Why Do Dogs Bark at Night?

Why do dogs bark at night? Night-time barking in dogs is not at all unusual, and there are some dog breeds who are actually more prone to this type of barking compared to others.

Why do dogs bark at night? If your dog's night-time barking is causing deep circles under your eyes and the eyes of your poor neighbors, you may be wondering what this commotion is all about. Night-time barking in dogs is not at all unusual, and there are some dog breeds who are actually more prone to this type of barking compared to others. Once prized in the old days when humans wanted dogs to alert them of the presence of predators or enemy tribes, in modern times excessive barking is often considered a nuisance. While the causes of your dog's barking may appear obscure, in reality dogs have plenty of things to bark about when nighttime falls.

Some dogs become more reactive at night.
Some dogs become more reactive at night.

No More Buffering

If you think noises are more prominent at night, your dog must too. There are chances this effect is for a good part psychological. At night, noises appear more prominent because there are less background noises compared to during the day. During the day, we're also often distracted by what we're doing at the moment so the noise of a train is less noticeable, observes Physics Illinois senior David Schmid. Things change though during the night when everything is quiet.

On top of that, consider that dogs have a superior sense of hearing than humans. According to Service Dog Central, studies have shown that dogs can detect sounds at frequencies that humans cannot even begin to detect, and their sense of hearing is four times more sensitive than humans. What humans can hear at 20 feet, dogs can hear at roughly 80 feet, which can explain why they bark at sounds we may not be able to detect. Using a white noise machine, may help make those night-time sounds less salient.

The Awakening of Critters

Dogs can hear night-time critters.
Dogs can hear night-time critters.

Nighttime may seem like a good time to hit the pillow, but for some other critters, nighttime is their prime time when they become more active. The list of nocturnal animals is extensive, including bats, badgers, beavers, skunks, foxes, mice, raccoons and even the neighbor's cats. You may not be aware of the presence of these critter, but you can bet your canine companion is.

The behavior of night time barking, whining and pacing as dogs stare at the walls or sniff the floor, has been thought by many dog owners as indicative of the presence of ghosts, but there's nothing really supernatural going on. Rather than having Ghost Hunters on your speed dial, you should instead contact an exterminator. You may have a family of mice living under your deck or perhaps some raccoons living in the attic.

Undetected Urban Noises

yorkie barking at night

While the sound of nighttime critters is common for those living in the country or suburban areas, what about dogs who live in an urban setting with not many critters around? In this case, there may be other noises going on. Police sirens at a distance, the buzzing sound of a helicopter, people slamming car doors, a bottle of beer being rolled on the ground, noisy trash cans being moved are just a few typical night-time sounds of the city. You may not be able to detect these distant noises, but your dog definitely can. If your dog tends to bark by the window, keeping him in a room with no windows or with windows that don't face the road can help.

Pay attention to me please!
Pay attention to me please!

Busting the Boredom

If your dog is kept alone all day and his biggest perk of the day is waiting for you to come home, don't expect him to be happy when you go take a shower, fix a meal, watch your favorite show and then go to sleep. Dogs have needs for exercise, mental stimulation and social companionship. When these needs are not met, dogs are more likely to engage in problem behaviors such as digging, chewing and barking.

If your dog's barking starts at night, most likely he has been sleeping at home all day while you were at work, so it's not surprising if he's restless when you would like to sleep. Dogs don't spend their idle time twiddling their fingers when they're bored. Under-exercised and under-stimulated dogs have no better way to manifest their needs than through barking in a plea for help. Whether your dog barks at night because he's bored, under exercised or wants your attention, try to do your best to meet his needs before bedtime with a nice evening walk, interactive toys and some quality play time.

Dog looking for company
Dog looking for company

Lonely at Home

If your dog engages in relentless barking at night when you work night shift, your neighbors may be complaining--and who can't blame them? Dogs often bark because of loneliness, and when the barking is accompanied by pacing, inappropriate elimination and destructive behaviors aimed at windows and entryways, these can be signs of separation anxiety. A recent marketing survey showed that 17 percent of dogs receiving routine veterinary care showed signs that were consistent with separation anxiety, reports veterinary behaviorist Barbara L. Sherman. Dogs are social animals and they suffer when they're left alone, especially for extended periods of time. Hiring a pet sitter, leaving the dog with a neighbor or boarding him in a no-cage kennel overnight, may help Rover feel less lonely at night; however, consider that if our dog shows signs of separation anxiety, you will need to seek the help of a professional.

A Matter of Social Facilitation

Your dog may be barking at night because he hears other dogs barking. The phenomenon is known as "social facilitation" and it occurs when one animal doing something draws other animals to join in, according to Animal Behavior Associates. This behavior is commonly seen in social animals and its purpose may be to entice animals to engage in cooperative activities. In the case of barking, back in the old times, those bark fests may have had a survival purpose, perhaps helping protect a group of dogs against intruders.

A Sign of Aging

Senior dogs may bark and pace at night.
Senior dogs may have disrupted sleep/wake patterns.

If your dog has never barked at night and he's up in his doggy years, the night time barking behavior may be a sign of canine dementia. Also known as canine Alzheimer's, this condition associated with old age is known for causing clinical signs such as disorientation, house soiling, changes in the dog's interactions with people and other pets, activity changes and altered sleep and wake cycles, explains veterinary behaviorist Dr. Theresa DePorter. See your vet if you suspect doggy Alzheimer's, there is a medication that can slow down its progression.

Did you know? Some dog breeds are more active at night and nocturnal barking is quite common. Owners of livestock guardian dogs like the great Pyrenees, must be aware that these dogs bark at night, and if left outdoors, they will bark at any sound or perceived threat, warns Liz Palika, a Certified Dog Trainer and a Certified Behavioral Consultant in the book "The Howell Book of Dogs: The Definitive Reference to 300 Breeds and Varieties."

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