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Why on earth do dogs bark at night?
Whether it’s your own dog that keeps you up at night or your neighbors’ dog that’s overly chatty, barking dogs after dark are never fun!
Luckily, my dog Baloo rarely ever barks at night. The only exception is when we go camping. I guess there’s just so much going on outside that we don’t realize. Must be pretty overwhelming.
Mirco, our family dog we had when I was a teenager, was far more talkative at night!
One of the main differences is probably that Mirco slept close to the entrance to my parent’s house. So he heard everything going on outside and simply wanted to protect us.
However, that wasn’t visible for us. So we were just plain annoyed whenever it happened.
Well, I guess many of you know that too. So, here’s the complete answer to why dogs bark at night and what you can do about it.
Why Do Dogs Bark for No Reason?
Let’s start by looking at the question why dogs bark for no reason.
It may often seem like your dog is barking at nothing, but the reality is that he probably senses something that you don’t.
Dogs Can Hear Much More than We Do
You may already know that a lot of your dog’s senses are more powerful than yours, but by how much?
Newborn puppies are blind and deaf, but by the time they reach the age of 21 days, their hearing is already significantly better than a human’s.
Their ears also have muscles that help them move in the direction of the sound they’re listening to. If your dog has perked ears, like a Corgi or a Husky, he’ll have even better hearing than a floppy eared dog like a Shih Tzu.
Dogs’ hearing has a much higher range in pitch than we do. Our ears allow us to hear from 64 Hz up to 23,000 Hz. A dog’s hearing ranges from 67 Hz to 45,000 Hz. That’s a lot of sound your dog can pick up on that you can’t!
Dogs Have a Much Stronger Sense of Smell
This probably isn’t news to you. Dogs rely heavily on their noses to get through life. But did you know that a dog’s sense of smell can be up to 100,000 times better than ours?
A dog’s nose is complicated. They don’t just breathe in a smell, there’s a flap inside their nose that separates the breath needed for his lungs from whatever smell he’s sniffing.
If you’re interested in learning in-depth about the way your dog’s nose works, check out Nova’s article “Dogs’ Dazzling Sense of Smell.” You’ll be surprised how much work Fido’s nose does!
In case your pup is a super sniffer, also make sure to check out my article on the question “why is my dog sniffing so much?” Over there, you’ll learn more about why it’s important to let your dog sniff, but also how you can stop him from doing it non-stop.
Something Might Scare Them
With your dog’s sense of hearing and smell so strong, they can pick up on a lot of things we don’t.
This includes things that might freak them out.
Maybe a stranger is walking around outside your house and spooks your dog. Or perhaps the sounds your home makes while it’s settling scares him.
When dogs get scared, they bark to communicate that fear. In most cases that’s meant to warn you that there might be some kind of danger.
If your dog is barking and you can’t tell why, it could be they are sensing something that you don’t and it’s frightening them.
Bored Dogs Simply Bark for Entertainment
It’s really important to make sure your dog’s need for exercise is being met. If not, he might start getting destructive, or barking just to keep himself entertained.
The solution here is to keep your dog stimulated, both mentally and physically. Take your dog for walks or jogs, play fetch, or start taking your dog to dog sporting events.
Make sure to keep your dog thinking too. Play hide and seek, fill a kong toy with treats, or start training him to do some new tricks.
The good news about your dog barking out of boredom – during the night or day – is that it’s usually not hard to fix. And it’s lots of fun for you and your dog!
To get you started, make sure to check out these articles:
- my dog is bored, what can I do?
- 21 fun things to do with your dog at home
- how to mentally stimulate your dog
Mental stimulation can also be used for dog training, as Braintraining4dogs shows very well.
Why Do Dogs Bark at Night?
Now that we’ve talked about a few reasons why your dog is seemingly barking for no reason, let’s talk about why he might be barking at night.
Most Common Reason: They Hear or Smell Something
As discussed before, a dog’s hearing and sense of smell are incredibly strong. If your dog is barking late at night, he probably senses something you don’t.
A gust of wind rustling trees or a neighbor dog puttering around his own yard late at night might launch your dog into a barking fit.
And just because you can’t smell or hear something, doesn’t mean your dog can’t either!
Some Dogs Are Afraid of the Dark
It may seem silly at first, but dogs can be scared of the dark!
Your dog’s night vision is actually much better than yours. However, if they are in a room where not even moonlight can reach him, that could really freak him out.
If your dog already has vision problems, and barks at night, fear of the dark could be a very real possibility for him.
Their Energy Level is Too High
You’ve probably experienced for yourself how it feels to spend a lazy day and then try to go to sleep.
Our bodies require physical activity and thought. The same is true for your dog.
If your dog is barking in the middle of the night, it’s highly possible he has way too much energy. As discussed before, the solution to this is to make sure he’s getting enough stimulation during the day.
You could also consider sending your dog to a qualified doggy daycare.
He’ll be able to spend the day playing and interacting with other dogs. Just make sure to do your research when choosing a daycare for your dog.
Why Do Dogs Bark in Their Sleep?
Your dog is barking at night, but his eyes are shut and you have to wake him up to get him to stop. What’s going on?
Like people, dogs have dreams. We’ve all heard of talking in your sleep, but did you know dogs do the same? Dogs have sleep stages like us, and during the REM cycle, your dog might start dreaming.
Related: I’ve discussed dog sleep cycle in my article about the question “how many hours a day should a dog sleep?“
Maybe Fido’s having a dream about saying hello to the neighbor dog. Maybe he’s reliving the events of the last day.
Any which way, if your dog’s eyes are firmly shut, you can see them moving rapidly under his eyelids, or he’s twitching and vocalizing, your dog is probably dreaming.
Let’s hope they’re good ones!
How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Barking at Night?
Okay, now let’s look what you can do about those nighttime barks!
Normally, one of those tips should definitely help your pup to calm down. It might take some trial and error and quite a lot of patience, though.
If you want to go the fast route, I highly recommend to check out Braintraining4dogs. This is a course that covers all the common behavioral issues in dogs, including excessive barking.
So, if the following tips don’t work, I highly recommend investing those $47 dollars. Because I spent hundreds – it not thousands of dollars – on various dog schools and trainers. And here’s all you need combined in one course!
Take a look at it here!
Make Sure He Sleeps in a Confined Space
Whether you put your dog in a crate or a smaller confined space, keeping his sleeping space small might help him stop barking at night.
It may sound beneficial for your dog to have the run of the house at night.
For a lot of dogs, however, having the entire house available can be more stressful than fun. With so many rooms, noises, and smells to check out, letting your dog roam free might be a source of anxiety for him.
The solution to this is to provide a smaller space for him to sleep in, like his crate. Crate training has numerous benefits. One of them is helping your dog relax and de-stress. This will also help him sleep better.
I particularly like this crate, because it comes with a cover. This makes it more like a cozy den which your pup will love!
Make Sure He Isn’t Stimulated by Things Going on Outside
Smells, noises, or moving lights outside could keep your dog awake and stimulated. This will encourage him to bark.
There are a few ways to work on this. The main one is, not surprisingly, making sure you burn your dog’s excess energy off before bed. Being tired will get your dog to fall asleep faster—and stay asleep so he won’t react to anything going on outside.
The other thing to try is to keep these stimuli from reaching your dog. Cover your windows with thick curtains to make sure he doesn’t see every shadow outside. And keep your window shut at night to help block out sounds.
Or simply cover his crate. Dogs love cozy caves and dens and covering his crate will make it feel much more like that. The easiest way is to just get a crate like this one that comes with a cover.
Train Him to Get Used to Lots of Weird Noise During the Day
Unusual sounds can startle your dog, or even just catch his attention. To communicate this, your dog will start barking.
If your dog barks at noises he’s not used to, then it’s time to start desensitizing him.
Desensitization and counter conditioning require a lot of work and patience, but you’ll find that your dog is much happier and calmer. Not to mention quieter!
The trick to desensitizing is finding your dog’s “threshold,” or the point which first makes your dog bark. You’ll then want to keep reintroducing him to that threshold until he stops barking, reward him, and then move on to whatever his next threshold is.
For a more thorough look at how desensitization works, check out this article.
Try Providing White Noise
Another way to prevent your dog’s sense of hearing from encouraging him to bark is to give him some white noise to listen to.
This will drown out noise that your dog might bark at. Plus, studies show that white noise and relaxing music can actually help dogs calm down, the same way music helps people!
There are plenty of free resources online for white noise for your dog. Seriously, just look up “white noise for dogs” on YouTube and take your pick!
Here’s a 10-hour soundtrack, for isntance:
Try a Night Light
If your dog is afraid of the dark, then a night light could be a good solution!
It’s important to be mindful if you try a night light. You don’t want to confuse your dog and make him think that because a light’s on, it’s playtime.
If you notice your dog is getting more energetic because of his night light, maybe it’s time to find another solution. But if your dog is sleeping better and obviously comforted by the night light, then you’ve found yourself the fix for your dog’s night barking!
There are many reasons why dogs bark at night. Whether out of boredom, fear, or because they’re sensing something you don’t, it’s not always obvious why your dog is barking, especially if it’s at night.
Luckily, if your dog is keeping you up at night with his barking, there are lots of ways to work on it.
Making sure he’s tired, keeping him from being stimulated at night, and getting him used to strange noises are all ways to help. While his nighttime barking might be a mystery at first, once you find the why, you can start working on fixing it. Then both you and your dog will start having much better sleeps!
If you can’t figure it out, I highly recommend to check out Braintraining4dogs. This training covers all common behavioral issues in dogs.
Instead of wasting hundreds of dollars on dog schools, books and private dog trainers, this is the course I wish I had when I first got Baloo!
Make sure to check it out and train the dog of your dreams!
Speaking of dog mouths, have you ever thought about what dog jowls are actually useful for?