My dog growls when tired – what can I do?

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.

dog growls when tired

Is your dog a little charmer during the day, but once nighttime rolls around he starts getting a little grouchy?

You may have noticed that he stops listening as well as he does during the day. Or maybe you’ve noticed that he starts acting out a little more.

Maybe you’ve even noticed that your dog is growling at you when he’s tired. This can be really worrying behavior. Growling is a way for your dog to communicate that he’s not very happy about something.

However, growling is not always a sign of aggression. In fact, most of the time it’s not a sign of aggression at all! It’s just your dog’s way of trying to communicate something to you.

Before we get into how you can help your dog, here are a few reasons why your dog might be growling when he’s tired.

Why does my dog growl when tired?

Here are the most common reasons why your dog might be growling when he’s tired.

He needs his sleep

Dogs sleep a lot. Puppies need even more sleep—about 18 to 20 hours a day, in fact! They need this much sleep because their bodies and minds are doing a lot of growing. Not only is that growing a lot of work, but a lot of the growth takes place while sleeping.

Adult dogs will need less sleep, but you can still expect a healthy adult dog to need about 12 to 14 hours of sleep.

And if your dog is not getting that sleep, then he might start getting pretty grumpy. Letting him—or encouraging him—to sleep enough helps a lot with cranky overtired pups

For some more information on sleep, check out these related articles:

Guarding behavior

Guarding is a really common issue for dog owners, and this behavior could be ramped up by being too tired.

So what exactly is guarding behavior, and why is your dog doing it? Well, it’s basically what it sounds like. Your dog is trying to protect something that he doesn’t want anyone else to touch.

In this case, your dog may have picked out a comfortable place to lie down. If he thinks you’re going to try to move him or take his comfy spot away, then he might start growling.

While growling is a natural way for your dog to communicate important information to you, guarding behavior isn’t something you want to encourage. Dogs that guard resources can become reactive or aggressive.

For more on these issues, read these articles:

Get your free puppy schedule planner

An overtired dog tends to be a cranky dog

Do dogs get cranky when tired? Yes!

Just like you or me, if your dog isn’t getting the rest he needs then he might start feeling pretty grumpy. 

You may have heard the saying that a tired dog is a happy dog. And while it’s true that giving your dog enough stimulation during the day is important, too much can be really unhealthy.

It’s all about finding a balance! A bored dog certainly won’t be a happy dog. But if your dog is overtired, then that can make him pretty unhappy too.

If you’re finding that you’re giving your dog a lot of daily stimulation and he’s acting out quite a bit, that’s a sign you might want to try dialing it down a little!

How to stop a dog from growling at you when tired

A dog growling at you can make you feel pretty uncomfortable, and even unsafe.

But the growling itself isn’t something that you want your dog to stop. It’s important for your dog to be able to communicate with you. Growling is one of the ways he does that!

So never punish your dog for growling. If your dog doesn’t feel he can growl at you to communicate discomfort or unhappiness, he might jump straight to more aggressive behaviors.

Instead, look at the source of the problem. Your dog is growling because he’s too tired, and being overtired is making him behave poorly.

Here are a few ways you can help your dog.

Make sure he gets enough sleep

Your dog is growling because he’s tired. So it makes sense that you need to make sure that he’s getting enough sleep!

This can be easier said than done. Some dogs have a hard time settling down to rest.

But if you want your dog to be healthy and happy, then making sure that he gets enough sleep is really important.

There are a few ways that you can help your dog calm down enough to get some rest during the day. If you’re looking for some advice, make sure to take a look at these 10 tips to make a dog go to sleep.

Learn to tell the signs of an overtired dog

One of the reasons why your dog might be becoming overtired is because you’re not sure what the signs are. Some people confuse the signs of being overtired with the signs of not getting enough stimulation.

And, unfortunately, a lot of the signs and symptoms of being overtired can be the same as not getting enough exercise!

So how can you tell?

Well, the context should help a lot! If you’ve been providing a lot of stimulation and exercise during the day and your dog acts out later, then he’s probably overtired.

If you’re looking for a little more information, here are 10 overtired puppy symptoms and what to do about it.

Crate train him so he has his own cozy sleeping spot

If your household is a super busy place, then the problem could be that your dog just can’t find a quiet place to go lie down and rest.

Even if your house is usually pretty calm, having a designated area where you dog knows he can relax will be super helpful.

Crate training can be really beneficial for exactly this reason. The crate provides a calm, quiet place where your dog can get away and get the rest he needs!

If you haven’t started crate training yet, now’s the time to start. Here’s how to crate train a dog easily in 13 steps.

Don’t let him sleep in your bed if he’s growling at you there

Some people like their dogs sleeping in their bed with them. But if your dog is growling at you when you’re in bed, then you may want to stop allowing that.

Most likely, your dog is resource guarding in this case. And as you know, this is a behavior you really don’t want to continue.

If you allow your dog to continue sleeping in your bed with you, then the resource guarding could become worse. It might even get dangerous!

Crate training will help you with this. You can set up the crate in your room so he can still see you while sleeping. But he won’t be able to resource guard your bed which will keep both of you safe and comfortable.

Get your free puppy schedule planner

Why does my dog growl when I touch him while sleeping?

If your dog is growling at when you touch him while he’s sleeping, there are a few reasons why that could be. 

Your dog might think that you’re trying to move him, and he’s pretty unhappy about that. He’s found a comfortable spot, and he doesn’t want to leave!

You may also have startled him, and he’s acting defensive because of that.

It could also be that your dog has an injury, and touching him has hurt him. If that’s the reason, you might want to call the vet.

For any other reason, providing your dog with a crate where he can sleep comfortably and out of the way will help.

My dog bites when sleepy, what can I do?

If your dog is biting when he’s tired, then the most important thing is to make sure that your dog is getting enough sleep.

Provide your dog with a safe comfortable space where he can lie down by himself and get the rest he needs.

Also make sure that you’re not disturbing your dog while he’s resting. As long as he’s getting the uninterrupted sleep he needs during the day and night, you should be able to prevent his biting issue.

Why does my dog snap at me while playing?

When you play together, does your dog snap at you? That’s normal dog behavior, but it can be pretty startling!

If you’ve ever watched dogs play together, then you’ve seen how rough playtime can get. It’s usually not anything to worry about. But if your pup is getting a little too into playtime with you, don’t worry. You can train him to stop.

As soon as your dog snaps at you, stop playing and walk away. Only keep engaging in playtime if he’s not snapping or biting. With consistency, your dog will learn that this is the appropriate way to play with you.


Having a dog is a lot of fun. But if your dog growls when he’s tired and gets a little cranky, you might be worried.

Remember that growling is an important way for your dog to communicate with you. So you don’t want to punish the growling! Instead, work on making sure that your dog is getting rest he needs to stay happy, healthy, and calm.

Get your free puppy schedule planner

Recent Posts