Barking as Communication Dog Barking Medical Aspects
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5 Reasons Dogs Bark in Sleep[How To Deal With Nighttime Barking]

Dogs may bark while sleeping due to dreaming. Like humans, dogs enter a REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep stage where most dreaming occurs. During this stage, they might bark, whine, twitch, or show other signs of activity as they dream about various scenarios, including chasing, playing, or perceived threats.

sleeping dog

Possible Reasons a Dog Barks When Sleeping


Dogs, like humans, have dreams during their REM sleep stage. These dreams could involve common activities such as chasing a ball, interacting with other dogs, or experiencing scenarios from their waking life. This may result in audible barks, whines, or even growls. For example, a dog that loves chasing squirrels in the park might bark or twitch while dreaming of a similar scenario.

Sleep Disorders

Dogs can suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea, especially breeds with short noses like Bulldogs or Pugs. Sleep apnea interrupts normal sleep patterns and can lead to snoring, gasping, or barking during sleep. If your dog has irregular sleep patterns or seems excessively tired during the day, it could suffer from a sleep disorder.

Sleep Disorders

Nightmares or Anxiety

Just as dogs can have pleasant dreams, they can also experience nightmares, especially if they’ve had traumatic experiences. For instance, a rescue dog with a history of abuse might bark or whimper in its sleep as it relives traumatic events. Similarly, dogs with high anxiety levels might be more prone to restless sleep and vocalizations during sleep.

Pain or Discomfort

Sometimes, a dog might bark in its sleep due to physical discomfort or pain. This can be difficult to detect because the dog is asleep and cannot express its distress in more usual ways. If the barking is accompanied by other signs of discomfort when awake – such as limping, loss of appetite, or behavioral changes – it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian.

Old Age/Senility

Older dogs may bark during sleep due to cognitive dysfunction syndrome, similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. This syndrome can disrupt sleep patterns and cause confusion or anxiety, leading to barking or other vocalizations during sleep. An older dog that suddenly starts barking in its sleep, especially if accompanied by other behavioral changes, might be experiencing this issue.

Old AgeSenility

What to do if your Dog Barks in its Sleep?

Monitor the Behavior

Before jumping to conclusions, observe your dog’s behavior. If the barking only happens occasionally and the dog seems healthy and behaves normally when awake, it’s likely just dreaming, and no action is necessary. For example, if you notice your Labrador occasionally barks during sleep but is playful and alert during the day, the barking is likely harmless.

Ensure Comfort

Make sure the dog’s sleeping environment is comfortable and peaceful. This includes a comfortable bed, quiet surroundings, and an ideal room temperature. For instance, if your Beagle sleeps in a high-traffic area of your home, consider moving its bed to a quieter location to promote deeper, more restful sleep.

Ensure Comfort

Regular Exercise

Regular physical exercise can promote healthier sleep. Ensuring your dog gets enough exercise daily can reduce restlessness during sleep. For example, taking your Border Collie for regular walks or playing fetch can help ensure they sleep soundly at night.

Implement a Sleep Routine

Dogs thrive on routine. Ensuring your dog has a consistent sleep routine can help regulate their sleep patterns, reducing restlessness and potential barking. A routine can include fixed meal times, a walk before bedtime, and a specific sleep location.

Reduce Anxiety

If you suspect anxiety is causing your dog’s barking, consider methods to reduce their stress. This could involve behavioral training, calming products (like anxiety wraps), or even medication under vet supervision. For instance, if your rescue dog seems generally anxious and barks in its sleep, a combination of behavior modification techniques and an anxiety wrap could be beneficial.

Reduce Anxiety

Consult a Veterinarian

If the barking persists or you suspect it’s due to pain, discomfort, a sleep disorder, or cognitive dysfunction, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian. They can diagnose the underlying issue and suggest appropriate treatment. For example, if your older German Shepherd starts barking at night and seems confused during the day, a vet consultation is necessary to check for potential cognitive dysfunction.

Dog Cries While Sleeping

  • Reasons
  • Dreaming
  • Nightmares
  • Pain or discomfort

Old age & cognitive dysfunction syndrome

Solution: If your dog cries while sleeping, first monitor their behavior to understand if it’s an occasional or a regular occurrence. Ensure they have a comfortable sleep environment and receive regular exercise to promote restful sleep. If anxiety might be the cause, consider employing stress-reducing measures. Consult a veterinarian for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan in cases of consistent crying, discomfort, or suspected cognitive issues. Regular health check-ups can also preemptively address potential problems.

Dog Cries While Sleeping

When to see a Vet about Dog Barking in Sleep?

You should consult a veterinarian if your dog’s sleeping barking is consistent, intense, or accompanied by other signs of distress, such as restlessness, confusion, or pain. Additionally, if there are behavioral changes when the dog is awake, such as increased aggression, lethargy, loss of appetite, or any other unusual behavior, it’s important to seek professional advice.

What to do if Dog Barking is not Letting You Sleep?

Use White Noise: A white noise machine or fan can help drown out your dog’s barking, providing a consistent, soothing sound that may help you sleep better.

Move the Dog’s Bed: If the dog’s bed is in your room, consider moving it to another room to create a quiet space for your sleep.

Training: If the barking is a chronic issue, it may be necessary to work with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who can help address and correct the behavior.

Consult a Veterinarian: A visit to the vet is essential if the barking is due to an underlying health issue or sleep disorder. They can diagnose and treat the issue, potentially reducing the nighttime barking.

Provide a Comfortable Sleep Environment: Make sure your dog has a comfortable and quiet place to sleep. Ensuring their environment is optimized for rest can help reduce disturbances.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a dog have nightmares?

Yes, dogs can have nightmares. Like humans, they have a REM sleep stage where vivid dreams occur. These dreams can be pleasant or scary, leading to what we interpret as nightmares.

What do dogs dream about?

While we can’t know for certain, it’s believed that dogs dream about their daily experiences – like playing, chasing, and eating – much like humans do.

Why does my dog shiver while sleeping?

Shivering during sleep could respond to a dream, but it might also indicate your dog is cold. If it happens frequently, consult a vet, as it could be a sign of a health problem.

Is it normal for dogs to run in sleep?

Yes, it’s normal. Dogs often move in their sleep during dreaming. These movements can mimic running, indicating they’re dreaming about physical activity.

Do dogs sweat or pant while sleeping? Is it normal?

Dogs don’t sweat like humans; they primarily sweat through their paw pads. Panting can occur during sleep, but if excessive, it could indicate a health problem like overheating or a respiratory issue.

Why does my dog lick while sleeping?

Dogs may lick or smack their lips in their sleep due to dreaming. However, excessive licking could indicate a health issue and warrants a vet check.

Should I wake my dog when he is barking?

Generally, it’s best not to wake dogs when they’re dreaming. However, gently waking them can provide comfort if the barking is intense or your dog seems distressed.

Can my dog’s bedding contribute to barking?

Yes, if the bedding is uncomfortable or the sleeping environment is disruptive, it might lead to restlessness and barking.

Do old dogs bark more in their sleep?

They might, especially if they’re experiencing cognitive dysfunction syndrome (similar to Alzheimer’s in humans), which can cause confusion and disrupt sleep.

What other things do dogs do in sleep?

Besides barking, dogs might twitch, move their legs, wag their tails, whine, or have changes in breathing patterns during sleep – these are usually responses to dreams.

Do dogs snort? How to fix dog snorting?

Some dogs, especially brachycephalic breeds (like Bulldogs or Pugs), can snort due to their short nasal passages. If snorting is frequent or severe, a vet should be consulted to rule out breathing issues or potential sleep apnea.

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