Shih tzu fast asleep.

How To Help Your Dog Sleep Through The Night

Written By Vedrana Nikolic | Canine Coach, B.A Ethnology & Anthropology, M.A Semiotics.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 18th January 2024

It’s late at night but your pooch seems restless, constantly changing positions or licking their paws with a volume you never knew existed. Knowing how important a good night’s sleep is for your dog’s wellbeing, you surely want to do anything in your power to solve the issue.

We’ve all been in your shoes. So in this article, we’ve combined our expert opinion with personal experiences to get to the bottom of the problem and find different ways help you dog (and you!) get a good night’s sleep.


Why Your Dog May Be Struggling to Fall Asleep

Adult dogs spend about 12 hours a day sleeping (1). A good portion of that time is during the night, when there’s nothing else to do.

Related: Dog Sleeping Positions & What They Mean.

If your canine companion can’t seem to settle at bedtime, there’s surely something going on.

Related: How Long Do Puppies Sleep For?

Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Unspent energy: If your dog doesn’t exercise enough during the day, all that energy overload will affect sleep.
  • Full bladder: Well-trained dogs know potty is done outside, so they’ll try holding it as long as possible, which can cause them to feel restless at night.
  • Stress or anxiety: Your dog can feel uneasy with the environment, especially if there are unusual sounds or smells going on.
  • Physical issues: Maybe your pooch is in pain or discomfort, which can be expressed through restlessness and inability to settle at night.

How to Get Your Dog to Settle at Night

Whatever the reason for your dog’s restless nights might be, there’s surely a solution to it. There are a few things you can do to help your dog relax enough to fall asleep.

Keep a Consistent Schedule

Sticking to a strict routine means your dog will know when it’s time to eat, walk and sleep. Like many mammals, dogs have a circadian rhythm that keeps them in sync with their daily routines (2). A repeatable schedule helps your dog relax knowing what to expect.

At night, your pooch will have an easier time calming down when all the daily activities, like playtime or potty breaks, can be checked off the list.

Speaking of bathroom breaks, make sure to let your dog do “the business” before bedtime. That way, you can avoid both you and your pooch getting up in the middle of the night for an emergency walk.

Tire Your Dog with Regular Exercise

A tired dog is a sleepy dog. While certain dogs can get their daily dose of workout just by walking around the block, high-energy breeds might need a bit of free-running time to burn off excess energy. Make sure to adjust your exercise routine to your dog’s needs and abilities (3).

If your dog is a working breed, then just one or two walks a day won’t cut it. The best workouts for these dogs include high-intensity activities, like running, swimming and agility practices.

If you don’t always have enough free time to spend hours keeping your dog physically active, don’t forget that mental exercise can be just as tiring. From practising tricks and scatter feeding to using food puzzles and interactive toys, there are many ways you can keep your dog’s mind stimulated.

However, avoid exercising right before bed, as all that adrenaline will keep your pooch awake. Avoid doing such activities one to two hours before sleep time, to allow your canine companion to slowly wind down as the night settles.

Provide Security and Comfort

If your pooch is stressed and anxious, there are several things you can do to provide security and comfort at night.

Related: The Best Dog Beds.

First of all, maybe your canine companion simply wants to sleep closer to you. That doesn’t necessarily mean having your dog sleep in your bed, but placing the dog’s bed in your room can’t hurt.

Related: Should You Sleep With Your Dog?

Speaking of the dog bed, keep in mind that it’s supposed to be a “safe spot” for your pooch. Make it comfortable by adding cushions or blankets that allow your dog to feel secure while curled up. The so-called burrow beds are an excellent option for anxious dogs, as they can “hide” inside for a sense of safety.

Related: Should Dogs Sleep Inside or Outside?

If the noise coming from the outside is what’s troubling your dog, make sure the windows and blinds are closed when it’s time for sleep. You should also consider turning up the volume on the radio, so that the sound muffles exterior noise. Don’t forget to turn off the lights, as a dark environment is much more calming.

In case your dog is scared of thunderstorms or fireworks, consider getting an anxiety vest (also called a thunder jacket). These vests are tight-wrapping garments that apply pressure on a dog’s torso, causing a calming effect.

Try Calming Supplements

Sometimes, dogs might need calming supplements to help them settle at night. Melatonin is often recommended for pooches experiencing stress and anxiety, and they’re often offered as a chew for easier consumption (4).

Additionally, you can consider getting your pooch CBD supplements. They’re offered in the form of oil and chews, and can be administered twice a day.

Dog-appeasing pheromones can also have a calming effect on some dogs. They come in a variety of products, from dog collars to diffusers and sprays.

Pet Your Dog

Whether your dog needs to relax physically or mentally, a good massage is a great technique to achieve both. Most pooches find strokes around the ears towards their necks very comfortable.

From the neck, you can slowly move toward the chest and back, rubbing your canine companion in a circular motion. Long strokes from each leg to the foot will help in releasing tension from sore muscles.

Related: Why Won't My Dog Sleep In Their Bed?

Take Your Pooch For a Vet Check-Up

If you can’t figure out why your dog is having trouble sleeping, maybe the reason is medical. In that case, taking your dog to the vet should be your number one priority. Figuring out what’s wrong is the first step towards fixing the problem.


Final Thoughts

From strange noises, smells and environments to physical and mental issues, there are many reasons why your dog is restless at night. But in most cases, a few changes in your daily routine can help your canine companion start snoozing again.

Related: Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?

References

  1. Mitchell, S. October 4, 2021. “How Many Hours Does a Dog Sleep in a Day?” PetMD. Retrieved August 20, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/how-many-hours-does-dog-sleep-day
  2. “Can Dogs Tell Time?” . November 15, 2019.  East Shore’s Veterinary Services. Retrieved August 20, 2023. https://www.eastshorevet.com/posts/can-dogs-tell-time
  3. Burke, A. February 28, 2023. “How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day?” American Kennel Club. Retrieved August 20, 2023. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-much-exercise-does-dog-need/
  4. Gerken, A. June 27, 2022. “Dog Calming Products to Help Ease Dog Anxiety”. PetMD. Retrieved August 20, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/dog-calming-products-help-ease-dog-anxiety

Vedrana Nikolic


Vedrana Nikolić is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer, Anthropologist & dog lover.

With a Masters Degree in Semiotics & Bachelors Degree in Anthropology, studying the communication between animals and humans, Vedrana is able to use her expertise to analyse and review dog products and write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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