So, you’ve brought home a new pup and there is a problem. Your dog is whining and crying at night, maybe even scratching on your door to try to get inside. What’s going on? In this article we will discuss what you can do if your dog has separation anxiety at night and discuss some of the reasons why your dog might be doing this. Without further ado, let’s discuss nighttime separation anxiety with dogs!
Dog anxiety at night: Why does it happen?
One of the things to consider is your current sleeping arrangements. Have you been letting the dog sleep in the bed? If so, you have inadvertently contributed to the problem. In a case like this, a little distance training may be called for to help your dog with it’s anxiety at night. So, how is this accomplished? Get your dog a nice doggie bed and start by putting it next to the bed. Encourage your pup to sleep there instead of in the bed. After a couple of days, move the bed a little further away. Continue this until you have the bed at the desired distance and you are done! This is one effective way to deal with anxiety if your dog has been sleeping in the bed.
Dog separation anxiety at bedtime: What else can I do?
There are a number of other strategies which you can adopt in order to deal with separation anxiety. A few good examples are as follows:
- Be sneaky about going to bed – Resist the urge to tell your doggy good night and sneak off to bed when it’s time. By not making a big deal out of it your dog may be less agitated when they notice later that you are not there. This can also help to break the routine where you announce that it’s bedtime and both of you go to the bed, so try being sneaky to see if it helps.
- Don’t respond to whining – If your dog whines at night you must resist the urge to rush out and comfort them. By rushing out every time that your dog whines you are teaching them that this behavior is okay. So let them whine and stay resolute, with some dogs this will be enough to eventually segue them out of this habit.
- Consider crate training – If your dog is scratching at the door, one thing that you can do to deter this is to get a large wooden crate or some ‘pet fencing’ to build a nighttime enclosure for your dog. Include a small water bowl, toys, and a nice, comfy bed for your pup to sleep in at night. When it’s bedtime, put your doggy inside and let them sleep out the night there. After they become used to this routine you can try putting the bed out by itself, outside of the bedroom, and see if your dog will leave you alone at night at this point.
“ Sometimes tiring out your dog can have excellent results.”
- More exercise is a good idea– Take your doggie for a long walk before bed or spend some time playing with them to tired them out a little. Sometimes tiring out your dog can have excellent results as they would rather just sleep then to stay up all night trying to get into the bedroom. Give it a try and see if this works for you!
- Television – Sometimes just turning on the TV to give your dog a little background noise can do the trick. Dogs are very social animals by nature and even though the people are ‘inside the TV’, for some dogs just seeing other people nearby can have a calming effect. While this doesn’t work for every dog, try it one night and see if it works for yours, you might be pleasantly surprised.
- Pet fencing in the open bedroom door – Pet fencing or a ‘baby barrier’ placed inside the open bedroom door can have a calming effect with some dogs. While they cannot come inside they can see you and for some dogs, this is enough. They might hang out close to the barrier for awhile or even go to sleep outside but in an optimal scenario your dog will simply watch you for awhile and then go to their own bed when they are feeling sleepy.
Dog nighttime anxiety: Medical considerations
If all else fails then you may want to consider a trip to your veterinarian. There is always the possibility that your dog is sick or otherwise in pain and you will want to rule that out if nothing else seems to be working. A quick trip to the vet can help to rule out something like this and they might be able to provide you with medication if there is no alternative for getting them used to sleeping alone. Many vets in the UK and USA are quite familiar with dog separation anxiety at night and so at the very least you can get some good advice. We would like to note, the medication option should only be used as a last resort and is just a temporary solution. We would recommend patience with the techniques which we have outlined above as they are tried and true and should eventually have the desired effect.
In this article we have talked about nighttime separation anxiety with dogs. By using these techniques you should find that in time your dog will learn to sleep in their own bed peacefully on their own. Be sure to exercise patience, as this is not something that is going to happen quickly, and try not to lose your temper. Resist the urge to respond to them so that they don’t get mixed signals from you as well, because this can be a major setback in what you are trying to accomplish. Just hang in there and try these techniques until you find the right one for you. You and your dog will be sleeping peacefully in no time!