WHY IS MY DOG WAKING ME UP AT 3 AM?
You are in deep sleep at 3 am Sunday morning. It’s that time of the sleep that is sweetest, no pain, no headache, no worries, just pure bliss. But suddenly, you start feeling that nudge, something very hairy around you, just for you to open your eyes and see your dog’s face close to yours, their warm breath heavily coming down on you. You feel disappointed and even angry but you control yourself just enough just to turn to the other side and think what am I going to do now.
But at this stage, your sleep is gone, it’s 3 am and your dog has succeeded in waking you up apparently for no reason. Or is it so. “Why is my dog waking me up at 3 am?”
Let’s deal with this question and possibly what we can do to stop them from doing so.
Your dog waking you up at 3 am in the morning can be due to separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is a very common problem in the dog world. To throw a little light on it. Dogs generally are social creatures. They are dependent on their interactions with us and their immediate surrounding for survival. When this interaction is missing, a dog tends to misbehave or engage in activities that we generally would not approve of.
Now when this bad behavior becomes a bit extreme, it is described as separation anxiety. Some dog breeds are more likely to suffer from separation anxiety than others.
You can learn more about separation anxiety and how you can manage it here “DEALING WITH SEPARATION ANXIETY IN DOGS“
A sleeping place that is not conducive.
Your dog can be waking you up at 3 am because his or her sleeping place is not comfortable enough. The sleeping spot may be noisy, there may be too much light coming into the area at night, the temperature may be too high or too low, the surface of the sleeping spot may be too rough or uneven to be comfortable or the sleeping place may be just too new and your dog is yet to get used to it.
Whatever it is, if your dog is not able to get comfort where he or she sleeps, they are likely to approach the only person that might solve the problem for them and that is you. Mind you, they would not be taking into consideration the time of the day they will be doing this.
Have you been feeding your dog early in the morning, then it’s likely that your dog may have started forming the habit of waking up earlier in anticipation of breakfast. The more you oblige your dog by feeding them immediately you wake up, the more likely they would start seeing it as a right and may even take it upon themselves to initiate this request.
This can occur especially if you are feeding your dog once a day and only in the morning. You can try to control this by splitting the daily portion and feeding them twice instead of once a day. This way, your dog wouldn’t be very hungry in the morning.
Also consider not giving your dog food the first thing you do in the morning, choose a particular time for example 8 am, and only feed your dog at this time. This way, with time your dog will get to adjust its biological clock to the timing you have set for him or her.
Injuries, Digestive problems, infections from germs and bacteria, joint health problems, etc. All these health issues can keep your dog restless all night, not to mention all the pain and discomfort that they feel. A dog in this state may not have the patience to wait for daybreak before trying to express its situation to you.
A visit to your vet doctor is the best thing you can do here if you suspect that your dog is waking you up at 3 am because of health issues.
Your Dog sleeps throughout the day.
When a dog is not engaged meaningfully throughout the day, they tend to lie around and sleep all day. It usually happens with dogs whose owners are not knowledgable about basic dog needs, and even some dog parents that are knowledgable about basic dog needs still fall short here because they do not have the time or are not disciplined enough to spend quality time with their dogs
Most dogs who find themselves in this position end up being restless at night. A dog’s natural tendency is to get attention to itself whenever it can, so if waking you up by 3 am would help him or her achieve this aim, your dog would definitely take the chance.
Your dog wants to pee.
A dog that needs to pee urgently would alert its owner, especially when sleeping indoors, and has been home trained to potty outside the house. The logical thing to do in this situation is to take your dog to potty outside.
The next best thing would be to schedule your potty training so that your dog would not have any reason to wake up at 3 am in the morning
Download our Potty training guide here to learn the proper way to start housebreaking your dog here.
Change in environment
Did you just move to a new home? Is there a new baby in the household? Are their people over to your place for the holidays? All this means a big change in activities in the household. All this can affect a dog’s feeding time, potty time, playing time, and more. This in turn can affect your dog’s sleeping pattern.
Truth be told, a little effort to take care of your dog emotionally would solve the above problem.
HOW DO I STOP MY DOG FROM WAKING UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT?
Deal with the health issues.
Apply whatever medications are prescribed and make sure to complete the doses as advised by your vet doctor. More importantly, is that you should have a schedule or plan for visiting your vet doctor, it may be bi-weekly or monthly or whatever you agree upon with your vet doctor.
A regular visit will help ensure that health issues are detected at their early stages and dealt with appropriately.
Change their feeding schedule.
If your dog is waking your up at 3 am due to hunger, a change in their feeding schedule or routine might just solve the problem. Feeding them just before bedtime can help ensure that they would not be waking up early in the morning due to hunger. You may also decide to split the portions and feed them twice a day instead of just once a day. Discuss your plans with your vet doctor and apply the one that best suits your dog.
Exercise your dog just before bedtime.
Now we have the health and feeding issues out of the way, if your dog is still waking you up by 3 am, then it may be time to try another approach. Exercising your dog just before bedtime might just do the trick, the whole idea behind exercising your dog at this time is to wear them out, a tired dog wouldn’t have many options left to him than to slump down and sleep to regain some strength.
Take a walk with your dog just before bedtime, and engage them in some obedience training sessions or the learning of some new dog tricks. Even if you have a tight schedule, the small time you put in to connect with your dog would be worthwhile in not just getting them to sleep well at night but also in their overall well-being. If you can’t put in the effort to connect with your dog, then why adopt them in the first place.
Anyway, work on wearing them out just before bedtime and see yourself and your dog get that perfect beauty sleep you so yearn for.
Review your dog’s diet.
Apart from your feeding schedule, what you may be feeding your dog may be causing them to keep awake at night. Different dog breeds and dog sizes have different dietary requirements. Some do well with dry food, others do well with wet food while some dogs are allergic to some types of food.
Learn more about the best dog food for your dog here TOP TEN BEST DOG FOOD
Crate Train your dog.
Doing this is one of the best things you can do both for yourself and your dog. When your dog has been properly trained to use his or her crate, it becomes her own personal space in the house, a place of retreat, security, comfort, and safety for her. In fact, crate training your dog would create a scenario for you where you would have more time for yourself and your dog would be comfortable with it.
Simply put, your dog is likely to be happier with you and more relaxed when the crate training is done well. You can compare crate training your dog to him or her dog having their own room, or their own private space in the house.
Learn more about dog crates here BEST CRATE FOR DOGS
Use a Mechanical Feeder.
If you cannot spare time for most of the tactics above, may be due to your daily schedule or some other challenges, you can consider investing in a mechanical feeder.
A mechanical feeder operates by dispensing food for your dog at regular intervals or time slots. Scheduling to dispense food for your at 3 am every night might as well help to satiate your dog’s hunger and allow him or her to go back to sleep afterward without them having to wake you up at 3 am in the morning.
This can be another alternative but must be done under the guidance of your vet doctor. Herbal remedies, low-dose melatonin, aromatherapy approach, etc. can go a long way in helping your dog to relax and have a good night’s sleep. Again, this must be done under the strict guidance of a professional.
Get Professional Help.
When all else fails, get professional help, there is your vet doctor, there are also animal behaviorists, dog breeders, professionals in chiropractic practice for dogs, and much more. Try to get expert advice specifically tailored for your dog’s breed, age, size, and disposition.
Hi, I am Charles Nwankwo Editor-in-Chief, Mydoggything.com. Gleaning from Professional Dog Trainers, behaviorist, Registered Veterinarians, and Breeders. We are passionate about making dog care easy for you. My job is to make sure that you get the best-updated dog care information to understand and take care of your dog or dogs.