Every pet parent has been there. You are ready for bed or snuggled up in the morning and all of a sudden… the dog starts barking. But what happens when he starts barking long into the night? What do you do when he wakes you up every hour? And how do you stop him from doing it again?
Training your dog to stop barking is possible and there are several methods that you can try out, depending on your situation. According to Dr Shoshi Parks, Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-ka) and Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer (CSAT), its important to firstly understand the context in which your dog is barking.
The reasons dogs bark at night
There are four main reasons dogs bark at night. they’re bored, they want attention or they’re afraid. It’s essential to start thinking about how and why the barking began. According to Dr Shoshi, most dogs bark at night due to one of the following.
1. You’ve let your dog sleep in your own bed, and now they have to sleep in their own bed
2. You have a new puppy or dog and they are still adapting to their new home
3. You’ve previously gone to sooth your dog when they have previously barked, and/or have let them out of their crate or room
4. They’re poorly and trying to tell you something.
Why Is Your Dog Barking at Night?
Now that we’ve outlined the reasons as to why your dog may be barking at night, it’s time to consider some solutions to the tiring problem!
For the first week or so, try to sleep in the room that you want your dog to sleep in. If that is the kitchen, set up an air bed and sleep downstairs with your puppy. It’s a scary and confusing time for a new dog or puppy, so make sure you’re kind and are with them as they may be feeling anxious.
Once your dog is more familiar with their surroundings try to make them as comfortable as possible in their new bedroom. Try playing white noise or a calming music playlist quietly. According to Dr Parks, you can also try pheromone diffusers to relax your dog.
When puppies are young, they often cannot go throughout the night without needing the toilet. When they cry in the night, do not cuddle or pet them. Simply let them out for a toilet break and put them straight to bed. You don’t want to teach them crying means getting your attention.
Once your dog can go through the night without a toilet break, do not go to them when they cry. I promise you, eventually they will settle down and go back to bed.
Don’t worry! We are all human and have been at breaking point when we want that extra 2 hours of sleep in the morning.
Firstly, make sure your dog is comfortable and feels safe in her crate or room. Dogs are social animals, who in the wild will dig a small den before bed to feel safe. Try to create a small covered area that they can sleep in to feel safe. For example a crate with blankets on the top.
Your dog is in a routine of crying for attention, so try to wait for a quiet 5 or 10 seconds. When that quiet moment comes – I promise it will – then go to her. She will soon learn that being quiet means getting your attention.
Every day, elongate that time slightly. 5 seconds, to 30 seconds, to 1 minute all the way up to 15 minutes.
Once you have worked up this 15 minutes of silence, your dog will now know they cannot cry for attention.
Next, set your alarm for before your dog normally wakes up and cries, so that you wake her up! Do this every day for a few weeks, and your dog will learn that the new routine is that you wake her up not the other way round.
If you’re reading this article before you have let your dog sleep in your bed, unless you’re happy with your dog sleeping in your bed every night, do not let them sleep in your bed; even once. As an animal love it is hard because they are so cute and fluffy, but it’s best to train them to sleep in their own bed.
There is nothing wrong with letting your dog sleeping in your bed, but have since changed your mind, don’t worry! You can change where they sleep, but it is more difficult to unteach the dog this privilege.
Firstly, we’d recommend crate training your dog. Start by feeding all meals, chews and high value treats in crate. This way your pooch will learn that the crate is a nice, safe place. Make this your daily routine so the crate becomes a normal part of their life.
Then start shutting your dog for 5 minutes at a time in the crate when they are eating their dinner or treats. Begin to elongate this time to 5 minutes or longer. Only let your dog out of the crate once they are quiet.
Once your dog is comfortable with the crate, and feels safe, move the crate to your bedroom, next to your bed, without a cover. So your dog can sleep next to you, and feel safe and sound as they can see you.
Every few nights, move the crate 30cm away from your bed, so eventually they dog is in the hallway. You can keep doing this until they are in another room.
This will be hard as your dog may cry, but you must be persistent, otherwise you’re back to square one.
Take your dog to a vet as soon as possible. If she is poorly, spend the night downstairs with her, or bring her crate to your bedroom. When dogs are poorly, it is okay for you to be together, she feels like she needs you at the moment.
Once she is treated, go back to her normal bedtime routine.
Should I ignore dog barking at night?
Firstly, determine why your dog is barking. If they are safe, well and not anxious, then yes – ignoring your dog will stop nighttime barking.
How long does it take for a dog to stop barking at night?
Each dog is different, and it depends on what why they are barking at night. Usually excessive barking requires training sessions and routine changes to retrain your dog into learning what to do instead of barking.
Emma Wally is the founder of thedoggeeks.com, a website for dog owners in the UK and the rest of the world. Emma has a lifelong love of dogs and has devoted years to learning and training dogs of various kinds and ages.
Emma’s love for dogs and animals started as a child with looking after many different pets from fish, to dogs and even sheep. This love for animals led her into the world of dog training; with a real passion in positive reinforcement techniques.
Dog training specialist
Emma has completed multiple certifications in dog training, focussing on positive reinforcement techniques.
Puppy socialisation group
Emma is also the founder of 'Stony Stratford Puppy and Dog Group'. This growing community of dog enthusiasts provides weekly socialistion for new puppies and dogs wanting to integrate into socialisation, as well as giving specialist training advice for dog owners wanting to address problems... Or just wanting to give their pup the best life they can!
Kobe is Emma's current fluffy best friend. Being a Tibetan Terrier she can be stubborn at times but has the biggest personality for such a small dog.
Passionate about Dogs
Emma Wally is more than just a dog trainer; she is a mentor, a guide, and a friend to all dog owners seeking to build a better relationship with their furry companions. Her commitment to enhancing the lives of dogs and their owners is evident in every piece of advice she shares, making her a trusted and respected figure in the dog training community. Trust Emma, and you trust a true dog geek.