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Help! My Dog is Barking While Sleeping

Close up of Weimaraner puppy asleep with head between paws

You may have heard your dog barking and yipping at night. But when you go to check, your dog is sleeping soundly. This doesn’t mean that you are imagining things because it’s possible that your dog is barking while sleeping.

Sometimes, canines tend to bark when they are apparently sleeping. Many reasons could be responsible for this strange behavior, including sleep disorders and stress. Read on to find out why your dog is barking while sleeping and what you can do about it.

Why Dogs Bark While Sleeping?

The following are some common causes that can make your dog bark while sleeping.

Dreams

If your dog is dreaming about certain scenarios, the chances are quite high that he/she will bark. Although dogs cannot tell us about their dreams, the general consensus is that they usually dream about chasing other animals. If that’s the case, the ears and legs of your furry companion can twitch as if he/she is running.

Dogs are usually unaware that they are barking while sleeping. According to Wag Walking, smaller dogs tend to bark more because they dream once every ten minutes. On the other hand, bigger dog breeds normally dream once every 90 minutes. Even if they bark, they are usually less vocal. Therefore, if you have a young and small dog, be prepared for a lot of barking at night.

Sleep Cycles

Close up of Beagle sleeping on floor

According to Labrador Training HQ, the sleep cycle of dogs is quite similar to that of humans. Dogs go through a period of relaxed wakefulness (5-10 minutes) before entering the non-REM sleep. The term ‘REM’ means rapid eye movement.

In the non-REM stage of sleep, the body tends to repair itself by regrowing tissue and rebuilding muscles. After a while, dogs will enter the REM sleep in which they can dream. During this phase, your canine may bark if he/she is running or chasing in the dream. Both humans and dogs keep cycling between these different modes of sleep throughout the night.

Sleep Positions

Sleep positions can affect what and how your canine friend will dream. Hill’s Pet explains that dogs usually sleep in a curled position. This behavior has been ingrained in them from their early ancestors, wolves. They used to sleep in a curled position to protect the weak and young members of their packs.

Modern domestic dogs also have this instinct in their nature. However, canines can adopt some other sleeping positions, as well. For example, your dog can sleep on his/her back. In this case, there is a high chance that he/she will have a nightmarish dream.

Contrastingly, sleeping on the left side usually results in happy dreams. Your dog will bark more during happy dreams. The dogs that are having nightmares usually growl or whimper in their dreams.

Sleep Disorder

Yellow Labrador Retriever sleeping upside down on a bed with bright blue sheets

Some dogs can develop sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy. They usually result in your dog getting insufficient sleep. If these unstable sleep patterns are not managed quickly, they will eventually lead to noisier sleep. If your dog has suddenly started barking during sleep, there’s a significant chance that he/she is not sleeping properly.

Stress and Anxiety

Excessive stress can also make your dog’s sleep schedule erratic. This leads to sleep disorders which in turn causes more barking during sleep. Certain things, like loud traffic and animals, outside the premises of your house, can also make your pup anxious. Therefore, it is extremely important to pinpoint the exact cause of stress to eliminate it permanently.

What Can I Do if My Dog is Barking While Sleeping?

Chocolate Labrador Retriever asleep on a blanket with a yellow background

In most cases, you can’t do much if your dog is barking while sleeping. It is completely normal for dogs to bark in their sleep and you have to cope with this behavior. However, if your dog has suddenly adopted this habit, there are a few things that you can try.

Don’t Wake Your Dog Up

If your dog seems to be in distress while sleeping, never wake him/her up immediately. This can have negative consequences because your dog needs to get through the nightmare. Waking him/her up suddenly can be disorienting for your pooch and he/she may even try to attack you. This will also increase the frequency of barking rather than bringing it to a halt.

Make Sure Your Dog is Comfortable

Dog sleeping on couch upside down and with head bent at odd angle

Always provide your dog with a comfortable bed and a dark room to sleep in. If there is a bright light in your pup’s sleeping area, it will adversely affect his/her sleep. However, if your dog has vision problems, make sure to leave a dim light on. This will help him/her to move around in case he/she wakes up.

Soundproofing and Room Control

If possible, try to give your dog a room that is not frequented by others. This is because the continuous movement of humans in your dog’s sleeping area will disturb his/her sleep. You can also try to soundproof that room because many dogs become agitated on hearing loud sounds.

Soundproofing your room will ensure that your dog gets a good sleep. This will lower his/her stress levels and your dog will bark less while sleeping.

Consult Your Vet

3 Chihuahuas asleep in a dog bed

Your dog could be barking more while sleep due to a medical problem. If all the above-mentioned methods don’t work, it’s highly recommended to talk to your vet. Although it is generally a behavioral problem, it can turn out to be a medical problem, in some cases.

This is more important for older dogs because they are more susceptible to sleep apnea. Likewise, overweight dogs are more prone to sleep barking because they suffer from narcolepsy. It is a serious nervous system disorder that should be treated as soon as possible.

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