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My dog is suddenly crazed at night. Please help.


Janie Grace
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Our 6-year-old Aussie (who is usually dead to the world 10:00pm-7:00am) is suddenly a jerk at night. Around 4:00am or so he starts whining to go out. He goes out and then ends up barking and needing to be called/let back in. Last night I told him "no" and sent him to his bed a few times. Finally I got up and grabbed a leash; I didn't want to keep him in if he had to pee. He did go to the bathroom but he was pulling on the leash and clearly want to run across the field. (We live on acreage -- field and woods -- and he has the run of it during the day.)

 

After we came in, he continued to whine. I put him in his crate in the basement. More (louder) whining. I didn't want to wake the whole family so I finally gave in and let him out and he streaked across the field into the woods. About 45 minutes later he was barking and I let him in.

 

This is driving me crazy. Happens about every 2 out of 3 nights. The only thing I can think of that's different right now is that the deer are in the rut and it's hunting season and they are crazy (tons being killed on the roads). But I don't usually see them out and about in the middle of the night and so I can't think of why the dog would be drawn to chase them at this ungodly hour. 

 

SOMETHING is going on with him. It's almost like the call of the wild... there's some really important wild dog meeting happening every night at 4:00am and he just has to attend. Ideas? How do I break him of this habit???

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It's not a habit. He's hearing or smelling something. 

Use white noise like a fan to try to block it out.  Don't reward it by letting him run at night. If you must, take him on leash and then back in again. 

If you need to, you could try a small bit of melatonin at night. For some dogs it acts enough to zone them out. I used to use it with one of mine during week long fireworks at halloween as he was very scared. Between that and a fan, he'd usually eventually settle. 

 

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I am SO SO glad you posted this... MINE TOO.

Between the dog waking me up between 2-3, the baby at least twice (pregnancy pains), and the 4 year old sleep walking, I'm getting no sleep!

 

What is it with the dog?!?! I have no idea. Can't figure it out. And *I'm* the one she comes to. She's persistent too. Deer? Coyotes? a leaf? No idea. After Halloween she attacked the pumpkins at 2 in the morning. Last night, she dug a hole at that time in front of the outdoor wood stove. For me, the one good thing, as we approach winter, getting up at 3 means I can refill the wood stove and not wake up to a cold house. But I'd really like sleep.

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I am SO SO glad you posted this... MINE TOO.

Between the dog waking me up between 2-3, the baby at least twice (pregnancy pains), and the 4 year old sleep walking, I'm getting no sleep!

 

What is it with the dog?!?! I have no idea. Can't figure it out. And *I'm* the one she comes to. She's persistent too. Deer? Coyotes? a leaf? No idea. After Halloween she attacked the pumpkins at 2 in the morning. Last night, she dug a hole at that time in front of the outdoor wood stove. For me, the one good thing, as we approach winter, getting up at 3 means I can refill the wood stove and not wake up to a cold house. But I'd really like sleep.

 

Ha, that's funny! Our 10-year-old has night terrors and got (screaming) into our bed last night, so the dog is not the only source of my angst either. 

 

How weird that your dog is doing this too. We have coyotes around here too... and foxes... it honestly could be any number of creatures making some humanly undetectable but caninely maddening sound, I guess. He has the run of the house so I am not sure how to do all-pervasive white noise...

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If he has been familiarized with a crate and is comfortable with it, I'd consider crating or at least restraining to one room - just for a few nights to see if it makes a difference and then try releasing again. I too prefer dogs to have the run of the house but one of mine now needs to be locked in my room because he wanders around and gets lost and then I have to go find him (old mostly blind dude...) 

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A skunk will set my dog off like this. He goes absolutely nuts, whining and barking to be let out. We don't usually smell it until we open the door, which is how he got sprayed a few years ago. The skunk was on our deck and dumbo just ran right into it. He was sprayed right in the face and his eyes were burning so much he was howling. I don't know why he's so anxious to get out there after that! 

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Whenever the dog in my house has done this, I am sure it is because of an animal outside.  It isn't something like a squirrel or chipmunk because he doesn't care about those.  I figure it is most likely a carnivore type of animal= skunk, opossum, fox, coyote, etc.  We have all those and more in our area and I could see him getting excited about something like that.  I know before he was at our home, we once had two coyotes fighting and running around in the woods back behind us.  They were making such a racket that I was alerted too and then I saw them leave the woods and cantor down the street. If my dd's dog had been around then, I am sure he would have gone wild about them.  When he does do this in the middle of the night, I just let him out on a leash and make him come back in.  I am not going on an animal hunt in my pajamas and flip flops.

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