Is your dog barking at night? Dogs bark at night for a few different reasons, so it’s important to determine why your dog is barking before forming a training plan!
Some dogs bark at night during the housebreaking process because they wake up and need to potty, and some get into that habit even if they should be able to hold it overnight. In other cases, dogs can begin barking at night for attention or because they have separation anxiety.
Dog Barking at Night, Do They Need to Potty?
If you are in the process of housetraining your dog, particularly if you have a younger dog who hasn’t fully developed their bladder just yet, they might be barking at night because they need to go to the bathroom. So how should you respond? It depends on where you are in the housetraining process!
If your dog is new to housetraining, and they begin barking at night when they were previously sleeping, you should definitely take them out to potty. However, if your dog has gotten to an age where they should be able to hold it overnight, it’s likely that they have simply fallen into a pattern of waking up at certain times to potty.
But adjusting their schedule needs to happen carefully so you don’t cause any backsliding in the process!
We cover all the ins and outs of housetraining in our Dog Savvy course if youn eed any additional help.
Adjusting Their Schedule
Adjusting a dog’s sleeping schedule takes a bit of careful planning and a solid helping of patience. When your dog is barking at night, we need to slowly push back the time that they actually go out to potty. You should begin incrementally, having them wait ten minutes at a time.
When they wake up, they do need to go to the bathroom, so we don’t want to simply ignore them. Over the course of several days, you should push back the time that you are taking them outside. For example, if they currently wake up at 6:00 a.m., by the end of the week you should aim for having them wake up at 6:30 a.m. instead.
Push until 6:10 a.m. for a few days, then 6:20 a.m., and then 6:30 a.m. Continue this process until they have reached the time when you would usually wake up in the morning.
Is Your Dog Barking at Night For Attention?
In some cases, a fully housebroken dog can begin waking up at night and barking for attention. You might take them outside and they don’t even go to the bathroom or show no urgency to do so. However, it’s important to be sure that this is what is occurring and not that they need to go to the bathroom!
If your dog is barking for attention in the night, the best thing to do is buy some earplugs and wait them out. When a dog barks for attention, and you do anything that might give them attention, you reinforce that behavior even if you didn’t intend to.
If you go let the dog out, you have given them attention. If you yell at them to shush, you have given them attention. If you throw your shoe at them, you have given them attention. In all of these situations, you have unintentionally reinforced the behavior of your dog barking at night.
By doing so, you made it more likely they will go and do it again the next night! The best way to stop reinforcing a dog barking for attention is to stop reacting to it at all! You can learn more about barking for attention in all situations in our Ultimate Barking Solution
When Your Dog Barking at Night is Separation Anxiety
In most cases, a dog barking at night isn’t doing so because of separation anxiety. The one exception to that would be if your dog barked from the time you put them to bed and continued for an extended period.
If you put your dog in a crate at night and they bark for an hour straight after you do so, they could have separation anxiety.
When a dog has separation anxiety, being physically separated from its owner causes them to go into a panic. Some dogs bark, whine or howl for hours on end. In more severe cases of separation anxiety, dogs can attempt to escape, urinate or defecate on themselves, and destroy things.
If your dog has separation anxiety, a few quick fixes won’t help the issue. You should work on the behavior using our Separation Anxiety Challenge to help your dog learn how to settle on their own.
The Importance of Training and Mental Stimulation
As an overall takeaway, it’s also important to note that training can help reduce or eliminate the potential for many of these behaviors to occur in the first place.
Not to mention that making sure your dog is properly mentally stimulated can prevent essentially any behavioral issue, which we cover in all of our training courses and focus on in our Mental Stimulation Challenge.
Preventing behavior problems is always preferable to dealing with them after they’ve already cropped up. You can certainly work on any issue you are struggling with, but the longer a dog has been doing a behavior the harder it is to correct that issue.
Working with your dog on training and learning as much as you can about your dog’s behavior using training courses that fit your pup is the best way to proactively (or even retroactively) work on making your dog the best it can be!
Whether your dog is barking at night, or they are barking during daytime hours, or any behavioral problem at all… you can find a solution to make life easier for you and better for your pet. The best training programs provide you with solutions while also providing your dog with proven methods that improve their quality of life for the long term.