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Friday, 25 May 2012

All night long


My Border Collie has started to bark at night and do not know how to stop it.
I just wondered if you knew how to stop it?
Tamsin (age 11), by email


  1. Could be lots of reasons and you need to see if you can find why it's suddenly happened - if it is suddenly. For example - with the nice weather we've all got windows open at night and obviously noises can disturb your dog. If you or your parents want to call our office Monday - Friday on 01889 577058 9am to 4.30pm we can discuss in detail, as trying to advise how to stop it depends so much on why it's happening.

    Ben Wilkes
    Border Collie Trust GB

  2. If the collie is getting on in years, there's good chance they are loosing their hearing AND sight. Low level Light blindness tends to occur 1st, so they find it hard to navigate in low light, such as dusk, nighttime and dawn.
    When their hearing goes, they cannot hear low pitch sounds, but register high pitch sounds.
    When both sight and hearing go, they then begin to rely on "sonar" and "smell" to do this, they need to bark, to get the sound the resonate off objects around them,
    As long as you don't move things around, you'll find the barking will stop, once they have mapped out their routes, in their heads, they will just use "sense and smell" to judge where they are.

    Another tool to use when dogs first begin to loose either sight or hearing, because they becomeunsure of themselves and panic, if they "think" they are one their own, in th house,
    Is to leave a radio (preferably battery) on on a talking station, and on a low volume. This will lift alot of the dogs uneasiness, because it picks up the vibrations from the low talking.

    Getting old and loosing sight and hearing, also affects they way they feel about themselves, because they can no-longer "do their job" protecting you and the house at night, so ANY sound, becaue of the Dog's hightened stressed stae, will make the dog "over react" just so YOU think he's still capable of doing his or her job. again the radio on low, should block out the dogs need to react, unless you are asking him tp guard the house, without realising it.

    Having doors closed on him will make him more stressed because he cannot tell what is going on "outside" his area, it may be an idea to try leaving asmany doors as possible, open, so he can still "do his rounds" at night. This will boost his confidence and allow him funnily enough, to relax more.

    If yyou are willing to have him in your room at night, this will further de stress him, thinking he's earned his position i his old age to be with you and have "joint" protection of you and your family.

    It is possible to get both hearing and eyesight checked by your Vet, if you think this could be the issue, but do remember, this will add to his stress levels, if he thinks, you think, he's noot upto the job anymore, and it might make him bark at night or when its quiet in the house, even more!
    Jackie Grimmett The Old Dog Listener.
    Gosport Dog Grooming

  3. My dog barks at foxes etc in the garden at night because she can see them. If we close the blinds she is fine. Hope your problem is as easily solved :)

  4. If your dog has suddenly started barking at night (as opposed to having always done it, and now it's getting worse) I would first suggest you book an appointment with your vet, just to have him checked over and ensure that he's not in any pain, or there's no other reason e.g. ear infection, or old age.

    I would then look at where he sleeps, dogs are social animals and (like ourselves) like to be in the company of others. If he's shut away in the kitchen at night he could simply be saying "I don't want to be on my own", which is perfectly understandable.

    If your vet says he's healthy, and he isn't shut away at night time, you then need to consider your environment - is a neighbour coming home from a late shift at work, or leaving to start a night shift; now that it's summer could it be the increase in wild animals that's bothering him (e.g. last night, an owl swooped on some prey right outside my bedroom window, my dog didn't startle at the noise, but he easily could have done); it might even simply be the increase in people being outside later on now that it's lighter and warmer that's bothering him.

    If it's a noise that you can easily record, recreate, or find on a de-sensitisation CD then it's very easy to teach your dog that a noise or noises is nothing to worry about; simply play the noise quietly while your dog is eating - either his food, or something really yummy like a stuffed food-carrier toy - after a few days you can turn up the volume a little bit, and then increase it again after a few more days, right up until the noise isn't of any concern to your dog.

    One other suggestion I would make, would be to invest in Turid Rugaas' wonderful booklet "Barking The Sound of a Language"; this looks at the various types of dog barks, and gives an example of how it will likely sound, what other behaviours the dog might be doing (e.g. jumping, running away, etc), and gives suggestions for what you can do to reduce, redirect, or stop the barking.

  5. Hi Tasmin
    If this has suddenly occurred, it could one of a number of causes.If it has built up slowly, it maybe that you have accidentally taught your dog to bark in order that he/she can see you or another family member at night.
    If it has suddenly occurred..
    a) Barking at night is usually one of the first signs of 'doggy dementia'. Is your Collie old? A trip to the vets maybe in order to discuss various treatments.
    b) Has your Collie got any aches or a pains. Again, a trip to the vets may put your mind at rest.
    c) Is there anything that could be disturbing your Collie? Cover up any windows at night.
    d) Does he/she get enough stimulation and exercise during the day? A well exercised, healthy dog will generally sleep through most things at night.

    Hope that helps.

  6. There could be so many reasons why your dog is doing this. A qualified behaviourist will do a thorough investigation. My first thought is to ask how do you react when your dog barks at night? Do you get up and give him attention? He might have learned that barking is a good way to get your attention, and you are reinforcing that behaviour!

  7. thank you so much for helping me with my problem thankfully he is as good as gold at night now
    thank you