How do you deal with an older German Shepherd who won't sleep through the night?
My husband rescued a German Shepherd from a shelter over four years ago. We estimate him to be 9 years old. Over the past year and a half, he has had issues from time to time about sleeping through the night. The past week this has gotten even worse, as this is the sixth night in a row he has not slept all night. He whines, barks, walks around, paws and refuses to let us sleep. Both of us work, and we cannot take the sleep deprivation any more. We have been to the vet, but the vet has not found anything wrong with the dog.
Usually, he is perfectly fine until we get into bed and turn off the lights. Then he starts a bit of whining and then works himself up into a frenzy.
We are seriously at the end of our rope. Does anyone have any advice?
Thank you very much in advance.
- papawLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
Judging from his age, I'd say the dog may be having health problems, particularly digestive problems. To rule that out, you need to take him to a vet for a check-up...He's an older dog, and could be developing old-age problems. Or, he could just be needing nighttime cuddling. Let him sleep with you or on your bed where he can be in contact with your body. Good luck
PS: I have a 12 year old Boxer that occasionally has night problems. When she starts stirring, I walk her. Sometimes, arthritis makes her uncomfortable, I just pet her and let her sleep on my bed. Sometimes she has digestive problems. Pepto works wonders.
- YODELLv 61 decade ago
What does he usually want when he behaves like this? Is he just trying to wake you up, or is he asking to go outside, etc....?
If he's needing/wanting to go outside, and you have a yard, maybe install a doggy door to give him free access.
If he's just waking you up due to being anxious, try changing up the night time routine a bit. Maybe leave a radio or TV on, leave a small night light on. Try sleeping in a different room with him, or on the couch for a few nights, see if the behavior continues. This might be a learned "attention getting" behavior, especially if there is nothing medically wrong and he's not needing to go outside.
Exercise before bed might help, too. A game of fetch or a good long walk to tire him out. Or maybe get a Kong toy, stuff it with "goodies" (peanut butter, wet dog food, cheese, crumbled up dog treats, and freeze it to make it last longer)....and give it to him when you go to bed. Kind of like a pacifier.
I don't like the idea of tranquilizers, but you may want to speak to your vet about this option as a last resort. They do have some mild, anti-anxiety drugs for dogs that might work for him. The vet may also suggest something like children's Benadryl for a night or 2 to see if it helps (but ASK the vet first). Or, you can try some herbal remedies, like Rescue Remedy for Pets. I use it with my male dog to calm him during thunderstorms and it has a noticeable effect.
Here's a site that sells it along with some other herbal anti-anxiety stuff:
- 1 decade ago
Did your doctor check your dogs eyes? This same problem happened with my family's dog and it turned out that her vision was very impaired. Night blindness is the best way to describe it (very little or no light and the animal can't see at all.) We started to leave a light in the kitchen area on so she would relax and sleep there at night. That worked. Sorry though I can't remember how my family's vet diagnosed night blindness, but it was the case.
- Bonzie12Lv 71 decade ago
Could be he is in some kind of distress or pain. When my german shepherd (who was 10) would start to pace and move around I knew her arthritis was bothering her and she was uncomfortable. It could be he is in some kind of pain and can't get comfortable. Did your vet check his hips for arthritis? Have you tried crating him at night? Maybe the vet could give you some kind of sedatives to give him at night to help him calm down. Senior dogs are sometimes hard to read as they have more medical problems as they get older. I hope you can find out what is wrong with him.
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- 1 decade ago
... The first question comes to mind is if he's fixed? Male dogs can smell females miles away and it can put them into utter frenzies.
In the past year in a half have you changed any exercise habits? That can cause his restlessness and anxieties because he has no outlet now..
Hmmm I can't think of anything else, he is an elder dog so the usual puppy things don't fit in with him. ... I wish you luck with this issue.. Don't give up on the poor guy yet.
- 1 decade ago
well dogs are like babies make him know you are there if it helps put a light night mabe his scare of the dark