If your dog has been being afraid at night, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. In this post, I will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about it.
So, why is my dog afraid at night? Possible reasons why your dog has been being afraid at night are that it has separation anxiety, an injury, an issue with its diet, an issue with the room it stays in, it is still young or that something has been causing it to become intimidated.
Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it.
Why your dog is afraid at night
Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make them more likely.
The cause might also be that it has some separation anxiety. This would be more likely if it starts showing signs of being anxious when you are leaving to go to bed, at night, and if it does not become afraid when it can sleep where you sleep.
It could be the case that an injury has been causing it to behave differently and to feel vulnerable. This would be more likely if it has started being afraid, at night, suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of having an injury. If it does seem like injury could be the cause, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
An issue with its diet
It could be the case that the cause is that there is an issue with its diet. It could be that it is eating things it should not be, it is eating too much or not enough. This would be more likely if it is afraid when it eats certain foods or if it has started doing it since a change in its diet.
An issue with the room it stays in
The cause could also be that there is an issue with the room it sleeps in. It might be the case that it is too noisy, too bright or there could be something else in the room causing it to be fearful. This would be more likely if it does not become afraid as much when it can sleep in different rooms.
Encouraging the behavior
The cause might also be that it has learned that acting afraid, at night, results in it getting rewards. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, when it is afraid at night, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Something causing it to be fearful
It might be the case that something has been causing it to become fearful. This would be more likely if it does it more at certain times such as when there are fireworks, sirens or construction works outside.
In this case, it would help to remove the thing that is making it become fearful if possible or to try desensitization training.
Someone mistreating it
The cause could be that someone mistreated it.
This would be more likely if you recently adopted it from a shelter. In this case, it would be likely that it would begin to do it less as it becomes more comfortable around you and its new surroundings.
But, it would help to give it lots of attention, exercise and to play with it. If it doesn’t improve over the course of a few weeks then it would help to get help from a vet or dog behaviorist.
It could also be the case that someone mistreated it recently. This would be more likely if it has started acting afraid suddenly and if it does it when a certain person is around.
The cause might be that something has been causing it to be depressed. Causes could include an owner moving away, being mistreated or another pet dying.
In this case, it might improve over the course of a few weeks. But, you can help by giving your dog positive attention in the form of training, exercise and by playing with it. If it does not improve after a few weeks then it would help to get the help of a vet or a dog behaviorist.
Sometimes, puppies will go through a more fearful stage. If your dog is a puppy then it could be the case that it is going through a more fearful stage and it is likely that it will stop in a few weeks.
Dogs were bred to work alongside their owners for hours daily so they are highly intuned with their owner’s emotions. If you get aggressive or emotional around your dog it will cause it to react to it and it could be why it has been being afraid at night.
Instead, it would help to be calm around your dog and to give it lots of training so that it learns how to behave.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when your dog first started being afraid at night
If your dog did not always act afraid at night, it would help to consider what else happened at around the same time that it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it would be more likely to be due to things such as injury, illness or something causing it to be fearful.
What is different when it is not afraid
It would also help to consider what is different when it does not do it. For example, if it does not do it when it can sleep with you, it would be more likely that it does it due to having some separation anxiety.
What to do about your dog being afraid at night
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop doing it.
Avoid encouraging it
As mentioned above, it could be the case that it has learned to act that way due to rewarding the behavior. Instead, try to reward it when it does not act afraid, to redirect its attention when it is about to act that way and to train it to come to you when you want it to.
Be calm with it
When interacting with your dog it would help to be calm with it since they can be very responsive to their owner’s emotions. If you get emotional or aggressive around your dog then it will usually cause it to react itself.
Avoid punishing it
If you punish your dog, for hiding, then it will likely reinforce the behavior and make it become more fearful of you. Instead, it would be better to use positive reinforcement training to get it to behave the way you want it to.
Give it exercise
If it is healthy, it would also help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed. Doing so should help to get it to go to sleep more easily.
Ensure that it is getting the right diet
As mentioned above, it could be the case that there is an issue with its diet. It would help to ensure that it is getting the correct diet for its breed and age. You can look here for some tips on what to feed it.
Ensure the room it stays in is appropriate
It would also help to ensure that the room it sleeps in is comfortable for it. The room should be not too bright, cool and quiet.
Reduce reasons why it might be anxious
It would also help to limit reasons why it might be anxious at night. Things you could do would include, letting it pee just before you go to bed, giving it sufficient exercise during the day and not making it have to wait too long between meals.
If it has been showing signs of injury or illness, the best option would be to take it to a vet. If it is healthy, but it has been being afraid excessively for more than a few weeks, it would also help to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog and to see what you should do in order to get your dog to stop doing it.