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What is Barking at Night?

The lights go out, you lay down, close your eyes and the barking starts.  It seems like every night your dog decides to bark.  You even get up and look outside but you can’t see anything, which could make him start barking.  Additionally, you are worried that he may be keeping the neighbors awake too.

There are many reasons your dog may be barking such as:

  • Wildlife 
  • Other dogs in the neighborhood
  • Boredom or loneliness
  • Pent-up energy
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome
  • Anxiety or fear
  • Poor night vision
  • Pain and frustration

Excessive night barking may be due to a behavior issue or a physical condition.  If the barking continues for a few days, your dog should be seen by a veterinarian.  A wellness check can help determine if there is a serious condition at hand.

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Why Barking at Night Occurs in Dogs

The dog may be barking because of:


Your dog might be hearing rats, raccoons, feral cats or possums, which usually come out at night. You may not hear or see them but dogs have more sensitive ears.  He may hear another animal outside and he wants to let it know that this is his territory.

Other Dogs in the Neighborhood

Your dog barking at night may be being triggered by another barking dog in the neighborhood.  It is similar to the sounding of an alarm among dogs. 


Your dog or puppy may just be bored or lonely.  If he was recently adopted, he may be getting used to the regular household noises and routines.  A puppy may also be missing his mother or siblings.

Pent-up Energy

Your dog may have pent-up energy. You may be tired from a long day at work but he is full of energy. A dog that is home alone all day may want to play and get some exercise.

Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection  may cause your dog to need to urinate more often. Your dog may be barking because she needs to go outside to relieve herself.  Other symptoms of a UTI may include: blood in urine, straining, whimpering when urinating, accidents in the house and frequently licking at the genital area. 

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

Senior dogs may have developed canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome.  Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome is like dementia in people.  The condition causes disorientation, confusion, sleep patterns change, behavior changes and night barking.

Anxiety or Fear

Anxiety and fear can be causing the night barking. Something may be causing your dog to feel anxious.  Thunder or other loud noises may be triggering the barking. Calming and reassuring your pet may help to work towards a resolution of the condition.

Poor Night Vision 

The condition progressive retinal atrophy can cause impaired night vision. The barking may be caused by the inability to see. Often, once a dog has adjusted to his new frame of vision, the barking will cease. 


The dog may be experiencing joint pain or discomfort, which causes him to get frustrated.  The barking may happen at night because he may be more aware of the pain. With fewer activities going on, he then focuses on his discomfort.

What to do if your Dog is Barking at Night

If the barking is continuously happening, it may be a good idea to have your companion checked by a veterinarian.  The veterinarian will give your dog a physical examination and may run a few diagnostic tests. He may suggest a complete blood count (CBC) and a urinalysis.  If the veterinarian suspects joint pain, he may recommend x-rays. If joint pain due to arthritis is diagnosed, the veterinarian may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication and physical or hydrotherapy. The veterinarian may also recommend supplements, which contain glucosamine and chondroitin.

If your dog has a urinary tract infection the veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics.  There is no cure for canine cognitive disorder; the veterinarian may suggest the drug selegiline or L-deprenyl to help increase the amount of dopamine in your dog’s brain.  It is best not to move  or rearrange furniture and to establish a set schedule of activities (feeding, walks, play).  A loyal pet with CCD will need a lot of patience and love. 

There is no cure available for progressive retinal atrophy.  The veterinarian may recommend daily antioxidant supplementation and vitamins to slow down the vision loss. If your dog has no medical reason for the barking the veterinarian may refer you to an animal behaviorist.  An animal behaviorist will make suggestions to help stop the night barking.

Prevention of Barking at Night

Boredom and pent up energy can be prevented by providing your dog fun toys and regular walks.  If you suspect wildlife is coming in close proximity to your house, make sure not to leave food outside and to secure your garbage can. There are natural wildlife repellents available. Motion detector lights may also discourage unwanted night visitors.

Many health conditions cannot be prevented; however, an annual wellness check with your veterinary provider can provide a heads up to potential health complications. Additionally, the regular administration of deworming products and tick or flea preventatives can prevent infestations and secondary complications that could contribute to a dog not settling down at night.

Cost of Barking at Night

Behavior issues may be identified and advised upon at the annual wellness check.  Illnesses like urinary tract infections may cost $350 to treat. Depending on the severity of joint pain or arthritis, the expense may range from $200 to $2500.