3 Reasons Why Your Dog is Acting Aggressive at Night

Dog Growling

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.

Disclaimer: The content on MyPetChild.com is for informational purpose only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian when in doubt.

22 Comments

  1. Elaine Butt March 22, 2021 at 7:21 pm

    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?

  2. Diana March 23, 2021 at 4:28 am

    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.

    1. Ashton November 11, 2021 at 11:37 pm

      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.

  3. Julia April 12, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    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

    1. Kailey April 15, 2021 at 10:32 pm

      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.

      1. Becky May 2, 2021 at 2:19 am

        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.

        1. Lynda Raven June 1, 2021 at 11:55 pm

          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.

      2. Luca July 21, 2021 at 4:47 am

        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 ?

      3. Molly August 15, 2021 at 5:53 pm

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

    2. Wendy July 5, 2021 at 12:06 pm

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

    3. Lynn July 14, 2021 at 9:07 pm

      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!

    4. Louise Glover September 28, 2021 at 12:54 pm

      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?

  4. Deborah Shaw April 21, 2021 at 7:01 am

    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” .

    1. Maha September 1, 2021 at 11:46 pm

      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.

  5. Brandi May 10, 2021 at 2:56 am

    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

  6. Colette June 21, 2021 at 2:42 am

    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.

  7. Kylie June 24, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    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.

    1. Cindy September 24, 2021 at 2:50 pm

      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!

  8. Steve Smith July 13, 2021 at 2:48 pm

    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?

  9. lyn matthews July 18, 2021 at 8:16 pm

    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.

  10. Crystal Isaacson August 17, 2021 at 4:30 am

    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

  11. Keisha August 28, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *