Indeed, it can be somewhat bothersome to wake up in the middle of the night just to notice that your dog is restless and constantly switching sleeping spots when you expect him to have had a peaceful drift to the snooze land.
The common reasons why dogs change spots while sleeping include separation anxiety, itchy skin, new or uncomfortable sleeping area, extreme temperature, exposure to strange noise or smell, exercise deprivation, and health problems causing pain.
This could also be a result of sleeping disorders or canine cognitive dysfunction.
Let’s go further to explain the various reasons why dogs often become restless and move from one spot to another during sleep alongside possible solutions.
Dogs react to pain in different ways but if you notice that your dog is changing his sleeping location, chances are that he may be experiencing either mild or severe pain. You can look out for other symptoms of pain like yelping, limping, aggression, back arching, muscle twitching, or labored breathing.
While giving your pooch OTC medication for pain may seem like a no-brainer, the best way to treat pain is by finding out the underlying cause. Hence, taking your dog to the vet for a thorough examination is crucial in this case.
2. Separation Anxiety
Sometimes when dogs bond with you, they tend to feel nervous and insecure when you are not around them. Hence, your pooch can become a restless sleeper, moving from spot to spot if he sleeps in a different room. This is known as separation anxiety.
Restlessness while sleeping may be a mild symptom of separation anxiety. If your dog is showing any sign of anxiety, it is important to seek the help of a professional otherwise this condition may progress to advanced stages where your pooch is characterized by destructive behaviors like self-harm, damaging furniture, and excessive jumping.
Calming your dog before bedtime will also help to reduce the symptoms of separation anxiety.
3. Fido Is Deep In The Dreamland
Dogs have similar brain activities and sleep cycles as humans, experiencing both Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and non-REM sleep cycles. Dreaming happens in the REM cycles and slight body movements may be seen.
A part of a dog’s brain stem known as the pons is responsible for muscle relaxation during REM sleep. The pons is often less functional in senior dogs and underdeveloped in puppies. Hence, puppies and old dogs tend to move more frequently in sleep.
Most commonly, dogs twitch and paddle their feet when they are dreaming. However, this can cause your pooch may move to a new sleeping spot over time without realizing it.
4. Skin Problems
Any skin problem that can cause itchiness or irritation of your dog’s skin is capable of affecting the quality of your dog’s sleep and possibly forcing him to move from one spot to another.
The skin problems could range from bacterial, viral, or yeast infection to a mite, tick, or flea infestation as well as allergic reactions. Additionally, there is the possibility of having insect bites especially if your dog sleeps on a bare floor or outside.
If you suspect itchiness in your dog’s skin, you can quickly inspect your dog or better consult your vet to find out what is wrong with your pooch.
5. Sleep Disorders
While trying to find out the exact reason why your dog changes sleeping spots, do not rule out sleep disorders. There are 4 types of sleep disorders in dogs: REM sleep behavior disorder, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and insomnia.
Excessive physical activities and violent movements during sleep are typical of REM sleep behavior and this is usually more intensified than is seen in normal REM cycles. Dog owners often report cases of their dog running into barriers, biting, or hitting surrounding objects.
6. Unsuitable Temperature
Sleeping in a room, bed, or environment that is too hot or too cold for your dog’s liking can throw your dog into a state of restlessness. Dogs often adapt pretty well to a wide range of temperatures but they may prefer certain temperatures when the opportunity presents itself because it feels better and more relaxing to them.
While there is no optimal temperature for dogs, it is important to understand your dog’s temperature preference and necessary arrangements to ensure that your pooch gets the best out of his bedtime.
7. Your Dog’s Bed Is Uncomfortable
Dogs value comfort like humans and if your dog is moving from spot to spot while sleeping, you may need to reassess the comfort of your dog’s bed. As in the aforementioned case of temperature preference, dogs can be deprived of comfort and quality sleep when their bed is excessively warm or cold.
When your dog’s bed is too soft, he may also be worried because it does not offer adequate support for his body. Hard bed surfaces may result in pain and a lack of comfort for your dog. The wrong bed size could also force your dog to find relief in more comfortable sleeping locations.
It may also be that you placed his bed in the wrong spot. You can take note of where various spots your dog moves to while sleeping and move his bed to these spots.
Sudden changes in your dog’s sleeping arrangements can also affect your dog’s comfort, requiring him to adapt to the new arrangements.
Canine cognitive dysfunction is a condition that is common in older dogs where there is a decrease in cognitive functions characterized by disorientation, decreased awareness, loss of memory and learning abilities, and altered sleep-wake cycles.
Dogs with this condition tend to wake up intermittently at night and may start pacing due to confusion. This is a possible reason why your dog moves from spot to spot while sleeping.
9. Environmental Disturbances
Dogs are naturally alert creatures with keen olfactory and auditory senses. Strange noises or smells that you may not perceive as a human may be enough to disrupt your dog’s sleep and when your dog wakes up at night, he may move to other sleeping spots in search of security.
If the noise is too loud for your dog, for example, in the case of thunderstorms or fireworks, it may trigger canine anxiety and stress. Insect bites constitute environmental disturbances for your canine.
10. Exercise Deprivation
All dog breeds require a specific exercise requirement to ensure they receive enough physical and mental stimulation.
When these exercise requirements are not met, it may make them restless and full of anxiety at night. This is more evident in energetic breeds because they require plenty of exercises to burn off pent-up energy.
Exercise improves your dog’s sleep patterns, helping him to have a calm and restful sleep.
How To Stop Your Dog From Changing Spots While Sleeping?
Call The Vet
Your veterinarian is your first go-to when your pooch is having a restless sleep. It is important that your dog is examined for possible health problems that can result in pain or discomfort for these to be ruled out. In the case of separation anxiety, your vet can recommend helpful medications and advise you on the training and exercise routines best for your dog.
Sleeping disorders are often secondary to various underlying health problems. Hence, visiting your vet may be necessary for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Provide Good Sleeping Arrangements
More often than not, your pooch may be hale and hearty, but you just need to add a few tweaks to his sleeping area for better comfort. Ensure his bed is of the appropriate size and is not extremely soft or hard. You can also observe your dog to understand what temperature or sleeping spot is best for him and make necessary adjustments.
Crate Training Your Pooch
While dog parents need to provide comfort and good sleeping environments for their pooch, crate training might help make your sleep more restful, calm, and comfortable. It can help to improve your dog’s confidence, knowing that he is safe in his territory.
Allowing your pup to sleep in a crate close to your bed can reduce canine separation anxiety.
If you decide to take the crate training route, the video below will give you valuable insight into various steps to take.
Satisfy Your Dog’s Exercise Needs
We can all agree that it is easier for a dog to have a relaxed sleep when he is tired. An exercise routine is a necessity when ensuring that your pooch is healthy, well-behaved, and calm. It is beneficial for both your dog’s mental and physical health.
Besides, it provides other helpful benefits such as eliminating fear, preventing obesity, and improving the range of motion of your dog’s joints.
Dog Keeps Waking Up At Night
Dogs can wake up in the middle of the night due to a full bladder or bowel, sleep disorders, pain, itchiness, or an uncomfortable sleeping area. Anxiety, lack of exercise, or even hunger can also disrupt your dog’s sleep.
Dog Comes To My Bed At Night
As an animal with wolf ancestry, dogs instinctively need some level of interaction to feel happy, secure, and confident. Dogs may also come to your bed as a display of affection or a search for comfort and warmth. Dogs may also be attracted to special scents from your body or bed.
Why Does My Dog Take My Spot When I Get Up?
Dogs may grab your sleeping spot because they love your scent or just want to lie in the warm spot you left. This may also be a way of expressing dominance, an attention-seeking behavior, or something done to relieve separation anxiety.
Final Thoughts: Why Does My Dog Move From Spot To Spot While Sleeping
It is always satisfying to watch your dog snuggle peacefully and when you discover that your dog no longer maintains a spot while sleeping, it can be quite unsettling.
From separation anxiety, itchy skin, pain, uncomfortable sleeping spot, sleeping disorders, unusual noise or smell, to lack of mental and physical stimulation, there is no single reason why dogs become restless when sleeping.
Make sure you consult your vet quickly if your dog feels uncomfortable sleeping. You can also help your dog by providing suitable sleeping arrangements as well as regular exercise to prepare your dog for a night of healthy sleep. Also, your dog may require crate training if you want them to maintain a designated sleeping area without feeling confined.