Has your dog just woken you up? Were you having a really good deep sleep when in through the bedroom door, which you were certain you'd closed securely, bounded your big hairy bundle of fun who then proceeded to bounce all over you as if you'd turned into a trampoline overnight? Annoying isn't it?
Have you had a broken night's sleep because your pup decide he'd reverted to wolf mode and spent the night howling, not at a full moon shining through the window, but right outside your bedroom door? It can be really frustrating when you get your sleep interrupted and doesn't bode well for dog and owner relationships. So why do dogs try to wake you up?
The Root of the Behavior
Dogs don't need sleep like we do. Even though they may appear to sleep all day long, they're more than happy to survive with intermittent short naps to recharge their batteries. While we need at least a decent seven or eight hours of solid slumber, they can be up and running around again after as little as half an hour. If your dog feels he's had enough sleep and is full of energy, he will try to wake you up so you can do something together. After all, he doesn't understand how hard your day has been and that you really need your rest.
Your dog is never happier than when he's with you. You probably feel the same way otherwise you wouldn't have gotten him. But when you turn off the lights and retire for the night, especially when you've probably been cuddled up on the sofa together the whole evening, he won't understand why you've suddenly put the barrier of the bedroom door between you. He's going to let you know in no uncertain terms that he is not impressed. He may howl out his frustration, bark or yap incessantly, or he may even scratch at the door. Whichever method your dog uses to try to wake you up, he's just sending you the message that he isn't happy to be separated from you. Isn't it nice to have so much canine appreciation?
Dogs don't differentiate between night and day or know how to tell the time. Living by the clock is purely a human trait. If your dog wakes up in the predawn hours, he's not just going to lay in his bed. All alone, he'll quickly become bored and may start to play or he may even decide you really should get up and take him out for a walk. The fact that you're happily ensconced in the land of nod won't enter his head nor will he comprehend you don't want to be woken before your alarm goes off.
Encouraging the Behavior
If your pet is still at the puppy stage, it's normal for him to make some noise at night. He'll probably carry on doing it for a while or at least until he's adapted to the routine of your household. If you've been spending time house training him and he wakes you by making some noise, he could just be letting you know he needs to go outside to do his business. Which is fair play to you as you've done a good job educating him, but until his bladder is more mature he won't be able to control the urge and so he could wake you frequently.
A lot of dogs go into a protective mode during the night hours. It's as if they can sense their owners are more vulnerable when they're asleep. If your normally silent dog suddenly starts barking it could be he's heard or sensed something going on outside which he really doesn't like and is letting you know about it. If that just happens to be a burglar trying to break in, your dog is doing a good job, which even though he may have woken you, you're going to be pretty grateful he has.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Does your dog usually let you sleep right through the night without disturbing you, but has suddenly changed tactics and is waking you at all hours asking to go out? You may want to consider he's picked up a urinary tract infection and is struggling not to make a mess in the house. The best thing to do is to get him checked by the vet and rule out any serious medical issues.
Dogs have different metabolic rates to humans. Have you considered your dog might be waking you because he's hungry? You could try changing his dinner time so that he can support the hours of the night without him needing to let you know he's in dire need of a snack. If that fails and he still keeps waking you up he may be suffering from separation anxiety. If you feel that may be the problem, you can consult with your pet's vet or a qualified dog trainer who will be able to advise you on the best way to deal with his anxiousness.
There's nothing worse than having a broken night's sleep. It can make you tetchy and short-tempered as well as incredibly tired. If you have a few consecutive ones, it can make you feel less than human. But the bonus is, if your dog does wake you in the night with a cold wet nose in your ear, you can rest assured he really does love you, even though it might not seem like it.