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Home > Dogs > How to Calm a Restless Dog at Night: 10 Vet-Approved Tips

How to Calm a Restless Dog at Night: 10 Vet-Approved Tips

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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It’s time to turn in for the night, but your dog is still prowling around the house, unable to settle. If this describes your nightly routine, it sounds like you’ve got a restless dog on your hands. Restlessness in dogs at night often comes about as a result of stress, boredom, anxiety, or lack of a bedtime routine. In some cases, it’s due to aging or a medical issue that causes pain and discomfort.

Fortunately, there are some things you can try that may soothe your restless dog and help lull them into a peaceful slumber. Read on for some useful doggy bedtime tips.

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The 10 Tips on How to Calm a Restless Dog at Night

1. Unwind Together

At the end of the day, spend some time with your dog that will help get them into the bedtime mind space. Whether that’s snuggling up on the sofa together or just spending some time stroking, scratching, or brushing your dog in all their favorite places, anything that helps calm your dog while allowing them to spend quality time with you may help soothe their bedtime anxieties.


2. Exercise

If a dog isn’t exercised enough, they’re more likely to become restless at night due to pent-up energy and boredom. Make sure your dog is sufficiently tired out during the day so that they’ll be ready to sleep at night. You might want to try a nice after-dinner walk with your dog before unwinding together at home.

dog running on an obstacle
Image By: Murilo Viviani, Unsplash

3. Bedtime Routine

We all have a bedtime routine, right? It’s just as important for dogs, especially those prone to anxiety and restlessness. Sticking to a nightly routine (e.g. taking an evening walk, settling down on the couch together, going to bed at the same time, etc.) can be really comforting for your dog as they need things to be predictable. It’s also a great idea to teach your dog the “bed” command and use it every night.


4. A Safe Space

Having your dog sleep in the same spot every night is a good idea as it helps instill in them that all-important sense of routine. Whether that spot is your bed, your dog’s bed, or in their crate, as long as it’s a place your dog feels comfortable and safe, a space that they love to chill out and snooze in is the perfect spot for sleeping.

You might want to consider placing their bed near to yours—if not in the same room, then at least not too far away from where you’re sleeping. This sense of closeness with you and knowing exactly where you are is especially important for anxious, fearful dogs.

2 dogs behind safety rails
Image by: Alex Zotov, Shutterstock

5. Comforters and Toys

Some dogs have a favorite cuddly toy or soft blanket that they like to sleep with. This can help them to feel safe at night, especially if the toy has your scent or a familiar scent on it. Try only bringing this toy or comforter out at nighttime so that your dog associates it with bedtime rather than play or other activities.


6. Bathroom Break Before Bed

Dogs sometimes become restless at night because they need to use the bathroom at unsociable hours. Make sure your dog pees before they go to the bed to minimize the risk of this happening. Bear in mind that puppies, aging dogs, or dogs suffering from a medical issue may need to use the bathroom more frequently at night.

Dog Pee on the tree
Image By: pcdazero, Pixabay

7. Classical Music

In 2002, Dr. Deborah Wells, an animal behaviorist, found that classical music can have a calming effect on dogs—more so than other genres of music. For this reason, you might consider playing a little Mozart or a soft piano piece before bed.


8. A Quiet Atmosphere

Getting your dog hyped up with playtime just before bed is not the best idea. Keep things as casual, calm, and quiet as possible for your dog around bedtime. This helps to show your dog that there’s nothing exciting or scary about bedtime.

Groenendael sleeping on blue dog bed
Image by: tirppala0, Pixabay

9. Treats

Every time your dog shows progress, for example, settling on their bed at night, give them a little treat as a reward. This teaches your dog to associate bedtime with something positive. Avoid overusing treats for health reasons and because your dog may stop responding to them if they get too many.


10. Massage

If your dog is anxious about bedtime, a nice, gentle massage before you hit the hay may help them to relax. Massage is also a great way to ease joint and muscle discomfort due to exercise, age, or certain health conditions.

Try simple massage techniques to start out with, like a back massage. Gently stroke your dog’s head and neck before going up and down on each side of the spine. Remember to use gentle pressure only and avoid massaging the bone.

woman strokes and massages domestic dog’s belly on couch
Image by: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

We hope that these tips will help to soothe your restless pup at night. Remember—routine and consistency are key. Don’t give up if your dog doesn’t respond to your attempts right away, they may just need a little time to get used to their new routine. If you suspect that a medical issue or pain is causing your dog to stay awake at night, please get them checked out by a vet.


Featured Image Credit: Conner Baker, Unsplash

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