Why Your Restless Dog Isn’t Sleeping and Solutions
Everyone needs sleep—even our dogs. Being able to sleep soundly is an important part of our health because it’s when our bodies repair and heal. When deep sleep is interrupted, regardless of the reason, it creates sleep deprivation, which is unhealthy. If your restless dog has a hard time falling into a deep sleep, it’s time to contact a professional dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist.
Is Your Dog a Restless Sleeper?
Depending on your dog’s age, dogs sleep between 11-14 hours per day. Senior dogs sleep much more than puppies, but all dogs should sleep deeply at night and during naps. Restless dogs never really sleep soundly. These dogs wake up every 20-30 minutes, stand up and walk around until they find another spot to nap, and repeat this process all day and night long. Some restless dogs sleep for an hour, pace for an hour or longer, and repeat the process.
Many pet owners assume their dogs get too hot or cold, so they wake up to look for another spot. While it’s normal to wake up once or twice a night, dogs that continually wake up or pace at night are not getting enough deep sleep.
Why Can’t My Restless Dog Sleep?
There are many reasons restless dogs have a difficult time falling into a deep sleep. Here are the most common causes for your dog pacing at night as well as solutions.
Barking dogs off in the distance, sirens during the night, construction sounds during the day and ringing doorbells are common sounds that cause dogs to wake up.
Solution: Turn on a box fan or sound machine to drown out distracting noises at night and during the day.
Dogs need physical and mental enrichment every day. If a dog’s needs are not met each day, he will find something to keep himself occupied. Think about it this way: Dogs are unable to binge-watch Netflix all day while their pet owners are at work.
Solution: Provide multiple food puzzles and 30-minute walks daily.
Dogs have a difficult time sleeping when in pain. These dogs will pace at night and often wake up to reposition themselves.
Solution: When in doubt, schedule a thorough veterinary examination to rule out any health issues.
Anxious dogs have a very hard time sleeping deeply. Sometimes, they may fall asleep due to pure exhaustion, yet wake themselves up with a startle. These dogs have a hard time settling down and sleep mostly on their sternum (chest) instead of flopping over onto their sides. If someone walks nearby, anxious dogs will become startled and jump up. They have multiple spots they rotate through at night, and they never really fall into a deep sleep.
Solution: It’s important to find professional help to reduce your dog’s anxiety.
Drowning out sounds and providing daily enrichment are easy fixes; however, anxiety is an ongoing challenge. If a dog seems anxious, then it’s time to partner with a positive reinforcement dog trainer and veterinary behaviorist to address the issue.
Anxiety won’t get better on its own. The sooner it’s addressed, the better. Never punish an anxious dog; it will only make his anxiety much worse. The same goes for health issues. Follow your vet’s advice, and be your dog’s advocate if his pain does not subside.
Everyone deserves a peaceful night of deep sleep. 🙂