So, Why Is Your Dog Restless At Night?
There are a number of reasons why your dog might be moving around while they sleep. If you haven't got time to read the full article, here's a list of the most common reasons we've covered:
- They Are Trying To Get Comfortable
- They Are Too Hot or Cold
- They Need To Go To The Toilet
- They're Having A Dream (and Chasing Rabbits!)
- They Have An Underlying Medical Condition
- It's Just Their Natural Instincts
- They're Bored and Need More Mental Stimulation
- They miss you!
- They suffer from anxiety or fear
- They have a sleeping disorder
Each of these reasons will be explored in more detail below, along with tips on how to help your restless dog get a peaceful night's sleep.
Your Dog Can't Get Comfortable
Dogs, just like humans, need to find the right spot and position to feel comfortable and drift off into sleep. If your dog is moving around frequently, it could be a sign that they're not getting on with their dog bed.
There are loads of dog beds on the market in various shapes and sizes, from vet bedding through to dog bed mattresses.
The RSPCA suggests thinking about two key factors when choosing a dog bed, which are size and material.
If the bed is too big, they won't feel secure, and if it's too small, they might not have enough room to move around comfortably. Material-wise, some dogs prefer a firmer surface, while others like to sink into cushioning.
They're Having Temperature Troubles
Just like Goldilocks' porridge, your dog's temperature needs to be just right for them to have a good night's sleep.
If your dog is too hot or cold, they'll likely move around the house trying to find a more comfortable spot.
For those dogs that struggle with the heat, try investing in a cooling mat for them to lie on during those warmer nights. Alternatively, if they're always chilly, consider getting them a warm and cosy blanket to snuggle up in.
Be aware that some dog breeds, especially those with thick coats like Huskies or Malamutes, are more sensitive to heat and may need a cooler environment to sleep comfortably.
Night Time is Toilet Time
If your dog is moving around a lot while they sleep and seems unsettled, it could be that they need to go outside for a toilet break.
Puppies and senior dogs are more prone to needing toilet breaks during the night, so if your dog falls under this category, try taking them out before bedtime to prevent any nighttime disruptions.
According to PetMD, "It takes between 8-12 hours for a meal to be fully digested, with puppies digesting food faster than older dogs. If your dog eats a smaller meal, they’ll digest it faster than a larger meal, also. So if you’re feeding your dog two meals a day, they are likely going to have to defecate about twice per day."
Dreaming Doggos Can Look Like Restlessness
We've all seen it- our dog's legs twitching as they doze off into a deep sleep. It's easy to assume that they're dreaming about chasing rabbits or playing in the park, but what does this actually mean?
According to VCA Hospitals, dogs do dream and go through the same sleep cycles as humans. During their REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, they may twitch or move around as they dream, and this is completely normal behaviour. So, if your dog is moving around while sleeping, it could just mean they're having a particularly exciting dream!
Your Dog Is Experiencing Underlying Medical Conditions
If your dog's restlessness at night persists for a long period of time or seems to be accompanied by other symptoms like whining or discomfort, it's always best to consult with your veterinarian.
There are a number of medical conditions that could be the root cause of your dog's sleep troubles, including arthritis, gastrointestinal issues, or even hormonal imbalances.
By taking your dog for regular check-ups and addressing any potential health concerns, you can help ensure they get a good night's rest without any underlying issues causing discomfort.
It's Natural (Instincts)
In the wild, dogs are creatures of habit and would typically change sleeping locations throughout the night to ensure their safety. This behaviour is still ingrained in domesticated dogs, which could explain why they move around while sleeping.
If your dog seems to be moving from spot to spot without any other apparent reason, it could be their natural instincts kicking in. To help your dog feel more secure, ensure their sleeping area is in a quiet and safe location within your home.
The best spots in the home to set up your dog's sleeping area are typically away from high-traffic areas and any potential sources of disturbance, such as noisy appliances or open windows.
It Could Be Boredom or Lack of Mental Stimulation
Dogs that are under-stimulated during the day may have a hard time settling down for sleep at night. If your dog is not getting enough physical exercise or mental stimulation, it could lead to restlessness at night.
To help combat this, ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise during the day. This could include going for walks, playing fetch, or engaging in other activities that get their heart rate up and their mind stimulated.
You can also provide your dog with puzzle toys and interactive games to keep their brain engaged and tire them out mentally before bedtime. Lick mats and frozen Kong toys filled with tasty treats can keep your dog occupied and mentally stimulated.
Your Dog Misses You & Is Experiencing Separation Anxiety
Dogs are social creatures, and they crave companionship and attention from their owners. If your dog is used to sleeping next to you or in the same room as you, they may feel anxious when separated at night.
To help ease separation anxiety, try gradually getting your dog used to sleeping in their own bed or crate in a different room. Provide them with a familiar blanket or toy to help them feel more at ease.
You can also try leaving a radio or white noise machine on to create background noise and help your dog feel less alone.
It's Possible They Have A Sleeping Disorder
Carrie Tooley and Sarah E. Heath, the lead authors of a paper on Sleep Characteristics in Dogs suggest that "There are strong arguments for a relationship between sleep, in particular REM sleep, and emotional health and behaviour in a variety of species".
The report goes on to say dogs getting less than 8-10 hours of sleep are much more likely to exhibit problem behaviours. This not only includes restlessness but aggression and anxiety, too.
Identify The Issue & Help Your Pooch Catch More Z's
The first step to helping your dog sleep better is understanding the cause of their restlessness. By taking note of any patterns or changes in behaviour, you can identify the root cause and take appropriate action.
Remember to provide your dog with a comfortable sleeping area that meets their size and material preferences, and ensure they are getting enough exercise and mental stimulation during the day. If all else fails, consult with your vet to rule out any underlying medical issues and address any potential sleeping disorders.
Hang In There!
With patience, love, and attention, you can help your restless dog get the peaceful night's sleep they deserve. After all, a well-rested pup makes for a happy owner! So next time you see your beloved pooch moving around while sleeping, remember there could be many reasons behind it and try not to worry too much.
After all, a dog's sleep pattern may be different from humans, but they still need their beauty rest just as much.