Why Does My Dog Growl At Night? (Answered By Vet Tech)

Why Does My Dog Growl At Night?

Dogs do plenty of things that we don’t always understand. Dogs sniff each other’s butts to say hello. They bite their nails and lick their friends!

Dogs also seem to bark and growl at things that don’t make sense to us. However, your dog might have a good reason for doing the strange things that they do. If you hear funny noises coming from your pup in the evenings you might wonder;

Why does my dog growl at night?

Dogs might growl to protect their territory, or if they hear a sound outside, and even more so if they hear other dogs barking in the neighborhood. Your dog might also growl from a dream or a sore hip. Additionally, if your dog growls when you’re awake, it might be trying to get your attention.

In this article, we’ll discuss in detail some of the reasons why dogs growl at night. Then we’ll talk about what you can do about your late-night growler. But first, we’ll go over why dogs growl in the first place!

Why Do Dogs Growl?

The reasons why dogs growl are endless. But, the most important thing to remember about growling is that it’s one of the most important ways that dogs communicate.

Growls often act as a warning signal. When a dog growls, they’re usually trying to tell someone or something to stay away. They might be growling to protect someone or to guard resources.

Dogs also growl when they’re hurt or scared and don’t want to be approached. Some dogs, especially puppies growl playfully. Even when it seems like a dog is growling at nothing, they’re probably responding to some sort of stimulus that’s just unknown to us.

In order to understand what a growl truly means, you’ll need to get a read on the entire situation.  What does the dog’s body language look like? Are the other dogs playing or not?

Luckily, when your dog growls at night, there aren’t as many factors that could cause them to growl. So, we can narrow it down to just a few simple things that might make your furry friend vocal at night.

Reasons Why Your Dog Might Growl At Night

Below are some of the most common reasons why your dog might growl at night. In order to figure out what’s going on with your dog, you’ll need to pay attention to when your dog growls. Is it in response to something or does it just seem random?

Hopefully, after reading through our list, you’ll have a better read on why your pup seems to growl.

1. They’re Dreaming

Have you ever noticed that your dog dreams before? My dog dreams constantly throughout the day and night. As soon as he’s in deep sleep, his paws and face will start to move. In the most dramatic dreams, he’ll yelp and growl. While it can be cute it’s also alarming and can wake you up at night.

Dreams and nightmares can cause dogs to growl at night.  Nightmares can even cause some dogs to jump up suddenly out of a dead sleep.  If your dog seems to have recurring nightmares, you can try offering them a calming aid or calming treats before bedtime. That way, they’ll sleep more soundly and through any dreams they might have.

2. They Hear Something Outside

Many dogs are protectors and are naturally alert during the evenings.  Some dogs, like the Great Pyrenees, are even active enough at night to be considered nocturnal.

If your dog is an alert protector, you might hear them growl at night.  A small noise outside usually isn’t a big deal, but to a guard dog, it’s a threat.  Dogs can hear much better than we can and pick up noises that the human ear would not be able to.  So even if you’re not hearing anything, your growling dog could be.

A growl is a natural and instinctive reaction but you can still calm your growling dog by reassuring them that everything’s okay.  If they keep growling, well, it could be worth checking out!

3. You’re Disturbing Their Sleep

Just like humans, dogs can get grumpy too.

Some dogs sleep deeply and don’t like to be moved in the evenings. If you accidentally or purposely kick your furry friend while they’re asleep, they’re going to growl. If you have your dog in bed with you, it might be even easier to upset them. A simple change of sleeping position might cause them to wake up and emit a soft growl.

Dogs sleep a lot and yet, they still don’t want to be disturbed. If you have one of these 22 species of sleep-loving dogs, they might be extra grumpy if woken up suddenly!

So, don’t worry, your dog was probably just annoyed and will calm down quickly.

4. They’re Protecting Their Territory (Bed)

Does your dog growl from its own dog bed at night? Do you have more than one pet?  Then it could mean that your pup is trying to defend its territory.

Dogs can be extremely territorial, they guard resources like food, toys, and shelter. Dogs can be especially protective over their beds. If your dog is sleeping and another animal approaches their bed, it might get startled and growl. This growl is a warning to the other pet that they aren’t welcome in that area. It might seem silly but to your pet, their personal space is important.

To avoid this sort of conflict in the evening, you’ll want to make sure that all of your pets and people have their own spaces for sleeping. That way, no one gets confused or defensive and makes noise in the middle of the night.

5. They Hear Other Dogs Barking

Earlier, we talked about how dogs can hear so much better than people.

If your dog randomly growls at night, they could be hearing a dog outside barking. Growling and barking are basic methods of communication for dogs.  If your dog hears barking, they’re also hearing something like a warning, an invitation, or a hello. Even though we might not hear another dog, they can.

If it doesn’t seem like anything is really wrong, you can try speaking gently to your dog again to comfort them and get them to calm down. If it seems like your dog is constantly being woken up by other noises or dogs outside you can try soundproofing the room you sleep in by adding carpet and thick curtains to help absorb some of that noise.

6. They’re Uncomfortable

If you’ve had your dog for a while, you may have noticed that they’ve started to get a little gray around the muzzle.

Dogs age faster than people do and have much shorter lifespans. A seven-year-old dog may be considered geriatric depending on the breed. Along with old age also come aches and pains that might cause your pup discomfort while they sleep.

Sleeping for long stretches of time can be uncomfortable for dogs with aching joints. Hips and back are areas that can cause your old dog pain while they sleep. If they’re woken up by pain and discomfort, they might wake with a growl.

The best way to help your dog sleep peacefully through the night is to invest in a nice dog bed.  You might even opt for something like thick memory foam that cradles your dog’s hips and spines.

While it can seem a little expensive and excessive, your dog will thank you. Plus, they’re way less likely to wake up with a growl and in pain.

7. They’re Trying To Get Your Attention

The last reason that your dog might growl at night is pretty simple, they need to get your attention.

Growling is often a precursor to a loud bark. If your furry friend is grumbling and growling, it might be their way of asking you for something without barking directly at you!

There are plenty of reasons why your dog might be trying to get your attention in the evening. The most obvious reason would probably be that they need to go potty. If your dog is well trained, they might try to wake you up before having an accident on the carpet.

Of course, your dog might be trying to get your attention because they sense that something is wrong. Whether they heard a strange noise or noticed that someone is missing, you can trust our dog’s intuition. If they don’t usually growl at night but only do it sometimes, you can assume that they’re really just trying to wake you up and tell you something!

Sometimes it’s important to listen to your dog when they growl at night.

How To Get Your Dog To Stop Growling At Night

As much as we want a big protective dog around, we also just want to get a good night’s sleep! Ironically, your big furry protector might be the one preventing you from that if they’re growling.

Night growling is something that can be managed and if you follow the steps below, you should be able t greatly reduce the growls coming from your pup!

Figure Out Why They’re Growling

The first thing you’ll need to do is figure out exactly why your dog is growling in the first place.

Our recommendation is to read this article and then think about when your dog growls. Is it regular? Is there a pattern? Are they uncomfortable or super alert?

Once you start paying attention, you’ll probably notice a pattern. When you have the “why” solidified, it’s time to start training!

Teach Them Basic Commands Like “Stop”

Some of the best training tools in your pocket as a dog owner are “no” “leave it” and “stop”.

Usually, you’ll want to decide which of these commands to use.  When using one of these commands, it tells your dog that you’d like them to discontinue the behavior that they’re doing.  In our case, that’s growling.

To start training one of these commands, you can start with something smaller in the daytime.  Set a treat in front of your dog and tell them, “leave it.”  As soon as your dog takes a step away, tell them “good job” and reward them.  Eventually, you’ll be able to move this command to new things and situations.

Watch the video below for an expert explanation of this training technique.

Eventually, you’ll be able to tell your dog to “leave it” at night when they’re growling.

Try Redirecting Their Attention

One other technique you can use to help your growling dog at night is redirection, which is simply taking your dog’s attention from one thing to another.

For example, at the vet clinic, we have to give vaccinations to some unruly patients. Sometimes, we need to distract our dog patients and get them to focus on something other than the poke they’re about to get. We might put peanut butter on the ground for them or give them some firm pats on the head. Either way, they’re less focused on the poke.

Once you know what’s making your dog growl at night, you can redirect them. Try calling them over and giving them their favorite head scratch or inviting them up onto the bed for a cuddle with you.

One word of warning though, redirection can sometimes come back to bite you in the butt. If you end up redirecting your dog before they’ve stopped growling, they might start to assume that growling gets them exactly what they want!

Final Thoughts

A dog growling at night doesn’t always mean trouble. Even though it can be alarming when your furry friend growls at seemingly nothing, it could mean so many different things.

If your dog barks most nights, you’ll probably want to spend some time figuring out just what it is that’s setting them off. That way, you’ll be able to use training and redirection to get them to stop growling and you’ll be able to get some quality sleep!

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