Many dogs seem as though they could sleep anytime, anywhere. So why is it that some dogs decide that the middle of the night is the perfect time to be as active—and noisy—as possible when the rest of the family is trying to get some much-needed rest? Dogs can be restless for many reasons and it is vital that we understand exactly why they can’t sleep. It could be something that is easily fixable, but it could also be a sign of a more serious condition, so figuring out the cause of the problem as soon as possible is extremely important, as they may need medical intervention.
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The Root of the Behavior
So, let’s start with the less serious of the potential causes. First of all, our dogs’ hearing is very sensitive, so if your dog is whining or scrabbling at night time, it may be because they have become aware of unwanted, nocturnal house guests such as mice or insects, whose squeaking and scuttling might be imperceptible to the human ear. It might be worth investing in some humane traps to see if you can catch any night-time visitors. Failing that, a call to pest control might be in order. It could be that your dog isn’t getting enough exercise. Some breeds of dog need several walks a day, especially in their younger years. If this isn’t possible for whatever reason, this excess energy will be more than enough to keep them up all night. Various medical conditions can also be to blame; for instance, skin complaints can cause your dog to stay up late scratching. This kind of behavior, aside from keeping you up from the incessant noise, can do far more damage to your dog’s skin and leave them in far worse discomfort and distress, so if you believe they might be having a reaction to something, a trip to the vet is absolutely vital. Some dogs may experience separation anxiety or general loneliness at night after the family has hit the hay. Puppies go from a busy crate full of other little furry friends to new homes with comparatively very little going on, especially at night, so it’s only natural that they could be confused or upset by this lack of activity. In older dogs, howling and pacing during the night can also be a symptom of canine dementia. If you think your older dog might be suffering, speak to your vet. There are medications available that can ease symptoms in many cases.
Encouraging the Behavior
So, as much as we love and adore our otherwise-faithful pets, sleep interruption gets real old, real fast. If your dog is experiencing anxiety at night, it might be worth investing in a DAP diffuser plug-in that will release calming pheromones into the air and relax them enough to help them—and you—get a good night’s sleep. If you feel like your pooch might need something stronger, there are some herbal medications that can be given to dogs to reduce anxiety and help them sleep easier at night. If you’re worried that your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, it could be as simple as giving them an extra walk each day. However, presuming that this has already been considered and isn’t an option for you, there are others to consider. Maybe everyone in your household is out at work all day and there’s only time for one, maybe two walks each day. Nobody wants to think that they can’t offer their pet enough exercise and have to contemplate rehoming them, so perhaps looking into doggy daycare or a paid dog walker to look in on your dog and give them a bonus walk during the days you’re at work might be the way forward.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Sadly, nocturnal activity could also be a sign of something more serious. Many breeds of dogs experience senility and dementia as they get older. This can manifest itself as a total 180-degree shift of your pet’s understanding of night and day. They’re asleep all day and up all night, pacing around the house, howling and crying out, keeping everyone in the house awake. If you think your dog might be suffering from canine dementia (otherwise known as CND), take them to the vet for an examination as soon as possible. There are several medications on the market that are believed to help in cases of CND. The condition can’t be reversed, but symptoms can sometimes be slowed, or eased enough to improve your pet’s quality of life.
Sleep is just as important to our pets as it is to us, so it’s important that everyone’s getting quality time in dreamland. Whatever the reason may be as to why your dog just won’t settle down at night, don’t just pop your earplugs in and ignore it—there’s usually a way around these things, so that everyone can sleep soundly.