Skip to Content

8 Reasons For Dog Barking In Sleep

8 Reasons For Dog Barking In Sleep

There are a lot of dog behaviors that are truly interesting and can be amusing at times, but there are also the ones that can be a bit scary. Everything a dog does has a point to it. For some behaviors, the cause can be quite hard to determine while others are quite obvious.

Dogs can do a lot of things during the night when dog owners are tired and just trying to get some sleep. But what if we tell you that some of the things are not done purposely?

They might be asleep as these occurrences happen. Dog barking in sleep is one of those things that can be scary and funny at the same time. Well, the funny part comes after you have determined the cause.

In this article, we will go through some of the reasons for a dog barking in sleep and what to do to try and prevent it from happening regularly.

Reasons For A Dog Barking In Sleep

This strange behavior is something that you do not see that often with dogs. In most cases, it happens from time to time, and it is because of a simple reason that we will list later on.

In some rare cases, this can happen a bit more often than average. There are some reasons for that as well and they might not be as funny and cute as your sleeping barking pooch when you caught them doing that for the first time.

Here is the list of reasons for a dog barking in sleep.

1. They Are Dreaming

dachshund dog sleeping on the cozy mat

This is the main reason that a lot of us are aware of when it comes to your pooch being loud while they are tight asleep. Dreaming is not something that only we as people do. Oh no. Dogs have the ability to dream as well.

Their dreams might not be as complex as ours, but they can be emotionally intense. This is when the barking kicks in. Barking is not the only thing that can happen when the dog is dreaming. They can move their paws as they are running, they can start growling, showcase a bit of tail wag, and you can be able to see their eyes moving and twitching.

They can also be whimpering. A lot of things can happen during their sleeping time.

Barking and twitching are one of the most common things that a dog can showcase when they are deep in a dream. This happens somewhere between the non-REM and deep REM phases of their sleeping.

REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement and dogs experience it just like we people do.

An interesting fact is that smaller dogs tend to shift from non-REM sleep and REM sleep more than bigger dogs. This would mean that small dogs have more dreams than bigger dogs.

Large dog breeds have a similar cycle that we humans have. Larger dogs go into REM sleeping almost every 90 minutes. The smaller pooches go through this every 10 minutes.

The thing is that there is no possible way to know if your dog is having a good or a bad dream. Since they cannot clearly tell us that they had a dream, some of the behavior that occurs when they are sleeping has encouraged researchers to do some digging on this topic.

They found out that the dog’s brain showed brain activity while they are in the REM cycle, or the stage where dreams begin, which is really similar to brain waves that we humans have.

The barking that occurs while they are dreaming is not as loud as their normal barks.

2. Anxiety

cavapoo dog sleeping in his bed

This is one of the causes that are not positive and causes your dog some problems. The barking by itself is not a bad thing, but it can represent something that is not that good.

Mostly dogs that have anxiety and are barking during their sleep are having some sort of nightmare. There are a couple of things that can cause your dog to have anxiety and that cause can be the exact thing that they are dreaming of.

One of the situations that could have caused your pooch’s anxiety is moving. Changing their home, especially if they have lived there for a long period of time, can be really stressful for the dog. Your dog might not get used to the environment that quickly and because of that can have nightmares related to the new environment.

Your dog can have anxiety from a certain person or dog. This can be tricky and extremely upsetting for the dog. They might have nightmares of that person or dog attacking their owner.

Separation anxiety is one of the most common types of anxiety that your dog can suffer from. This happens when a dog is left alone for a long period of time. They can project the fear of you leaving them through their dreams which can result in them barking in their sleep as a way of trying to get  hold of you.

RELATED: Why Is My Dog So Attached To Me All Of A Sudden? An Overview

3. Medication Side Effects

funny puppy pug dog sleep rest on pillow bed

There are some medications that can have side effects on the dog’s sleep. These effects can be even more severe if you have raised the dosage of that medication due to your dog’s health issues.

A part of that side effect is your dog barking in its sleep more than it normally did before. This can also be followed by grunting and even some other types of vocalizations.

If you notice this behavior in your furry friend after you have started giving them a certain medication or if you have raised the dosage consult with your vet.

The barking is nothing to be concerned about, but it may be a showcase of something else not being right, whether it is a bad dream or them being in some type of discomfort.

RELATED: Why Is My Dog Barking At Nothing? 9 Reasons

4. Noise

Lazy dog lyng down in bed

Noise, especially sudden noise can make your dog bark while it is sleeping. Since they are in a deep sleep state they probably won’t get up from the noise if it is not too loud. The thing that can happen is that the noise transfers in their dreams, meaning that if doors slam, they will think that this happened in their dream.

Depending on what that noise is, your dog can get scared or even angry. They might feel  the need to protect you from that noise and that is the reason they start to bark. Their heart rate will most likely get high.

On the other hand, if they get scared because of the noise your dog can get overwhelmed, especially if they wake up in the middle of the night by themself. So, if you heard the noise as well or even maybe accidentally caused it, always go and check your dog out.

If you think that they look a bit nervous and tense, try to lightly and slowly wake them up by petting them.

But there can also be a positive side. You could have stepped on their favorite squeaky toy. This can make them have some happy dreams and because of the excitement, they might start barking.

5. Excitement

cute dog is lying and sleeping on pillow blanket

This is when happy dreams are present. There is no way to know exactly what do dogs dream about and it can sometimes be hard to distinguish whether the dream is bad or good, and that is the biggest problem.

The barking and some of the other body movements can be the same with both.

If you know that your dog has had a good day, that he or she spent enough time playing around with other dogs and spent  enough time with you, you can expect them to sleep bark because they are having a good dream reminiscing about what they did.

This is the most common with puppies. When they are that young, everything is exciting to them, and they are always surrounded by their siblings in the early stages of life. When they arrive at their new homes, they still will remember all their siblings.

Some of those exciting memories can transfer into a dream and the barking part while dreaming is probably them recreating the bark they showcase when they are playing with their siblings.

6. Pain

Cute Beagle puppy sleeping in bed

This is an unfortunate reason why dogs bark when they are sleeping, and it is common with older dogs that have some health issues. Younger dogs can have this problem as well if they are feeling any type of pain.

With older dogs, barking in sleep can occur even when they are taking naps. This can be considered as some type of a cry for help.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot that you can do in these situations. The best thing to do is to let your dog sleep with you for the night so they can feel comfort and love from you.

7. Not Being Tired Enough

funny chihuahua dog sleeping on a pillow in bed

Every dog has to have a certain amount of exercise during the day, even the dogs that are a bit on the lazier side, like Bulldogs for example. This is especially important for dogs that have high or medium energy levels.

If they do not get enough exercise for the day the dog’s sleeping will be compromised as well. Dogs that are not tired enough often have more vivid dreams and will be more likely to bark.

It is believed that these dogs are usually dreaming of playing with the pet parent or other dogs and these  can be considered happy dreams.

There is not enough research done on this topic, but these are some of the guesses.

8. Difficulties In Breathing

One Month Old Terrier Mix Puppy Sleeping in Bed with Favorite Toy

Dogs that have flatter snouts and dogs with obesity can have problems with breathing. There is also a situation where the dog’s airway can get blocked by them putting their snout too close to a toy or a pillow.

When this happens the breathing problem will appear in their dream as well. The barking might not be the main reaction for these types of situations, but it may occur as a way of calling for help.

In these situations, the dog will wake up pretty quickly and end its sleep cycle.

What To Do When Your Dog Is Barking In Sleep?

Barking while sleeping is nothing that is harmful to the dog, but it can represent something that is bothering your dog. A lot of recommendations when it comes to your dog barking in their sleep is to do nothing, but we don’t really agree with  that.

Here are some of the things you can do when it comes to a dog barking in sleep.

Try to find the cause of their barking. This can be a bit difficult to achieve and it can take some time, but figuring out the problem, or if there is a problem at all, is quite important. Based on that you can focus on a more detailed solution.

Never punish a dog that was barking in its sleep. This is due to several reasons. First, you can scare the dog and make them think that it did something bad. Second, most of the dogs are not aware that they have been barking out loud. If you punish it, the dog will feel really confused.

RELATED: Will My Dog Forgive Me For Hitting Him? Advice For Dog Owners

Try the gentle approach. If you see that your dog is barking and showing some other body language as if it is struggling, try to wake them up in a calm and gentle way. Try petting them and talking to them in a soft voice until they wake up. You made a bad dream go away and you will be the first thing that they see which will bring them a lot of comfort.

Try to make the environment as calm as possible for your dog. This is good for dogs that may have some type of anxiety, especially if you have moved into another home.

If your dog has anxiety issues you need to work on the problems that are causing them the anxiety. This can be a bit difficult and overwhelming for the owner. You can always hire a behavioral expert to help you and your pooch out.

Try using a white noise machine. This is proven to help people calm down and go to sleep more relaxed. It can also help your dog as well, but it is not guaranteed.

Present the dog’s bed as the safe zone. Dogs need their space where they know they can isolate themself from everything. The bed or crate should feel safe and comfortable enough for them to enjoy sleeping in. If they have any discomfort, they will avoid it.

RELATED: Why Does My Dog Suddenly Hate His Crate? 14 Reasons

Go to the vet if your dog seems like it is experiencing any type of pain or discomfort. This is more connected to senior dogs. Younger dogs can also experience it if they get really sick. The vet is the best option for this. You can only provide comfort in these situations.

Make sure that your dog has had enough exercise for the day. A good tip is that you take your dog out for a long walk or a play date with another dog right before going to bed. This way both you and the dog will get tired and fall asleep easily.

Don’t give your dog a heavy meal or lots of treats before bed. A lot of heavy dog food right before bed can make the dog have stomach issues and with that sleeping issues as well.

Try dog-safe earplugs. This is for dogs that are more sensitive to certain noises. This can be used if you moved from a quiet place to a louder one. The dog might not be used to some sounds so the earplugs can help for a while.

Preventing your dog from barking can take a lot of work and time, but it is not impossible. Just stay persistent and calm and the problem will be solved.

What Else Is Considered As Normal Behavior While The Dog Is Asleep?

cute dog sleeping on the sofa

There are many things that dogs can do during their dreaming stage. Some things can be an indication that something is wrong, but for the most part, they are all completely normal.

For example, whimpers are considered to be a normal type of behavior. This is an indication that your dog is probably having a bad dream. You can feel sorry for your dog for having a bad dream, but a whimper on itself is considered to be  normal behavior that a  dog can showcase while it sleeps.

Here are some other examples of normal behavior during sleep:

Grunts and snorts. This can mean that the dog is dreaming of smelling something.

Chewing or licking noises. It is considered when you hear your pooch doing this while it is sleeping that it is dreaming about food.

Growling. This usually means that the dog is having a nightmare where they are either scared or being protective of its loved ones.

Howling. This can also be connected to your dog having nightmares.

Moving all of their paws as they are running. This is the type of body language that people find extremely funny and interesting. This can go either way meaning that the dog may be having either a nice or a bad dream. Depending on the situation.

Moving their eyes. This can be a result of many things, but it is sometimes hard to notice eye movement.

Ear movement or even twitching of the ear.


– Moving their heads.

– Wagging their tails

– Turning their direction

– Twitching the legs

As you can see there are many things that can occur while the pooch is sound asleep. Some of these are more noticeable with larger breeds than with smaller breeds.

Should You Wake Your Dog Up When You Notice Them Barking In Sleep?

French bulldog puppy sleeping in his basket

The best option will be to let them sleep. If you wake a dog up suddenly from its sleep it can make them aggravated and confused. The dog might even feel lost for a moment.

This can mess with their sleep for the rest of the night. You should wake them up only if you are sure that they are showcasing other body language that can be connected to discomfort or stress.

It can be concerning hearing your dog in the middle of the night, especially when you notice them still sleeping, but the best thing to do is to just let them be unless you know that there is an underlying problem that you are in the process of solving.

Why Does A Dog Dream?

There is no explanation for this. People tend to forget that dogs are emotional beings that can experience some emotions just like we as people do.

If your dog can memorize all of the commands you taught them, why couldn’t they memorize some situations and emotions and relive them in their dreams? There is a saying that a dog never forgets anything, especially if they were mistreated.

These dogs will have quite a lot of nightmares. But don’t worry, this will last only until they find a new loving forever home. Just like they remember the bad and traumatic stuff, they can remember all the nice experiences.

They won’t forget the bad situations, but they are able to suppress them and make a spot for the good ones. All of those memories, good or bad, can pop into their minds while they are deep in their sleep.

Is It Normal For Dogs To Snore While They Are Sleeping?

Tired Pug dog asleep on beige sofa

The shortest answer is yes. Dogs can snore just like we humans do, and sometimes even louder than we do. Snoring is completely normal, but it can also be a showcase that your dog may have some struggles.

The main reason is the obstruction of the airway,  which can be caused by obesity, respiratory issues, allergies, or the shape of the dog’s snout.

If your dog is snoring from time to time, it can be endearing, but if this has become a common thing, then that needs to be addressed. Usually, dogs that snore a lot have problems breathing when they are awake as well.

When you notice constant snoring, it would  be best to take the dog to the vet just in case.

What If It Appears That My Dog Has Stopped Breathing For A Moment?

Cute english bulldog sleeping on the couch

This can happen from time to time. It is almost like they held their breath which is accompanied by a big sigh afterwards. This is not something that should be happening every night, let alone a couple of times a night.

Dogs have the ability to regulate their body temperature by breathing rapidly. This is something that they rely on a lot. If you notice that your dog has difficulties breathing or even snores a lot, you should contact the vet.

To Sum It All Up

When it comes to dogs and their way of telling us something is wrong, reading their body language is the key. Knowing your dog is really important. There are some body languages that are normal for one dog but not that normal for other dogs.

They can even show us if there is a problem or if they are happy without even knowing it, and that is done while they are asleep.

Dog barking in sleep can be a cause of different things. Some are good while others can be considered as bad.

We hope that our list of reasons and the list of things you should do if you have a dog that is barking while asleep was helpful for you.


Why Is My Dog Sleeping Under The Bed? 13 Reasons & Some Tips

Why Do Dogs Stick Their Tongue Out?

Why Do Dogs Roll On Dead Animals? 3 Common Causes