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Why Is My Dog Suddenly Hyper at Night? Exploring Causes and Solutions - PawSafe
Dog Behavior

Why Is My Dog Suddenly Hyper at Night? Exploring Causes and Solutions

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

why is my dog suddenly hyper at night

We’ve all been there: settling in for a good night’s sleep only to find our dog suddenly hyper at night. Once peaceful nights are now disrupted by your canine bouncing off the walls, full of energy. What gives? 

This behavior may leave you puzzled, slightly annoyed, and even a bit sleep-deprived if the problem persists. It prompts the need to explore various aspects of your dog’s lifestyle, routine, and health to pinpoint the energy surge triggers.

But fear not! We’ve got some solutions to help deal with your dog’s nighttime hyperactivity. Stick with us as we delve into these potential issues and discuss strategies to help your dog (and you) have a peaceful, restful night. We’ve taken expert advice and books like Dr. Gary Landsberg’s Behavior Problems of the Dog and Cat for a comprehensive guide to all your questions. 

Your dog doesn’t care that you have an early morning when they choose to have a full-blown play session in the dead of night. Others may even turn slightly aggressive, as our article on dog growling at night observes, primarily due to environmental sounds and triggers. 

As responsible pet owners, we must address the root cause of our dog’s sleep-time hyperactivity. Take note of any patterns or clues, and don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for advice. Remember, our goal is to ensure our beloved pets are happy, healthy, and comfortable.

Toby the dog was most productive at 2 am:

To manage my own dogs’ hyperactivity in the evening, I’ve found that a long hike in the late afternoon works wonders. This not only tires them out physically but also satisfies their instinctual urge to explore and roam. I make sure to avoid activities that amp up their excitement levels in the evening. 

For instance, I steer clear of playing fetch at night because it’s too stimulating and can make it harder for them to wind down. Instead, I save highly exciting activities like fetch for the morning when they’re fresh and it’s a suitable time for them to expend a lot of energy. This routine helps in keeping the nights calm and peaceful.

Canine Nocturnal Hyperactivity: A Look at Canine Sleep Patterns

Our dogs are usually great at cuddling up at bedtime, but sometimes, they might surprise us with their sudden nocturnal excitability. To help understand this behavior, let’s first look at how dogs normally sleep. 

Like humans, dogs have different sleep stages ranging from light dozing to full-on REM sleep. However, they typically have many more naps throughout the day than we do. And, just like us, our dogs can feel the effects of a disrupted routine or an off-kilter sleep schedule.

Even with more naps, sleep for less than 8 hours and more than 10 hours was linked to behavioral problems, according to a study of 1330 dogs

Dog’s sleep patterns can be influenced by factors such as their daily routine, age, and breed. For example, puppies and senior dogs may require more sleep, while working breeds might have a higher activity level during the day.

Fun Fact: Contrary to what most people believe, dogs are not nocturnal (alert at night). But, sleep studies show that dogs aren’t entirely diurnal either (alert during the day). You could say peer pressure got the best of them because canines are social sleepers, taking on human sleep patterns.

Understanding Dog Behavior

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Here are some common reasons for your dog’s sudden nighttime hyperactivity:

  1. Boredom: If your dog doesn’t get enough mental and physical stimulation during the day, they might have extra energy to burn come nap time. According to our article, young puppies need more sleep at night. So, watch out for their stimulation during the day if they don’t sleep.

    Tip: Provide engaging toys, playtime, and exercise during the day.

  2. Anxiety: Some dogs may feel anxious or stressed. Separation anxiety because of not sleeping with you, fear of the dark, or loud noises can result in restlessness and hyperactive behavior.

    Tip: Create a calming environment with a comfortable bed, and consider using calming sprays or white noise machines.

  3. Hunger and thirst: Your dog might be more active if they’re hungry or thirsty. Nighttime is also when they might have to go to the bathroom.

    Tip: Make sure fresh water is available, and check your dog’s diet or feeding schedule.

  4. Underlying health issues: In some cases, sudden hyperactivity could be a sign of a medical condition, such as thyroid issues, gastrointestinal problems, or pains and aches.

    Tip: Consult your veterinarian to rule out or treat any health concerns.

  5. Environmental factors: Certain factors in your dog’s surroundings may be causing their bursts of energy, such as loud noises, excessive heat, or a too-cold environment.

    Tip: Make adjustments to their environment as needed, such as temperature or noise control.

By understanding our dogs’ sleep patterns and behaviors, we can help create a calmer and more restful night for both them and us. Remember the tips mentioned above, and you’ll have a better chance of curbing that sudden nocturnal hyperactivity.

Other Common Causes of Nocturnal Hyperactivity in Dogs

Let’s look at some other reasons we may struggle to get our dogs to calm down at night.

Medical Issues

Sometimes, our dogs become hyper at night due to underlying medical issues. These can include:

  • Gastrointestinal problems may cause the dog to feel discomfort while lying down, leading to restlessness; 
  • Thyroid disorders;
  • Organ failure; 
  • Epilepsy; 
  • Tumors; 
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar); and
  • Toxicity. 

Additionally, parasites like fleas or ticks can make our dogs restless and irritable during their sleep. It’s crucial to take note of any changes in our dog’s behavior and consult with a veterinarian if medical issues are suspected.

Genetics

Some dogs present ADHD-like symptoms that may display as nocturnal restlessness. Both a PubMed study and the book Canine Behavior Insights show that dogs with hyperactive disorders have low serotonin and dopamine concentrations. This condition is particularly common in high-energy breeds like Belgian Malinois and Border Collies that may have trouble settling down and “switching off”.

Dietary Factors

Just like us, what our dogs eat can impact their energy levels. High-calorie or poorly balanced diets may cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels, leading to bursts of energy at night.

 It’s essential to ensure we’re feeding our dogs a well-balanced diet, and if we suspect their food may be causing nocturnal hyperactivity, try switching to a different brand or type to see if there’s a difference. Some common dietary factors to consider are:

  • High-sugar treats;
  • Inappropriate portion sizes; and
  • Food allergies or sensitivities.

Environmental Changes

Changes in our dog’s environment can lead to nocturnal hyperactivity. Different factors, like a new family member or a change in our routines, may impact our dogs’ sleeping patterns. 

Additionally, a lack of exercise or mental stimulation during the day can contribute to our dogs’ energy bursts. To help prevent nocturnal hyperactivity, consider:

  • Scheduling daily exercise;
  • Providing mental stimulation through toys and brain games; and
  • Creating a consistent daily routine.

Age-Related Factors

As our dogs age, their sleep patterns may change. Puppies and younger dogs tend to have more energy, leading to hyperactivity. On the other hand, older dogs may experience cognitive decline, leading to confusion, restlessness, and even less sleep, according to PubMed research.

Addressing these age-related factors could involve:

  • Adjusting exercise routines for age-appropriate activities;
  • Providing extra mental stimulation and social interaction for aging dogs; and
  • Consulting a veterinarian for age-related medical concerns.

Identifying Symptoms Of Canine Restlessness

When our dogs suddenly become hyper, we need to identify the symptoms to understand the situation better. To make it more organized and easy to follow, we have divided the symptoms into two subsections: Physical Signs and Behavioral Changes.

Physical Signs

The physical signs our dogs may display can provide clues about their odd nighttime activities. Pay attention to the following potential indicators:

  • Panting: Excessive panting can be a sign of discomfort or anxiety.
  • Pacing: If they are continuously pacing around the house, it might suggest they are uneasy or even in pain.
  • Shaking or trembling: This could be due to cold temperatures, nervousness, or potential discomfort.
  • Dilated pupils: If our dog’s pupils appear larger than normal, it can signify excitement or anxiety.

It’s essential to closely observe our dog’s physical state, as these signs may reveal an underlying health issue that requires immediate attention.

Behavioral Changes

Our dogs might also display certain abnormal changes in their behavior. These can include:

  • Excessive barking or whining: This might indicate they are distressed, scared, or trying to communicate with us.
  • Chewing or destroying objects: Chewing is often a way for dogs to release pent-up energy or stress.
  • Restlessness and inability to settle: If they are struggling to find a comfortable spot to relax, it could be a sign of anxiety or discomfort. Even dogs that previously displayed relaxed cues, like sleeping on their backs, may exhibit sudden restlessness. 
  • Following us around, demanding attention: This might be their way of telling us that they need our help or support.
  • Zoomies: A common sign of a burst of energy is when that a dog might get the zoomies and run around.

Consulting with Your Vet

As pet owners, we understand how concerning it can be to see your dog suddenly becoming hyperactive. One of the first steps we recommend taking is consulting with your veterinarian as soon as the behavior lingers too long or if the dog has physical signs of discomfort and others like:

  • Appetite changes;
  • Yelping; 
  • Vomiting and diarrhea; 
  • Limping;
  • Refusing physical activity; and 
  • Unusual posture, like lying in an abnormal position.

Possible Tests

Your vet might recommend a few tests to determine the underlying cause of your dog’s sudden energetic behavior at night. Some of these tests may include:

  • Blood tests: To check for any infections, hormonal imbalances, or other medical conditions.
  • Urinalysis: To assess kidney function and check for urinary tract infections.
  • Behavioral assessment: An evaluation of your dog’s environment and habits to detect any potential triggers for sudden hyperactivity.

Keep in mind that your vet will recommend tests based on your dog’s specific needs and circumstances.

Treatment Options

Once your vet has identified the cause of your dog’s sudden increase in energy at night, they will recommend appropriate treatment options. A few common treatments include:

  1. Medication: If the cause is related to a medical condition, your vet may prescribe medication to address the issue.
  2. Environmental changes: If the hyperactivity is due to a change in your dog’s environment or routine, your vet may suggest modifying their surroundings or incorporating a more consistent schedule.
  3. Behavioral modification: In some cases, a professional dog trainer or behaviorist may be needed to work with you and your dog to develop strategies to manage their energy levels.

In the end, seeking advice from a veterinarian is crucial in determining the cause of your dog’s sudden hyperactivity and finding the most effective solution for both you and your dog.

Home Management Strategies

There are many things you can do to help your dog a home including:

Establishing a Routine

A consistent routine is essential for managing your dog’s energy levels. We recommend creating a schedule for feeding, exercise, and bedtime to help regulate your dog’s internal clock. A sample routine could be:

  1. Morning: Regular feeding time followed by a walk or playtime.
  2. Afternoon: Scheduled playtime or walks to burn off energy.
  3. Evening: A calm activity, such as puzzle toys or gentle petting, before their final meal.
  4. Night: A brief walk for a bathroom break, then settling into their sleep area. Dog owners can also use positive reinforcement to teach them to “settle” and a crate can do wonders.

Remember to stick to this routine as closely as possible to give your dog a sense of stability.

Creating a Calm Environment

Ensure your dog has a relaxing environment to sleep in. Here are some suggestions to create a calming atmosphere:

  • Provide a comfortable bed in a quiet, dark, and temperature-controlled area.
  • Use calming scents such as diluted lavender or chamomile in a diffuser (be cautious with essential oils, as some can be harmful to dogs).
  • Play soft, soothing background music or white noise to mask any disruptions that could excite your dog.

Proper Exercise and Stimulation

Dedicating sufficient time to physical exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day will help curb your dog’s nighttime hyperactivity. Consider the following activities:

  • Physical Exercise: Daily walks, runs, or playtime at a dog park.
  • Mental Stimulation: Puzzle toys, treat dispensers, or obedience training sessions.
ActivityDurationFrequency
Walks/Runs30-60 minDaily
Dog Park60-90 min3-5x week
Puzzle Toys/Mental Games15-30 minDaily
Obedience Training15-30 min2-3x week

By implementing these strategies, we hope to create an environment that encourages calmness, enabling your dog to enjoy a restful night’s sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my dog get energetic at bedtime?

We often see that dogs get energetic at bedtime because they want to play and expend any leftover energy before settling down for the night. Some dogs may also become active at bedtime due to habit or because they’ve had a full day of rest. Additionally, our nighttime routines, such as getting ready for bed, can inadvertently create excitement for our dogs, as they may associate these activities with playtime.

What causes my dog’s sudden burst of energy at night?

A sudden burst of energy can be caused by various factors, including boredom, anxiety, or even feelings of hunger. If your dog has spent the day home alone or has not had much mental or physical stimulation, they may exhibit excess energy come nighttime. Additionally, changes in your dog’s schedule, such as a switch in feeding times, can also contribute to an increase in energy levels.

How can I help my dog calm down in the evening?

To help your dog calm down in the evening, we recommend establishing a consistent routine that includes ample mental and physical exercise throughout the day. Consider providing puzzle toys, giving your dog a brisk walk or playtime, and offering some quiet downtime before bedtime. A relaxing bedtime ritual, such as a gentle massage or calming music, can also help your dog feel more relaxed and ready for sleep.

Why is my dog more active during nighttime?

Dogs can be more active at night for various reasons, such as adapting to their owner’s schedule, experiencing a “second wind” after resting throughout the day, or simply because they are more alert and aware of their surroundings in the dark. It’s vital to ensure that your dog gets plenty of exercise and stimulation during the day to reduce nighttime activity.

What leads to my dog’s late-night behavior change?

Late-night behavior changes in dogs can be attributed to many factors, including changes in their environment, anxiety, health issues, or even an increase in age. If your dog’s late-night behaviors have become disruptive or concerning, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues contributing to their behavior.

Does my dog’s hyperactivity at night indicate a problem?

While occasional hyperactivity at night might not be an issue, consistent or extreme activity may indicate an underlying problem. If your dog’s hyperactivity interferes with their sleep or overall well-being, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian or canine behavior specialist to determine the root cause and find a suitable solution.

Final Thoughts

After exploring the various reasons behind a dog’s sudden increase in energy, we can confidently encourage owners to investigate their dog’s environment and routine. By doing this, we can rule out potential triggers causing their dog to become hyper right before bedtime.

  • Assess your dog’s diet. Check for any changes in their food or treats, as these might contain high-energy ingredients. Be mindful of feeding times so they don’t consume a large meal just before bedtime.
  • Establish a regular exercise routine to ensure they’re physically stimulated during the day. We suggest activities like fetch, long walks, or even doggy playdates.
  • Address any anxiety or stress your dog might be experiencing. It could be from separation anxiety or changes in their home environment. If necessary, seek professional help from a veterinarian or dog behaviorist.
Signs of anxiety
PacingPanting
WhiningTrembling
Destructive behaviorsInappropriate elimination

Taking the time to evaluate your dog’s needs and routine can help solve their sudden hyperactivity. Remember, every dog is unique, so paying close attention to their overall well-being is essential. By understanding the cause of their behavior, we can provide the best care and environment possible, ensuring happy and peaceful nights for your dog and your family.

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.