Help, My Dog Won't Sleep at Night: 12 Tips for a Restful Night


Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

If you are wondering how to make your dog sleep at night, most likely you are dealing with a restless dog who is having trouble drifting off into dreamland. Just like us, dogs need their daily dose of beauty sleep. After all, a good night's sleep for Rover is just as important as diet and exercise.

In order to help your dog sleep better through the night, you first need to figure out why they are not sleeping at night in the first place. This may require you to put on your detective hat and carefully investigate what may be going on. Until the day dogs can talk, it is up to us, dog owners, to carefully evaluate what may be going on with our beloved canine companions.

No worries; you don't have to do all the homework alone. This guide will help you identify some common causes as to why dogs may struggle to doze off along with several tips to help grant your dog some restorative sleep.

Please note though that several of these causes may require a veterinary visit in order to confirm or rule out several medical conditions that can play a role in not allowing dogs to get some shut-eye. You, therefore, want to play it safe and make sure your beloved dog isn't suffering from some health problem. When health problems in dogs are tackled early, they are more likely to resolve with proper treatment.

Once you have medical conditions ruled out, you can then evaluate less serious causes of not sleeping and take action to finally help your dog fall asleep almost instantly.

1. A Sign of Pain

As mentioned, if your dog is acting restless and unable to sleep, it is fundamental to rule out medical problems. There are many painful conditions in dogs that may interfere with a dog's ability to sleep. Affected dogs may be panting, have an increased heart rate, act restless, and may struggle with laying down.

It would be impossible to list all possible painful conditions, but here are some possible conditions that may cause pain.

  • A neck disc issue or issue with a disc in the dog's back will frequently cause a dog to be restless. The dog may be unable to lay down to rest and will avoid steps and jumping since that feels uncomfortable. These dogs may try to lie down and get up upon feeling the pain.
  • A case of arthritis may be painful enough to cause a dog pain and inability to fully relax to go to sleep.
  • Anal gland issues may cause a dog to act restless, often licking their bottom and possibly scooting their bum on the carpet or grass. It is painful for these dogs to sit down and defecate when the anal glands are painful.

Solution

Of course, only your vet can diagnose painful conditions. Pain killers may need to be prescribed. Consider though that most over-the-counter pain meds designed for humans may be problematic for dogs, so please take your dog to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Once your dog is on pain meds, it helps to provide your dog with a comfortable bed. For dogs with arthritis, nowadays there are comfy orthopedic beds and some beds can even be heated.

2. A Digestive Disorder

If your dog is acting restless, panting, and appears in general discomfort, it could very well be your dog is suffering from some type of digestive disorder. Many dogs affected by digestive disorders will lose their appetite, drool, and smack their lips. Licking lips excessively in dogs may be an indication of nausea.

Now in dogs, certain digestive disorders can be problematic, and even life-threatening in some cases. To play it safe please see your veterinarian. Here are some serious and less serious digestive disorders that may cause dogs to be unable to relax and sleep.

  • A sign of a dog upset stomach. In the case of an upset stomach (gastritis) affected dogs have often eaten something that didn't agree with them or the dog may have developed too much stomach acid production. In general, affected dogs will pant, act restless and drool, and sometimes vomit.
  • A sign of bloat. Blood is the build-up of gas in the dog's stomach causing a distended stomach. While bloat in itself is not generally life-threatening, problems start when the stomach flips over leading to a life-threatening condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). Signs of GDV include a distended abdomen, restlessness, panting, unproductive retching. GDV is an emergency where every second counts. It is more common in deep-chested breeds.
  • A bout of pancreatitis. Pancreatitis in dogs is a painful condition causing abdominal pain. Affected dogs may pant, assume the prayer position (stretching the front legs down with the butt in the air as if doing a play bow), drool, and have vomiting. This condition can too turn life-threatening if left untreated.
  • Diarrhea. Some dogs may act restless and pant when they get a bout of diarrhea. Unable to express their uncomfortable feeling, these dogs may shiver, pant, and pace around the house until they can no longer control the urge. At some point, they may rush towards the door or and end up having an explosive bout of diarrhea on the carpet.

Solution

Because some of these conditions are life-threatening, it is therefore important to see the vet if your dog is acting restless or showing concerning signs of a digestive problem.

3. A Sign of Discomfort

Sometimes, dogs may act restless and be unable to sleep because of some underlying problem causing them to not be too comfortable. Not always it is possible to find out what may be amiss, but these are some general pointers.

  • Presence of a fever. Dogs who have a high temperature may be panting and unable to sleep because they feel hot. Taking the dog's temperature may help rule out the presence of a fever. A dog's normal rectal temperature is 101 to 102.5 degrees.
  • If your dog is older and unable to lie down and appears restless, you need to worry about the possibility of a heart problem. "I have seen dogs with congestive heart failure acutely be unable to remain in a resting posture, because it prevents them from filling the lungs with air completely. This is called orthopnea," says a veterinarian working for Just Answer.
  • An itchy situation. Dogs who are scratching a lot may be suffering from a skin condition causing them to be unable to sleep. The presence of fleas or allergies, which can be due to food or airborne particles (ragweed, grass, pollen, etc.) can cause problems, but there are many other skin conditions known for causing itchiness.
  • Too hot or cold. Is the area your dog is sleeping too hot or cold? Is your dog on any medications? Prednisone is a drug that may cause your dog to feel hot, pant and act restless. Low thyroid levels in dogs instead may cause dogs to feel cold.
  • Is your dog thirsty? Thirst can make a dog restless at night. Make sure your dog has access to water before going to bed. Nobody likes to sleep with a dry mouth.
  • Does your dog have to potty? Make sure your dog is "empty" before it's time to go to bed at night. Yes, this means, empty of pee and poop!
  • Is your dog on any medications? Some medications can make dogs restless. Prednisone, for instance, is known for causing panting, excess hunger and thirst which may lead to a restless night.

Solution

Based on what is causing your dog's discomfort, you may need to take different steps. For instance, if your dog has a fever or is itchy or is older, you will have to take your dog to the vet to find the underlying cause.

If the room is too hot or too cold, you can easily remedy this by turning on the A/C more or kicking your heat up a notch. If your dog is restless, taking him out to see whether he needs to go potty may be worth it. If he goes and acts normal again, then bingo, you got it right! If your dog is on medications, consult with your vet to report a possible side effect.

4. A Sign of Anxiety

Anxiety interferes with a dog's ability to sleep. A dog who is concerned about something may pace back and forth, whine and seek shelter or the owner's comfort. Of course, dogs in pain or discomfort or suffering from a digestive disorder may act the same way, so it's not always easy to discern anxiety from some medical disorder.

What anxiety triggers may cause your dog to be unable to sleep? Here a few possibilities.

  • A storm is approaching. Dogs who fear thunderstorms may sense them before we actually hear the first rumbles.
  • Many dogs dislike changes. A new baby, a new pet, the loss of a dog, an owner who is away, are all triggers known for turning a dog's life upside down and triggering anxiety.
  • Crate anxiety. If your dog is restless in the crate, it could be not enough time was dedicated to making the crate a pleasant place to be. Some dogs suffer from containment phobias.
  • If your dog is closed in a room or in a crate that is distant from you, your dog may act restless and anxious often barking and whining and scratching at the door due to separation anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety are unable to relax when away from their favorite person. If possible, record your dog's nighttime behavior and show it to a dog trainer or dog behavior professional. Dogs with separation anxiety tend to show the same symptoms when left alone during the day.

Solution

Anxiety is tricky to work on because it impairs a dog's ability to cognitively function and therefore interferes with certain types of learning. Consider finding the source of your dog's anxiety and try to decrease exposure to it through management.

To get to the source of the problem and tackle the underlying emotions, you may need to implement a desensitization and counterconditioning program with the help of a dog behavior professional. Severe cases may benefit from prescription anti-anxiety meds. Mild cases may benefit from over the counter calming aids such l-theanine.

A dog appeasing pheromone (such as Adaptil) may ease anxiety and promote a feeling of well being. The diffuser may be especially useful to create an area and support use of a desired area for resting. The collar is most useful for dogs who experience anxiety all the time.

— Theresa DePorter, board-certified veterinary behaviorist

5. Presence of Outdoor Stimuli

Sometimes dogs may act restless and start pacing, whining and barking upon detecting stimuli outside which interfere with the dog's ability to relax.

  • For example, nocturnal critters may cause your dog to act restless. Perhaps you have critters under the deck or in your attic.
  • If your dog is intact (not neutered), perhaps he can smell a female dog in heat. Many intact male dogs can smell them from quite a distance.
  • Outdoor noises may interfere with your dog's ability to sleep. Perhaps the trash truck is passing or there are neighbors making noise. Maybe there is a new dog in town and his barking is alerting your dog.

Solution

If your dog is bothered by sounds, you can use a white noise machine or a fan to make the sounds less salient. There are also many music CDs made just for dogs to help them fall asleep and several Youtube channels also offer music for dogs for free.

Of course, going to the source of the problem is important. Have an exterminator stop by to remove any unwanted critters (hopefully, using animal-friendly techniques!). If your dog is not neutered, close windows and doors to minimize the wafting scents (although the almighty nose is hard to overpower!) and take him on a car ride somewhere instead of going on neighborhood walks since many female dogs in heat tend to urine mark nearby.

If you find an outdoor noise that bothers your dog causing him stress, you can try the hear that method for noise-sensitive dogs.

6. The Age Factor

Age can be a factor when struggling with getting your sleep-deprived dog to go to sleep at night. Dogs, just like people, go through developmental stages and these can surely have an impact on how much they sleep. Here are some age factors to consider.

  • Very young puppies. If you just got your puppy from a breeder, the first few nights may be tough. Your puppy will miss his mom and littermates and he may feel a bit anxious being a new place with new sights, sounds and smells. Fortunately, things get better with time.
  • Young puppies with developing bladders and bowels may struggle to sleep too! If they are whining and restless, try to take them out for a potty break.
  • Adolescent dogs. When dogs are in their teenage stage, they are often full of boundless energy and have a strong need for mental stimulation. If their needs aren't met, they may act restless st night.
  • Senior dogs. Sadly, some senior dogs start suffering from physical and cognitive problems as they age. One common cognitive problem is canine cognitive dysfunction, a sort of Alzheimer's disease affecting dogs.

Solutions

For young puppies consider keeping them in a crate nearby you the first nights so you are there to help reassure them. A Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid can turn helpful considering that this stuffed animal can mimic the warmth of mom and siblings and has a beating heart too!

Always make sure your puppy is sent to bed with an empty bowel and bladder and take him out at night if he's restless and whining as he may need another potty break.

Make sure adolescent dogs are provided with enough exercise, training, socialization and mental stimulation during the day so as to grant more restful nights.

Senior dogs who stare at the wall at night, act restless due to sleep-wake cycle alterations, get lost around the home and act confused, should be assessed by a veterinarian for canine cognitive dysfunction. Dogs with canine cognitive dysfunction can be managed with prescription medications (Anipryl) when this condition is caught early.

The addition of a predictable nighttime routine and a relaxing, comfortable place to sleep can be helpful. Much like a newborn baby, geriatric pets benefit from signals that nighttime is approaching and it is time to get ready to sleep.

— Dr. Mary Gardner, Dani McVety

12 Ways to Make a Dog Sleep at Night

As seen, the reasons why your dog may not sleep well at night can be several. Addressing these reasons is therefore important for the resolution of the problem. Here are some general guidelines on how to make a dog sleep at night.

  • Always rule out medical conditions first.
  • Make sure your dog is allowed to go potty before bedtime.
  • Make sure your dog has drank and eaten.
  • If your dog is crated, try covering the crate with a blanket to reduce visual stimulation.
  • Make sure your room temperature is comfortable for your dog. Dogs with heavy coats may like to sleep on cold tiles and in cooler rooms such as bathrooms.
  • Use white noise to buffer sounds.
  • Provide your dog with a comfortable bed.
  • Create a predictable night-time routine. Dogs are routine-oriented beings that thrive on knowing what happens next. Take your dog to potty before bedtime, invite your dog to his bed, provide him a bed-time snack, lower the lights and tell your dog nigh-night.
  • Make sure your dog's needs for exercise, training and mental stimulation are met. Offer walks, encourage brain games and play with your dog during the day. Your goal is to get a tired dog by the evening. Make sure to offer these activities though some time before bedtime as it may take some time for your dog to wind down.
  • If your dog has undergone surgery and needs to rest, you can ask your vet for sedatives. Plain Benadryl (always ask your vet first and for accurate dosages) can help sometimes, but in some cases, stronger prescription sedatives are needed.
  • Melatonin can help adjust sleep patterns in dogs that are very active at night and failing to fall sleeping at the correct time, as is often the case of dogs with sundowner syndrome. Basically, this supplement works by re-setting the dog’s biological clock. Ask your vet for dosages and instructions
  • Consider trying calming aids such as DAP diffusers such as Adaptil, Sentry Calming Collar for Dogs, Bach flowers.

Can You Use Human Sleeping Aids in Dogs?

It may be tempting to want to give dogs sleeping aids used for humans in hopes of granting Rover a good nights' sleep, but please don't! These pills are human formulations and not crafted with dogs in mind.

Many veterinarians deal almost every day with the accidental ingestion of sleeping pills dog owners have dropped to the floor or left on the counter without supervision. For example, Nyquil contains acetaminophen (Tylenol) which should not be given to dogs. Also, some sleep aids may contain xylitol which is very toxic to dogs!

© 2020 Adrienne Farricelli

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 14, 2020:

Hi Devika, for sure. When my dogs got older they started having trouble sleeping, and those were the first signs of them getting aches and pains.

Devika Primic on May 13, 2020:

Dogs make good pets but if they do not sleep something is definitely bothering hem. You make me see that in your hub.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 08, 2020:

Hi Peggy,

I am not sure when the first meds for canine cognitive dysfunction came out, but it could very likely be they are rather recent. I know for sure they were available around, 2006- 2007 as we filled several prescriptions for Anipryl back then.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 04, 2020:

You have given us so much useful information in this article that pertains to the youngest of puppies to senior dogs. One of my mother's dogs developed canine cognitive dysfunction. I had no idea that there was a medication that could help with that. Perhaps it was not available at the time since this happened many years ago.


How To Get Your Dog To Sleep With A Cone On

The most common reasons a dog won’t keep its cone on are:-

  • The cone hasn’t been put on correctly.
  • The cone is not comfortable.
  • The urge to itch or bite their stitches.

How To Put A Recovery Cone on A Dog

There are two main styles of cones on the market right now. The more traditional style and the more modern easy to use style. Within these two main cone designs, there are also slight tweaks between the various different brands.

We always recommend you read the instructions that come with cone when purchased or issued by your vet. Most of the traditional style cones still get fit over your dog’s head before adjusting it to fit around their neck. The modern style collars tend to be fitted directly to your dog’s neck without the need to go over the head. Once in place, you then adjust the collars fasteners as required.

A properly fitted cone on your dog makes it easier for your dog to move around in and lay down to sleep. If the cone has not been put on your dog correctly, parts of the cone may dig into their neck causing problems with sleep.

How To Make A Dog Cone More Comfortable

The modern style cones have been designed specifically with comfort in mind to make the whole process easier for your dog. They are easy to fit and easy to adjust. There is very little left for the owner to do other than adjust the cone as required. The recommended fitting is usually to be able to fit two fingers between the collar and your dog’s skin.

The older style collars can sometimes have problems. Always fit the collar to the two finger rule explained above but make sure you also check the fabric. If it is stiff and feels starchy then we recommend you either roll it between your fingers or fold it over on itself a bunch of times before putting it on your dog. This helps make the material turn softer and be more comfortable for your dog when worn.

A comfortable cone makes it easier to sleep in. Some dogs have even been noted using the more modern style cones similar to how humans use pillows when sleeping.

Beating The Urge To Itch

The third main reason your dog will do everything it can to get its cone off is its urge to itch its stitches. Helping your dog beat this urge not only increases the chance of your dog keeping the cone on but also that it will sleep rather than focus on the itching sensation.

We recommend you check with your veterinarian before using any of these suggestions. Your veterinarian may recommend you just leave the stitches alone depending on the type of surgery your dog has had.

Our first suggestion is to purchase a cheap water spray bottle. You can then fill this with cool water when your dog shows signs of irritation and spray the area with stitches.

The cool water will help temporarily remove the itching sensation from the area of your dog helping it relax and potentially sleep. This is a quick, easy, and cheap way to help reduce the itching sensation in your dog.

Our next suggestion is to pick up a reusable ice pack. It works in the same way as the water spray bottle but can bring greater relief in a shorter timeframe.

Some people will get two different icepacks so when one is in use the other can be in the freezer ready to swap out.


How do you calm a restless dog at night? 9 tips

#1: Before you take a trip to the vet do this

Whatever you think the reason might be, it’s still best to rule out any medical condition. Check with your vet whether your dog is feeling under the weather.

But before you rush to the vet’s office, create a journal. Keep an eye out for any patterns that might occur and note them down.

  • At what time is your dog restless?
  • How much does the restlessness continue?
  • What do they do in the meantime (do they pant, bark, whine)?
  • Do you notice any recurring event happening just before your dog gets restless?

Having an answer to these questions can help your vet decipher the situation quicker.

#2: Get your dog the best bed you can

If you have a dog that’s aging or a pooch that underwent surgery, a suitable bed is a must-have.

Old dogs tend to suffer from arthritis. And operation patients need time to recover and a soft space where they can lie unbothered.

Besides the memory foam that adjusts based on your dog’s posture, it also has head-supporting bolsters. And dogs love to put their head on an elevated soft surface.

Note: Even if you have a perfectly healthy dog, a dog bed is still something each dog benefits from.

#3: Give your dog some calming aids

If your dog is anxious at night, you can give them calming aids.

  • Valerian.
  • Hemp oil.
  • L-theanine.
  • Chamomile.
  • L-tryptophan.

Note: It’s best to purchase such supplements with the approval of your vet. Also, if your dog suffers from severe anxiety, consult your vet for the most effective options to give to your furry friend.

#4: Don’t cut short on the exercise

Address your dog’s exercise needs. These vary depending on age, size, and personality. The golden rule though is that each dog gets 30 minutes of exercise a day.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a routine for dogs. By this, I mean feeding, walking, and sleeping routine.

Dogs love having a set-in-stone schedule. And you will too when you realize how much it can help you.

By establishing a feeding, walking and sleeping schedule, you’ll benefit from your dog’s biological clock.

Your dog will get used to the routine and you won’t have to worry when they’ll go potty. Or whether they’ll feel like going to bed or not.

#6: Recreate a litter environment for your new puppy

This might sound tricky to do. But it’s not that hard.

Option 1

All you need is a warm bottle of water wrapped in a blanket. And a ticking clock.

I know, it sounds weird. But all of this has a purpose.

The ticking clock will play the role of a heartbeat. As to the bottle, it serves as a substitute for another pup’s body.

Option 2

Another thing you can do is buy a special companion toy like the SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Toy. It will come of use not only at night but also during the day while you’re away.

What’s special about it is that it has a heartbeat function. Plus it’s warm. Precisely what the pup is used to.

You can choose either of these 2 options and go with it for the first few nights. It’ll help your puppy adjust smoother in your home after leaving the litter.

#7: Have the crated puppy sleeping in your room

Your puppy was with their littermates until now. But all of a sudden the pup is left all by themselves. And in an unknown place. That can be very stressful.

To avoid your pup getting too stressed out, have them sleep in your room. It’s best to leave them in a crate for their own safety. Despite being closed off, they’ll sense your presence.

That will already serve as reassuring. After spending several nights like that, you can start moving the crate further away. But do it step by step.

#8: Have your house checked by pest control

If you suspect your dog might be reacting to a nocturnal critter, have your house checked. You might be surprised.

#9: Get your dog an anxiety calming wrap

If anxiety’s torturing your dog at night, try an anxiety calming wrap. This is a common and effective method of calming an anxious dog down.

Check out this Mellow Shirt Dog Anxiety Calming Wrap. It comes in different sizes.

Plus, it provides comfort during:

  • Crating.
  • Barking.
  • Fireworks.
  • Thunderstorms.

And that’s not all. You can also use it when your travel with your dog.


Getting Your Dog to Sleep all Night – Tips and Tricks

It might be utterly frustrating for you to see that your dog is spending one sleepless night after the other. Why and what is keeping it up, you’ll wonder. And the answer might be in something simple that you might not have ever thought of. That’s why you need to read the following section to know the steps that can be taken in this order.

# 1 – Check for Changes

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You know how it is – you sleep like a log when you are in your own bed, with the same setting and following a particular schedule. It’s much the same with dogs. They like things to be the way they are, in that similar order, night after night. The first thing you do then is to check if there has been any change in their order. It could be something as small as changing the position of their bedding, or shifting their sleeping crate. Think of any change that could have brought on the sleepless nights. Then work towards negating that and restoring the same order that they are used to.

# 2 – Prepare the Bed

When putting the dog to sleep, ensure that the sleeping area is extremely comfortable for him. Use a soft bedding that he finds comforting. In case it is a puppy, it has been seen that placing a small clock with a rhythmic beat under the blanket gets them to sleep faster. Make sure that you do not change anything of the place and/or bedding that they sleep in. This is likely to disturb their pattern and cause a problem as far as sleep is concerned.

# 3 – It’s all in the Training

You might have planned for the dog to use a crate or sleep in a separate room, but he might have different plans. So then get yourselves on the same page. You need to train the dog to understand that. Train him on commands like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ so that he knows when it is required to retire for the night. Also, do not ever let him get into the habit of barking and yelling and then you proceeding to open the door. He’ll associate the two and then continue to do the same whenever he feels like it. That is why there has to be a proper schedule put into place. This includes, more than anything else, proper potty training. (We’ll get to this in more detail in the specified pointer that is to follow)

# 4 – Exercising is Important

Get your dog really tired before bedtime and it will sleep better. If the dog sleeps in the evening, then it is obvious that he will not be sleepy at night. So make sure that this does not happen. In addition to that, if there is plenty of exercise provided for, the dog will be really tired and go off into a deep, undisturbed sleep.

# 5 – Feeding Hours

It is essential that you plan your dog’s feeding schedule well. When a dog has its food, it gets a sudden bout of energy which can lead to hyperactivity. And when there is energy coursing through his body, it will drive away the sleep. Make sure that you feed him at least 3 hours before his bedtime so that the food is well digested. Another reason for why you should not feed it right before bed is that he will want to do his business in odd hours of the night. This is one of the most important and usually ignored factor that you should look into.

# 6 – Potty Training a Dog

It is very, very important that you potty train your dog well. You also need to understand that a dog has to do its business many times a night, especially when it is a puppy. The way around this is to work out a schedule for yourself. Put the alarm for every 2-3 hours at night and take him out for his business. Do not wait for him to start yelping and barking for you to take him out. This will only help to strengthen the association of how when it barks, you come to the rescue. Which can be a problem for you later. Once the dog has become older, take it out some time before bed so that it is comfortable when it goes to sleep.

Now that you have some tips and tricks on getting your dog to sleep for the whole night, you will be better prepared to handle the situation at hand. Don’t worry too much about it. Just be patient and encouraging and a sleepy dog will greet you all night through…Night after night.


Sleep problems are common among children, especially when they’re young. Insomnia, bedtime fears, night terrors, sleepwalking, and bed-wetting can all disrupt your child’s natural sleep pattern. Some children may not feel tired at their designated bedtime while others have trouble falling asleep without a parent present. Some kids will frequently wake up in the middle of night, suddenly wide awake, and either toss and turn or come and wake up mom and dad.

It can be frustrating to have your own sleep regularly disturbed and then find yourself having to rush around in the morning because your child’s late getting up, or having to deal with a fussy, moody child who’s low on sleep. But there is hope. Many childhood sleep problems are linked to daytime behavior and bedtime habits that you can work with your child to change. With a little patience and discipline, you can help your child overcome their sleep difficulties, help them fall and stay asleep—and get back on track to more restful nights of your own.


Watch the video: My Puppy Wont Sleep at Night Without Me. This Morning


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