Why Do Dogs Move Around At Night

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Does your dog move around at night? Some dogs can be very restless when you really want them to be sleeping. Do you hear yours pacing in the early hours of the morning? Worse, is your pup waking you up with his nocturnal meanderings?

Some dogs only seem to sleep in fits and starts. Is yours one of those who dozes for a couple of hours and then you can hear him either walking around or having a good old play session with his toys?  After he's kept you up half the night, he'll probably still have more energy than you the next day even when he's hardly slept at all. Strange isn't it?

So why do dogs move around at night?

The Root of the Behavior

Dogs like to do one thing and that is follow the leader. If your pup was in a pack situation, he'd lay down to sleep when the alpha and the rest of the pack did. When he's on his own, he just does what he feels like, which might be waking up intermittently and getting up to all kinds of mischief. When there are no other dogs around to snap or growl at him because he's restless and disturbing the others, just like an errant child with no matriarchal supervision, he's going to do exactly what he wants to. It's no good thinking you're the alpha and you've gone to bed so why doesn't he just sleep when you do, there's a bedroom door in between and he can't see what you're doing.

It could just be that bedroom door which is causing all your dog's nightly wanderings. Some of our four-legged friends just don't like to be separated from their owners. Being left alone at night can cause them some serious anxiety. Instead of settling down to sleep, they'll begin to pace and can sometimes become destructive of their environment. Your pet might lay down and be quiet for a while, but if he hates being away from you it won't be long before his stress gets the better of him and he starts moving around again.

Our dogs, because of the way we've domesticated them, have become creatures who enjoy their comfort. Your dog may move around at night for the simple reason he doesn't like where he's sleeping or what you've given him to sleep in. Have you ever had a mattress on your bed which didn't suit your needs? One which was either too hard or too soft and left you tossing and turning all night completely unable to nod off? Dogs like to feel safe and protected when they settle down for the night. If your dog's bed or sleeping arrangement doesn't make him feel that way, then just like you, he'll be doing a bit of canine too-ing and fro-ing because he's not comfortable or secure enough to sleep.

Encouraging the Behavior

It's not good for you or your pet if neither of you is getting enough sleep. Temperaments can soon get frayed on both sides. Your pup moving around at night is his way of telling you he's not as comfortable as he could be. Creating a night-time environment for your dog which suits him and makes him feel secure is your priority as a pet owner. Revising his sleeping arrangements, maybe adjusting the size of his bed or even buying him a new one more suitable may help assure you both get the rest you need.

Does your pup have a favorite place to take a snooze? If he has a preferred spot to nap in the daytime, why not try placing his bed there? That location is already marked with his scent, the familiarity of which may help him stay settled for longer. You might consider the possibility that something where he is sleeping is disturbing him. A dog's acute senses mean they're much more aware of noises in the night than we are. If he's in the kitchen, it could be the on and off buzz of the refrigerator that wakes him up, so why not try moving his bed into a different room to see if the change makes any difference.

Other Solutions and Considerations

If your dog's moving around at night is worrying you and you think he may be suffering from separation anxiety, the best thing you can do is consult with a professional dog handler. They'll be able to show you the correct methods to use to help settle him down at night or during the day when you're not there.

On occasion a dog moving around at night can be a sign that all is not well. The symptoms of some canine infirmities can make your dog restless at night. If you think your pet is unwell, the best thing to do is make an appointment with a veterinary surgeon and get him a medical check-up as soon as possible.


Dogs do move around at night, it's true. They could be missing you, feeling unwell, or are just not comfortable enough to sleep. If your dog does not settle down and seems to be suffering from a bout of insomnia, you might want to consider tucking him in and reading him a doggy bedtime story until he is well and truly asleep to see if that helps.