Is Your Dog Barking At Night?

Cute puppy chocolate lab looking mischievous

A dog barking at night all of a sudden can be a real worry. Not just for your neighbors and your ear drums, but because new behaviors can be a sign of a problem. Illnesses, old age, sounding the alarm to intruders or other animals.

Even fear, anxiety, loneliness and boredom can play a part. Today we’ll look at why dogs start barking in the night when they used to settle down peacefully at bedtime. We’ll share tips to stop a dog barking all night, prevent early morning rising and get them settled back down in their bed or crate. And we’ll help to get your new puppy settled at night, and sleeping soundly until breakfast. You don’t need to hire a dog trainer, you can restore the quiet at home with our simple steps to a good night’s sleep.


Listening to a dog barking at night is one of the most common nuisance complaints received by authorities in urban areas around the world. And dogs barking ranked in one study above all other suburban noises as a cause of annoyance. There’s no doubt that a dog barking all night is unpleasant for everyone within hearing distance. And of course, barking at night is particularly hard to bear as we all need our sleep!

Dogs That Bark A Lot

An Australian study showed that nuisance barking is most common in younger dogs, especially herding breeds. But many young Labradors and other breeds bark more than their owners would like too. Barking at night, and early waking are both common problem behaviors in all puppies and young dogs. And can re-occur in elderly dogs too. So it’s important for all pet parents and neighbors of pet parents, to have coping strategies.

This article will help you to deal with a dog that is barking, and help to restore peace to your household. And maybe even to your street. But before we look at how to stop dogs barking at night, let’s take a look at why it happens in the first place.

Why Do Dogs Bark At Night?

If your dog won’t stop barking at night, you are probably thinking “I don’t care why the dog is barking – just tell me how to make it stop!” That’s understandable, but knowing why your dog is barking is an important part of resolving the problem. The reasons why dogs bark at night vary. Dogs may bark at night for a number of different reasons.

Needing the bathroom, loneliness, sounding an alarm, pain, dementia, boredom or separation anxiety all play a part for different dogs.

How To Make A Dog Stop Barking At Night

A dog howling at night can be stopped, and kindly too. To stop a dog barking at night usually required a two or three pronged strategy including:

  • Find the cause
  • Interrupt the behavior pattern
  • Reinforce quiet behavior

How we fix the problem will depend on the type of barking and on the cause. Let’s focus on dog barking at night and take a look at puppies first. Because with a young pup, either or both of the first two items on that list of possible causes, are likely to be at the heart of your troubles.

New Puppy Dog Barking At Night

New puppies are a special case. A new baby dog barking at night is normal and okay. They have poor bladder control and may be very homesick for the first few days and nights. Homesickness is one part of the puzzle, you have a possible ’cause’. Next you need to ‘interrupt’ the barking behavior.

Dog Barking In Crate At Night

If your pup has just arrived, then some noise at night is fairly normal if you expect your puppy to sleep alone. This applies whether or not they are in a crate. Though for a puppy that has never experienced being in a crate, that can add to their fear.

Remember that being left to sleep alone can be quite scary for a new puppy who hasn’t yet got to know his family and his new home. For this reason we recommend that your puppy spends their first few nights with you in a secure box or crate next to your own bed. This interrupts (and prevents) your dog barking at night and gets quiet night time behavior established.

It also helps you reinforce quiet behavior as you can release a calm sleepy puppy from their night time quarters before they get upset. This is not the case when a puppy sleeps downstairs and can hear you moving around for some time before you actually appear.

It’s important not to actually let them in the bed with you while you sleep, as they can fall out – and wander off looking for mischief while you aren’t awake to keep them safe. And there is even a chance you could roll on your puppy in your sleep.

Being near you in their own safe space will reassure a new puppy and should reduce dog barking at night. We’ll look more at this in a moment. But first let’s consider when it’s reasonable for puppies to wake us at night, and how often they need to pee.

When Do Puppies Sleep Through At Night?

Puppy dog barking at night is usually temporary, and caused by their baby specific needs. Your new puppy may bark when he needs to be let outside for a pee. But don’t rely on it. Some pups will whine a little and then if there is no response from you, will wet the bed.

Because dog barking at night can easily become a habit, it’s best to pre-empt the waking pup and to get up and take him out before he begins to yell. You can do this by setting yourself an alarm for half way through the night; around 4 hours after pup went to bed. And gradually edging that time forwards as your puppy gets older.

By around five months of age, most Labrador puppies are sleeping through the night until a reasonable time in the morning. Some reach this milestone quite a lot sooner. But in the meantime, you should expect to be up bright and early each morning with a young pup in the house.

If you’re struggling with a young pup at night, there’s lots more information on puppy sleep, and teaching your puppy to be happy alone, in my Puppy Parenting course, and you’ll find a link to that at the bottom of this page.

What Time Is Reasonable for Puppies To Wake Up?

When is dog barking at night actually happening in the very early morning? We all vary in what we define as a reasonable time for our dogs (and ourselves) to get up. It will depend on what time you like to go to bed, and how much sleep you need. And on your normal daily routine.

If you leave early for work five days a week, for example, you won’t mind much if the dog likes to get up when you do! For me a ‘reasonable’ wake up time for my Labs mean remaining quiet until after 6:30 am. Anything before that is ‘night-time’ in my book. If you like to burn the midnight oil, you might set your morning alarm clock a bit later.

Puppies vary in their bladder capacity and some Labradors can last long enough for you to get a half decent sleep, say around seven hours, at just four or five months old.

After their ‘six month birthday’ most medium and large breeds should be able to last at least seven hours at night. If your puppy is over six months old, and still wakes before 6:30 am, scroll down to the bottom of this post to look at the ‘early waking cure’.

How To Stop A Puppy Dog Barking At Night

If your puppy starts to bark as soon as you leave him alone and head off to your own bed, the chances are he’s lonely. You have a couple of options. Which one you choose might depend on how old your puppy is.

If you’ve only had the puppy a couple of days, your best bet is to put a box or crate next to your bed, and take him up to sleep in your bed with you.

He’s barking mainly because he misses sleeping in a heap with his brothers and sisters. And because your house isn’t the home he grew up in.

Stopping a Baby Dog Barking At Night

New puppies can be terribly homesick and a few days of your company at night while they adjust to their new home can work wonders. Once everything stops being feeling so strange and new, you can move the puppy out of your bedroom. This is often best done in stages. For example:

  1. A few nights with the crate by the bed
  2. Move the crate further from the bed
  3. Put the crate by the bedroom door
  4. Put the crate on the other side of the open bedroom door
  5. Move the crate downstairs

Does Crying It Out Stop A Dog Barking At Night?

The other option of course, is to leave the puppy to ‘cry it out’. This works well for some puppies, at least it works well for their owners. In that the puppy stops crying at night after a few nights. However, there are a couple of real problems with this method. Firstly, the puppy cries because it is scared and lonely.

They may stop crying when they learn no one will come. But that doesn’t actually stop them feeling upset for the first few nights. They are just upset quietly. Which is rather sad. Secondly, some dogs can carry on barking and howling for a really long time.

How Long can a Dog Bark?

A significant minority of puppies will bark and howl for much of the night, for well over a week. By then end of which your nerves will be in shreds and you’ll be stumbling through your days in a sleep filled haze. I have been there and do not recommend this method. Especially if you wish to remain on speaking terms with your neighbors.

It has the added disadvantage of giving many puppies diarhorrea through the stress of getting so upset.

Nowadays I always use the ‘next to me’ method for settling a puppy in at night for the first few days. It’s kinder to the puppy (and to my nerves) and much more peaceful.

Once your puppy is sleeping peacefully for 6 or 7 hours a night, you can give yourself a little pat on the back and allow yourself to feel a little smug. The battle is won…. Or is it?

Dog Barking At Night All Of A Sudden

It is quite common in dogs under a year old, for night waking to begin again after several weeks or months of sleeping well. When I say ‘night waking’ I mean noisy night waking.

All dogs wake from time to time during the night, but they don’t usually make a song and dance about it once their bladder can hold a whole night’s wee.

Dog Barking At Night At Nothing

With an older puppy or adult dog, it can seem as though the dog is barking at nothing. But in reality, dog barking at night all of a sudden is usually caused by one of the last five reasons on our list:

  • Illness/pain
  • Alarm / perceived intruders
  • Boredom / habit
  • Separation anxiety
  • Old age / dementia

You’ll notice there is one missing from that list. And it’s attention barking

Is My Puppy Barking For Attention?

I have not included attention barking in the above list because it isn’t really a cause, it’s a symptom.  Puppies and dogs that are relaxed and happy don’t need your attention.

And while attention barking can become a habit, the underlying cause is not attention. Your best chance of success is still to identify the underlying cause, interrupt the behavior, and reinforce the behavior you want.

Causes of a Dog Barking At Night

The dog might be feeling unwell, he may have been disturbed by a wild animal exploring your yard, or snuffling outside the back door. Or by a neighbor’s dog barking

In fact one study showed the sound most likely to cause dog barking at night, was another barking dog. Remember that your dog has excellent hearing and can hear another dog barking over long distance.

Is your older dog barking at night?

Elderly dogs can sometimes start whining or barking due to health issues or cognitive decline. Deafness can increase a dog’s tendency to bark too. So before you attempt to stop your dog barking at night you may need to get him checked over by a vet.

How To Stop Dog Barking At Night: Step 1

One of the first things you need to do when a dog suddenly starts night waking after previously being happy to sleep all night, is ask yourself “could my dog be unwell?”

night waking puppies

Any dog that doesn’t seem his usual happy self will benefit from a health check, and this is especially important for dogs that have recently developed some kind of behavioral problem

Sometimes an upset stomach or bladder infection can wake your dog at night and he may howl and bark because he needs to go out and answer the call of nature.

Other possible health issues can arise in dogs as they become elderly. So if you dog is a senior citizen – it’s a good idea to run him down to the vet for a good check up.

Dementia in elderly dogs is common. One study showed that over 14% of dogs with an average of 11-12 years showed some degree of cognitive decline, even though only 2% had been diagnosed as having a problem.

If your old friend is suffering from cognitive decline, there are treatments that can help, and that may be enough to stop your dog barking at night.

Stop Dog Barking At Night Step 2: Check For Possible Disturbances

If your dog is barking at night there may be some kind of disturbance that is causing the problem.

A racoon in the trash can, local cats fighting or mating in the street, or even a neighbor that has started shift work and is leaving the house at 3am. These are all disturbances that might start a previously quiet dog barking at night.

One of my pups started night waking at nine or ten months old, and it turned out that a family of mice had moved into the kitchen! Getting rid of the mice solved the noise.

A better lid on the trash might reduce the local wildlife visiting your home for a midnight feast, and your dog will probably get used to your neighbor’s new schedule in a day or two.

Disturbances of this kind are often temporary, but they can also be a trigger for a barking habit to begin, especially if your dog enjoys the attention that dog barking at night created.

Don’t Reward A Dog Barking At Night

Obviously you need to investigate the dog barking at night if your dog is normally quiet at night. It isn’t unheard of for dogs to save the lives of their entire family by barking when a fire has started downstairs.

But you don’t want to make to big a deal out of your night time visit.

Otherwise, depending on what your initial response to the barking or whining was, you may also now have a dog that has discovered that barking is a very good way to get your attention at 3am. (More on this in Step 4.)

Step 3: Increase Exercise and Training

If your dog is healthy, and there is nothing disturbing his beauty sleep, then increasing his physical and mental stimulation is the next step to take to stop dog barking at night.

If you have a Labrador that is getting less than an hour’s vigorous exercise a day, increasing that by 50-100% (combined with step 4), together with 15 to 20 minutes of training, is highly likely to help.

This means if your Lab currently averages 30 mins focused exercise a day, and barks at night, I recommend increasing their exercise to 45 mins or an hour a day, and adding at least 15 minutes of training, on top.

We all sleep better after a day with a decent workout in it somewhere, and Labs are smart dogs that need to use their brains.

If your dog is already well trained that doesn’t mean you don’t need to have some training sessions together. There are lots of tricks you can teach your dog to help exercise his mind and ensure a good night’s sleep for you both.

If you’d like some inspiration for your training sessions, you can get my free training tips by email. Just drop your email address into the box below.

Step 4: Remove Your Attention At Night

What many people do when their dog starts night waking for whatever reason, is to get up and pay a lot of attention to their dog.

They then continue to provide this attention long after the problem (if there was one) is resolved.

Sometimes they are delightfully kind and sit next to the dog until he goes back to sleep.

We tend to do this because we are basically nice people. But dogs, just like children, find attention very rewarding.

If you take your dog into bed with you after an episode of dog barking at night, he will find that even more rewarding. And behavior that is followed by a reward, is more likely to be repeated in the future.

Only take your dog into your bedroom if you are happy for that to be a long term arrangement.

What You Should Do With A Dog Barking At Night

If you are woken by your dog barking at night, and come downstairs to make sure the house is not on fire, and your dog is clearly fine, don’t be tempted to make yourself a hot drink and have a chat at the kitchen table with your furry friend.

Make your visit brief and uninteresting. Disappear back to bed as fast as you can. If you stop reinforcing the barking behavior, it will diminish and eventually stop.

But let’s face it, that may take a few days. And you are hoping for a quicker result, right?

Can I Punish My Dog Barking At Night?

One solution that some people try is punishment. Squirting barking dogs with water for example, or even smacking them or shocking them with an electric collar.

More and more studies are adding to the weight of evidence that shows punishing dogs has some serious downsides, including increasing aggression, and reducing the ability to learn new skills.

Not really what we want for our dogs. And these effects have been demonstrated with quite mild punishments, including simply ‘telling the dog off’.

When it comes to shocking dogs with electric collars, studies have shown that dogs trained this way were more anxious and fearful than other dogs. And that was when the training was carried out by experts.

There is a great in-depth explanation of the findings of this study on the Sophia Yin website

For these reasons almost all professional bodies representing dogs now recommend that you avoid punishment altogether when training your dog.

It is particularly important that you don’t punish a dog with true separation anxiety as you could make things very much worse.

Dog Barking At Night When Anxious

It’s very upsetting to hear a dog howling at night. A lot of people worry that their dog might be lonely after they have gone to bed. After all, you can’t explain to your dog that you are only just upstairs or along the corridor when you leave him shut in the kitchen at bedtime

Loneliness at night is definitely a problem for puppies. But dog barking at night is less likely to be due to loneliness in an older dog. Your dog knows whether or not you are at home. He can smell you, and probably hear you snoring!

Remember that all dogs are social animals, and Labs are more social than most. If you are out at work all day, your dog is going to be bored and lonely at least some of the time. It’s worth considering whether or not you might all benefit, as a family, if the dog slept in your room.

Here’s a question that we are sometimes asked. And it’s a tricky one for anyone that was hoping their dog would live happily outdoors.

How to Stop Dog Barking at Night Outside

Barking in a yard, kennel or dog run is always challenging to fix.  There are three likely key problems that you are going to struggle with. One is that there are many more triggers for barking in your yard than there are in your home. Wildlife, other dogs, rodents, passing strangers. All these factors are likely to start a dog barking outdoors.

The second problem is that its much harder for you to reinforce nice quiet behavior when your dog is not close by. And the third problem is intense loneliness. Which it can be tempting to resolve by getting your dog a kennel mate. But beware, this can often result in two barking dogs instead of one!

The solution? Bringing the dog indoors is the only method with a high chance of success.

Should I Get My Dog A Friend?

Think very carefully before getting a second dog if your current dog is barking. Having a canine companion might not help.

In fact studies have shown that dogs in multiple dog households are more likely to bark, not less.

Should You And Your Pup Be Room Mates?

You do not need to have your dog sleep on or by your bed unless you want to. But if you don’t mind, it may be the best solution for a peaceful night, especially if your dog is getting on in years.

Elderly dogs with failing hearing may find it a great comfort to sleep close to their owners, and are not likely to disturb you too early in the morning.

If on the other hand if the word ‘restful’ has never applied to your dog. And if he treats any invite into your bedroom as an opportunity to bounce on the bed and tear around with your slippers. Then you might prefer to just ignore any occasional dog barking at night (after a brief check for fires and intruders of course) and let him ‘cry it out’.

Is Crying It Out Unkind?

If your adult dog is healthy and confident generally, he will be ok if you just leave him to ‘cry it out’.

If the night waking started as the result of a tummy bug and the bug is now cured, he may grumble for a few nights, but he’ll soon get over it. Just as my puppy did once the mouse problem was solved.

Whilst this sounds a bit draconian and unkind. It is in some cases the best answer to the problem.

A pair of ear plugs will help you to sleep through the fussing and he will learn that people don’t play during the night. Remember: he knows you are in the house.

But What If My Neighbors Are Disturbed?

If you have close neighbors, and have decided to ignore your dog barking at night, it is better to warn them in advance and to compensate them, in some way, for the disturbance.

How you do this will depend on your neighbors and your relationship with them, but flowers and wine or chocolates are generally well received!

What If The Neighbor’s Dog Is Barking All Night

Of course sometimes, the dog barking at night is coming from someone else’s house. And it can help if you are sympathetic.

Bear in mind that your neighbor is probably as fed up with the dog barking at night as you are. Show them this article and offer some support.

Hopefully, you’ll get wine and chocolates, and peace will be restored nice and fast.

My Dog Wakes Up Too Early

What about the dog that is not really night waking. He is just waking up too early. In his view “it is morning, why isn’t everyone up?”

He has been a good dog and slept all night. It’s just that his idea of morning, is slightly out of sync with yours. You think 7:30 is a reasonable time to get up. He begs to differ and prefers 6:45. If you don’t get up he gradually gets noisier and noisier.

He can’t go back to sleep as he now has a full bladder and is getting hungry. What should you do?

This can be quite a frustrating problem, because even if you get up and let the dog out for a wee, and give him some breakfast, and even if he is happy to go back to bed. You can’t, because you have to get ready for work. The solution here is to pre-empt the dog using a signal that he can hear.

The Early Waking Cure For A Dog Barking At Night

This is a great way to stop a dog barking at night when it’s approaching morning time. You will need to set an alarm that will wake you before your dog. Set the alarm to go off half an hour before he normally wakes up. Yes, I know this sounds like a terrible plan…but bear with me.

Get yourself downstairs before he start to make a noise and reward him for being quiet. Be very calm, and avoid getting the dog excited.

The following day, repeat the process but after getting downstairs, wait a few seconds before greeting the dog, giving him a treat and letting him out. And ONLY give him a treat if he is quiet. The next day, you can bring the alarm nearer to your preferred waking time by a couple of minutes.

Keep Going Until You Get An Acceptable ‘Wake Up’ Time

Using this method you can eventually stop your dog barking at night. Repeat, each day either increasing the time you wait before greeting the dog and letting him out, or, bringing the alarm forwards a few minutes.

The objectives here are two-fold. Firstly you are teaching the dog he doesn’t need to make a noise in order to get you up. You get up when the alarm goes off, and he is not responsible for waking you.

Secondly, you are teaching him that you getting up is not a big deal. It isn’t something worth getting all hot and bothered about.

He needs to know that early mornings are boring. Nobody wants to play or chat at 6:30am. Many dogs, if put through this process, and if you make yourself boring enough, will actually start ‘sleeping in’ and ignoring you when you get up.

You’ll know you have won this battle when you come downstairs at 7:30, and your Labrador opens one eye and then goes back to sleep.

Is your dog barking at night ? - Helpful training tips from The Labrador Site.

How To Stop Dog Barking At Night

If your dog won’t stop dog barking at night, do start by sorting out any underlying health problems. And by being realistic about your expectations of small puppies.

The next step is to ensure your dog is not being disturbed at night and take action to reduce any disturbance where possible.

Getting the dog to stop barking is then best achieved by making sure he or she is well exercised, mentally tired, and ready for sleep. Together with minimizing any attention you give to a dog if you do have to go and check on them in the night.

Very tiny puppies, old dogs, and dogs that are left alone for much of the day probably need to share their nights with a human being.

Loneliness is real problem for dogs that fall into those categories. Most other dogs will simply adjust to sleeping alone given time.

Let us know how you get on in the comments box below, or join us in the forum for a chat.

About Pippa Mattinson

Pippa is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program .

Pippa’s online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website.

References and Further Reading

  • Cross N et al 2009. Risk factors for nuisance barking in dogs. Australian Veterinary Journal
  • Flint E et al 2014. A survey of public attitudes towards barking dogs in New Zealand. New Zealand Veterinary Journal
  • Herron M et al 2008. Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors. Applied Animal Behavior Science
  • Adams G & Johnson K 1994. Behavioral responses to barking and other auditory stimuli during night-time sleeping and waking in the domestic dog. Applied Animal Behavior Science.
  • Adams G & Johnson K 1994. Sleep-wake cycles and other night-time behaviors of the domestic dog. Applied Animal Behavior Science.
  • Schilder, M & Van der Borg J. 2004. Training dogs with the help of the shock collar: short and long term behavioral effects. Applied Animal Behavior Science,
  • Salvin H et al 2010. Under diagnosis of canine cognitive dysfunction: A cross-sectional survey of older companion dogs. Veterinary Journal

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website


  1. My 20 month old chocolate lab has been night waking for the past few month s but she goes straight out into garden to wee and poo but then goes back to bed. This is ok if we can get back to sleep but most of the time we can’t. She has had a skin condition that was waking her up but that is sorted now. How do I get her out of the habit? My concern is that she actually does need to toilet or is it habit?

  2. Our dog is a German Shepherd and she is now almost 7 months old. Initially she did some of the whining at night as expected, but that went away and about 3 weeks ago she started barking at night like crazy. She does not do it during the day at all, but the second we close the door behind us to go to bed, she starts barking. We have a camera in the lounge where she sleeps, so we do not have to go downstairs to check on her, but I typically cannot help it and I do worry about the neighbours, too. Plus, she does not typically stop when I go to her. It seems like she is desperate to go out to the garden, but if I let her out, she does not wee. We have foxes etc in the neighbourhood, but not only since three weeks ago, so why did she start? Grateful for any advice. Thanks

  3. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much, but he barks A LOT… So, leaving home is always a challenge for us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!

  4. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much, but he barks A LOT… So, leaving home is always a challenge for us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!

  5. Our dog started arming early one Sunday evening. We kept yelling at him to stop which he eventually did. Found out next morning that someone had broken into one of our cars and stole a bunch of things….

  6. hello! Everyone my name is Surendhar.V and i have love and interest towards dogs. So i buy Labrador when its 35 days old.Now its 6 and half weeks old but the problem is my lab wakeup in night often like 1:00 am and 4:00 etc and my parents not have more interested on dogs so they decided if its continueS they will sell r give adoption to anyone they said so plz Reply how to make 6 weeks old sleep through night and one more info i didn’t use crate r kennel for my dog…!!Thank u in advance

  7. Hi
    We have a 9 week old Lab/Collie cross. He is great!! Apart from waking. He goes down about 930-10 pm, after a last toilet break. He settles immediately. He has a bed in a separate room.(it’s a conversion at bavknof house) At 5 he decides he wants to get up. I know this is not too bad (for him!) but I go out to poo on the floor every morning!
    During the day we hardly have any accidents.
    I don’t know if he has just been to the toilet which has woken him or if I need to crate him?? I’m very tired!! Especially if clearing up poo at 5am.
    I get up as he is barking (don’t want to wake my kids or the neighbours!!)
    I let him out , no talking or fuss, I clear the poo with no fuss, then he comes in to the house and goes back to sleep.
    I however am up!
    I’m aware for a 9 week old this is not too bad but the fact he goes back to sleep shows he will sleep longer.
    Should I crate him? Although he is fine in his bed?
    Should I get up just before 5 and try and get him out before he poos on the floor?!!

  8. Our Lab (Walter) is now 10 months old and doing really well in all aspects bar one… He has recently (the last few weeks) been waking everyday (and howling) somewhere between 0515-0530 and it’s starting to wear us down a bit! Today it was 0430!

    After reading every forum I can think of and various bits of advice we have tried the following..

    • Ignoring him (although we have some anxities about waking the neighbours)
    • Feeding him a bit later
    • Walking him a bit later
    • Putting a radio on at night
    • Ignoring him when we go down so he knows the morings aren’t “fun”
    • Setting an alarm so that he gets used to us waking him rather than the other way around

    Any help would be much appreciatd!

    (A tired and weary)Matt

      • Hi Pippa and team,

        I am suffering from a similar problem to Matt above and would love some advice. I have joined the forum but not sure where to find the response to this particular challenge. Could you please help? Gary (the black lab) is 4.5 months old, we go to bed at 10/10.30, we let him out in the night for a wee around 4ish, he goes straight back to his crate to sleep no issues but the problem is he wakes too early. when we first got him this was 6.30pm but the last month this has been getting earlier and earlier, 5.50, 5.40, 5.30, 5 and then this morning 4.45. we know he’s not desperate for the toilet as he doesn’t rush outside, he’s just bored and wants attention. Any help/advice or the link to the correct forum would be really appreciated! Thanks!!

    • I’ll be really interested to see what is suggested to you Matt as our 6 month old lab Toby is exactly the same, he used to be great at sleeping until at least 6am when he was little, but now we’ve had weeks of him waking at 4-5am!! He happily goes back to sleep if one of us is with him but I then can’t sleep! Started resorting to letting him on our bed which is a habit I really need to break.

  9. hi Pippa,

    We have a 2 1/2 year old chocolate American field lab who sleeps from 9:30/10pm until we get him from his crate at 7:30am. However, our house abuts a creek and it is very common for their to be nightly visits from raccoons, deer, coyote and other night time animals. As Bodie’s crate is near our backyard/creek, he will every so often wake in the middle of the night and start barking. We open his crate and he will rush to our sliding glass back doors and go charging and running at full speed to find whatever is out there. He will come back to the back door after he’s satisfied that he’s chase whatever is out there away and then go back to sleep. Any suggestions on what to do when he starts barking and the only reason is b/c of the nocturnal animals he hears outside?

  10. Help my 8 month lab has gone from waking about 5.10am, 5.20 am maybe 5.50 am to now waking at all hours, the earliest being 2.40 am but more recently either just before 4am or just after. I ldon’t speak to him, I let him out the back door and after a little sniff, has a pooh and a wee and comes straight back to bed (at the bottom of the stairs.He e is crated up until this point). What on earth can I do. shall I go from feeding him three times a day to feeding him twice, with his last meal being at lunch time????

  11. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he barks and whines A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us.
    My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

  12. Hi Pippa,

    We have a 5 month old black lab who is very good at sleeping through the night in his crate but over last month now wakes up between 330 and 430am every day, this started when he had an upset stomach but is now a learned behaviour. Once he wakes up we take him out, we don’t speak and then he sleeps on our bed, just so we can sleep till 6am when we get up and he gets fed.

    We stay at other people’s houses a lot and feel letting him cry till 6am is difficult as we can’t wake everyone else up.

    I can bear to set my alarm for 3am, we have started setting the alarm for 430am and if he wakes before we ignore him and then get up when the alarm goes off, sometimes he doesn’t wake before the alarm. Will this adaptation of your routine work do you think?


  13. Hi Pippa,

    10 weeks ago we got a 15 month old female Labrador called Coco. She was spayed 3 weeks ago and since then she has been waking us up at around 4 am each morning – I normally get up at 6 am to take her for a walk before work.

    We’ve tried delaying when she has her food at night in case its hunger and have started using a crate which she likes. We have also put a sheet over the crate in an attempt to block out any noise / light. Yet she is still whining / woofing/ barking in the night.

    One of us will take her out in the garden in case she needs the toilet but she will only go if we insist. We’ve tried letting her ‘cry it out’ but paranoid she will wake our neighbours; we’re semi detached and sadly they are not the nicest of people.

    Early this morning I tried the ‘aversive’ advice and told her ‘bad dog’ which seemed to keep her quiet for another hour.

    Any suggestions would be most welcome.


  14. ok so right now i am 8 i am a kid and my dog she is new and we got her at night and it was 8:45 so i only got to play with her for a little and we went to sleep and right now i am with because she was barking and howling it is 3:53 i am up so my fam can go to sleep

  15. Very Sleep Deprived.
    I must be re-reading this article for the umpteenth time and think I now know that my 19month old Labrador’s night waking are the result of many things. Yes she had a period of upset stomach, but has quickly learnt to get my company. I have inadvertently rewarded the behaviour by even giving a treat when told to go ‘on her bed’ or even staying with her until she has settled. The pattern lately is a 3ish waking when I go down, open back door without saying anything but she isn’t always desperate to go out for a wee/poo. In fact one morning in the past week, when temperatures were below 0, she stepped out and went to come straight back in but I was so annoyed at being woken, I shut the door on her, told her to go wee (which she did). She goes back to bed but 30 minutes later she starts whining and sing song barking again. When I go back down again she sits by our door to our attached garage asking for her dent stick (which has been our normal routine when I get up for work at 6am).
    I think I need to use the letting her ‘cry it out’ and ‘aversive’ advice (have been using a pet corrector spray which she already knows means ‘no’). Also, we have sometimes been giving her food earlier (sometimes 4pm) which could be the reason needing to ‘poo’ early am and wanting food in the early morning. So will push to at least 6pm.
    What I don’t know is, if she wakes me and is to go wee/poo and I ignore her will that become a problem?

  16. Hi,
    I have a 18 week old mini golden doodle and he wakes up between 4-5am every morning, I clap loudly and say shoosh and he is quiet for 45mins. When he barks again I get up and he has normally wet his crate. He has had a urine infection but that has cleared up. I take him straight into the garden and he does a poo. HELP I’m so tired!!
    Thanks for any help.

    • Hi

      IS there a chance at 4am that he needs to go toilet particularly if he is wet wetting crate?

      It took our dog 8 month so before she could comfortably hold it jntil 6am so we would get up, no fussing of her at all, put her out for toilet and straight back in the crate with a kong or something to distract her.

      Then it was back to bed for an hour and totally ignoring the barking.

      It took months for her to stop so it takes persistence and you have to be consistent in ignoring it.

      Good luck

  17. Got a new golden retriever puppy a week ago. At night time he goes in the cage with his ? and a Kong to occupy him. As soon as I put the lights out all he does is bark constantly. I have ignored him and have ended up pulling the pillow over my head. I realised the breeder I got him from left the puppies in the kitchen at night so I abandoned the cage and set up a basket in the kitchen/diner. First night barked for an hour then silence and bliss but all back to mayhem now. Last night he barked most of the night I thought he would have got tired but he didn’t. What is the next step other than putting his basket in our bedroom. Until he is toilet trained I don’t want to do this as he is still on newspaper at the moment as he cannot go out yet.


  18. Hi Pippa,

    We have a 5 month English Lab. She sleeps great through the night, but the second she hears me wake upstairs and the creaking of the floor, she starts barking. We wake pretty early and have neighbors close by!

    Is there a way to break that habit?



  19. We have a gorgeous 1 year old family black lab call Arthur and we’ve notice every now and then when he’s asleep he will let out this almighty creepy loud howl while he’s a sleep it’s really quite scary the sound. We’ve checked with two other people we know who have his brothers and they said that there two don’t howl in this manner. I’ve googled this to try and understand the reasons but there seems to be so much conflicting information hence why I’m hoping your Labrador specific site could help? , kind regards Tony and Caron , North Devon, England UK

    • Hi Tony, one of my labs howls occasionally in her sleep, it is very creepy and very very loud! I believe it is when she is dreaming. She has done it all her life. Sometimes it sets all my other dogs off howling too. But mostly they just sleep through it now. 🙂

  20. My female lab is 7 years old and has just started waking at night (sometimes several times) and barking. Then she wakes again early (4 or 5 am) and barks to go out. My husband lets her out, then she comes in and has breakfast, barks again and we let her out hopefully for the day, but sometimes she barks to come in again as soon as she’s put out in her dog run.

  21. Hello,

    I have a 8 mounth lab who gets up at 5am so we are trying the alarm clock at 4:30. I am still waiting till 5:30 to feed him so he will get use to eating at that time. I am trying to be very boring but my question is can I lay on his bed with him (and nap) while I wait for 5:30 or do I need to wait an hour sitting in a chair? if I try to leave the kitchen even for a minute once I have let him out he starts barking like crazy.



  22. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT, he barks a lot when he is alone at home. How to stop it?
    My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

  23. Why would you want to banish your dog at night to an isolated area of the home that he shares with his pack during the day. And even more so if his training as a pup involves a few minutes “shut out” for bad behaviour . I have always given my dogs the run of the house at night and they invariably choose to settle on the landing or the bedroom floor ( in their own bed) .Their humans bed is off limits of course, and I have never,ever had a disturbed night unless through illness. This I believe for a dog is natural,comforting and restful. Plus they are always calm in the mornings ,waiting patiently for me to start the day happily 🙂

  24. Our four year old chocolate Labrador Rolo is exceptionally good at night time. He dozes off around 9pm after a trip outside in the garden and a little drink of water. He then sleeps soundly until 7am every morning. When we first got him as a pup he would whine and howl the house down! We tried everything and failed. So we ended up letting him sleep in our bed with us. But after moving house, I saw an opportunity. The new house had an entry way and a separate dining/lounge with a door. So I would pretend to be going out at 10pm, put him on his bed, give him a little kiss and a treat, then sneak down the entryway, through the lounge and silently creep up stairs. 6months of doing this he now sleeps downstairs and it’s perfect!
    Now I don’t know if he knew my cunning plan and could hear/smell me, but it worked.

  25. I have a cavachon pup thats 9weeks old.He keeps.waking up at different times during the night and we can’t get to sleep were having thoughts about giving him back to the breeder but I really don’t want to how do I stop him getting up at night.Thanks

  26. I have a 7 month old black lab and when she goes in her kennel she constantly barks barks and barks. Can you please help me out in what I should do. Thanks so much

    • Hi Abby, kennel barking is a difficult problem to fix once it has become a habit. And every situation is different. How long has she been sleeping in a kennel for? Is she kennelled on her own. Was she an indoor dog until recently?
      In general terms, it is a good idea to introduce a dog to being kennelled gradually, for example, you can start by just feeding the dog in her kennel, so that the kennel becomes associated with pleasure.

  27. I have a 7 year old black lab, he was crate trained as a pup. He would sleep in the kitchen eventually as he aged we started leaving the crate open as he became more responsible and mature. We bought a new house last November and up until 2 weeks ago he always slept in the living room on the couch, but all of a sudden he has been sleeping in our bedroom on the floor at the foot of our bed. So I took it upon myself to bring his bed into our room because I don’t like him sleeping on hard surfaces. He is my baby so I make sure he is always comfortable. He has also been extremely clingy to my wife and myself lately does any one have any insight into this new behavior?

  28. Wow, I can relate to most of these comments. Thank you for a very informative article, I have been doing everything wrong! I have been letting her out SEVERAL times a night, and brought her back to my bed only to get woken up a few hours later. I’m VERY sleep deprived. But how long does a person have to endure the dog barking when she is put in a kennel/crate…meaning how many nights before the dog “gets it”. My dog barks at a VERY loud pitch and won’t stop barking in her crate, despite getting a treat when she put in there. She also freaks out so much the crate will be two feet from it’s original spot on the floor because she is trying to get out and the crate “shimmies” over while she’s doing that. Plus I DO feel bad because I have another dog, older, who is so great and sleeps as long as I’M asleep. She knows bedtime is bedtime until I get out of bed! It’s awesome! The younger dog is a whole other story.

    So I’m just wondering how many days I have to endure her barking in her crate (by the way, it starts almost immediately after she is put in there)

    Thank you

  29. This was very informative. Our lab is almost 4 months old and is very clingy. When we are home she expects to be wherever we are. She’s finally getting a little better with us leaving and putting her outside, but I’m a school teacher and fixing to have to return to work so we are hoping to put in a doggy door to the laundry room. Hoping that goes over okay. Anyway, she had been sleeping until 6:30am up until 3 nights ago. She started waking up at 4am, so I would take her out to potty and she did NOT want to go back to bed in her crate. And I tried to let her cry it out, but I caved in and let her out and slept a few more hours on the couch and she would play a few min then fall back asleep on the couch with me. :/ I know I now have that habit to break but I don’t know if she really has to go potty or if she is just using that to get up. Should I let her out to potty? She usually just whines before the potty break and starts the barking and loud stuff after I try to put her back in her crate. I didn’t know if I should try your NO method or cry it out method when she starts whining or if I should let her out and try those methods after I put her back in her crate. Please HELP!

  30. Ok so my 6 month old Labrador retriever was doing super with sleeping through the night from around 10pm-5:30am, now I wanted 6:00 but I could handle 5:30, however she recently had an upset tummy and had diarrohea so she woke up at 3am to tell me she needed the toilet, however the next night once she had recovered she woke me up again at 2:30am and needed the toilet. How do I break this now??? (She sleeps upstairs)

  31. Pippa, our 7 month old sleeps in his crate in our bedroom, but will no longer tolerate closing the door. He gets up between 4 and 5 to check on us and we tell him to go back to bed, which he does, but now we are awake and can’t get back to sleep. He gets up between 6:30 and 7:00 to go outside. Any suggestions?

  32. My chessie is a choc lab. she is about 7.5 to 8 months young. she never had issues with her crate. but she has always woke us up early.. like 4am.. 5am early. My boyfriend and I both wake up for work around 5-5:30 so i think she is just on our schedual. but when the weekend rolls around i dont want to wake up that early.

    should i try doing the alarm and going down there? and letting her out. Issue is i have 2 dogs the other one is 6 months.. gsd. he just lays there while she is whining to wake us up. such a horrible way to wake up. but i would hate to have to wake up even earler to just let her out. but it seems like that may be the only solution.

    i cant keep her out of her crate yet cause the second you turn your head she finds something to chew one.. baseboards .. frames.. my underwear… socks. lol its never ending with her.

    and i want to lay a blanket in her crate but i had a horrible experience with another dog and doing that, she ate a peice and had to do surgery on her stomach and remove intenstines due to blockage and she died from it. 🙁 help..

  33. Hi I am a bit of an intruder here as my pup is an English Setter, but the prob is the same. Puppy is new to us but 5 months old, with his breeder & sibling until 4 nights ago. As soon as he starts crying our 6 year old dog starts to howl very loudly. Pup has his own bed in kitchen, closed baby gate keeps him apart from 2 other dogs who have the run of downstairs. Can’t put them together yet as oldest dog is nervous of puppy & if 6 year old boy is in the kitchen with the pup the howling gets worse.

  34. Hi,
    My dad has an almost 9 year old labrador who howls regularly at 5 6am….It is unfortunately impossible to ignore/sleep through! She h’s done this since she was a puppy..but for no apparent reason. We have shouted NO to her, and she will stop (though sometimes start again) but can’t figure out why she does it. She doesn’t need to go out. I think it has now become habit. She sometimes does it when she stays elsewhere, but not always. Any hints on how to stop this please?! Thanks

  35. My two and a half year old male lab has stated barking for his breakfast earlier and earlier. At first it was around 6 – 6:30 a.m., so I assumed it was because of daybreak, but he has increasingly gotten earlier and earlier (5:30, 5:00, 4:50). He goes to bed around midnight. Wbat can I do to stop this?

  36. Pippa hi thanks for the article, I’m particuarly interested in your comment about making him not responsible for waking you. Our dog, Welly a 7m black lab sleeps in our room (uncrated). He sleeps really well, quiet all night but will come over and wake me with a gentle ‘kiss’ about 5 ish, although this does vary. I’ve always been conscious he might need to go out, and certainly this has sometimes been true if he had an upset tummy etc and was true of my older dog as he got more incontinent later in life. I wouldn’t want to stop him knowing I would get up if truly needed but …

    I am really ‘tuned’ into Welly so I know when he’s not sleeping and I wonder if I disturb in my sleep, he is thinking to come over and see if it is time to get up? I’m really careful to make sure I don’t play or interact with him too much, just taking him out and then going back to bed which works sometimes and sometimes doesn’t as he then strts looking for something to do….and gets up to mischief

    I wonder if I have inadvertently taught him to wake me and now he thinks that is his job? I did think about taking him down and out, then leaving him in the kitchen which is where he stays when we are out so he realises that his behaviour means separation. What do you think? Alternatively I have tried putting him back in his bed, which again sometimes works but sometimes he just gets up again and I didn’t want to turn it into a game, so sometimes I get up and we sit/doze in the dark until it is a more reasonable time but I haven’t been using a marker for when this is. He isn’t noisy at these times just wants company/affection. Thanks for any further suggestions you might have on this

  37. My 18 month old lab has slept in the tv room on his bed his whole life. He wakes up almost every night in the middle of the night to poop or pee and if he’s not tended to, he will poop on the floor. How can we break him of this habit?

    • Hi Molly, i would probably would go back to basics with him. Feed him earlier, make sure when he is going outside you highly praise him. Ignore the other behaviour. Make sure he has gone outside as late as possible and if nec 2 or 3 times before bed.
      Make sure the old smell is gone gone gone. Scrub, disinfect, change carpet etc.
      And can you crate him during the night? He is much less likely to go where he sleeps if he cant move off it. Only make him wait for 8 hrs if you have to.
      That is of course unless he is ill. Double check with vet there is nothing wrong with him.
      Hope that helps.

  38. My dog has started barking at night. He has been great for 5 months, then we went away for 2 weeks and since back he’s either waking in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Last night he barked for over 3 hours and didn’t sound like he was ready to stop…

    • we got a 14 month old lab from a foster home background and have had problems in training him to come when called but am trying some of the tips on your site. new problem is at night when he has been sleeping quietly since we got him in lounge but the last week he has been waking up and barking and in spite of telling him off when he runs back to his bed and grumbles after an hour he will be doing the same wandering around lounge and kitchen barking. i dont think there are any different sounds outside (we live in acreage). i did try letting him sleep outside our bedroom and that worked but we dont really want him to stay there. so do i try him in his normal place and just tell him off?

      • Hi Richard, you often need to retrain your recall from scratch with a rescue dog. This may take a few months to complete and you can find instructions here: How to train your dog to come
        It may take your dog several weeks to settle into his new home. In the meantime, it is probably best to let him sleep near to you so that he feels safe. He may be used to sleeping in a crate or small space, if so, being left with the run of the kitchen and lounge probably feels scary to him. You could try a crate – he might settle more happily if confined at night.

    • My morkie does the same thing. He was sleeping all night now all of sudden he barks as soon as I put him in his play pen. He has his peepe pee pad, food, bedding, has plenty of room so I can’t understand why all of a sudden he’s barking. I’m trying to let him bark and not paying attention, but my son has to work in the morning. Does anyone have any advise?

  39. My 20 month old chocolate lab has been night waking for the past few month s but she goes straight out into garden to wee and poo but then goes back to bed. This is ok if we can get back to sleep but most of the time we can’t. She has had a skin condition that was waking her up but that is sorted now. How do I get her out of the habit? My concern is that she actually does need to toilet or is it habit?

  40. Our 13 year old lab used to come up stairs to sleep in our room now he can,t. Go up the stairs because his legs are to we know he cries several times during the night we can’t sleep what can we do

  41. Our 5 month old has just started waking up at 5:30am and we take her to the toilet and then put her back in her crate with out makin a fuss. After 2omin she starts barking again and doesn’t stop. We have her toys in her crate and I also put a food ball in her crate as well to try and keep her occupied. Do you have any thoughts we wondering if we started taking her for a morning walk may have mucked up her routine.

    • Our lab puppy is 5 months old. He has never been a “good” night sleeper, but for awhile he could sleep until 5:30 or 6. We would bring him out, give him breakfast, pen him in the kitchen, and get ready for work. We went out of town with him for a long weekend and in order to not bother our friends, we brought him back to bed with us after his 5:30 potty break. We have been doing that at home now and he has started to get up earlier and earlier. He now wakes at 4 and expects to be let out and put into bed with us. Last night I put him back in the crate and he barked, loudly, until 6:00 when we finally got up for work. We live in an apartment and I know his behavior is our fault for letting him sleep with us, but we need help! Spraying him with water doesn’t help…. He thinks it’s fun.

  42. We are currently waiting for our puppy to be old enough to bring home. I have been advised by several people to crate train him. We live in a house joined on both sides to our neighbours. Bear will be almost 10 weeks when we get him and he has been used to a kennel. How do I know the difference between when he is crying because he needs to relieve himself and when he is crying for company?

    • We also got our lab pup at 10 weeks who had also been created. First night he slept on his bed beside my partner who was on the couch. Second day we started putting him the crate for short spells to get used to it as advised by our vet and that night he went into the crate. We took him out the back garden for toilet before bed at 10pm, he whined for 5 mins and then settled down. Didn’t make a fuss and ignored the whining. I then took him out at 12am on the lead and saying the trigger words “make quick” while he was sniffing, next toilet break was at 3am which I set my alarm for and then when my partner got up for work at 7 – 7.30am. This went on for about a week then I slowly brought back his night time toilet to 2am, then 1.30am, 1.30, then 12 weeks he was going from 10pm -7am. Now he howls not too loudly at the same time every morning and have only had one incident of night time howling which was caused when he had an upset stomach but changing his food sorted that

  43. We had two problems with night waking.
    The first was that when we got up they had breakfast, so of course, the earlier we got up, the earlier they got breakfast! And to help that, we got a quick bark to remind us. The cure was to change the routine so that they didn’t get breakfast until 8am, regardless of anything else. So we let them out for a wee when we got up but they had to wait for breakfast. It only took a few days for them to adjust; and then they associated the sounds of the 8 o’clock news with breakfast!
    The other problem was a bark in the early hours to ask to go out. Every time they did a wee so we felt it could not be ignored (but deep down had a feeling it was put on). The cure at the time was a dog flap but that was in the old house and I would not want to do it now with the prevalence of dog thefts.