Dogs bark, that’s what they do. But there are cases where barking can become excessive and cause some problems, especially when you have neighbors. One of the most dreaded experiences is to have a dog that barks throughout the entire night, preventing everyone from having a good night’s sleep.
But before dog owners can learn how to get a dog to stop barking at night, they’ll need to find out what is the reason behind this behavior.
Why do dogs bark at night?
Although sometimes it may feel like it, dogs don’t bark to annoy their owners or neighbors. The first step to finding the solution to this problem is to identify what is causing it in the first place. There are 3 questions dog owners need to answer which can help them find the reason behind their dogs barking:
- What does the bark sound like? After a while, dog owners can start to tell apart different barking types. With time, they can be able to understand what a dog is feeling and trying to communicate with each barking type. Dogs have a different bark when they want attention, when they’re excited, or when they’re feeling lonely.
- Where does the dog sleep? Is the dog sleeping alone, in a crate, or in the backyard? Where a dog sleeps can also be part of the reason behind the barking behavior. Dogs that sleep alone can become more alert at night, which leads them to bark at every sound they hear. Or, on the other hand, they can bark because they’re feeling lonely.
- What makes the barking start and stop? Dogs rarely bark throughout the whole night non-stop. So what is causing a dog to start barking and what makes it stop? What is triggering the barking behavior?
Answering these questions can help dog owners start connecting the dots. But if this isn’t enough, there’s also the possibility of leaving a camera on overnight to see what is going on. Recording the dog’s behavior during the night can also be very helpful when seeking help from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.
3 common reasons why dogs bark at night and how to stop it
After identifying why a dog barks at night, it’s time to create an action plan. Dog owners should always strive to use positive reinforcement instead and punishment when training their dogs. Using punishment will not only make matters worse, but it can also create new behavior problems.
1. Hypersensitivity to Noise
Some dogs can be hypervigilant and alert to any sound inside and outside their home. Typically, these dogs get easily startled by even the smallest noise. Dogs like this tend to wake up several times throughout the night. It can be difficult to identify what is causing this reaction as dogs have a much more sensitive hearing than humans. But the best way to ease a dog’s unsteady nerves is by counterconditioning a dog to whatever is causing the reaction. This training aims to teach the dog that whatever is happening, it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Boredom is a very common reason in high-energy dogs that haven’t exercised enough during the day. At the end of the day the dog still has so much energy bottled up, it can’t go to sleep but at the same time has nothing to do. Therefore, the only thing left to do is to bark. Dogs need to have enough mental and physical exercise in order to be healthy. When dog owners give their dogs enough opportunity to spend all that energy, dogs reach the end of the day tired and ready for a long and quiet night.
Letting dogs run around on their own isn’t enough for a high-energy dog. There are some fun activities dog owners can do with their pups and also dog toys that are great at helping dogs spend that extra energy.
Dogs are social animals and some dogs get by alone better than others. For some dogs, being alone makes them feel scared. When this is the case, dogs will only bark if they’re sleeping in a different room from the rest of the family. But letting dogs sleep in the same room as their owners shouldn’t be the first option as it may cause separation anxiety.
Instead, during the day dog owners should start getting their dogs used to being alone in a room for short periods of time and being rewarded for it so they start to learn that it’s ok for them to be left alone. It can start by having them stay alone in a room for 10 seconds without whining or barking and slowly increasing that time.
Making sense of it all
There’s no way to fix a behavioral problem without first understanding the reason behind it. So the first step to get a dog to stop barking at night is to analyze the situation at hand and figure out why that is happening. Only after understanding the reason behind their dog’s barking behavior can dog owners start to take action. It takes time and patience but it’s important to keep in mind that the best way to train dogs is by using positive reinforcement.