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Home > Dogs > Dog Pacing at Night: 10 Vet Reviewed Causes & How to Help

Dog Pacing at Night: 10 Vet Reviewed Causes & How to Help

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Dr. Amanda Charles

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Have you ever found yourself lying awake at night, wondering why your beloved four-legged friend seems to be engaged in a midnight marathon of pacing?

Fear not! In this guide, we will uncover the mystery of dog pacing at night and explore 10 possible reasons behind this peculiar behavior. Get ready to delve into the secrets and discover practical solutions to help your furry companion find peace and rest!


The 10 Reasons Why Dogs Pace at Night

Pacing at night can be observed in some dogs, but it is not a behavior that is considered typical or normal for all dogs. Most dogs tend to settle down and sleep during nighttime hours, especially when they have a consistent routine, a comfortable sleeping area, and their needs are met.

However, certain factors can contribute to dogs pacing at night. Here are 10 factors that may contribute as to why your dog is pacing at night!

1. Stress, Anxiety, and Restlessness

Stress, anxiety, and restlessness are common causes of dog pacing at night. Dogs, like humans, can experience anxiety due to various factors such as separation anxiety, changes in their environment, or even fear of loud noises.

To address this, creating a safe and secure environment for your dog, using soothing techniques like calming music, and providing them with a cozy den-like space can help alleviate their anxiety. Synthetic calming pheromones which contain the dog appeasing pheromone, can also be helpful. Adaptil is one example and is available as a plug-in diffuser, collar and spray for use around the house.

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2. Underlying Medical Issues

Sometimes, underlying medical issues can cause dogs to pace at night. Pain, discomfort, or neurological problems may be at the root of their restlessness. It is crucial to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any potential health issues. With proper diagnosis and treatment, your dog’s pacing behavior can be addressed effectively.

3. Pain and Discomfort

If your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort, they may resort to pacing as a way to find relief and find it hard to settle in a comfortable position. Arthritis, injuries, or digestive problems are just a few examples of conditions that can cause discomfort. Consulting with your veterinarian will help identify the source of your dog’s pain and explore appropriate pain management strategies such as medication, physical therapy, or specialized diets.

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4. Environmental Factors

Dogs have keen senses, and certain environmental factors can trigger restlessness and pacing behavior. Loud noises from thunderstorms, fireworks, or unfamiliar sounds may leave your dog feeling anxious and on edge.

To help calm your dog, it is crucial to provide them with reassurance and security. Some may even consider using white noise machines or soothing background music. This can help drown out external stimuli and reduce their anxiety levels.

5. Changes in Routine

Many dogs thrive on routine, so any sudden changes in their daily schedule or environment can cause stress and anxiety. Whether it’s a new household member, changes in your work schedule, or rearrangement of furniture, providing a consistent routine and gradually introducing changes will help your dog adjust more easily.

Ensuring that they have a safe and comfortable space to retreat to during times of change is also essential.

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6. Lack of Exercise

Just like humans, dogs need regular physical exercise to release pent-up energy. If your dog is not getting enough exercise during the day, they may resort to pacing at night as a way to burn off excess energy.

Increasing the duration or intensity of their daily walks, incorporating interactive toys, or engaging in mentally stimulating activities like obedience training can help tire them out and promote a more restful night’s sleep.

7. Lack of Stimulation

In addition to physical exercise, dogs also require mental stimulation to keep their minds engaged. Boredom can lead to restlessness and pacing behavior. Providing puzzle toys, interactive games, or hiding treats for your dog to find can help keep their minds active during the day and alleviate their nighttime restlessness.

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8. Hunger

An empty stomach can cause discomfort and restlessness in dogs. Ensure that your furry friend is getting a balanced and nutritious diet, appropriate for their age and breed. Feeding them a small meal or providing a bedtime snack can help satisfy their hunger and promote a calmer demeanor during the night.

9. They Need to Go Potty

Sometimes, dogs may pace at night because they need to relieve themselves. Ensuring that they have regular bathroom breaks before bedtime can minimize this issue. Creating a consistent nighttime routine and providing access to a designated potty area can help prevent accidents and reduce their restlessness.

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10. Aging or Cognitive Dysfunction

As dogs age, they may experience cognitive dysfunction, similar to dementia in humans. Confusion and disorientation can cause nighttime restlessness and pacing.

If your dog is elderly, consult with your veterinarian to determine if cognitive dysfunction is a possible cause. Certain medications and supplements, along with environmental modifications, can help manage this condition and improve their overall well-being.


What Can You Do?

Before addressing your dog’s pacing, it is crucial to identify why they are pacing in the first place. Aside from the suggestions provided for each reason as to why your dog is pacing at night, here are a few general strategies on how to help your dog:

  • Consult with a veterinarian to address or to rule out any medical issues.
  • Address any pain or discomfort through proper veterinary care.
  • Create a calm and secure environment for your dog.
  • Establish a consistent feeding and potty schedule.
  • Ensure a healthy and balanced diet to address hunger.
  • Promote regular bathroom schedules, let your dog go potty before going to bed.
  • Provide physical exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Consider medications, supplements, and environmental modifications for age-related cognitive dysfunction.
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Dog pacing at night can be a perplexing behavior for pet owners, but understanding the possible causes can help you address the issue effectively.

By identifying and addressing stress, anxiety, medical conditions, pain, environmental factors, routine changes, lack of exercise or stimulation, hunger, and the needs for bathroom breaks, you can create a more peaceful and restful environment for your beloved canine companion.

Remember, patience, consistency, and professional guidance from your veterinarian are key to helping your dog find solace and enjoy a good night’s sleep!

Featured Image Credit: Alessandra Sawick, Shutterstock

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