Dear Sarah, Oct 17

Our dog barks during the night. Is there any way we can stop her?

Rebecca C

Hi Rebecca,

Absolutely! There can be a number of causes for night time barking, so let’s take a look at each of them in turn.

1. Is she getting enough exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day? Exercise needs (both physical and mental) vary from dog to dog. Is she getting enough exercise to make her tired? Perhaps exercising her in the evening (rather than the morning) and ensuring that she has to work for her evening meal (out of a food dispensing toy) means that she will have had those needs met before going to bed.

2. Does she sleep outside? Perhaps bring her in at night and have her sleep in the laundry, or in a crate in the loungeroom. If she sleeps inside already, perhaps she is too cold, too hot, or uncomfortable. Find somewhere she can sleep where she is more settled and relaxed.

3. If she does sleep outside, is there something out there? Remember, dog’s senses are much more acute than a human’s, so just because you can’t see something (in the dark, with our very poor night time vision), doesn’t mean there isn’t a possum, cat, lizard, snake, bird, bandicoot, rat, mouse, cane toad or prowler lurking around. If you live where wildlife comes to life at night (let’s face it – in this area – who doesn’t?), then having her sleep inside where she won’t be able to smell, hear or see those things during the night is a viable option.

4. Are you inadvertently reinforcing the behaviour? What do you do when she barks? Do you get up to her and tell her to “be quiet”? You may actually be rewarding the exact behaviour you don’t want (by giving her attention). Ignoring the behaviour and letting her bark is only going to annoy you (and the neighbours), so having her sleep somewhere where she is more settled is going to be a much better option – for everyone.

5. Is she over 8 years of age? Just like humans, as dogs age, the way they perceive the world changes. Their hearing and eyesight goes, changes to the brain and neural pathways occur, body aches and pains, Arthritis, Dementia – the list of potential ailments is long. If it’s been a while since your last vet visit, perhaps it’s worth booking in for a check up, just in case the cause for her barking is medical. 

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