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Home > Dogs > Why Is My Dog Waking Up in the Middle of the Night? 10 Likely Reasons

Why Is My Dog Waking Up in the Middle of the Night? 10 Likely Reasons

dog standing on a man's chest in bed

We all love our dogs, but we also love our sleep. The last thing anyone wants is to be awakened in the middle of the night for any reason, but if our dogs need us, we’ll be there. There are some completely normal reasons why your dog is waking up in the middle of the night, but it could also indicate that something is amiss. Keep reading to learn about the 10 most likely reasons your dog is waking up in the middle of the night and what you can do about it.


The 10 Reasons My Dog is Waking Up in the Middle of the Night

1. They Need to Potty

One of the most common reasons that dog owners will be awakened in the middle of the night by their ever-so-wakeful pooch is that they need to go to the bathroom. This is very common with puppies under 1 year of age and senior dogs.

It’s completely normal for young puppies to go outside at least once a night, especially when they are under 4 months of age, as they do not yet have full control over their bladder. This is also common in senior dogs that need to relieve themselves more often or are beginning to lose control of their bladder.

You may even run across situations where a completely potty-trained adult dog is having trouble holding it through the night. This could be because they ate or drank right before bedtime, or maybe even ate something that didn’t agree with them.

high angle shot of a brown Austrian pinscher dog looking up outdoors
Image Credit: Oakland Images, Shutterstock

What You Can Do About It

If you have a puppy under 1 year old, or even an adult needing potty training, you should follow proper potty-training protocols and keep them on a routine so that waking up in the middle of the night is a short-lived inconvenience. With patience and consistency, your pup will be sleeping through the night in no time.

If your adult or senior dog has suddenly been needing to go out more frequently and has begun waking you up at night to do so, you should contact your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health conditions, especially if the behavior is recurring.

2. Boredom

Physical exercise and mental stimulation are extremely important for your dog’s overall health. While different dogs have different needs, as an owner, you need to ensure your pup is getting enough activity each day to keep their bodies fit and their minds sharp.

Dogs that aren’t getting enough exercise throughout the day may not find it easy to tire and sleep throughout the night. If your dog is full of energy and becomes bored while you’re snoozing, they may wake up more easily and just might try to wake you up and have you join in their fun.

old weimaraner dog looking bored
Image Credit: yvasa, Shutterstock

What You Can Do About It

A dog’s need for physical and mental stimulation will vary by breed, so you should understand what kind of needs your particular dog has. Of course, this can vary by individual but the best thing you can do is to get into a routine where you exercise your dog every day and also provide them with stimulating activities, toys, and even training sessions. For those with lots of energy at the end of the day, try and carve out your most vigorous activity as close to bedtime as possible.

3. Hunger / Thirst

The way to most dogs’ hearts is through their stomachs, and they may just try and wake you from your slumber for a midnight snack. You could also be awakened if the water dish hasn’t been refilled and they need some hydration. Dogs don’t understand just how important your sleep is, they just know that if they’re hungry or thirsty, you are the source to go to.

close up of a dog eating from the bowl
Image Credit: Dmytro Zinkevych, Shutterstock

What You Can Do About It

The best way to prevent being awakened by your dog’s thirst or hunger in the middle of the night is by sticking to a regular feeding schedule and always making sure the water dish is full of fresh, clean water before you turn in for the night.

If you have any questions about how much or how often to feed your dog, you should reach out to your veterinarian for guidance and follow the manufacturer’s feeding guidelines. Generally, it’s recommended to feed your dog appropriate portions twice per day, so it’s a good idea to time your afternoon feeding appropriately and always let them outside to relieve themselves before bed.

4. Noise

Dogs have much more sensitive hearing than humans and can hear sounds from up to four times farther away than humans. Not only can they hear higher-frequency sounds, but they can also more easily differentiate sounds, so it makes sense that they could be awakened more easily by noises going on either inside or outside the home.

By nature, dogs remain on high alert for any potential threat, and hearing an unusual noise is enough to jar them from their sleep and have them ready to defend their pack and territory. They may even wake you up by barking alone, or they may come to get you if they hear something out of the ordinary.

Red cocker spaniel sitting on dog bed at home
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

What You Can Do About It

Thankfully, loud, unexpected noises shouldn’t be a regular occurrence. While there’s not much you can do about sudden noises, especially if they are coming from outside the home, you can provide your dog with a sleeping space in a quieter area within the home. Never punish your dog for waking you up out of concern, as this behavior could provide you with a much-needed alert.

5. Separation Anxiety

There’s a chance your dog could be waking you up at night due to separation anxiety, especially if you are out of their sight during the night. Separation anxiety occurs when dogs become overly attached and dependent on their human companions so much that it causes them to suffer severe anxiety and distress when separated from their owners.

Dogs suffering from separation anxiety can display various behaviors such as barking, whining, howling, and even destructive behaviors such as chewing or using the bathroom indoors. If your dog has trouble sleeping away from you and begins waking you up with vocalizations, this could be the culprit.

Dog Anxiety
Image credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock

What You Can Do About It

You should be aware of the signs of separation anxiety and see if your dog is exhibiting other indicators. You should aim to solve the problem regardless of whether it is mild or severe. There are plenty of tips and tricks you can try at home, but it’s always best to contact your veterinarian for assistance and to rule out any other conditions.

In severe cases, you may need to contact a professional dog trainer for further guidance. Your veterinarian will be able to point you in the right direction for proper treatment. For this reason, dogs should be properly crate trained and socialized from a young age to try and prevent separation anxiety from developing.

6. Change in Environment or Routine

Whether you have just moved into a new home, are traveling, or even had a job change or brought a new family member into the home, changes in your dog’s typical environment and/or routine could cause them to have difficulty sleeping.

Change can be stressful and anything outside the norm could very easily affect sleeping habits for certain dogs. If your dog suddenly wakes up in the middle of the night, think about what, if anything, in their world has changed. Even something that may not make us think twice could be stressing out your pup.

brown cavapoo puppy dog lying on the bed
Image Credit: Roberto Nickson, Unsplash

What You Can Do About It

If your dog has gone through a change of some sort recently that has led to this behavior, carve out some extra time to make sure they are getting the attention and exercise they need and give them some time to adjust. If you have any questions about how to help your dog deal with changes, reach out to your veterinarian or a professional trainer for further guidance.

7. Pain or Discomfort

If your dog is suffering from an illness, injury, or health condition that causes any type of pain or discomfort, this could very well disturb their ability to sleep through the night. This can be common in dogs that suffer from arthritis, which can make it very difficult to get comfortable, but there are many conditions that could lead to this behavior.

a border collie dog looking sick covered with blanket on couch
Image Credit: Lindsay Helms, Shutterstock

What You Can Do About It

You should always contact your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health conditions that could be the root cause of any changes in behavior. Have your dog thoroughly examined by the vet so they can be properly diagnosed and treated.

If your dog is suffering from a known ailment, but it seems to be worsening and causing them to have difficulty sleeping, talk to your veterinarian about finding ways to manage the condition and make them more comfortable.

8. Trouble Sleeping

There are some cases where dogs have trouble sleeping and this could result in your pal waking up in the middle of the night. You should always check with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis, but like humans, dogs can also suffer from sleep disorders, so there’s a possibility your pup could be affected by one of the following:

Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is considered rare for dogs, but it can occur, especially in dogs that are overweight or brachycephalic. Sleep apnea can cause disruption in sleep and cause dogs to awaken in the middle of the night.

Insomnia: Insomnia is also considered rare in dogs, but it’s usually related to another underlying condition. Senior dogs that develop cognitive dysfunction may have abnormal sleep patterns that lead to insomnia. Other conditions that cause pain, discomfort, or a need to relieve themselves frequently could also cause insomnia.

female maltese dog staying and sitting on white bed in bedroom
Image By: FotoSerbia, Shutterstock

Nightmares/REM Behavior Disorder: Research has shown like humans, dogs can dream, which includes nightmares. Dogs that growl, whimper, or even lightly bark in their sleep may be having a nightmare and, in some cases, this may wake them up. There is also a disorder called REM Behavior Disorder, REM Behavior Disorder, which can lead to various degrees of activity during sleep.

What You Can Do About It

If you think your dog is having trouble sleeping due to a sleep disorder, it is important to consult with your vet. Your vet can examine your dog and diagnose anything that may be causing your dog to have trouble sleeping. Treatment will depend on what your vet determines is the cause.

9. Temperature

An uncomfortable room temperature may have your dog stirring at night and causing them to wake up. This could be the result of either temperature extremes, so if you’re feeling too hot or too cold, there’s a chance your dog may be as well, which could cause them to start stirring at night.

Of course, different breeds have different tolerances to hot and cold conditions. For example, Chihuahuas are incredibly sensitive to the cold and may wake you up by trying to get you to share your blankets and body heat. St. Bernards and other breeds built for cold weather conditions may get uncomfortable with warmer temperatures in the house and need to cool down.

dachshund dog burrowing under the blanket
Image By: SM-BG, Shutterstock

What You Can Do About It

Try and keep your home at a comfortable temperature for humans and animals alike. This may not always be possible in the event of severe weather or power outages, but having supplies ready for these kinds of situations is key.

It’s best to know your breed and understand their climate tolerance so that you can do your best to keep them comfortable. Dogs that get cold easily may benefit from clothing, while dogs that get hot easily could use regular grooming to remove excess undercoat, especially during hot weather months.

We do recommend talking to your vet if your dog is showing any signs of being uncomfortable.

10. It’s Become a Habit

If their end goal is to get you up and out of bed, and their attempts provide them with their desired result, this just further reinforces the behavior. This is especially true if you end up offering some sort of reward, like a treat or toy, to try and satisfy them so that you can go back to bed. If your dog happens to find success every time they’ve tried to wake you up, it can very easily turn into a habit.

Dog sleeping on couch with man beside him
Image By: N K, Shutterstock

What You Can Do About It

Make it a point to understand why your dog is waking you up to begin with, that way you can remedy the root cause before it ever turns into a habit. If it’s already become habitual, it’s time to put a stop to it by implementing a routine that will allow you to put an end to it. If you have any questions or concerns over training, you can always contact a professional trainer or get in touch with your veterinarian.



There are several reasons why your dog wakes you up in the middle of the night, and sometimes it can be easy to find the root cause, while other times it may be difficult to understand what’s causing this behavior. We always recommend contacting your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health conditions and for assistance with managing unwanted behaviors.

Featured Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

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