If your dog has been barking at nothing at night, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.

So, why does my dog bark at night? Possible reasons why your dog barks at nothing at night are that it can hear something, it is in pain, it is seeking attention, it is compulsive barking, or it is barking territorially.

There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and it might be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are also a number of things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are a number of things you can do about it.

Reasons why your dog barks at nothing at night

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been barking at nothing at night and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.

It can hear something

The reason why your dog barks at nothing during the night might actually be that it does hear something. Dogs tend to have much better hearing than we do so it could be the case that you are not able to hear something that it can hear.

This would be more likely to be the reason if it does it when there are noisy things going on such as when there are people are outside or when there is thunder.

Separation anxiety

The reason why your dog has been doing it could be that it has some separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and it becomes anxious when it is left alone. This would be more likely to be the reason if your dog barks when it is alone at night, it does not bark when you are around it and if it shows signs of being anxious when you are leaving.

Pain

It might be the case that something is causing it to be in pain. This would be more likely if it has started doing it more suddenly and if it has been showing signs of being in pain such as limping. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

Territorial barking

It could be the case that it barks at nothing due to territorial barking. This is where it barks in order to protect its territory and to warn other animals not to come near. This would be more likely to be the reason if your dog tends do it more when other dogs have been barking at night.

Seeking attention

The reason why it does it might be that it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if you tend to give it more attention when it does it and if it tends to do it more when you have not been giving it much attention.

In this case, it would help to give it attention throughout the day in the form of training, exercise and by playing with it. But, it would help to avoid rewarding it when it barks at nothing and to try to recognize when it is likely to start doing it and to redirect its focus.

Compulsive barking

It might be the case that it has been doing it compulsively. This is where it feels an urge to bark and it can’t stop itself from barking. This would be more likely to be the reason if it has been doing it excessively for weeks or longer. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

Encouraging the behavior

The cause could be that you have trained it to do it by giving it things that it wants when it barks at nothing. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, rewards or treats when it does it then it might have learned to do it more in order to get more of those things.

It would help to try to avoid rewarding it when it does it and to try to recognize when it is likely to start barking and to redirect its focus. It would also likely help to reward it when it does not bark but it normally would.

Things to consider about your dog barking at nothing at night

Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.

If your dog has always barked at nothing at night

When trying to figure out why your dog has been barking at nothing it would help to consider when it first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be because another dog started barking in the area, it got an injury, or there was a change in the room that it sleeps in.

Things to that might have happened could be:

  • If you moved home
  • If someone moved away
  • If another pet died
  • If someone mistreated it

What is different when your dog barks at nothing at night

It would also help to consider what is different when it barks at nothing since it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.

For example, if it only does it when other dogs have been barking nearby, it could be the case that your dog is doing territorial barking or it is communicating with the other dogs.

What to do about your dog barking at nothing at night

Below are a number of options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Get it to pay attention to you

One option would be to try and get it to pay attention to you when it starts barking. By doing so you will be able to get it to focus on you and to take its attention away from barking.

It would also help to learn to recognize when it is about to start barking so that you can redirect its behavior when it is about to start barking.

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by giving it things that it wants when it barks at nothing. Instead, it would help to try to redirect its attention when it seems likely to start barking and to reward it when it doesn’t bark but it normally would.

Positive reinforcement training

It would also help to give it positive reinforcement training which is where you reward the behaviors that you want to see and avoid rewarding those that you don’t want to see.

To use positive reinforcement training to get your dog to not bark at nothing you would give it a treat whenever it stops barking or it shows signs of not barking.

You can watch how it is done in the video below:

Give it distractions

Another option would be to give your dog things to be distracted with so that it does not think to bark. Things you could give it could include toys or bones.

Get help

If your dog has been barking at nothing a lot and you can’t get it to stop then consider getting help from a vet, dog behaviorist or trainer. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog and to rule out medical causes.

Why is my dog suddenly barking at nothing at night?

If your dog has started barking at nothing, during the night, suddenly, it could be because it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded, another dog started barking nearby, it got an injury, or because it had to start staying in a different room.

Why does my dog bark at nothing in the house?

The reason why your dog barks at nothing, in the house, could be that it can see something that you are not seeing, it can hear something, it can smell something, or because it has to stay in a different room.

Why does my dog bark in the dark?

If your dog barks when it is dark, it might be the case that your dog has some separation anxiety, which would be more likely if your dog barks when you are not around it and it stops barking when you are around. Any of the other reasons mentioned above are also possible.

Why does my dog bark at nothing in the yard?

The reason why your dog barks at nothing in the yard could be that it is able to hear something that you cannot or because it smells the scent of other animals in the yard.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.