sleeping dog ready for bed

McKenzie Dillon

You love your dog and will 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. Here are a few reliable tips you can turn to when you’re looking to calm down a restless pup. 

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. Chiuauas, 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. 

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. 

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 pet 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. 

Giving your dog soft, slow caresses down the side of their face helps 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, 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. 

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. 

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. 

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, who’s 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 four-legged buddy feel more calm. 

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. 

Animal Anxiety

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 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. 

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.