Dog Separation Anxiety At Night (A Brief Guide)

In this blog post, we will discuss what Dog separation anxiety at night means, symptoms, causes and useful tips.

What is Dog Separation Anxiety at night?

Dog separation anxiety at night or Night time dog anxiety is a form of separation anxiety that can be derived from a medical condition, especially in older dogs.

Have your vet check your dog and rule out important medical conditions if it is displaying anxiety-related behaviors at night time. 

We understand how important dogs can become, so there is no surprise when you find yourself over worrying because he/she ate yesterday’s leftovers or it is not receiving you the same way they normally do when you get home from work.

So it is normal when you try looking for answers as to why your dog behaves differently at certain times.

Think about this, you are almost ready to go to bed, you have your pajamas, you just brushed your teeth and you are about to turn off the lights when you notice your dog getting visibly anxious.

After lights go out or after dogs are left on their own, they can become even more distressed. 

Dogs are social animals and they are very attached to their owner so being on their own requires time, especially at night time.

Some behaviors that might alert you are: howling, scratching doors, whining, barking or even defecating. 

These types of behaviors can be annoying and might even make you feel very frustrated, especially if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep because of it. 

One of the reasons this is happening can be that they might have gotten used to sleeping with you in your bed since they were a puppy,  until now.

But suddenly you have decided they should sleep in their own bed because your new partner complains it won’t let him/her sleep or they may be allergic.

This sudden change can be very stressful for them and lead to displaying anxiety-related behaviors. 

What are some of the symptoms?

You may have seen some of them already but just thought this was normal and a thing you are already used to:

  • Bitting their tail non-stop or scratching their face
  • Urinating or defecating in weird or random places
  • Chewing or biting things like your slippers or your shoes
  • Removing the garbage from the trash can
  • Running around the house endlessly
  • Howling, whining or barking non-stop
  • Scratching doors or windows excessively

 What can possibly cause Dog separation anxiety at night?

If you have identified your dog has separation anxiety that is mainly because they can’t stand being by themselves as we mentioned earlier.

However, let’s take a look at some of the triggers or causes:

  • Sudden or abrupt changes to their routine
  • Moving houses
  • Changing owners
  • Going away for a holiday
  • Having a child or new addition to the family
  • Getting a new puppy
  • Feeling the loss of another pet
  • Being abused 

If you’re worried that your dog has started to act anxious, you’re not alone. If you’re looking for the right bed for your little anxious doggo, here are the Best Dog Bed for Small Dogs with Anxiety.

Let’s take a look at some useful tips to manage dog separation anxiety at night.

Do I need to take him to the Vet?

First of all, you may have identified some of the key behaviors in your dog but it is really important to take it to the vet first so he/she can make sure there is nothing physically wrong with them since it is very common that dogs between 8 to 11 years of age can develop cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS).

This syndrome is also known as “doggy dementia” makes some of the symptoms worsen at night so it might get confusing as dog separation anxiety. 

Some of the symptoms according to PetMD are:

  • Your dog looks disoriented or confused
  • Your dog is agitated and restless
  • Your dog becomes irritable
  • Your dog loses or decreases the desire to play
  • Your dog displays excessive licking 
  • Seeming disregard for previously learned training or house rules
  • Your dog seems slow when learning new tasks
  • Your dog has an inability to follow routines that are familiar or known to him
  • Your dog barks in excess
  • Your dog has a lack of self-grooming
  • Your dog has fecal and urinary incontinence
  • Your dog started to lose his appetite
  • Your dog’s sleep pattern seems altered (e.g., night waking, sleeping during the day)

Causes of CDS

As it is seen in humans, dogs’ brains also tend to age and lose some functions due to normal aging.

Causes for CDS are not known precisely but some scientists may relate it to having small strokes. 

Diagnosis

It is recommended to take your dog to the vet and share with him or her their medical history, the onset and nature of the symptoms and possible accidents or incidents that may have contributed to your dog’s unusual behavior. 

They will start by performing a complete physical examination to assess overall health and cognitive functions.

In addition, they might do some routine blood tests, ultrasounds and X-rays to rule out or discard other diseases. 

Treatment

There is no specific cure for CDS, however, maintaining a healthy and especially stimulating environment can help to slow down the progression of the disease.

This will normally involve imposing a daily routine for exercise, playtime, and re-training. 

Additionally, making your home safe and more accessible for your dog can help:

  • Leaving night lights for your dog to be able to navigate in the dark.
  • Leaving potty pads near doors gives your dog a place to go while you are not home or while you wake up.
  • Use orthopedic foam for your dog’s bed so they can sleep more comfortably.

You also check the Best Puppy Toys for Separation Anxiety.

Tips for managing your Dogs Anxiety

After making sure your dog is healthy and there are no important medical conditions. Then 

you might want to consider using some of the following helpful tips to manage your Dog’s separation anxiety:

Tip 1: Stop what you are doing!

With this we mean, stop reacting and petting your dog (a form of reward), every time he or she starts to fret.

This will only reinforce their behavior instead of helping out.

Tip 2: Start by putting some boundaries

If you are trying to get him/her, we recommend doing some distant training.

This basically means that your dog starts to sleep in close proximity and you gradually move them further away.

Also, while training, you need to be consistent.

If you started with the training and you let your dog sleep with you every other night then, this won’t be effective and they won’t really know how to behave. 

Tip 3: Distraction

Try giving them something they really like to serve as a distraction. Then slowly leave the room your dog is in.

Watch closely how they behave and then enter the room one more time.

You can gradually start to see more goes by while they get used to being alone.

Tip 4: Products with a calming effect

There seems to be a range of products available to help anxious or nervous dogs (homeopathic).

These will help your dog feel more relaxed and will calm him down, and some of them include Adaptyl collars, tablets and sprays.

Just inform yourself and choosing the best suitable option for your dog.

Tip 3: “A Safe Place”

It might be a good idea to find a space at home where you dog can feel secure, try buying a nice comfortable bed so they can feel warm and cozy.

Tip 4: Drug therapy

Your vet can prescribe medication for your dog’s anxiety.

This, combined with behavior modification will boost the desired results. 

Tip 5: Exercise

Try to keep them busy and active during the day so he/she will feel tired at night and adjust the sleeping cycle.

This will help everyone in the house get better sleep.

Why is this blog about dog separation anxiety at night important?

You might be reading this out of desperation or frustration to understand what is happening with your dog.

Just as it happens to humans, dogs can also experience distress and can display anxiety-related behaviors. 

It becomes important to learn how to identify them and act as quickly as possible to help your dog to cope with anxiety.

This will not only improve their lives but also yours and everyone around you.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) about Dog Separation Anxiety at Night

Does sleeping with your dog cause separation anxiety?

Yes, letting your dog sleep with you will cause separation anxiety.

Well, it might be true that letting your dog share your bed won’t specifically cause separation anxiety, the closeness will heighten this condition if he/she already suffers from anxiety. 

Why does my dog get anxiety at night?

If your dog is anxious or stressed it will have a hard time falling asleep at night, and they will even display frequent repositioning or serious pacing. 

How do you help a dog with separation anxiety?

There are 5 tips you can use to help ease your dog’s separation anxiety:

Before you leave home make sure to take your dog for a walk. 
Try not to touch, talk or have aye contact when displaying anxiety-related behaviors.

Try saying goodbye to your dog long before you actually leave.

Stay calm and assertive.

Start by leaving your dog alone for a few minutes and then increase gradually.

Try leaving your dog with some calming and relaxing music playing in the background.

How do I get my dog to settle at night?

If you would like your dog to settle at night try setting up a routine, let it exercise as much as possible during the day, consider how they sleep and where and try checking for any medical conditions. 

Which dog breeds have separation anxiety?

The dog breeds that tend to suffer from separation anxiety include:

Labrador retriever
Cavalier King Charles spaniels
Bichon Frise
German Shepperd
Jack Russel Terrier

Recommended books

  1. Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs
  2. It’s Okay to be Alone: a hands-on guide to coping with separation anxiety
  3. Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Discover How to Help Your Dog Overcome Separation Anxiety
  4. Be Right Back!: How To Overcome Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety And Regain Your Freedom
  5. Train Your Dog Positively: Understand Your Dog and Solve Common Behavior Problems Including Separation Anxiety, Excessive Barking, Aggression, Ho

What we recommend for curbing Anxiety

Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety

Anxiety Weighted Blankets

  • Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.

Online Therapy

  • Online therapy is another thing we should all try. We highly recommend Online therapy with a provider who not only provides therapy but a complete mental health toolbox to help your wellness.

Anxiety Course

  • With over 50,000 participants, this anxiety course may be just what you need to regain control of your life.

Light Therapy

  • Amber light therapy from Amber lights could increase the melatonin production in your body and help you sleep better at night.  An Amber light lamp helps reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increases overall sleep quality.

References

Time For Paws

Dedicated dog training

PetMD

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