There are many reasons a dog can develop separation anxiety whether it’s a new puppy or new rescue dog in a scary new home, an adolescent dog coping with emotional changes (many who were previously fine through the night and suddenly start barking and crying) or even an older dog that perhaps is getting confused.
Additionally, there are some factors that can cause dogs to be more at risk such as dogs known as Hyperattached dogs which like to constantly follow their owners about. Also big changes in routines like getting a new job or even moving house. Either way, there are ways to help prevent separation anxiety in dogs and pups of all ages!
Some of the more common symptoms of separation anxiety can be barking/howling/whining through the night, Pacing and not being able to settle unless in the same room as the owner, which is the last thing anyone wants when it’s late at night. Then the easiest answer is giving in and letting the dog sleep with you but that’s not always possible.
So How Can You Prevent Separation Anxiety At Night Dog?
Well, there are a few different areas that you can work on, firstly ask these questions to yourself:
- Are the dog's basic needs met?
- Have they had enough mental and physical exercise that day?
- Have you done any calming exercises with the dog like relaxation, chewing, sniffing or stuffed kongs etc?
If not then this would be the first place to start.
Can My Dog Sleep In My Bed?
This can often be the stage where owners give in, and the dog ends up in the bed with them. Now if you are alright with this, then that's great! There is usually absolutely nothing wrong with your dog sleeping on, in or next to your bed - as long as you are happy with that and so is your dog. Ignore all the old myths in the dog training world that tell you that having a dog sleep in your bed will make them dominant - I promise you, these are nonsense.
The story is a little different if your dog starts guarding space on the bed or growling when you move. Then, your dog should lose their bed privileges.
It is also important to remember that a dog's sleep cycle is different to ours, so we may have our sleep disturbed.
But, other than those considerations, if you want your dog on your bed, go for it!
How To Stop My Dog Barking at Night
If having your dog in your bedroom or on your bed isn't for you, then you will need to take your dog back to basics of their nighttime routine.
The first step is deciding the start and end goal for this.
The end goal could be the living room, kitchen our dining room, but they must be comfortable in the room, and have appropriate bedding, temperature and space to move around comfortably.
To start the process, you need to find a place where they are comfortable and not barking through the night, which usually is next to you. This means you either have to go to them, or they have to come to you.
You might have to blow up and air bed or sleep on the sofa with your dog for a week or so to break the habit. Alternatively, your dog comes to you either in their crate next to your bed, or their bed moves next to you. If your dog starts barking during this time, you could either clip their lead on and take them outside to go to the toilet or simply put your hand near them to "shh" and reassure them. You should avoid giving them attention or giving them time to play in the garden.
Gradually, over a few days, you will move them further and further away from you to the area you want them in, or you move further and further away from them until you are back in your own bed.
Night 1-7: Your dog starts in your bedroom on a dog bed
Night 8: Inside your bedroom, next to the door
Night 9: Outside your bedroom with the bedroom door open
Night 10: Top of the landing, bedroom door open
Night 11: At bottom of the stairs
Night 12: Dog bed in the living room
If your dog starts barking through the night again, simply take a couple of steps back for a couple of nights.
BONUS: Scents help!
Another thing to consider is there have been studies to show that certain essential oils can help stop barking and pacing in dog rescue. Vanilla, coconut, valerian and ginger all helped to reduce signs of stress, in fact, coconut and ginger actually helped the dogs to sleep too. Additionally dog Appeasing Pheromone products have also been found to help to reduce barking in dogs and for some dogs can even help them to relax enough to sleep.
If You Would Like More Help
If you are struggling with your dog or would like some professional help, why not work with one of our specialist dog separation anxiety dog trainers in our Resolving Separation Anxiety Group Class or book a free assessment call with us and we can discuss 1:1 training.