Barking is a completely normal behaviour for dogs. However, hearing barks at night can be puzzling (or maybe even concerning) for dog owners. From protecting and alerting their families of possible threats to expressing emotions like loneliness or discomfort, understanding why your dog or pup does this behaviour can help you foster a deeper appreciation of their instincts and needs.
It's a common experience for everyone, especially when you've recently introduced a new dog or pup into your home. Here, we explore the reasons why your dogs bark at night plus tips that can help you both get a good night's sleep.
- Barking at night is a common behaviour for dogs especially when adjusting to a new home.
- Dogs bark at night to express discomfort, fear, or other factors that require your attention.
- Crate training, exercise and mental stimulation can help lessen your dog’s barking at night.
Why is My Dog Barking at Night?
No matter the time of day, dogs bark primarily as a form of communication1. When barking at night, it could be to alert you of potential threats, respond to sounds or scents they detect, or express loneliness or anxiety. Barking is normal for dogs. And in many cases, it is essential for their well-being.
However, excessive or prolonged barking could possibly mean underlying issues2, such as boredom or discomfort, which might need attention. As dog owners, it's important to understand your dog's needs and surroundings to determine if the nighttime barking is within normal boundaries or may require necessary intervention.
There are several reasons why your dog or puppy may be barking at night. They could be feeling anxious or scared being alone in the dark; or they could be reacting to sounds or noises outside, such as other animals or people passing by. It's also possible that your dog or puppy may even be trying to alert you of something unusual happening around your home. Paying attention to their behaviour can help you identify the underlying cause to address their needs.
Related: What is Considered Excessive Dog Barking?
Is It Normal for Puppies to Bark at Night?
For puppies, barking at night is considered normal to some extent. Unlike adult dogs, puppies have a lot of learning and adjusting to do to express their needs or seek attention. However, when excessive barking occurs at night it could be a sign that your puppy might need a little more help adjusting to its new environment4. With a comfortable and secure sleeping area, an established routine, and some crate training, you can help your puppy reduce nighttime barking which can go a long way as they get older.
Can Crate Training Help Reduce My Dog’s Barking at Night?
As surprising as it may be, crate training can actually help reduce a dog's barking at night rather than worsen it. Dogs are den animals by nature. As long as they fit comfortably, a crate can provide them with a safe and secure space. It also helps establish a routine that can build a sense of trust. In doing so, dogs can learn to associate the crate with rest and relaxation, resulting in less stress during nighttime. So, how long does it take to train a dog to do crate training?
It is important to introduce the crate gradually and make it a positive experience for your dog. If there are any signs of discomfort, it might be because the training process was rushed or that your dog has not fully adjusted. In such cases, you can modify your training and see what works best for everyone.
5 Tips to Stop Your Dog Barking at Night
If your dog barks constantly at night, it can be frustrating for both you and your neighbours. Here are five tips to help stop your dog barking at night.
Tip #1: Make sure your dog gets enough exercise and mental stimulation during the day.
There are several ways to give your dog enough activities during the day that can help reduce their energy to lessen barking at night5. Going for walks can be a good start. This introduces them to new environments and new smells to provide mental stimulation. You can also add training sessions into their daily routines. This will help engage their minds and maybe even learn new tricks along the way. Interactive toys that require problem-solving skills, such as treat dispensing puzzles can also be a good addition to your dog's routine.
Tip #2: Create a calm and comfortable sleeping environment for your dog.
Providing a cosy well-padded bed in a quiet, dark, draft-free area can help your dog feel more comfortable sleeping at home6. Make sure to clean their bed and wash the bedding regularly. You can also consider using a calming lavender spray to help your dog stay relaxed and create a soothing atmosphere.
Tip #3: Establish a routine by setting regular times for feeding, walks, and bedtime.
A routine helps your dog adjust better and feel more secure at night. To sustain your dog's routine, establish a daily schedule and commit to it. Feed them at the same times each day, and take them for walks or playtime at consistent intervals, as well as maintain a regular sleep schedule. Consistency is key to helping your dog feel secure and reducing behavioural issues1 that may arise from unpredictability.
Tip #4: Avoid reinforcing the behaviour by ignoring your dog or letting them out when they bark.
Ignoring or distracting your dog might feel like a good strategy, but by allowing them to bark or offering treats can mislead them into reinforcing their behaviour3. Instead, see why your dog is barking and wait for a moment of silence before rewarding them. By consistently doing so, this teaches them that being quiet is what gets them attention.
Tip #5: Consider using anti-barking tools.
Anti-barking tools are available in different forms such as white noise machines, calming music, or a crate cover to reduce external stimuli that may trigger your dog's barking. There are also bark collars and ultrasonic devices7 that can be safe for dogs when used properly and responsibly. It is important to choose tools that do not cause physical harm or distress. Train your dog alongside using these tools to address the root cause of excessive barking. Consulting with a professional trainer or veterinarian is recommended to ensure the safety and well-being of the dog.
Related: How Tight Should a Dog Collar Be?
Dogs bark for various reasons, out of fear, boredom, or discomfort. For some, ignoring your dog's barking may help if it’s only seeking attention. But until you know for sure, ignoring your dog might even reinforce their behaviour, pushing them on to continue. It is better to investigate the cause of the barking and address the issue. Always provide your dog with sufficient exercise and mental stimulation during the day to reduce their energy levels at night. Additionally, consider creating a comfortable sleeping environment for your dog to minimise any potential triggers as well. If you are unsure about why your dog barks excessively, you can also consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviourist.
As dogs mature, they generally become more accustomed to their surroundings and bark less frequently. From age, environment, to breed, there are many factors that could affect your dog's behaviour8. It may be difficult to pinpoint the exact age, but many pet owners report that their dogs tend to become less vocal as they reach their adult years.
Dogs barking at night can be bothersome for both pet owners and their neighbours. While occasional barking is normal, excessive barking can be a sign of underlying issues that may need your attention. Consistent routines such as exercise, training, and playtime during the day plus a comfortable sleeping area can help reduce nighttime barking episodes. Anti-barking tools such as bark collars can safely train your dogs when used responsibly. Many of them are designed with a wide range to suit your dog's training needs. By learning the reasons behind your pet's nighttime barking, you can address them and help everyone enjoy a good night's sleep.