3 Reasons Why Your Dog is Acting Aggressive at Night

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There are many different reasons as to why your dog might be acting aggressive at night. Before you think about taking drastic measures to solve this problem, you might want to consider some common reasons as to why this behavior is happening.

1. There’s Something at Night Scaring Your Dog

One of the biggest reasons as to why your dog might be acting aggressive at night is because something is scaring your dog that you aren’t realizing. If a dog had a traumatic event happen at nighttime or while in the dark, this could create a phobia of nighttime.

When it’s nighttime your house is probably also quieter than during the day. Your dog could be more likely to hear noises or see things that he perceives to be a threat. Vision and hearing loss also could tie into aggression at night. If your dog experiences either of these two medical issues, he could be more prone to aggression during night. Serotonin abnormalities, cognitive impairments, and some prescription medications could also be the cause.

2. Your Dog Wants More Attention

More aggression at night could be signaling to you that your dog just wants more attention from you. This is especially true for younger puppies. The puppies, in particular, want to be the center of attention and want pets or love at all times. These energetic puppies also want to play and have higher energy levels, which could be problematic at night.

Your dog could also be aggressive during the night hours because he is mad he isn’t being played with. If you have a puppy, you might consider bringing a few toys into the room where your dog is at night. These toys, such as chew ropes or bones, could help encourage light play and keep him occupied while you try to get some sleep. You might also need to get your dog more exercise so that he’s too tired to want more attention by the time it’s sleeping time.

3. Your Dog Displays Owner-Directed Aggression

Owner-directed aggression is a new term for what you might know as what was dubbed dominance aggression. This situation occurs more often in male dogs than female dogs, and often times happens with dogs that are not typically aggressive on their own. The dog could have a dominance that is overshadowed by fear and anxiety. The dog might also have storm phobias or separation anxiety.

Other times, the dog in question might be more confident and not seem fearful around their owners. The cause of this owner-directed aggression is unknown, but it’s important that you don’t yell at your dog, or pet your dog while it’s sleeping and startle it. It’s also important dogs with this trait get proper training and obedience school from a professional.

How to Calm an Aggressive Dog

If you are trying to calm an aggressive dog, the first thing you want to do is try to figure out what is causing the aggression. Sometimes this is a simple process that you can fix yourself, such as noting you should leave a light on at night for your dog or bring in toys or a blanket for extra security. You also can begin to train your dog to listen to commands and use positive reinforcement when the dog listens to you. Other times the issues are more complex as to why your dog is being aggressive.

Ask your veterinarian to give your dog a complete medical workup, which would help find the cause of the aggression if it’s due to a medial issue such as serotonin abnormalities or an infection of some kind. If there are no medical issues, obedience training and behavioral modifications might be required. This includes getting into a regular sleep pattern and lessening the anxiety through exercise and a more protective bed.

Comments

  • Elaine Butt | 22/03/2021

    I have two young dogs. One is 6 months the other 8 months. They love each other and play great together until bed time. They growl and fight off and on all night long. I’ve tried petting them and that seems to help some, but once I’m asleep and the petting stops they are at it again. Makes for a long night. What is wrong? What can I do?

  • B Wachter | 26/01/2022

    We have the same problem with our 2 dogs. They’re best friends all day long but around bedtime the one basically attacks the other almost every night. We’re trying to figure out why this happens as well

  • Mark | 17/05/2022

    Show them / tell them… You love them both. One dog is not better than the other. You’ve love for them both. Last thing. Say they can stand up to you but with Respect & they are brothers & each others friend.

  • Diana | 23/03/2021

    My 8 month old puppy bites all day because she wants to play but is only aggressive with me when I disturb her when she’s sleeping or when she’s “cozy” like she might try to go to sleep. Last night she was laying by my leg and when I turned over to go to sleep she viciously snapped at me, twice. I had to pull the covers up to stop her from biting me. Then she abruptly stopped and layed down on the other side of the bed. She apparently doesn’t do this to my husband when he comes to bed and she’s laying in his spot. Today i just lifted up the covers to get in bed and she made her vicious growl, but didn’t really snap at me. It’s getting to where I’m afraid to move at night. I heard never to disturb a husky while they’re sleeping, but tonight she wasn’t sleeping, just waiting for me on the bed with a smile on her face. It seems to be getting worse. I may need to keep high value treats handy to get her to move (she has taken a liking to my side of the bed lately) but I’m not sure what those would be. She’s not super food motivated.

  • Ashton | 11/11/2021

    Diana, if your dog isn’t food motivated maybe get her some training for behavioral issues, take her on walks, and get her a dog bed laid down by the edge of whoever your living with if they get along, and maybe if you have other dogs try to focus on the aggressive one for now when it comes to play time and hanging out in the morning. I’m not liscenced for any of this but I have a semi aggressive dog as well. I love my dog but I have 2 she hurts my dachshund who’s almost 15 in human years when they get out of hand while playing, she does get aggressive. She recently bit someone I know and care about, I don’t wanna put her down so I’m trying things recommended in the blog and some of the things I mentioned. Hopefully it works for you. Best wishes.

  • Mark | 17/05/2022

    Oh she sees herself as the lady of the house. And you are in her spot. No treats. I’d put her sleeping elsewhere. She’s that way? Whiles you’re sleeping. Beware!! I wouldn’t trust her. Ah dogs can tear your face apart or worse kill you! No time to show her who’s boss. Not to be cruel no, no. She needs to know her place. If a human behaves that way. Would you trust them? When you were asleep?

  • Julia | 12/04/2021

    My puppy loves to play but turns into an aggressive nightmare with me. Constantly biting – not mouthing – my hands and forearms . As if I’m a litter mate . We’ve trying “leave” . Tried stuffing toys on his mouth, folding arms , getting up and walking away. But as soon as I sit down again it starts! It’s getting out of control and I’m starting to think I can’t cope

  • Kailey | 15/04/2021

    This is exactly the problem that I am having and I am at my wits end. She is a normal amount of nippy/mouthy in the morning and then 3/4 pm hits and she is a different beast. It doesn’t matter what we do, no amount of positive reenforcement/redirection/going limp/yelping/time outs where walk away will help. The minute we sit back down, she is a demon again.

  • Becky | 02/05/2021

    This is my 12 week old pup also! But we can’t even walk away without her following and biting! And I’m worried because she’s at a point where she’s supposed to be growing out of the biting and it seems like she’s just getting more aggressive. When she gets too out of hand where we need to remove her for our safety, usually to put her outside because we don’t like using her crate as punishment, she rolls to her back and swings her head wildly to bite whatever she can when we’re trying to pick her up. I’m really at my wit’s end. And she’s a golden retriever so this is not what I expected at all! The one I had as a teen was never like this, even as a puppy.

  • Lynda Raven | 01/06/2021

    My 15wk old Labrador is just the same, about 7:30pm, she bites at our hands, arms, feet, legs, jumps up at us. I’ve got a black eye from her leaping up! I’m also scared that I can’t cope, I can’t sit down in the lounge in the evening. I’m am putting her outside when she is really bad because we are getting injured. But then she barks furiously at the door. I took her for an extra walk to try to use some energy. But then she bites when I towel her down, or wipe the muddy paws. I can’t clip her nails as she bites so much and as for cleaning teeth – I daren’t go near her! It’s hard not to shout when it really hurts.

  • Luca | 21/07/2021

    Hello my lab puppy is doing the same now! At 4-5 pm she become a beast and she attract me. Did you solve your problem ?

  • Molly | 15/08/2021

    I’m living through this same nightmare with my 7-month old bulldog.
    Did you find anything that works?

  • Wendy | 05/07/2021

    Hi, this sounds like my puppy, exactly the same, any advice on what you did?

  • Lynn | 14/07/2021

    I had a puppy and he was so mouthy that I told everyone I had freddy Kruger hands because they were so scratched and knicked. What we have done with all of our dogs is when they are nippy, we tell them “kisses only” and keep repeating it until they kiss and then we praise. It worked so well with our two year old that she kisses everyone and everything!!! Also when giving treats I always make them sit and say “easy” for when they take it from me. I use that also if they are being aggressive to each other, I always say “easy”. It immediately gets their attention and it distracts them from what they were doing. Can’t hurt!

  • Louise Glover | 28/09/2021

    Hi Julia, I read your comment and I am also in the same situation. My partner and I have tried everything and it only happens in the evening. Do you have any further information and has the issue been resolved?

  • Deborah Shaw | 21/04/2021

    We have a miniature poodle, got him at 8 wks, adorable. Well, he is 11 wks now and it has been so hard with this little guy, he is constantly biting our feet and hands, and at night we’ve noticed he tends to get really aggressive and unruly. We try playing with him, we have chew toys, bones, blanket, he is just so mean . We don’t know what else to do. And not to mention the fact that he doesn’t like to be alone, every time I leave his side he cry’s. So it is hard for me to have any free time. This is not what I wanted , and we have had puppies before “never this experience” .

  • Maha | 01/09/2021

    Hi, read your post and felt the need to reply. I also have a male toy poodle. Born 13/6/21. We got him at 8 weeks and he is currently nearly 12 weeks old. During the day he is very clingy and needy but not too mouthy. Although same as you mentioned come the evening and he is a completely different puppy. He goes crazy and attacks us at the ankles and also hands if they are in sight. I have been sleeping in the lounge with him so I find if everyone goes to sleep and I turn of the lights and ignore him he eventually calms down. Let me know if you have found a solution as my kids are now trying to avoid him which isn’t good.

  • Brandi | 10/05/2021

    My Chi pup is 11 months old. He is a good boy until it is time to go to bed. He gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day. He sees a vet regularly and is healthy. At night he will be tired, but when we get into bed he starts aggressively bitting me and growling. He will bark like he wants down from the bed, but will attack me if I come near him, and will also want back up if he gets off the bed

  • Colette | 21/06/2021

    We just got a 9 month old pit. I am home with her all day. We walk, play, nap, she is my shadow . But in the evening , for no reason she will continuously bark at me and then nip at my feet. She has not drawn blood, but it hurts ! The barking will stop, but then for no reason she will run up to me and snap at my feet . She is already 60 lbs. It does not seem to be viscous , but it is scary.

  • Kylie | 24/06/2021

    I think this behaviour happens at this time of day a lot is because the puppy is over tired. The witching hour I call it. I have a cocker spaniel puppy 13 weeks and she goes mad in the events growling at me, running around,biting and not doing anything I ask just like toddler at bed time.

  • Cindy | 24/09/2021

    We have a Yorkie..my husband Can’t go too far without him. Best buds all day!! But when our Yorkie has gone to bed…he growled and turns vishous!

  • Steve Smith | 13/07/2021

    Our rescue dog occasionally gets aggressive just before bedtime. He seems to become obsessed with feet and starts to stalk them – it looks like he is going to attack them and has bitten once or twice. He doesn’t really respond to commends when this is happening but after a few minutes will revert to his normal passive and friendly state. He isn’t a nervous dog and will often be sleeping on his back just before this happens.
    Any ideas what may be going on or what we can do? Obviously there may be a trigger or a medical issue that we need to identify – but has anyone had a similar experience?

  • lyn matthews | 18/07/2021

    My rescue English Bull Terrier and I have been together 6 years now. She came to me at 3 years of age, knowing nothing but breeding puppies. Still doesn’t like to be cuddled and isn’t fond of other dogs or people. Biting was not an issue until recently. “Sundowners”? As we, (just she and I) sit in the living room and are ready for bed I will say, “OK lets go pee”. She lays there staring at me. When she rises, it’s aggressively, nipping at my pants as she exits the door. Upon return, same situation, biting my legs and feet only it’s getting worse and more aggressive, as she rushes down the hallway to her bed. It’s heartbreaking. We have such a wonderful relationship. I don’t know what to do.

  • Crystal Isaacson | 17/08/2021

    My dog is fine through out the day but as soon as we hit the bed if you even look at him wrong he growls, you touch him he growls. Even if you ask him if he’s mad he growls. He worse with my husband than he is with me. He typically has remorse after he growls and runs to my lap but he won’t let my husband touch him without growling and he’s even nipped at him and drew blood. I dunno what his problem is. He is a dachshund and is almost 6 years old and has always been like this. Help!!! What is his problem

  • Keisha | 28/08/2021

    I have one male dog, almost 1 years old. He has suddenly started to snarl and growl whenever we pet him in the evenings. I think it’s just because he’s grumpy and he wants to sleep. He only started acting like this a couple of days ago and we have no clue why.

  • Luciearl | 28/02/2022

    Petting your dog while it’s growling is actually reinforcing the negative behavior. Being a pack leader takes the stress off the dog that feels it needs to be the leader. Do this by a couple of long leash walks during day, training simple commands. Sit, stay, come. Mind stimulation with games such as playing fetch outside, sitting before eating or “hide the treat”. One person holds on to the dog as another hides tiny treats in another room. Then bring the dog in to find the treats.

  • Natalie | 02/02/2022

    My dog 11month old pup is fine with my 14year old throughout the day but at night qhen my younger 2 are in bed and my eldest comes in to the living room my dog gets all aggressive staring, doing a high pitch bark ready to bite him. Anyone else had this issue?

  • Luciearl | 28/02/2022

    I adopted an 8 yr old chihuahu mix 3 mos. ago. In the evening, he will be fine one moment, then fixate on my larger dog who is calmly laying on his dog bed. It starts with a growl and will excalate. If I don’t grab him, he will attack. I put him in his kennel and cover with a blanket. I’ve tried to show pack leader skills by practicing sit, stay, come along with larger dog. It’s been extremely cold this winter, so long walks to wear him out have been impossible. Only short runs in the driveway, then back in the house. I think he has had some tramatic event in his past. While watching a movie that had air raid sirens, he jumped up from a sleep, nonstop barking, running from room to room in a panic state. This has been very stressful. I’d welcome advice.

  • Nick | 16/03/2022

    I have a 14 week old puppy that is part Rhodesian, Black Lag, Great Pyreenes, and Pit. He is sweet and his personality is not aggressive, but has no one to play with. Also, he has little interest in toys and rawhides to chew on. He was from a litter of 12. We got him right at 7 weeks and is now about 30 pounds. Lately in the evening into late at night, he starts to get more hyper and get into a biting mode that doesn’t stop. He shows aggression if I try to guide him or pick him up and put him in his crate for a timeout (about 2-5 minutes). I am hoping this is a puppy phase, but worry that the lack of playing time with other dogs is going to make him aggressive and difficult to deal with. Advice is more than welcome.

  • Claire | 22/04/2022

    Hi,
    I am having an issue with my male Doberman puppy, he is 15 weeks, he’s great at commands and shows no aggression toward other dogs but he is constantly biting hands feet, shoes, jumpers! Anything he can. He only seems to do this indoors and with us, when we walk him he’s calm and allows everyone to pet him without a problem, it isn’t just mouthing he’s actually biting and snapping, we can redirect with toys and treats but sometimes he becomes a little aggressive and snarls at us this happens mostly in the evening? I thought he was getting overtired so I’ve tried napping him at different times but it still happens, I’m praying it’s just a puppy stage as he’s going to grow into a large dog (he’s already 25 pounds)
    If anyone has advice I’ll try anything 😊

  • Lynne Morris | 04/06/2022

    I have rescued a 4-5 year old Old tyme bulldog, hes in his 7th week of being with me everything was going great he just slotted straight in.
    Then after 2 weeks into his decompression time a friend arrived unannounced, this didnt go well he turned on me! I managed to het him into the bedroom & asked my friend to leave. I let him out but that waryness set in….three wees forward & i started to feel absolutely fine qoth him again hes a lovely boy, then Thursday night as i didn’t gave to get up for work i turned the light on in the front room 2 hours laterer he really snarled growled & went for gold at me again!, i managed to get out of the front room as i realised he was actually guarding my sofa!! Anyway i moved slowly to my bedroom he followed & layed beside me, but as looked down at him he was still staring & was growlingso i had ti literally get up on the bed & him to follow me again so i could safely get him into the front room & shut the door on him for the night…i felt terrible for him & myself.
    I woke up the next morning greeted him he was so pleased to see me as i was him. I took him out lovely mood all day & night couldn’t fault him whatsoever. Today was his rest day as he has a bit of limp on his back leg so vets advice walk one day rest the next, anyway long story short he had his dinner fine, i then felt him staring me out & i could feel something was gonna go down again. Im stuck as to what to do? I certainly dont want to return him to the rescue kennels but i cannot keep havibg this behaviour..im very experienced with dogs but dont know how to deal with this . Any suggestions as to how things can change im desperate to keep him & give him the chance he deserves but cannot see a way forward. Thanks for letting me tell mine & Daddy’s story x

  • Linda petersen | 09/06/2022

    I have a 3 year old fox terrier that when it is time to go to bed she growls when she gets into her bed. And will bite you if you get too close to her bed. She is like a little devil at night

  • Azure | 23/08/2022

    Our 2 year old aura is very similar. She’s a Pomeranian/American Eskimo cross. When she’s sleepy or sleeping and gets disrupted, she’ll growl and snap if we don’t leave her. She learned snapping is not okay with us but sometimes she forgets when she gets really upset. Whenever she’s sleeping and the kitten jumps on the bed, she’ll immediately growl. Before the continuous training (we pick her up and put her on the ground every time she does this), she’d chase our cat off the bed. Now she just growls and stares until the kitten settles and then she’ll either jump off the bed on her own or settle down as well.
    The problem though is when she hangs out at my husband’s family’s house. We sometimes stay late for things like thanksgiving and she’ll fall asleep. But any sound or movement would trigger her and she’d spring up barking at everyone. (She’s a bit nervous but she doesn’t bark at his family normally)

    I don’t have any advice really, but the only thing we found that worked (sort of) are a mixture of time outs and showing her that it’s not okay to snap or bark at family. I don’t know if this will work for everyone else, but it showed a little improvement.
    Time outs are when we bring her to a different room when she did something she’s not supposed to, sit with her for 30-60 seconds, and if she sits quietly and nicely without barking or growling, she goes back to the other room. If she growls at any point, repeat the time out until she can enter the room and settle without misbehaving. This might take 5-10 tries the first time, so I know it sucks to do this when it’s bedtime.
    The other thing we do is that when she barks or growls, we make a pretty quick, not necessarily loud, but authoritative sound like “nuh uh” or “hey!” The moment she stops (when she’s distracted by the loud sound) wait a split second and say “good girl” or praise her in some way. This will confuse the crap out of her the first few times, but once she realizes being quiet = good, wait longer each time between the semi-yell and praising the puppy so they start connecting “stop bark = praise” or “being quiet = praise”.
    None of these are quick fixes. We’ve been working with our dog for months already, and the only improvement we saw is her not chasing the cat whenever she jumps on the bed, and no more snapping at us. She still growls to tell us she’s unhappy, but at least she doesn’t escalate it anymore.
    If anyone else have better advice, I’m all ears. I don’t believe in the alpha theory and I’m working more with positive training.

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