Early Morning Barking

A beautiful early morning walk with Ben puppy

A beautiful early morning walk with Ben puppy

Lately I have been getting lots of people writing in asking for help with their dogs early waking behaviour. One of the most difficult times when we bring home a new puppy are the early mornings, seven days a week. It can be exhausting and disruptive to the home and even neighbours. Here’s a little information on why it occurs and some strategies for help.

Early morning rising is not usually the problem, it’s the barking associated with it that causes the most distress to everyone. Puppies will often bark to let you know they are awake, over time your puppy may start to bark earlier and earlier to get you up. This is a learned behaviour, made even stronger if you only wake up when the barking becomes louder. Barking is also intrinsically rewarding, barking feels good for a dog so ignoring it is unlikely to change the behaviour.

If you are reading this before you bring your puppy home set your alarm at sunrise and tend to your puppy before they start barking, the alarm becomes the trigger for your puppy knowing you are waking up and each week you can set your alarm for 10mins later, thereby training your dog to sleep in a little more. If you already have an early morning barker begin by allowing him to sleep inside overnight in a confined, warm area and only rise for him when he is quiet. He may start barking but only wake when there is a break in the barking, this way you are rewarding quiet. The reason you will need to bring him inside is so the early morning barking does not disrupt your neighbours. It may take several weeks to change early morning barking. You may also like to try the alarm tip above but you will need to initially set your alarm before your dog wakes, then over weeks set your alarm later and later.

Compliment this training by adding more enrichment to your dogs life during waking hours.

  • Dogs need to be walked every day, if your dog can have off lead time they will be more tired and more likely to sleep longer.
  • Join a dog club so you and your dog can learn new skills, this will stimulate your dogs mind and make him more tired at the end of the day.
  • When you wake in the morning feed your dog in an enriching way, zoo’s around the world do this for their captive animals. Eliminate the food bowl and exclusively feed your dog through a food dispensing toy, scatter the food around the yard and even hide food in sandpits and other places in your yard. You may then be able to go back to bed for a while.
  • Allow your dog to sleep inside, especially if the room is dark they may sleep a little longer.
  • If you live with other people, discuss taking turns to wake for the dog so that you get some respite from early mornings.
  • Take your dog for morning walks, when you come back home you can rest if it’s a weekend, if it’s a working day your dog will be rested while you are away from home. Training your dog on early walks will be easier too because there are less distractions to compete with.
  • Go to bed early yourself to get more sleep.

Early morning barking is different to your puppy needing to toilet over night. Anything in the middle of the night is a toilet break and your puppy can go back to sleep, anything around sunrise time is also a toilet need but also your puppy waking for the day, it will be unrealistic to expect your puppy to continue sleeping after sunrise.

Dogs are high maintenance pets, they need enrichment. Expect your puppy to wake with the sun, and understand that they do not know the difference between work days and weekends. Some of the best walks I have had have been at sunrise with my puppies, as painful as it is sunrise is a truly beautiful time of day.

Katarina

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25 Responses to Early Morning Barking

  1. Swe says:

    My dogs bark hours before sunrise, I actully get up at sunrise to walk them. I have a lab (8 yrs) and a daschound (2 yrs). My lab and I moved in with the daschy 4 months ago and prior to this she didn’t bark at all. Now the 2 of them bark every half hour from 4 am. They are able to go outside easily to toilet and it’s still dark until 6am. I’m completely puzzled and nearing insanity. Do you have any tips to calm them down?

    • katarina says:

      Since it’s still dark it could be nocturnal wildlife causing the barking. Two dogs will often work each other up and barking is a very internally satisfying behaviour for a dog, even better if it gets an external reward like your attention or scaring the animals away.

      Regardless, asking you to train them to stop is completely unthinkable because it would be impossible to maintain such consistency at such a crazy time of morning. I would recommend that you lock them inside (some where warm and draft free) overnight with a radio playing to drown out any outside noise. It’s the easiest solution. You might even find they can sleep loose inside the house, so long as they are not likely to inappropriately chew or destroy anything.

  2. Maria Morris says:

    We had this problem with our new puppy. We had been settling her at night in the kitchen/laundry which was fine; she was quiet until about 4.30-5.00am but then she would just start howling and barking with no break (I left her for an hour!) until I got up. We then decided to put a barrier up between the kitchen and the laundry, putting her in the laundry which is smaller and settling her at night as usual. This has worked really well as we take the barrier away during the day this really signifies bed time and she waits until I get up to remove the barrier which signifies daytime. I do get up earlier than I would like because I don’t want to push it too much, but we have had no early morning barking since we did this.

  3. Rachel says:

    Can anyone help me, i rescued a 12 week old cattle dog cross border collie pup with a broken jaw.. Once her jaw healed we took of te plaster.. Now all she does is bark! She is up at 5 am barking. She stands next to our other dog who may even be asleep amd just barks at him… It looks like she is trying to antagonise him and whenever we walk out the door, in our yard or anything the puppy runs in circles around us barking at our other dog… Ive tried, training with treats, ignoringing it, smacking her, telling her no and turning my back… You name it i did it but she pays absolutely no attetion to anything i do to reprimand her…it feels hopeless and i dont want to but am at the berge of getting rid of her i cant deal with the stress. Thamks

    • katarina says:

      Hi Rachel,
      Sorry to hear you are having such a stressful time with your dog. Without all of the background information and observing your dog I cannot give you any solutions here. I think you are having to deal with some significant behaviour issues so I would recommend that you find a good trainer/behaviourist to come out and help you one-on-one with your new dog. I hope you find some peace soon.

  4. Leia says:

    Hello,

    Our Goldendoodle just turned one in July. She is fine when she is at our house, but when she goes to my parents house (she’s been there many times) she wakes up at 5:30 on the dot and starts barking. My parents don’t want to watch her because they don’t get any sleep. She even does this when I sleep over with her. She gets lots of exercise and love. Any help is appreciated.

    • katarina says:

      Hi Leia,
      It will be important to identify the trigger for the barking, is it light coming through the window waking her up, night animals, neighbours, attention from you/parents, other dogs etc. Once the trigger is identified you can address it by say having her crated in your bedroom, leaving the blinds drawn, keeping the radio on to drown out external noise.

  5. Tracey Preece says:

    Hi ,we have had dogs all of our married life and before at the moment we have a 11 month old lab /cross with god knows what else as she is a rescue from Croatia and a 10 month old german shepherd we have had both of them since easter of this year .now all of a sudden the german shepherd wants to go out at 4 in the morning he doesn’t need to wee he just goes out and sits in the garden barking and wont stop it has only been for the last three nights but we live in a in heavily populated residential area and it wont take long before our neighbours aren’t so impressed with the new security system any help from any one would be most welcome

    • katarina says:

      Hi Tracey,
      Dogs do what works so on some level this routine is working for your GSD. Have a think about what it might be, what do you do when she barks? It’s probably attention seeking behaviour, dogs will take any attention good or bad. The only thing you can do is ignore his demands to go out at 4am, his demanding behaviour will probably get worse before it gets better so start this at a time when your life isn’t too busy because you will have sleep deprivation. It may take a few weeks it get things back to normal. However, a 10 month GSD will be ready for the day at sunrise so once he waking at that time you will need to attend to him with a walk or other stimulation. GSD’s are a very high maintenance breed, he will need (at a minimum) one hour of off lead walking every single day and training practice throughout the day on top of this to make sure he is tired, and this will help him sleep through the night.

  6. Cocker Spaniel Lover says:

    Hi,
    We having trouble with our Cocker Spaniel. She keeps howling early in the morning before we get up. The time she howls varies – sometimes it’s 5:30 other times it’s an hour later. We have moved her crate down to the cellar for a while and that seems to work but whenever we let her sleep in the house she howls. When she was a young puppy she used to howl and bark all night but she is about 1 year and 3 months now and she has not howled at night for over 1 year. Do you have any solutions on how we can stop her from howling? We don’t want her to sleep in the cellar for much longer.

    • katarina says:

      Hello,
      You will need to identify the trigger for the howling, in all likelihood it may be attention seeking behaviour. Or she may simply be ready to wake up, young dogs often want to start their day very early in the morning. Old behaviours can always reemerge so stay consistent with what you were doing to stop the howling when it first started a year ago.

  7. Paul says:

    Hi,

    We have an 8 month old cockapoo who starts barking as soon as he wakes. This is usually between 5-6am but if he wakes in the night, it can be much earlier. Once he starts barking he does not stop until you he eventually hears us coming down the stairs to him. We have tried ignoring him, but he will literally bark for hours if left.

    Once you are up, he will then go back to sleep but as soon as you venture back upstairs the barking starts again.

    We daren’t even go to the toilet in the night for fear of him waking.

    Please do you have any advice? Our other option is letting him sleep in our bedroom, which we really don’t want to do.

    Many thanks.

    • katarina says:

      Hi Paul,
      There’s very little you can do training wise to help with this as training in the middle of the night is never going to work. It seems like its a learned behaviour, he is getting the attention he needs from barking. It will continue as long as he is getting what he wants.

      Take a look at how much excretes he is getting everyday and how much time he is spending with the family. A dog like him will need at least an hour of walking every day, plus training each day too, they also need to be close to their family.

      If the barking stops with him in your room then at least you will get some peace and can look at moving him gradually out again over time.

  8. Sara Brabin says:

    Hi Katrina
    I have 22ish week old pup that I trained really well in the first couple of weeks of having her (from 8 weeks old) and made sure she wasn’t a barker, through positive reenforencements. Once every two or three weeks she might decide to wake up barking—normally she is great and plays with her toys until I come out to her with no noise. On these rare occasions she wakes up early barking I go outside, pick up her poo and walk around the garden for a few minutes to let her know I’m there but don’t pat or give her any attention and that normally works. The last few mornings in a row she has been waking up early and barking each morning and even after I come back inside she goes back to barking again within about 20 minutes. I know it hasn’t been long but if there is a way to nip her new behaviours quickly before it becomes a routine that would be great. Any advise would be great thanks!

    Thanks,
    Sara

  9. Kay Kyle says:

    We have a 4 month old black Labrador and since we have had her she is not an inside dog. My husband built a lovely big run for her with the kennel inside this run.This run is about 50 metres from the house. She does not bark during the day and is excercised every day. She goes to bed in her kennel no problem then from 4.30am she starts barking. We have tried leaving her but are afraid of upsetting the neighbours. We bring her up near the house and tie her lead onto the back of our vehicle and then there is no barking. We do not fed her until about 6.30-7am and she is quite happy with her lead on the back of the vehicle and sometimes goes to sleep.This seems to make me think she wants our company but I do not want to bring her kennel up near the house. She has an amazing run but does not want to be in there early morning. This morning was the last straw when a neighbour rang our house at 4.45am and was not happy. We have tried an ultrasonic dog collar and did not work.

  10. SUZETTE says:

    Amy advice o a 13 yr old husky who NEVER barked his entire life does not howl and now all of a sudden has to bark non stop for hours in the morning ..he is. Rated goes out at very late night (I work 2nd shift) and no matter what still barks..when I let him out after stadium in front if his crate till he is quiet he is in no rush to use the bathroom..I’m going crazy.

    • SUZETTE says:

      Any advice on a 13 yr old husky who NEVER barked his entire life does not howl and now all of a sudden has to bark non stop for hours in the morning ..he goes out very late night (I work 2nd shift) and no matter what still barks..when I let him out after stadium in front if his crate till he is quiet he is in no rush to use the bathroom..I’m going crazy.

  11. Dania says:

    Hi Katarina!

    I got my cockapoo puppy at 10 weeks old and used to wake up during the night to take him out to pee. I slowly increased the times and now he is able to hold his bladder until the morning! He started waking up at 6 (which was totally reasonable), but now at 16 weeks old I feel like all the progress he’s made is out the window! The past few weeks he’s been waking up earlier and earlier and I’m not too sure how I should approach this! Should I let him bark until I am ready to wake up or should I be going down (he sleeps in a crate in the basement) since he is still a puppy and he will automatically adjust to my schedule as he gets older? Any advise would be great! Thanks :)

  12. Avery Maples says:

    Our almost 13 year old papillon has started barking sometimes at bedtime, which is between 11pm and 1am. He is taken outside just before this. If I am certain he has pooed and peed, I ignore the incessant barking. The late night barking has somewhat subsided. HOWEVER, he has also been barking at 5am, 5:30, 6am etc. Sometimes without stopping for as long as an hour. Other times off and on. He is barking as he lies in his open crate with his front paws crossed. His crate (door is off) is in a small laundry room. When we arrive he has sometimes done his stuff in the floor, which is also new for him. The last few nights, I have cut the floor space down by over 1/3. This has had an affect on morning cleanups but not the non stop barking. We are two adults (one who is home all the time) and have no other pets. Help!!!!

  13. N Valks says:

    Hello,

    Our puppy is 15 weeks old. We have crate trained him at night and until recently he would sleep through the night. He now wakes up at 3am and 4:30am. We left him for about 30mins before going downstairs to comfort him but now he barks and barks and barks until we go down, no matter how long it is. We were advised to let him “bark it out” for a few nights but unfortunately our neighbours hear him and have complained so this isn’t an option now.

    As soon as he sees us he’s happy and relaxed. We have got into the bad habit of sleeping on the sofa with him on the floor next to us but at 5 months pregnant I can’t keep doing this. We’re running out of ideas and don’t really want to bring him up to our bedroom. We experienced that on a weekend break and he still wakes up in the night to check we’re there!

  14. Lex says:

    Hello.

    I rescued a 2.5 year old Pointer over a month ago and lately he has been waking us up earlier and earlier in the mornings. Some days I will work until 3:30am so the last time dogs go out is 4am but he is still up at 7am doing a very high pitched cry. He does stress really bad and has anxiety when I leave the room or he is crated but he has gotten allot better with us going to work and being in the crate. He had to wear a bark collar on demand of my landlord and him disturbing the nabours but now instead of the barking he is doing a high pitched whine that was waking the house up at 8am (when I generally wake up on any day I’m not awake till 4am. But lately he has been loosing his mind earlier and earlier where it is now 6am and I have no choice but to get up and stay up because he will cry and bark and yelp and wake up my house mate and myself making everyone angry and loose sleep. We have tried to ignore him but no matter what it turns into me letting him outside and not being able to go back to bed, because even if I wake up and let them out to do their bios ones he is screaming and crying even worse when I go back to bed. They are fed at 8 and 8 no matter how early he wakes me up I need help AND SLEEP.

  15. Malak Abul-ata says:

    My 6 month old golden retriever starts barking from 6 or 7 am every day. He continuesly barks without any breaks. It gets very irritating and neighbours could complain. Once i take him out he starts playing on his own, so his issue is that he just wants to be outside his crate. He sleeps downstairs in the living room with one lamp turned on. Please advise me on what i should do. Thank you.

  16. Axel says:

    Her tips of training dogs are not helpful at all. The best way to train the dog is to beat them up constantly when they do something wrong.

  17. Belinda says:

    We don’t have a puppy, we rescued a 3 year old Cockerspaniel. He howl’s at 6:30am every morning. I am trying to be considerate of my neighbors so I let him in but I really want him to stop. He gets walked twice a day, he has lots of toys so he is being stimulated and kept busy. How do I stop these early morning wake ups?

  18. natasha says:

    Hi my german Shepherd must be suffering from separation anxiety. He does not bark at all when we are home but we got a letter from neighbours saying he is barking when we gp to work for 2-4 hours. We leave for work at 3 am so walking at 1.30 am isnt really a option im interested in?

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