overly anxious dogs, you can take the same approach. Be sure to interact with them as much as you can and help ease their anxiety by working through it with them. For example, if they’re nervous about your new housecat, slowly introduce the new critter in a way that is unthreatening while allowing them a safe place that is all their own. If separation anxiety from you is an issue, consider letting them sleep in your room, spend time with them before bed, or look into interactive toys that will distract them.
Why Senior Dogs May Be Restless at Night
Senior dogs are a whole different ballgame when it comes to why they may be restless at night. First of all, the cause could be one or all of the above, plus a few more. As dogs age, they experience aches and pains that may make it uncomfortable to stay in one position for too long. They may need to get up, move around, shift their weight, etc, in order to try to find a more comfortable position.
Also with age comes incontinence issues. These can be bladder or fecally related. Either way, incontinence can cause restlessness if your older pup wakes up to a wet or messy bed. Age can also bring about dementia and your senior friend may wake up not knowing where they or you are or will be confused about what they are supposed to be doing.
Your veterinarian can be a great help when it comes to senior dogs that are restless at night. They can help diagnose and treat arthritis, dementia, incontinence, and other medical issues. They can also give you helpful advice on orthopedic dog beds, antioxidant foods, and exercises that may help your older pup sleep better at night.
Other Reasons Dogs May Be Restless at Night
Many medical issues can cause a dog to be restless at night. Anytime your pup isn’t feeling well, whether that be an upset stomach, difficulty breathing, or any pain or discomfort, they may be restless at night. If your dog’s restlessness happened suddenly or you are noticing any other symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, or an injury, be sure to check in with your veterinarian. Allergies is also a big one that keeps dogs up at night. Constantly itchy skin and ears only seem to get worse the more time that your pup has to think about it. So, it’s no wonder that allergic scratching seems to increase when the house is dark and quiet and your dog has nothing else to focus on.
Congestive heart failure is another medical reason for a dog being restless at night. With congestive heart failure, the performance of the heart decreases, causing the build up of fluid in the lungs or the abdomen. This fluid buildup leads to increased pressure in the chest or abdomen, especially when a dog lays down. Congestive heart failure may also present with low energy levels, coughing, or a bloated appearance to the abdomen. Seek a veterinarian as soon as possible to help reduce the fluid accumulation and increase cardiac performance to make your dog more comfortable.
Another reason your pup may be restless at night is you. If you or others in your house snore, it may be keeping them up. Or if you’re a restless sleeper that constantly wakes up or even gets up, it may be rubbing off on them. If your pup is suddenly having trouble sleeping at night with no known cause, check into how you’re sleeping and work to decrease any areas of stress or anxiety in your own life or in the lives of others in your household.
Having a dog that is restless at night can be stressful to both pet parents and to the pups themselves. Determining what is causing their restlessness is the first step in getting them, and you, a better night’s sleep. Be sure to enlist the help of your veterinarian as some causes of restlessness at night can be medical. Also, being in tune to your dog’s needs during the day will help them to sleep better at night.