Things that go bang, or should I say howl in the night.
As an animal behaviourist, I am hearing a lot of people mention that their dogs have started to wake them up at night. There has been no change to routine, or upset in the household and the dog’s health is fine. On social media I see all sorts of advice being given, but most neglect to mention the obvious cause of these nighttime disturbances – the cold.
We don’t typically think about our dogs suffering from the cold but many do. Clients tell me, it can’t be a nighttime chill that is waking their dog, they have a cozy bed, a covered crate or a long coat. The fact is many dogs get cold at night. The obvious candidates for feeling chilly are very young or very old dogs – puppies may not yet be able to regulate their temperature and older dogs suffering from arthritis will feel more discomfort in the cold. However any dog can suffer; their bed may be in a draft, a colder room that has more windows or is larger, your heating may go off etc. etc. Just like so, being cold affects their sleep, we struggle to drift off or wake up and our dogs are the same.
These are a few points to consider if you think your dog is waking you due to the temperature:
Check for drafts: Get down on the floor and see if you can feel a breeze. If you can, think about relocating your dog’s bed or raising it off the floor, or move the bed to a different room. Upstairs is often warmer in most houses at night; is there a space on the landing or in your room where it is warmer. A smaller room with more bodies in will often stay warmer as well.
Think about leaving the heating on low overnight; as expensive as it might seem it actually makes very little difference to your heating bills as it has to work less in the morning to bring the house up to optimum temperature.
Buy your dog a fleece coat to wear at night; if your dog likes to change sleeping positions through the night and may dislodge a cover, try a suitable coat at night. Small dogs and thin coated dogs really benefit from having that extra layer of warmth and often sleep through the night better. Get one without straps and buckles as you don’t want him getting caught up in it.
Have your dog on your bed; not everyone wants a doggy sleeping partner but for those of you who do, it is perfectly fine to have your dog on the bed with you; as long as he doesn’t guard the area or it disturbs your human partner. In Australia, there is an Aboriginal saying of ‘It’s a three dog night,’ meaning its cold and you will need multiple dogs to keep you warm.
Above all be sensible but look at this nighttime problem with compassion and empathy. Look at it from your dog’s perspective and don’t jump to conclusions if he suddenly starts waking you at night.
Animal Behaviourist, Tellington TTouch Practitioner, Real Dog Yoga Instructor & Author
Toni has worked with domesticated and wild canids since 1989. After a long and successful career with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, she started her own business as a Tellington TTouch Companion Animal Practitioner. She is now one of the highest qualified Practitioners in the UK.
In 2001 her skills in TTouch took Toni to the UK Wolf Conservation Trust were she meet a pack of socialised wolves. She went on to work with them for over a decade as a Senior Wolf Handler and Education Officer for the organisation. In more recent years, Toni has gone on to become a Real Dog Yoga Instructor, (Visit www.therealdogyoga.co.uk to find out more) and updated her qualifications in behaviour with the International School of Psychology and Behaviour, for which she is also an affiliate. She is now a full member of The Association of INTO Dogs as a certified canine behaviourist. She teaches all over the UK and abroad, works with clients' one to one, and writes. Toni lives in Oxfordshire, England with her husband and their dog MrP.
In more recent years, Toni has gone on to become a Real Dog Yoga Instructor, (Visit www.therealdogyoga.co.uk to find out more) and updated her qualifications in behaviour with the International School of Psychology and Behaviour, for which she is also an affiliate. She is now a full member of The Association of INTO Dogs as a certified canine behaviourist. She teaches all over the UK and abroad, works with clients' one to one, and writes. Toni lives in Oxfordshire, England with her husband and their dog MrP.
Over the last two decades, Toni has been developing her writing. She spent two years editing and writing features for Wolf Print, the UK Wolf Conservation Trust's international magazine. She went on to write for national dog magazines, rescue society newsletters and blogs. Her first and second book, The Truth about Wolves & Dogs, (Hubble and Hattie 2012) and Among the Wolves (Hubble and Hattie 2015) have been a great success. Her latest writing collaboration with co-author Karen Bush sees a series of books entitled HELP! My Dog is…. Titles include, HELP! My Dog's Scared of Fireworks, HELP! My Dog doesn't Travel Well in the Car, HELP! My Dog is Destroying the Garden and HELP! My Dog has a Canine Compulsive Disorder. All are available in paperback and eBook format on Amazon. Toni and Karen have many more titles planned under the banner of Skinny Dog Books – named as they both own sighthounds and the books are small and concise.