How to Calm an Anxious Dog at Night

By Britt Kascjak

As the sun goes down and bedtime approaches, does your dog have difficulty settling in for the night?

Does your dog suffer from nighttime anxiety?

You may be surprised to learn that this is a common problem that frustrates many dog owners. But, there are options to help calm your dog for a good night’s rest.

What Causes Anxiety in Dogs at Night?

There are many reasons that your dog may experience anxiety.

For some dogs, the problem could be as simple as disrupting their routine. This could be from a different meal time, staying up later than usual, or even forgetting your even walk.

Changes to the family structure can also trigger anxiety. Has a family member moved out? Did you add someone new to the family?

Even temporary changes can be at fault such as a guest in the home or travelling.

Take a careful look around your home and at your daily routine. Identifying the change is the first step to re-establishing the structure your dog needs.

Other causes of anxiety in dogs include loud noises like thunderstorms and fireworks. It could also be a symptom of a larger medical problem.

What Are the Signs of Anxiety in Dogs?

You may have recently noticed a change in behavior, but are unsure of why. Anxiety isn’t always easy to identify. Especially if you are unfamiliar with the symptoms.

But, your dog’s anxiety will get worse if it isn’t addressed. So, it’s important to recognize that there is a problem.

The most common signs of anxiety in dogs include:

  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty calming down
  • General irritability
  • Pacing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Running away or hiding
  • Shivering
  • Excessive licking or chewing
  • Unexplained hair loss
  • Excessive urination
  • Potty mistakes in an otherwise trained dog
  • Excessive barking, howling or whining

If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian. They may also recommend speaking with a local dog behaviorist.

What Calms a Dog’s Anxiety?

Rule Out Medical Causes

There are several medical explanations for a dog to develop anxiety.

This could be a sign of pain from a recent injury. Or, your dog may have developed doggy dementia.

Any condition that results in a loss of sight or hearing can trigger anxiety in dogs. While you may not be able to cure the problem, you can help him adapt.

Work with your veterinarian to rule out a medical explanation.

Create a Bedtime Routine

Dogs love structure and routine. Creating a bedtime routine is a great way to put this to work positively in your home.

If you take an evening walk, try to always do it around the same time. The same applies to feeding our dog and any of your own nighttime activities.

The more structure and order you can provide, the better he will adjust.

Exercise Before Bed

For some dogs, nighttime anxiety is the result of too much pent-up nervous energy.

Try incorporating a short nighttime walk or game of fetch. This will give him a positive outlet for this energy.

Offer a Cuddle Toy

Some dogs find comfort in cuddling a plush toy or security blanket. Especially if it is introduced when they are young.

If your dog is closely bonded with you, you can also try offering an unwashed sweater with your scent.

Photo of author
Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.