Dog Barking in the Night

by Eric B
(Bellefonte, PA)

Reader Question: Why Did My Dog Start Barking At Night?

Hi there. I have a 7 year old JRT that has been the model for good behaving JRT's since he was a puppy. Great listener, hardly any barking, just wonderful. We keep him in a crate at night, and have since day one. It’s all he’s ever known and been used to, so there has been no change there. About two months ago, seemingly out of nowhere, he just started barking at night. He'll bark for a while when we first put him in, then stop and go to sleep. Then he’s usually up around 4 or 5am and barking again. He usually barks for 4-5 minutes, then stops.

I’ve tried almost everything I can think of from scolding with my voice, to letting him outside, to ignoring, moving his crate, changing his bedding and blanket, I even put a baby monitor in our room and the speaker by his crate so he could hear us sleep, thinking that might help, but no. I saw a vest at the pet store the other day that is supposed to calm dogs and relive some anxiety, so I’m trying that tonight, but after that I’m about out of ideas. I don’t know what started this or why, but with 2 kids in the house, it’s really getting to be a problem. Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated, thanks!


Vet’s Suggestions For Change of Dog Behavior

Hi Eric,

Whenever a pet undergoes a sudden change in behavior, the first thing I like to do is to rule out potential medical causes. Your dog may be uncomfortable for some reason – perhaps the beginnings of arthritis, a urinary tract infection, the possibilities are virtually endless – and that could explain his vocalizations. In these cases, I start with a physical exam, and unless the problem is obvious at that point, move on to a general blood chemistry panel, complete cell count, urinalysis, fecal examination, and heartworm test if it is not current.

If his work up results in a clean bill of health, then you can move on to behavioral modification. A good rule of thumb is to ignore the behavior you don’t like and praise the behavior you do like. Any type of reaction to his barking will generally reinforce the behavior and make it more rather than less likely to continue. A veterinary behaviorist could help you by putting together a behavioral modification protocol specific to your dog’s individual case and maybe even prescribe medications that would increase its effectiveness.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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