Why Do My Dogs Bark At Night?
[And How To Stop It]

By kropek2021. • Updated July 1, 2021

Dogs are man’s best and oldest friend. As the human race has gone on to conquer the world (and outer space), dogs have been there alongside us. Before we had TVs, radios, smartphones, and the Internet to keep us occupied, we had the old-fashioned companionship of our four-legged friends to keep us busy.

However, despite our deep and long-lasting bond with our dogs, several things they do can confuse, amuse, and sometimes, even irritate us, much to our confusion. I’ve owned dogs my whole life, and even I find myself surprised at some of the bizarre behavior my pup displays sometimes.

One of the most frustrating problems that all dog owners can relate to is being awoken at night due to your hound’s howling. Picture this – you’re just about to get into bed, and you have an important early morning meeting the following day, and your dog wakes you up at 3 am for seemingly no good reason. We’ve all been there, and it’s not fun.

So why do dogs bark at night? Are they merely hellbent on disrupting our sleep whenever possible, or are there different factors at play? The truth is, it’s a bit of both. There are several reasons why dogs are on alert in the early hours, and we’ll explore them in this list.

Why Do Dogs Bark At All?

If you’re expecting to train your dog to never bark, I have some bad news – you can’t. Expecting your dog to be completely silent and docile is a borderline delusional and harmful wish. A dog with no bark is like a person with no voice – it’s much more difficult to express themselves and communicate with others. The trick is not to completely stop your dog’s barking but to allow it to express itself in a more socially acceptable way.

Dogs, like humans, are creatures of habit and learn through repetition. Therefore, getting your dog to stop barking on command will take plenty of patience and elbow grease. However, to successfully halt your dog’s barking, it’s a good idea to understand what type of bark it is letting out.
Dogs bark due to a variety of reasons. A different stimulus can trigger another bark that is unique in tone, cadence, and pitch. The three main reasons why dogs bark is usually:

  • Aggression – A dog’s ‘territorial bark’ is notable for its low, guttural sound and fast cadence. Dogs usually use this bark when a person, or animal, is encroaching on their personal space. Your dog’s body language will be aggressive and defensive.
  • Alarm – This style of barking is sudden, rapid, and higher in tone than defensive barking. Dog owners will recognize this bark as it is often the most irritating form of barking. It is often triggered by a knock at the door or a sudden noise like a phone ringing.
  • Play – Dogs vocalize when they’re excited and experiencing fun. This barking style is the highest in pitch and reflects the positive state of mind that the animal is in. Jumping, tail wagging, and play-biting are other familiar hallmarks of play. 
  • Sadness – More of a wail than a bark, this sound is often exclaimed by dogs if they feel sad, lonely, or unwell. 

Why Does My Dog Keep Barking at Night?

Life would be so much easier we could read our pets’ minds. While we love and cherish our furry companions, they can display behaviors that, at times, leave us scratching our heads.

If your pup has been keeping you awake at night with its non-stop barking, then you may be wondering why it is displaying such erratic and unruly behavior.
Though every dog is different, we’ve listed six of the most common reasons for late-night barking and their subsequent solutions.

Different Sleep Patterns Than Humans

Canines don’t have to worry about the early-morning school run or business conferences over breakfast. Humans have been socially conditioned to sleep during defined hours and intervals, as we lead entirely different lives to any other species on Earth. 

Dogs sleep throughout the day and are not aware that nighttime is ‘quiet time’ the way that humans perceive it. It’s not uncommon to see your pup fast asleep at midday and brimming with energy in the evening. While dogs are not nocturnal, they do have a vastly different perception of nighttime than us. 

Alert

Perhaps the most common reason why dogs bark at night is due to safety. Numerous dog species were bred to keep their human masters safe from potential intruders, whether in the form of a wild, predatory animal or another human. 

Those hardwired instincts haven’t gone away. Your dog still thinks that your postman’s knock is a threat to your safety. By the same token, they may interpret unusual evening sounds to perhaps be a cause for concern. 

The Solution

Although removing an intrinsic canine behavior like barking can seem like an uphill battle, correcting it in due time can be relatively simple. All that you need to do is reward your dog’s silence with a treat, and over time they’ll begin to associate the cessation of barking with delicious treats. 

Unspent Energy 

Like humans, dogs have bags of energy that need to be released throughout the day. If you’re elderly or otherwise unable to keep up with your dog, then your pet will suffer from boredom and express its energy via barking at unreasonable hours. 

Exercise and fresh air are vital parts of dogs’ mental and physical health. If they don’t get enough, then they’ll release their energy in unusual (and often annoying) ways, such as incessantly barking in wee small hours. 

The solution to this issue is simple – make sure that your dog is sufficiently exercised throughout the day. You don’t have to be a triathlete to keep up with it; you simply need to let it expend itself to the point where it sleeps soundly and quietly. 

Another Dog Is Barking

Domesticated dogs are extremely social creatures. Not only do they love (and need) the company of human beings to regulate their emotions, but they’re also social pack animals to respond to the presence of other dogs.

Your dog could be barking because it hears another one of its species howling, growling, or barking during the night. Often, this facilitates ‘group’ barking, where multiple dogs in a neighborhood chime in, much to the chagrin of owners. 

The Solution

This one is a little harder to control. If your dog is reacting to external stimuli outside of your control, then the best course of action is just to impose some discipline and reward your dog with a treat for compliance. Over time, it will begin to associate following your orders with a treat, and the group barking will reduce. 

Loneliness 

Dogs are highly sensitive animals who experience the full range of the emotional spectrum. Like us, they thrive off social contact and feelings of love and appreciation. A pup’s worst nightmare is being abandoned, and they often misinterpret the owners’ temporary absence as a permanent leaving. Subsequently, dogs often bark and howl to express their loneliness. 

If your dog is howling or crying in the night, consider giving it some extra attention before you go to bed. This will ease its feelings of loneliness, and the barking will hopefully stop once it has gotten a bit of TLC.

Hungry

Dogs love food, if you hadn’t noticed. To them, mealtime is one of their day’s highlights, and a good meal can make or break your pet’s attitude and demeanor. 

A hungry dog is an unruly dog. If it is crying or howling during the night, it may be because it fancies another snack before bed. Dogs are stubborn creatures who often don’t behave until they’ve gotten what they want, so make sure your dog is adequately satiated each evening. 

What If My Dog Can’t Stop Barking?

If your dog still can’t stop barking, then it may be a good idea to examine its behavior in more detail to try and identify the root cause of the barking.

If your dog’s bed is near a door or window, consider moving it to a more secluded location so that it is not alerted by any sights or sounds.
Comfort is another factor. If your dog is uncomfortable during the night, then its sleep patterns can be affected. You don’t have to splash out on a king-sized bed, but try to give your dog a little extra luxury if you notice that it keeps getting up in the middle of the night.

Hire a Trainer

Trainers can be expensive, but their expertise can come in handy if you’re struggling to explain your dog’s behavior. 

A trainer will ask you questions about your dog’s typical routine and work with you to pinpoint a solution. Due to the costs involved, hiring a trainer should only be considered as a last resort. 

Consider Changing Your Dog’s Diet

Late-night snacks boost your dog’s blood sugar which can trigger sudden outbursts of energy and activity. 

Not only is it important to monitor when your dog eats, but it’s also vital to examine the nutritional content of what it is eating. If its snacks are loaded with sugars and e-numbers, then that could explain why your dog is suddenly revitalized in the evening. 

Earlier meals help prevent your dog’s energy level from spiking in the wee small hours, whereas more natural, hearty snacks help it stay satiated throughout the night. 

Dogs are products of their environment. If their living space is chaotic, noisy, restless, and busy, then those elements will be reflected in your dog’s behavior. It’s also worth examining your late-night habits. If you play loud music or engage in another noisy activity, then your dog could be barking as a response. 

Final Thoughts

Dogs bark at night due to a variety of reasons. Some may bark because their natural defensive instinct has been summoned, and others may bark simply because they’re bored and hungry.

Hopefully, whatever the issue may be, this list will help get your pup to stay quiet at night. Dogs, after all, are mysterious, fascinating creatures. Although their barking can cause us annoyance, it is mostly done with good intentions as our dogs are constantly on the lookout for potential threats.

With enough training, care, patience, and plenty of rewards, your dog’s late-night barking will hopefully be curtailed in no time, and you can go back to co-existing with your dog in peace.