Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Sleep At Night (and possible solutions)

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by Adrienne Farricelli of veterinaryplace.com

The many struggles of life keep you tossing and turning at night, but why on Earth is your dog, who has every reason to lead a happy, worry-free life, unable to fall asleep? He has no financial worries; he no longer has to hunt or scavenge for food and has all the comforts and commodities that come with being a pampered pooch of the 21st century. What signs would you expect in a dog suffering from insomnia? Of course, your dog won’t wake up with dark circles around his eyes and you won’t hear him tossing and turning throughout the night. Instead, you might hear him whining, barking or pacing during the late night and wee hours of the day. The reasons for these sleepless nights may vary depending on what is causing the insomnia. Here are some potential causes and what you can do about them. 

Lonely Pups 

If you recently got a new puppy, don’t be surprised if he’s struggling to fall asleep the first night. Used to being around his mother and litter mates and now in a completely new environment, he’ll need some time to adjust. On top of that, if you have put him inside a crate or in a solitary room away from your reassuring presence, he’ll feel even lonelier which will manifest through barking, whining and relentless scratching geared towards the crate, door or any other barrier that’s preventing him from being close to you. 

What to do: To help your new pup out, keep his crate near your bedside so he’ll know you are within reach. This is just a temporary adjustment to help him better cope with his loneliness the first nights. Afterward, the crate can be gradually moved farther and farther away. Some breeders recommend letting your new pup sleep next to a ticking clock that mimics a mother dog’s heartbeat and a bottle filled with warm water wrapped in a blanket to mimic the warmth of his litter mates and mom. 

Pent-Up Energy 

So you’re out for most of the day leaving your pet home alone, and by the time you get back in the evening, your dog turns into an animated hyper pup in perpetual motion. Don’t be surprised if after feeding him, he has a hard time falling asleep. Most likely, he has been sleeping for most of the day awaiting your return, and now that you’re finally home, he just can’t contain himself. We can’t blame him though; his needs for exercise and mental stimulation are possibly not met, and, along with his excitement to see you again, the last thing he wants to do is fall asleep. 

What to do: It might help to hire a pet sitter or a dog walker to tire him out and provide companionship during the day. Doggy day care is another option. Walking him before going out to work and upon your return, along with providing mentally stimulating toys in your absence, may help out too. 

Night-Time Critters 

Countless people report their dogs being awake for most of the night pacing, whining and acting as if they have seen a ghost or witnessed some odd paranormal activity. In reality, these dogs are often reacting to noises us humans cannot hear. Most likely, there’s some nocturnal critter living under the deck or in your attic that is getting your pet all hyped up. Your dog is likely barking, whining and pacing from the frustration of not being able to hunt down the critter. Common critters that love to share your home and may be active at night include mice, bats, raccoons, squirrels and opossum. 

What to do: Have a pest inspector check your home for the presence of these critters. 

Emotional Turmoil 

Moving into a new home or having guests over can be an overwhelming experience for your dog. New scents, new sights and new sounds can cause major disruptions in a sensitive dog’s routine. A scared dog is unable to relax, and when Fido can’t relax, he’ll be unable to catch his healthy dose of ZZZs. The same form of insomnia may affect your dog if he’s fearful of thunder or other noises. This is a natural response to the situation, as fear causes the release of hormones which trigger the fight or flight response and put him in a heightened state of alertness.

What to do: Invest in aids such as DAP diffusers, play soothing music through a radio and try calming herbs for dogs such as our very own #20 Keep Cool. We feel that owners can effectively relieve their dogs of anxiety with herbal supplements without having to rely on antihistamine drugs such as diphenhydramine.

Physical Problems 

If your dog usually sleeps through the night and suddenly out of the blue he’s up and awake all night with no changes in his environment, you may want to investigate if something is amiss in the health department. Is your dog repeatedly licking or pawing at joints or any particular part of his body? If so, there may be a wound or an itchy or achy area that needs attention. Is you dog pacing nervously and retching? This may be a medical emergency as these can be symptoms of bloat. Is your dog drooling and smacking his lips? He may be suffering from some form of digestive upset. Is your dog frequently asking to go outside at night? He may have a urinary tract infection, a gastrointestinal problem or some other kidney or bladder condition. 

What to do: Have your dog see your vet for a thorough check-up. 

Side Effects

Last but not least, any medication you are giving your dog could be contributing to his sleepless nights. Steroids are one possible example, as they are known for causing numerous side effects in dogs including increased drinking and urination, restlessness and insomnia. If you’re giving your dog a medication, check the list of side effects to see if nervousness, incontinence and insomnia are on the list.

What to do: Contact your vet and report to the side effects you have observed. They will be able to assess the situation and advise you on how to proceed.

The Bottom Line 

Your dog may have his own good reasons for not being able to fall asleep. Insomnia in

dogs is usually a short-lived problem that subsides once the underlying issues are

addressed. Don’t try to ignore the problem in hopes that it goes away by itself; your dog’s insomnia may provide important clues about his health and emotional well-being.

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49 thoughts on “Reasons Why Your Dog Won’t Sleep At Night (and possible solutions)

  1. John Smithson says:

    We have a one year old Havanese male who refuses to sleep much at night. We moved him to another room in his crate about 4 weeks ago. He sometimes barks and makes noise in his new room at night. We do not think he sleeps very much at night.
    We are retired so he is not left alone for long periods of time, he gets plenty of excercise, eats well and is very alert. He sleeps for short periods of time during the day. We do not know how to get him to sleep at night.

    Thanks,
    J. Smithson

    1. Isaac says:

      When my dog seemed to have pent up energy, I put a bag of sleepytime tea with chamomile (he loved peach flavor). Let it sit for a few minutes then put it down in his usual spot… He slept all night! I used this method because it’s natural and there are added benefits from the chamomile. My wife has a 5 year old female havanese that drinks from the same bowl and she slept ALL NIGHT also. Hope this helps

  2. Cindy Capurso says:

    My dog is 6 years old and is so attached to me. If I leave and come back she squeals and makes loud moaning noices. She is keeping my kids and husband awake. Each one tried to be with her but it didn’t help. I don’t know what to do because I’m working 3 over nighter this week coming up. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you

    1. Coco says:

      Sounds like your the one who shows your dog the most affection. If your son or husband could spend more time talking and playing with her/him and tell the little booger whats going on while your not home will hopefully help him/her understand and learn to deal with the lonely times your not home! You might want to talk to your dog before you leave home as well. Dogs understand human talk very well! I watch my sisters minature poodle when she’s at work and believe you me, it works! Good luck! Obviously your dog is very fond of you, your the chosen one in his/her world! Hats off to you!

  3. Julie Morphus says:

    My 6 month old crossbreed hasn’t been sleeping through the night for the past 5 week. She is walked regularly and They are energetic walks off the lead through the woods. We have tried everything from ignoring her to taking her upstairs she just won’t settle and sleep. She is a wonderful pup sp loyal and loving please HELP !!! #adoptdontshop

    1. Silver Lining Herbs says:

      Hi Julie! You might consider looking at our #20 Keep Cool for dogs. We have many customers who are having the same problem and have found the Keep Cool to help out. http://www.silverliningherbs.com/product/20-keep-cool-canine/

  4. Lori B says:

    I have a 16 yo Shih Tzu who is crated at night since he started releaving himself out of spite when my boyfriend or 17 yo daughter leave the house or go to bed.

    The past week he is perfectly fine aside of them but now whines all night for a week stra8ght in his crate at night.

    What can I do to make his crate comfortable for him again.

    His crate currently could fit a great Dane.

    I normally know what to do but the past year he has turned into a extremely stubborn dog who acts as if he hates me… me the one who tends to his every need, want, so desire. :/

    1. Silver Lining Herbs says:

      Hi Lori! We would recommend the #20 Keep Cool for him. This should help promote a more normal and relaxed behavior. Please let us know if you have any other questions.

    2. Alou says:

      As a 16 year old dog, he will NOT be “relieving himself out of spite”. Dog’s do not manipulate, there is a reason. Take him to the Vet, he may have a kidney problem. 16, is very elderly for a canine.

    3. Coco says:

      Sounds as if he detects your stress with him so he’s giving it right back to ya! Talk to your baby, cant stress how important this is……dogs understand humans better than we think!

  5. Sandra vasquez says:

    I have a chi/terrier mix dog..possibly 6 yrs old…. Just lately getting over digestive problems .has trouble sleeping.. Paces from one spot to another…. Yet during the day naps on and off… Gets exercised… Walks… And plays…. He weighs 6.4 pounds please help….

    1. Kitty says:

      I would consider getting a crate, my lil pupper was just like that but once I got the crate she was sitting there all night… ASLEEP! In the morning when I wake up I let her out for cuddles obviously tho!

  6. Barkha says:

    Please help me…..Few days back I saw one street dog In our society, who is hardly 15 days old. I took him to my home. But issue is he doesn’t sleep whole night,he cry a lot(may be missing his mom). He just don’t want to be at home. We can not leave him outside as well, because he is so small and other dogs might bite him. Could you please suggest me something,what to do.i am really feeling helpless

    1. pupzki says:

      why not just sleep with the puppy? or maybe do everything with your pupp? or just watch late night tv with ur puppy?

  7. Valerie says:

    Barkha, if the puppy is only two weeks old (did I understand that correctly?), then it is definitely missing its mother. But, even puppies that are still with their mother make noise all day and night. Puppies are very noisy! Two weeks old is very, very young to be growing up without a mother, her milk, and her teaching. It would be good if you could find another dog who has babies about the same size or age right now and is still giving milk to her babies. If you are willing to take the puppy back in 4-6 weeks, the owner would probably allow you to leave your puppy with their mother dog.

  8. Katie says:

    My family’s yo Maltese mix becomes very anxious when I bring him to stay the night in my room. I am very close with this dog and his behaviour usually suggests I’m his human of choice.

    When he was very tiny he slept on my bed always but I’m a student and away from home a lot, so he spends most of his time with my mom and dad now. I expect hes used to sleeping in their room now, but here’s the thing: if I don’t bring him to my room when I’m home he follows me there anyhow. But once in my room he whines and pants or lays at the end of the bed and cries. He just seems incapable or uninterested in settling down. Hell grab my arm and whine and play bite–very soft mouth not actually trying to nip. He’ll groan and pants a lot. Does he want us all in the same room always?

    1. pupzki says:

      to me it seems like he wants to play with you more rather than just being cooped in your room? or maybe well………he wants to play in your room with you?

  9. Jean says:

    We adopted a senior SHIH TZU about 3weeks ago. She is 10 years old and crate trained. But at night I cut her water off at 7pm and she still wakes us up at 3am to go out. She goes in her crate after her last trip out around 10:30pm she will do this again at 5 am, and I know she just wants attention so she gets corrected with a small pat on her behind and told to go to sleep, then she does. We get up at 6:30am everyday. Is 10:30 to 6:30 to long over night for her?

    1. Chelsea says:

      You’re an idiot for hitting your dog. They won’t understand anything other than “this is a shitty human! I’m scared of them!”

      Please learn how to train yourself and communicate with this animal.

  10. Judy Ritter says:

    My shih tau is keeping me up all nite for some reason it has been going on now for the last three months! He sleeps with me in my bed and was sooo good! Then all of a sudden he go s to bed with me for about two hours and then we get up!!!! We come in the family room and he goes to sleep right away! I’m not able to go back to sleep once I’ awake!! HELP!!!!!

    1. Laura says:

      I’m having same issue. Also same breed.

      1. Melissa says:

        Me too, same breed, 12 years old. I’m so exhausted. If anyone has had any relief from this please post.

    2. Ginny says:

      I have a 18 year old shih tuz that has diminished, is blind and deaf had a stork about 2 years ago he dose wine when he does I do not know what he is wining about. And drives me crazy it is not easy to take care if him I get thought it there days that he will wine all day then I have to see how I can help him out. There are times he will keep me up at night someone has to get me up to tell me there koko is up wineing moning I have been giving him chamomile, basil at night in his food it seems to be helping out him out. He gets homemade dog we have a one year old shih tuz that eats homemade dog food.

  11. Michelle says:

    My dog has been licking the air for about a month. But last night she was up all night pacing and licking the air. She is a 4 year old Morkie. I don’t know what to do. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Michelle

    1. Tiffany says:

      I have a 9 year old Morkie who was also licking the air and driving my crazy. I took her to the vet and they said she had allergies. They told me to give her Benadryl for about a month. That helped her. Ask your vet.

  12. Gwenn says:

    Just asking for a senior friend. She adopted a 3 year old Shih Tzu Maltese 6 years ago. He has always been healthy and slept on his bed in her room at night. About 10 days ago he has started not settling down at night until 3 or 4 in the morning. He is scratching at doors and walls and keeping her awake. She has even got up and gone the the living area with him, and he continues. There has been no changes in his environment to explain. Any ideas?

    1. Gwenn says:

      Note: He is very much his normal self the rest of the time. Just bedtime for a few hours that has been a ting strange.

      1. Tiffany says:

        I see this post is from a year ago and my 15 year old put is doing the same thing. Did you find a solution? She has also escaped from her cage and ate through my bedroom door. That is 15 human years. I am now on the couch because she kept scratching walls doors and bed. Now she is asleep next to me on the floor. It is almost 5am and she won’t allow my husband or myself to sleep at night. I don’t know what to do. I tried the calming liquid, the calming pills and nothing is working. I know she is old and loosing her sight and hearing. ?

  13. Angel says:

    I have a 13 year old Golden Retriever mix. For some time now, she has been going out 1-2 times during the night, which makes getting a good night’s sleep very difficult. In January, we took in a one year old foster son, who is now nearing 21 months old and still lives with us. Since that time, though our dog is very friendly with our toddler, she hides in our bedroom and sleeps all day. At night, she finally gets around to eating, but will pace back and forth while doing so, often dragging her food all across the floor and down the hall as though she doesn’t want to be away from us. However, even when she is not eating, she is pacing a great deal at night, which keeps me awake. I don’t know if she misses our Shithzu, who was 15 1/2, who also paced at night, had very bad arthritis, and possibly cancer when we sadly put him down in April. Other than her thyroid, which she is on medicine for, and some arthritis, there are no other health problems that we are aware of. She does not seem to have dementia that our other dog seemed to have, so I really don’t know the cause of her pacing. Any advice would be helpful.

  14. elizabeth says:

    I have a 4 year old Jack Russell Terrier. He is a very calm Jack and has never had problems with sleeping issues at night until the last 4 weeks. I did change his dog food about 6 weeks ago to Zignature and he does go to Puppy day care 4 days a week for 8 hours a day. You would think he would be worn out. When we get home, I feed him his dinner and he naps for about an hour. We walk about 4 miles per day. What is going on with his sleep pattern that he wakes up at least 2-4 times during the night to go outside…………………..Please help, I am tired………………

  15. janetholt7@gmail.com says:

    Help! My 12 year old boxer sleeps with me, always has, but I’m going through some medical issues and have insomnia. My boxer runs in her sleep and shakes the bed violently and kicks me all night long. I am about to lose my mind. I’m afraid it will upset her too much if I make her sleep on the floor after 12 years.

  16. richard.pitts says:

    weDogs have nightmares as do humans. The dog is protecting and watching for bugs. Training is the best answer. Once he has your utmost trust and love he will lay his life on the line for you. My dog has saved me 3 times and I have saved his 3 times also. So it is a mutual love for each other. He has been certified as a service dog and goes everywhere with me – we talked to each other. Just listen to him.

  17. Jennie says:

    I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he barks and whines A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us.
    My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

  18. Bella says:

    My new puppy is eight weeks… I’m normally the one to sleep with him at night!!! we wake up in the morning and have to go to school. So we put him in his crate and my mom goes to work… we come back at around 4:25 and he’s crazy. But calms down and relaxes. It comes to bedtime and he just won’t sleep. All that he wants to do is play play play and it drives me crazy. My room is up stairs so I take him downstairs Ana Lela s him down Tver and then everything is fine. But at night he doesn’t sleep in his crate because I have a two year old brother and we don’t want him barking… my mom doesn’t want the puppy to wake my brother so the dog normally will leave my mom and go to my room and play… I don’t know what to do… and we literally just got him!!! I rlly don’t want the puppy to be all sad but he has to sleep. So if y’all have any idea of why we can do to get him to sleep. Pleaseeee tell me… thank u

  19. Julie Hawthorne says:

    I have 2, 2 year old chihuahuas who have been together since they were 8 weeks old. They have always slept together in the kitchen at night and never been a problem. However the female has just had puppies and being as neither of them will sleep in separate rooms we have given them the run of the lounge and kitchen to allow them both their own space. However since the puppies have been born the male dog has started barking all through the night. The 1st night it was to tell us that the puppies were being born, but since then he has barked all night for no apparent reason. When I have come down to check on him he stops straight away and comes to me as normal. If I stay downstairs he instantly lies by me and goes to sleep. I don’t want to give in to him and start coming down every night but am worried about the neighbours. Please help.

  20. I also don’t understand the behavior of my dog. Sometimes puppies do things that their human family members often don’t understand!

  21. Vicki Spiegel says:

    Our 15 year old Mini-Aussie has been “rooting” around the bedroom and heavy panting for about two weeks now at night. It’s like the minute the lights go out, he starts scratching around the room, moving the rug from one side to another, etc. If we put outside the room, he will do the same right outside our door. He will often urinate if I lock him out of our room. My husband and I both work so sleep is a necessity. Our dog sleeps a lot during the day but he is here with my elderly Mother in law so he has company. I don’t know what to do and my husband is wanting to get rid of him. I couldn’t ever do that do our elderly dog as we have been his home for about 6 years now. What could be wrong? Why would he suddenly be doing this? Is there a sleep aid for the dog? Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. Silver Lining Herbs says:

      Hi Vicki! Does it seem like it could be anxiety? I might consider the #20 Keep Cool for him at night. This should help him relax a bit and hopefully get some sleep.

  22. Anita says:

    We have had our Shitzu 16months now and she is approaching 18/12 old. When we got her we crate trained her, we had no problems until we decided to buy her a bigger crate as she was becoming to big for her small one, after a few nights she would cry and bark and need us to respond as she was distressed and our neighbours started to complain about the noise. We then moved her and crate to our room and this only lasted a week before she again became unsettled and we took her back down stairs. We now give her the run of the downstairs at night which is working. She still has her crate although doesn’t go in it now.
    I would like to go back to the way things were but am unsure if this would be fair to try and change what’s working now. Do you feel we have allowed her to rule?

  23. Keke says:

    I have a eight month old Chow/Australian mix named Oreo and she’s absolutely great, give or take some things we’re trying to adjust, whining being one of them. See I am away at college and return home whenever I can, so my mom and stepdad watch her. When I first got her she was pretty sick but I took her to the vet, got her the meds and vaccines she needed, and she’s better now. She just got spayed in July and healed well. I’m starting to notice that when I do come home she whines alot at night, so I take her out and sometimes she has to use the bathroom and sometimes she does’t and just wants to play. I know for a fact that she’s a very hyper dog, so I told my mom to leave her out of the cage for as long as she can, so she doesn’t feel like she always in the cage. That has helped with her hyper-ness. So, tonight, well last night, when I took her out, I noticed she was making this choking sound like she wanted to throw up, but nothing came. I got her to sit and started patting her back and chest and she did it again. Note: she been throwing up hairballs here lately. Upon doing research I found out she could have kennel cough, but there are no other dogs nearby, at least not that I know of. Last night she whined so much and was pacing in her cage, so I took her out twice last night, not including the three times I took her out: when I got home from college, when we got back from going out to eat, and once more after her continuous whining. Four out of the five times I took her out, she used the bathroom: one poo and three pees. She just continued to whine, pace, lick the cage and her paws, so my mom took her out once more so I could do homework, when they returned she tried to move her cage into another room, but Oreo was not having that, so we moved her back to my room. And the whining, pacing, licking continues for a while after that, so my mom gives her food because I think she’s hungry. She eats but the whining never stops, at least not for a while. My mom told me she doesn’t act like this when I’m not here. She’s finally asleep now that I turned the light off, but what can I do about her whining when I come home and could this be a sign that something more serious is going on? I’m going to call her vet when I wake up, but any other advice would be very helpful. Thanks.

  24. Harmony says:

    Our three year old poodle has had some trouble sleeping every two to three days and she wakes up panting and walking in circles and whimpering and will not lay down longer than twenty seconds. She is an adorable sweet pup and my whole family loves her. Please help! Is there some kind of doggy meletonin ughhhhhhhh sooo tired

  25. Carla Youngs-Davies says:

    I have a 3 year old pomeranian/chiauaua. He has never slept through the night. He has a litter sister and another dog. Every night he wakes up at 2am. Goes out then back to bed. He wakes up again at 4 am for breakfast. This is getting very old what can I try to change the getting up at 2 am.

  26. Anne valenzuela says:

    My dog was having sleepless nights i only notice just now, he keeps scratching and licking his paws, his body and the this evening he had a nose bleed. I dont know what seems to be his problem.

  27. Cathy Kahl says:

    I have a husky who is 10 months old. We work all day and she stays in a crate. We let her out all evening and then we have to crate her at night or she’ll tear up stuff. We cant get her to quit whining, yelping, at night. she does it every night. we’ve gotten up several times a night to let her out. she loves it outside but if shes out to long and barks my neighbors get mad. We’ve tried ignoring it and it doesnt stop, shes very persistent. I’ve tried water or food in the crate, it doesnt help either and we need sleep, HELP!!

    1. cschuknecht says:

      Try our #20 Keep Cool! This would be a perfect option for a dog like this. https://www.silverliningherbs.com/product/20-keep-cool-canine/

    2. Janet Iris Melling says:

      The answer is simple your dog is not getting enough exercise. Why get a dog especially a Husky that needs lots of exercise and companionship to keep it in a crate all day and all night. It is also the reason your Husky tears stuff up she is bored. Your dog needs to be out during the day getting exercise from a dog walker, doggy day care etc etc

  28. Harley says:

    My dog is six, a German Shepherd husky mix and suddenly won’t sleep through the night. He’s constantly whining and pacing around the room every hour literally. Not sure if he needs a new bed or what. He’s not hurt or in any pain that I know of. Doesn’t have to use the bathroom, when we get up to let him out he won’t do anything. It’s exhausting with two toddlers who also won’t sleep through the night. Vet visit coming soon, but hoping someone was having the same issue.

    1. cschuknecht says:

      Sorry to hear this, look into our #20 Keep Cool. This would be a great combination for an issue such as this. https://www.silverliningherbs.com/product/20-keep-cool-canine/

  29. andrea says:

    he doesn’t bark or makes noise in the night but he sleep

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