You’re ready to lay your head down for the day and rest. You let your dog into your room with you, put them to bed in their kennel or crate, or let them rest elsewhere in the house. You expect a good night’s rest for both you and your companion.
Instead, you notice your pup isn’t sleeping at all. They’re pacing around the room and can’t find a good spot to lay down, or if in a kennel they’re crying to come back out. Either way, their constant restlessness keeps you from sleeping and worries you. It’s especially worrisome if it seems sudden and your friend was sleeping fine before.
If your dog won’t sleep through the night, there are a variety of things that could be disturbing them. From a change in their environment to possible health issues, there are a lot of different changes that could make your friend restless. It’s important to pinpoint exactly which change is disturbing your pup to help them sleep and rule out any major issues.
There are a variety of things that may be making your dog restless at night.
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If there’s been a recent change in the house, your furry friend may still be adjusting and may not feel completely comfortable letting their guard down to rest yet. These changes could be something seemingly minor like a room rearrangement to something major like a new pet or a new home.
If you rearrange the room that both you and your dog sleep in, they may need a bit of time to get used to the changes. If you need to rearrange your room, try to keep your pup’s needs in mind. If there’s anything you can keep the same about their sleeping area, keep it the same. If you can’t, just keep in mind that they may need some time to adjust.
For example, I rearranged my room recently and gave my Pekingese the rest of the day to look around and adjust. She seemed fine with it (she even got a new bed out of it), but that night she was restless and wondered around. When she did finally settle down, she would only lie down in the part of the room that was exactly the same as before. She was fine with it the next night and slept in her favorite bed.
A completely new environment will throw your pup off. Just like you may have trouble resting in a new place, so will they. If you just moved or just adopted a new pet, they’re probably going to be restless for the first few nights. You can try giving them a supplement to help them relax more, but the problem will likely resolve itself as your companion gets used to the changes.
Changes in your household from room changes to new family members can make your dog restless and unable to sleep for a while.
It’s easy to forget because they’re always so happy, but dogs can suffer from anxiety just like us. And just like humans, anxiety can keep them from falling asleep. An environmental change may be causing anxiety, but other things could be causing it as well.
Some common causes of anxiety in dogs may be:
- An approaching storm
- Household changes (a new pet, a new baby, or a loss of a family member)
- Separation anxiety
- Crate anxiety if they haven’t had enough crate training to consider it a safe space
If your pup is in a crate or a different room, consider letting them stay in your room with you. You don’t have to let them on the bed (though that can help too), just letting them stay close to you can ease their worries. If your pup still feels the need to be closer to you, consider letting them lay in your bed. There are pros and cons to this and it comes down to what works for both of you.
If your pup’s anxiety and restlessness coincide with a storm coming, they may be too worried about the weather to rest. Dogs who have traumatic experiences associated with storms are especially sensitive to them and can’t just sleep through them.
You may want to consider a storm security jacket to help your pup keep calm. It may not make them sleep through a storm, but it may at least help them manage the anxiety better until it passes.
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Calming aids can also help your furry friend relax in times of stress and help them sleep. You can give these to your pup as a treat or hide them in something like liverwurst if they won’t eat them by themselves.
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It may not be the dog’s anxiety causing them to be restless, but yours. They can sense emotions like sadness and anxiety, and they tend to worry about their humans when that happens. If you’re restless from anxiety or other emotions, it may be causing anxiety for your companion as well.
I’ve had experiences where I couldn’t fall asleep, so my dog didn’t sleep either. I know others whose dogs also stayed up through the night with them. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself for your pup’s sake as well as your own. Consider taking some melatonin for yourself if you’re having trouble sleeping or if you think you’re keeping your companion up at night.
Age can be a contributing factor to your companion’s restlessness, whether they’re a young puppy or a senior citizen. Puppies have boundless energy and tiny bladders, while older dogs may be seeing the beginning of some health issues associated with old age.
Puppies may struggle to fall asleep and start pacing if their tiny bladders are about to give out on them. If you see your puppy pacing back and forth, they may need to go. You may need to take them out or make sure they have pads (and are trained to use them) before they can rest. This may happen fairly often in their very early months.
Puppies may have more trouble falling asleep because they have so much energy.
Young, energetic puppies may also feel restless if they still have extra energy to let out. Just like you can’t sleep if you have too much energy, neither can they. If they still seem hyper when it’s bedtime, you may need to play with them a bit more before they can go to bed. Try playing fetch or tug-a-war to quickly wear them out. Make sure you’re playing with them and giving them plenty of exercise during the day, especially during puppyhood.
Meanwhile, seniors with sleeping issues may be facing a more serious problem. Restlessness in seniors can be a symptom of a canine cognitive dysfunction or dementia. If your senior’s restlessness includes disorientation and confusion, you should get them to the vet to be safe. Also look for signs during the day like loss of appetite, lack of energy, or weight loss with no change in diet or activity. Always take your companion to the vet if you think there’s a serious problem, especially if they’re seniors.
If your older dog seems to be uncomfortable laying down, they may be developing arthritis or other issues associated with aging. If they seem to be having trouble lying down, make sure they have a well-padded bed. Dogs with joint problems may be uncomfortable just laying on the floor or a thin bed.
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Pain and Health Issues
If your dog is suddenly having restless nights, keep a close eye on them to make sure it’s not a sign of a larger problem. If they seem to be coughing and retching, they may have an illness. If they’re pacing and whining, panting like they’re in pain, or licking a specific area, get to the vet as fast as possible. Yes, even if it’s in the middle of the night. They may be sick or in pain.
If your pup’s restless nights are accompanied by an increase in bathroom trips, they may be suffering from stomach problems or kidney problems. If they’re constantly needing to use the bathroom in the middle of the night even when they go before bed, something is likely wrong.
Always consult a vet if you suspect that your companion is in pain or sick, even if it seems minor. Restlessness could be an early sign of diseases like canine heart disease or bloat. Always rush to a vet if your pup’s restlessness is accompanied by drooling, gagging, whining, pacing, vomiting, or labored breathing. Make sure you know where your emergency vet is at all times.
Discomfort from health issues may keep a dog from sleeping at night.
If your dog is struggling to fall asleep, it may be a sign of a sleeping disorder. They can get them just like humans. The most common known sleeping disorders in dogs include narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and REM Behavior Disorder.
If your pup suddenly crashes in the middle of the day on their side in a deep sleep, they may be suffering from narcolepsy. Loud sounds or touching them will abruptly wake them up. They will usually immediately crash after something exciting. Narcolepsy isn’t life-threatening or painful, but it can disrupt your pup’s sleep patterns. A vet can prescribe medications to make narcolepsy more bearable, but there is no cure.
If your companion is sleepwalking or chasing things in their sleep, they may have REM Behavior Disorder. This disorder causes physical activity during sleep. It can make dogs even run into walls or attack things that aren’t there. Once they wake up, they’ll be back to normal with no confusion. Vets can prescribe a medication to help.
Dogs can also get sleep apnea, though it’s rare. It’s more common in flat-faced breeds who already suffer from breathing problems. Obesity can also cause it, so it’s important to watch your pup’s weight. This disorder can cause them to stop breathing for a moment, jolting them awake and interrupting their rest.
If you notice your pup’s snoring is especially loud and that they’re constantly waking up throughout the night, take them to the vet. Sleep apnea can be life-threatening if left alone.
Allergies and Breathing Issues
If your dog is restless because of breathing problems, make sure to diagnose whether it’s allergies or a serious respiratory illness. Keep in mind that certain flat-faced breeds are prone to breathing issues, so some nights may be naturally rough on them.
If your companion can’t go to bed because they’re too busy itching and scratching, they may be suffering from allergies. Make sure they are checked for fleas and bugs so you can rule out flea problems. If allergies are causing the itchiness, you can try using an itch relief spray or supplements to help with seasonal allergies.
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Some dogs may have trouble breathing at night due to allergies or breed issues, causing restlessness.
If your pup has been left to lay around all day, they’re going to have trouble settling down at night. As I said earlier, this especially goes for young puppies. But any dog needs to move around just like people do.
If you’re leaving your companion alone all day with nothing to do, they may not be doing anything. They may just lay around until you come back. Of course, when you do come home they’re excited and want to play, but they may not get all of that pent-up energy out before bedtime.
If your companion won’t go to bed at night and you can’t see any other issues, they may just not be getting enough exercise during the day. If they still seemed hyped up and want to play, you may need to find a way to keep them entertained during the day.
Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise each day. This usually means walking them outside, but if you can’t regularly walk them, try other methods like interactive toys. Flirt poles are great for wearing your pup out without having to move around much.
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If you can’t play with them during the day, consider leaving them with someone you trust who can. You can leave your pup with your parents, or your dog-loving best friend, or hire a pet sitter you trust. Just make sure someone is keeping them company and keeping them active. The more energy they get to use during the day, the more likely they are to get a restful sleep at night.
Like us, dogs can’t rest in a room that’s too hot or too cold. If the room is uncomfortable for you, there’s a chance that it’s uncomfortable for them too. What temperature your companion likes may depend on their breed and how thick their coat is.
If you just changed the temperature and your pup is now acting restless and can’t get comfortable, try putting it back to where it was and take note of whether the old temperature was higher or lower.
If your pup’s discomfort seems related to the temperature and you can’t change it, consider getting them a bed with cooling technology if the room’s too hot or a warm, fluffy bed and blankets if it’s too cold.
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Help Your Dog Sleep
A restless dog can make a restless human, and vice versa. If your companion is suddenly restless, you may need to look back on what’s changed in the past few days to cause it. Consider anything that may be making your furry friend anxious. If you can’t think of anything that may be making them uneasy, closely watch your pup’s behavior both during the day and at night, and consider taking them to the vet if you think it’s a health problem.
If your pup just doesn’t seem ready for bed and still wants to play, you may want to consider having a play session before bed each night. Make sure they get plenty of playtime during the day, even if you have to hire someone. They can only lay around so much without letting off some steam.
Always consider your companion’s health when changing anything major with the room or the temperature of the room. Make sure they have a place to sleep that’s safe and comfortable for them, whether it’s for helping with a health issue or the heat or cold of your area.
If your dog can’t sleep at night, consider what’s changed in the past few days and make sure they aren’t sick.
There are supplements and other aids that may help your friend relax at night. Look into them if your dog’s restlessness becomes a regular thing. Keep a close eye on any signs of pain, and don’t hesitate to reach out to a vet if you think something’s wrong.