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Dog Growling at Night: Easy Solutions for a Peaceful Sleep - PawSafe

Dog Growling at Night: Easy Solutions for a Peaceful Sleep

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

dog growling at night

Dog owners often find themselves puzzled and alarmed when their dog suddenly starts growling at night. Nighttime should be a time for quiet and rest, but sometimes your dog seems to have a different plan. It’s deeply unsettling to be jolted awake in the middle of the night by the unmistakable sound of your dog snarling.

As a dog owner myself, I have encountered this issue with my own dog, and it prompted me to investigate why it happens. In my exploration, I discovered that several factors might contribute to this nocturnal canine growling. By understanding these reasons, we can mitigate the issue and ensure a calmer and safer environment at night for our beloved pets.

In the upcoming sections, we will uncover the primary reasons behind nighttime grumbles in dogs and discuss some potential solutions. To deal with this, we look at both canine aggression and sleep patterns. Armed with this knowledge, we can take action to help reduce these nighttime episodes and improve your and your pet’s overall well-being.

By attending to their physical and emotional needs, your dog will feel more at ease.

I’ve personally experienced my senior Bull Terrier, Amy, rumbling at night. Initially, I found it concerning, but after some observation, I realized that it stemmed mainly from resource guarding. As dogs age, they can suffer cognitive decline, which might increase instances of low rumbles, particularly at night when they are more prone to anxiety and restlessness.

In Amy’s case, her grumbling started when she was on the bed, becoming irritated and upset when she had to switch sleeping locations. To tackle this issue, I decided to have her sleep in her crate again and not longer sleep with me, hoping it would provide a good night’s sleep for both of us. However, her episodes persisted whenever another dog passed by her crate.

To address this, I tried covering her crate at night. Surprisingly, this helped her feel less threatened and disturbed, effectively reducing her nighttime crankiness. It’s essential to remember that this is just one example of how cognitive decline can lead to problematic behaviors.

If your dog starts rumbling at night, it’s crucial to observe their behavior and identify potential triggers closely. Taking appropriate measures like adjusting their sleeping arrangements or providing them with a sense of security can significantly reduce their nighttime growling and promote a peaceful environment for both you and your dog.

Grasping Canine Night Growling

One of the main reasons dogs rumble at night is due to fear or anxiety. This may be triggered by sudden changes in their surroundings or unfamiliar noises. When I first brought my dog home, I realized he was uncomfortable with the new environment, ultimately causing him to vocalize at night. To ease his anxiety, I established a reassuring bedtime routine and gave him a comfortable sleeping space.

A study by the Royal Society showed that humans can correctly tell a dog’s size and emotional cause by listening to a dog’s rumbles. The duration, rhythm, and pitch gave the participants clues about a dog’s mood. So, based on these findings, you can probably tell why your dog is snarling just from the sound.

Dr. Roberto Marchesini takes a pretty extreme stance by asserting that growling outside of play is unacceptable in healthy dog-owner interactions. This means that if a dog makes aggressive sounds at the owner instead of something else, it’s time to reevaluate the relationship they’ve built. 

But it’s vital to never punish your dog for growling. Be sure to read the linked article to find out why.

Fun fact: Rumbles related to food guarding are the most aggressive, according to the participants in the study above. Additionally, grumbles from play are rated the happiest and least in fearfulness.

Common Causes of Night Growling

As a dog owner, you’ve experienced the many different sounds a dog makes. But when a dog starts snarling for no apparent reason, it’s crucial to understand what might be causing this behavior, which may be one of the reasons covered below:

1. Discomfort or Pain

Sometimes, a dog might be making noises due to discomfort or pain. Perhaps they are sleeping in an uncomfortable position, or they might be suffering from a medical issue. Make sure to check their bedding and look for signs of illness or injury that could be causing them pain.

My dog once had a dental issue that caused him immense pain during the night. If you notice your dog grumbling and displaying signs of distress, it might be essential to consult a veterinarian to diagnose and treat any underlying conditions.

2. Something Spooked Them (Guarding against intruders and threats)

Anxiety and fear when a dog is scared of something inside or outside the house can also cause a dog to snarl at night. If you notice your dog becoming increasingly anxious during the night, it may be helpful to identify the source of their anxiety and take steps to reduce it. This could include using calming treats or pheromone diffusers.

It’s also vital to consider that if your dog is growling at night, there may be something or someone outside. Be sure to check for intruders or unwanted visitors. It could be a human, but nocturnal critters like raccoons, stray dogs, or cats outside could also upset your dog.

My Neapolitan Mastiff, Hudson, was extremely sensitive to any change in his environment. As a close quarter guardian, I woke up more than once to his growling. As we lived in an area with high levels of crime, I always took it seriously and alerted my neighborhood watch and the police. With his strong protective instincts, I knew to trust Hudson whenever he alerted me to a problem and on more than one occasion, Hudson’s instincts were not only correct, but also saved the day (or night).

3. Distant Sounds

A dog’s exceptional hearing can pick up sounds too faint for humans to notice. They might hear an animal outside or other noises that are not obvious to you, which could lead to vocalization. Minimizing outside noises and creating a calming environment may help.

Spooky time: Many people swear that dogs can pick up negative energies in their surroundings. There is no evidence for this, but the countless number of dogs suddenly starting and barking at a spot can be convincing. Like this dog:

4. Territorial Behavior 

In some cases, dogs may rumble at night due to territorial behavior. If your dog’s sleeping area is close to a window or entrance, they might want to defend their territory from potential threats, such as animals or passing people.

 Additionally, multi-pet household dogs typically snarl at each other from time to time when one invades the other’s personal space. I found that adjusting my dog’s sleeping area helped alleviate this issue.

5. They’re Simply Dreaming 

Some dogs might make rumbling noises during their REM sleep. During this stage, dogs may start to grumble, whimper, howl, twitch, or even move their legs as if they were running. They can also suffer from sleep disorders. This is completely normal behavior and should not be a cause for concern. 

6. Changes in the Environment

Any changes in their environment, like rearranging furniture or visitors in the home, might cause a dog to feel uneasy. Consistency will help them feel more secure, so avoid making too many changes to their routine or surroundings too fast.

7. New pets or Household Members

Introducing a new pet or family member can also lead to vocalization, as the dog migh feel threatened or territorial. Ensuring proper introductions and giving your dog ample space can help ease the transition.

8. They’re Bored

Furthermore, boredom and restlessness could also lead to canine vocalization. Dogs are energetic creatures, and if they don’t get enough mental and physical stimulation and are bored all day, they may vent their pent-up energy through vocalizing. 

9. Doggy Dementia

Senior dogs may experience canine cognitive dysfunction, commonly known as doggy dementia. This can lead to confusion, disorientation, and sudden aggressive noises. If you suspect your dog might be experiencing dementia, consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and management.

10. Brain Disorders

These sounds could also be a symptom of a brain disorder, such as a tumor or inflammation. Uncharacteristic aggression is a major sign that something is wrong with a dog’s brain, particularly with other signs like pacing and circling, wobbly gait, and bumping into doors.

11. Loneliness

Your dog might feel lonely or overtired, leading to rumbling and even howling at night. Ensuring the dog has adequate social interaction and exercise during the day may help alleviate these feelings.

Recognizing Symptoms Related Night Rumbling

This section will cover three significant symptoms that typically happen alongside aggressive sounds at night to help you recognize and address the issue.

Increased Agitation

When I notice that my dog is showing signs of agitation at night, such as pacing back and forth, barking at random things, or stressing over small disturbances, I know that these symptoms might be indicators of problematic night vocalization. 

It’s important to be aware of these warning signs as they can help you determine whether your dog needs professional help or if there are environmental factors you can address to help your dog settle down.

Changes in Body Language

Knowing your dog’s body language is vital to understanding their emotions and feelings. If your dog’s body language changes during these noisy episodes, it’s essential to take note of these alterations. Some things to look out for include:

• Tensed posture;
• Hair standing on end;
• Exposed teeth; and
• Ears pinned back.

By observing these changes in your dog’s body language, you can better understand what might be causing the grumbles and take appropriate action to address them.

Alteration in Vocalization

Night snarling can sound different from the typical low rumbles a dog emits during the day. When addressing this issue, pay close attention to the sound of the snarls, as they can indicate how your dog’s emotions are changing. Some specific vocal alterations to listen for include:

• High-pitched or whining growls;
• Prolonged or more frequent rumbles; and 
• Sounds that escalate into barks.

Understanding these alterations in vocalizations can help determine the underlying cause behind the behavior and figure out the best way to resolve the issue.

Preventive Measures for Noises at Night

Here are some top tips to deal with nocturnal snarling in your dog. But remember to always start by making sure there is nothing actually causing the problem. Your dog could be snarling to let you know you have someone lurking outside, or even that raccoons are raiding your trash. Feral cats outside are another common reason your dog might get riled up at night.

Using Comforting Techniques

I’ve found that one helpful approach to reduce my dog’s growling at night is providing them with a cozy sleeping space and ensuring they feel safe. 

Make sure to create a calm environment in their designated sleep area. This includes providing them with a comfortable bed, a familiar toy, and maintaining a consistent bedtime routine. Sometimes, playing soft music or using a white noise generator can also help.

Proper Training

Training your dog from an early age plays a crucial role in preventing aggressive noises. Establishing a consistent routine and giving them a clear understanding of rules will help promote desirable behavior. 

It’s important to reinforce good habits with praises and treats while also correcting bad behaviors immediately and firmly, but without violence. Creating a communication channel with your dog has proven to be beneficial for both of you.

  • Basic obedience training: Teaching commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “quiet” can help manage any unwanted behaviors.
  • Socialization: Introducing your dog to various people, environments, and other dogs helps reduce anxiety and fear that may trigger the behavior.

Consulting a Veterinary Specialist

If your dog continues to make noises at night despite trying comforting techniques and proper training, contact a veterinary specialist. There may be an underlying medical issue causing their discomfort, which leads to vocalizing. 

A professional evaluation is necessary to determine if your dog’s rumbling noises are due to physical or behavioral issues so you can proceed with the right course of action.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my dog randomly growl at nothing?

Sometimes, when a dog seems to growl at nothing, it might be due to their heightened senses. They could be detecting sounds or smells we’re not aware of. Of course, it’s essential to rule out any medical issues like pain or discomfort that might cause them to make these noises.

Why does my dog growl at me at night?

Your dog could be grumbling at you at night for various reasons. They might feel uncomfortable, anxious, or possessive over something like their bed. If this behavior is new, it’s important to investigate any potential changes in their environment or their health.

Why is my dog growling at the door at night?

Your dog could be snarling at the door because they sense people or animals outside. This may be a sign that your dog needs to protect their territory. Training your dog that the sounds at the door are non-threatening by teaching them the “quiet” cue can help ease their anxiety.

Dog growling at the window at night

If your dog snaps at the window during the night, they might be seeing or hearing something outside that makes them feel threatened. This could include animals or people walking by. Blocking your dog’s view or using noise-cancellation tools might help curb this behavior.

What does it mean when your dog growls at nothing?

Dogs snarling at nothing could again be due to their heightened senses detecting something we can’t perceive. It’s essential to monitor their behavior and consult a veterinarian if the vocalization persists or worsens.

Why is my dog restless at night all of a sudden?

A sudden change in your dog’s nighttime behavior, such as restlessness, could be caused by various factors. These might include a change in their environment, an increase in anxiety or stress, or a health issue. It’s vital to consult your vet if this behavior continues or if your dog exhibits other concerning signs.

Conclusion

At night, I’ve noticed my dog growling, and I know I’m not the only one experiencing this. So, let’s recap some of the key points I mentioned in the article to understand this behavior better.

Firstly, it’s essential to ensure our dog’s comfort and safety. Sometimes, they might be snapping due to discomfort or pain. Checking their sleeping area for any disturbances and addressing any health concerns by consulting a veterinarian is a helpful step.

Secondly, it is crucial to analyze our dog’s environment. External factors like noise, light, or the presence of other animals might cause stress or fear, leading to grumbling. I recommend finding ways to minimize these factors to create a calm environment for our dog to sleep peacefully.

Lastly, training plays an important role in controlling aggressive noises at night. Establishing a consistent routine and using positive reinforcement when our dog shows good behavior can help prevent such incidents. Patience and persistence are essential in training our furry friends.

I hope these insights help you understand why your dog might be making these noises at night and give you some ideas on addressing the issue. Remember to approach the situation with empathy and care since our pets rely on us for their well-being. Good luck in your journey toward a peaceful night’s sleep for both you and your dog!

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.