There is nothing more frustrating than a dog barking at night for no reason (there probably is a reason, but we will come to that in a bit). It can result in sleep deprivation and a breakdown in the relationship between you and your dog as you become more and more tired.
It can also cause problems if the neighbors start to complain. If you need to know how to stop excessive dog barking at night, we’ve put together a helpful guide to help calm your canine companion and ensure a good night’s sleep!
Table of Contents
Why do dogs bark at night?
The key to stopping your dog barking at night is to find out why he is barking in the first place. There are many reasons why dogs may bark at night, and it may take a bit of detective work to find out what is unsettling your dog.
The important thing to remember is that it is unlikely that your dog would bark for no reason.
Dogs may bark at night because they are anxious, bored, frustrated, or because they have seen or heard something outside. They may also bark because they need to go to the toilet, or because they have learned to bark to get your attention.
Barking at night can also occur due to medical issues. Barking for long periods at night generally means your dog has a need that is not being met- if you meet that need, your dog won’t feel the need to bark.
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Dog barking and the law
There can be legal implications if your dog barks at night. All dogs bark and your neighbors probably won’t be too bothered about the occasional woof, but if your dog is barking all night long it will start to ruffle a few feathers.
So how long can a dog bark legally? This depends on where you live. Dog barking law varies from state to state and local authorities may have slightly different definitions of what constitutes nuisance barking.
For example, in New York it is illegal to allow a dog to bark continuously for 10 minutes between 7am and 10pm, or for 5 minutes between 10pm and 7am.
California also enforces the 10 minute rule and in addition to this, it is illegal for your dog to bark intermittently for 30 minutes within any 3 hour time period.
Other states are a little more lenient when it comes to dog barking- do your research and find out what laws apply in your area.
How to stop dog barking at night
If your dog’s barking is annoying you or irritating your neighbors, you probably be thinking ‘How do I stop my dog barking?!‘.
As with many dog behavior problems, it can take a while to find the solution and you may need to try a few different things before you figure out what works.
Here are our top 10 strategies to reduce night-time barking:
1. Bring your dog inside
A dog left outside is far more likely to bark because he is lonely, scared or cold. He will also be disturbed by neighborhood noises and other animals.
If your dog is barking at night, bring him inside and see if that helps him settle.
2. Make sure he feels safe and comfortable
Ensure your dog’s sleeping environment is conducive to good sleep. Make sure he has a nice comfy bed that is the right size for him.
Your dog will not be able to sleep if he doesn’t feel safe so make sure he doesn’t feel threatened by household noises (does your boiler click on in the middle of the night and set your dog off barking?) or by other pets in your home.
If your dog sleeps in a crate, does he feel safe in the crate or does it make him feel trapped? Try leaving him out of the crate for a night and see if it helps with the barking.
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3. Have your dog sleep near you
Barking at night can be a symptom of separation anxiety. If your dog feels anxious about being separated from you at night, he will bark to get your attention.
A simple solution may be to have your dog sleep in your room- either in his own bed or on yours. If he feels safe he will be able to sleep soundly and will not need to bark.
4. Take him out to the toilet
Your dog may be barking because he needs the toilet. A quick trip out into the yard may be all he needs. If this happens on a regular basis, try taking him out for a late-night walk before bed to reduce the chance of him needing to go during the night.
An earlier evening mealtime can also reduce the chance of your dog needing the bathroom in the middle of the night.
5. Reduce disturbance from noises outside
Dogs often bark at night because they are hearing wildlife, cats, or other dogs. Take steps to deter wildlife and cats from coming into your yard (make sure they are not raiding the trash or being attracted to another source of food).
Try moving your dog to a different area of the house where he is less likely to be disturbed.
6. Prevent your dog from seeing out into the street
If your dog can see out of the windows, he is more likely to bark at things in the street. Make sure he cannot see through the blinds or curtains (lots of dogs will lift up blinds with their noses to have a sneaky peak outside).
Fitting frosted window film to the lower half of the window is a very cost-effective and simple way to prevent your dog from barking at things he sees outside.
7. Play some calming music
If your house is silent, your dog is more likely to be disturbed by every little noise outside.
Playing some soothing music or white noise will not only help your dog to feel calmer, but it will reduce the chance of him hearing cats in your yard or your neighbor coming home from a night out.
8. Increase the amount of exercise
Is your dog getting enough exercise? Many dog owners under-estimate how much exercise a dog needs, especially working breeds.
If your dog still has excess energy at the end of the day, he is likely to feel frustrated and this may lead to him barking in the night.
Make sure your dog is nice and tired at bedtime, take him out on an extra evening walk if needed.
9. Ensure your dog is getting enough attention
Dogs are highly social and they need to spend quality time with their owners. If your dog does not get enough attention from you, he will be left with an ‘attention-deficit’ and he will learn to seek your attention in any way he can.
Dogs very quickly learn that they tend to be ignored when they are being good, but unwanted behavior such as barking gets their owner’s attention very quickly. Barking at night can then become a learned attention-seeking behavior.
Engage your dog in training sessions, play, and cuddles during the day. This will provide mental stimulation and reduce the chance of him needing to get your attention at night.
10. Get your dog checked by a vet
There are many medical reasons why your dog may be barking at night and it is important to rule these out.
Barking at night can be caused by underlying pain. Arthritic pain, in particular, can be worse at night. If your dog has a urinary tract infection it can cause them to need the toilet more often and this can lead to barking.
Night-time barking can also be a sign of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, also known as ‘doggy dementia’.
Your vet may suspect that the barking is due to anxiety, in which case they may refer you to a qualified behaviorist who will help you work through the problem.
Is it normal for puppies to bark at night?
You may be wondering how to stop puppies from barking. It is normal for puppies to bark when they are excited during the day, but barking at night is often a sign that something is wrong.
Your puppy may be anxious– if he has only ever slept with his mother and littermates, he may find being alone at night quite scary. Don’t leave him to ‘cry it out’ as this can lead to more serious behavior problems.
Let your pup sleep near you where he feels safe. Over time, you can gradually accustom him to sleeping elsewhere in the house if needed.
Your puppy may also bark in the night because he needs the toilet. Puppies can’t hold their pee all night and young puppies will need to go at least once.
Take your pup outside to do their business, but keep interactions as low-key as possible. Don’t speak to him too much or get him excited or you may have trouble settling him down again.
How long can dogs bark for?
Dogs can bark for as long as they need to! Some dogs will bark for a while and then give up, whereas others are more persistent and will keep it up for hours.
Don’t ignore a dog who has been barking for a long time, this is a sign that something is wrong and he is unhappy.
Which dogs bark the most?
Some dog breeds certainly bark more than others, although there will always be variation within the breed.
Smaller breeds, particularly terrier types, can have a tendency to be quite vocal. Any dog that has been bred to be territorial is more likely to bark.
Breeds with a reputation for barking a lot include Miniature Schnauzers, Yorkshire terriers, Poodles, German Shepherds, Chihuahuas, and Tibetan terriers.
Which dog has the loudest dog bark?
The record for the loudest dog bark is held by a Golden Retriever named Charlie, who barked at an impressive 113.1 decibels!
Other dog breeds with loud barks include German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Giant Schnauzers, and livestock guarding breeds such as Pyrenean Mountain dogs.
Barking at night is one of the most annoying doggy behavior problems, but dogs rarely bark for no reason.
Barking is communication and your dog is trying to tell you that something isn’t right in his world.
Discovering why your dog is barking is the first step to finding the solution, it may take a bit of detective work, but your neighbors will thank you, and you can get a good night’s sleep!