You love your dog and you’ll go through the ringer to make sure they’re comfortable in your home. Accordingly, you may be wondering what you can do when they seem antsy around bedtime or when they catch a second wind of energy as you’re getting ready to hit the hay. It can be frustrating to get your dog to sleep at night when anxiety is causing your dog to pant at night, be restless, or if they just want to play at bedtime. Here are a few reliable tips you can turn to when you’re looking to calm down a restless pup.
Have a dog with anxiety? Here’s how to keep your dog calm:
Make Them A Cozy Sleep Space
If your tail wagging friend doesn’t have a consistent, comfortable space to sleep in, they may struggle to find the will to go to bed when potential playtime is on the line. Similar to humans, animals should have a designated space they can retire to when it’s time for bed that feels comfortable and safe — think puppy sanctuary.
For example, you can consider a memory foam dog bed for older pups with sore or aching joints. Chihuahuas, on the other hand, benefit from small dog beds that make them feel more secure and enclosed. You can also consider a human bed for your pup, either with you on your bed or on their own mattress. Having a private place to sleep will help your dog bedtime go smoothly.
According to Dr. Lois E. Krahn, a sleep medicine specialist at the Center for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, dogs like sleeping on human beds because they have a higher vantage point to watch out for potential threats or dangers. Not to mention, human beds tend to be more comfortable. If you’re having a difficult time getting your dog to sleep on their own bed, try placing a few freeze-dried treats on the bed each night. Your dog will learn to associate his or her bed with yummy treats and will soon be going to bed willingly in hope of getting a tasty reward.
Give Them A Gentle Rub Down
Whether your furry family member is a golden retriever, beagle, or terrier, there’s one thing they all have in common — they absolutely love being petted by their owners. Fortunately, there are certain motions you can make with your hands when petting your dog before bed that promote soothing feelings of relaxation. This can be especially helpful when trying to get a puppy to sleep through the night.
If your dog experiences anxiety at night, giving your dog soft, slow caresses down the side of their face will help them feel relaxed, and allows the two of you to share special bonding time together before bed. You can also try gentle, circular motions around their cheeks, which is another effective method for doggy relaxation. You’ll be able to tell which one your dog likes best by his or her body language and the rate at which they’re wagging their tail. As you begin to calm your dog down you’ll notice them visibly begin to relax.
If you’re trying to cover the length of your pup’s body when petting, start at their neck and slowly work your way down their spine. Keep this gentle motion going until you begin to notice slight changes in their behavior and or attitude. The gentle motions can help calm down an anxious dog.
Your dog may also enjoy a nice ear massage. Floppy and pointy ears alike contain a significant amount of nerve endings, and release endorphins that bring a wave of relaxation over your dog. You’ll want to start at the base of the ear, and with circular motions, work outward towards the ear’s tip. Again, you’ll be able to tell if your dog loves it, or if they’d rather be pet elsewhere. This also gives you a chance to examine your dog’s ears for any sign of problems. Read this blog to learn how to clean your dog’s ears.
Relax Them With Dog-Friendly Sounds Or Smells
For some humans, the sound of waves crashing combined with the smell of sand and the salty air is enough to make them go “ahhh” in a breath of relief. When it comes to dogs, whose sense of smell is 40 times greater and can hear four times farther than us mere humans, they’re also susceptible to relaxing sounds and scents. Music streaming services like Spotify and YouTube offer dog-friendly songs and puppy playlists that were specifically produced to make your dog feel more calm.
You can also use some yummy scents and chews to distract your dog which can also help calm a dog with anxiety. Freeze-Dried Bully Sticks are a healthy chew that gives your dog something to focus on and helps burn a little energy. You can also help your dog relax by giving them a brain game to play as an outlet for their energy. Create a snuffle blanket with some Minnows and Turkey Giblets added in and set it on top of your dog’s bed. For more ideas on games to help your dog burn off energy using their brain, check out the 5 brain games you should play with your dog.
Reasons For Canine Restlessness
There isn’t one root cause to why dogs feel restless, and it ultimately depends on your dog’s personality and experiences. Below are a few common reasons why canines typically act antsy and sleepless.
Anxiety or stress can be a powerful force that keeps anybody from falling asleep, and that goes for our animals, too. If you notice your dog struggling to get comfortable and constantly pacing, panting or going in a circle, these are signs they’re dealing with anxiety. Dramatic changes like the loss of another long-time pet, a big move to a new home, or changes in their health can trigger anxiety in your animal.
Not Enough Physical Activity
This is a big one — if you aren’t giving your dog at least a half hour of exercise a day, there’s a good chance that built up energy is the culprit to their restlessness. Make sure you’re taking your dog on daily walks around the block, or fitting in some type of physical activity, especially if you’re the parent to a large dog like a Lab or Doberman who need even more exercise to stay healthy.
Your dog experiences major changes to their general health as they age, and just like many elderly individuals in your life, they see a decline in the quality of their vision and hearing. As a result, their regular sleep patterns may not be the same that you’re used to. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do for your dog except love them, and make sure their sleeping environment is as comfortable as possible. You can also look into some essential care tips for your senior dog’s golden years.
The time of day you feed your dog and the quality of the food they consume can also cause restlessness. You wouldn’t feed a child a bunch of sugary candy right before bed and expect them to go to sleep and the same goes for your dog. Feed your dog at least three hours before bedtime and take them outside to relieve themselves right before bed. Make sure you are using a quality all natural pet food rather than sugar-filled kibble that can contain between 28 and 45 percent soluble carbohydrates, creating blood sugar spikes and other adverse effects.
McKenzie Dillon is a blogger and sleep enthusiast for The Slumber Yard, a leading bedding reviews website. When she’s not sleeping, McKenzie likes attending comedy shows, hiking and cooking.