If your German Shepherd is restless at night, this post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about it.
So, why is my German Shepherd restless at night? Possible causes are that it has a problem with its diet, it’s not getting enough exercise, there is a problem with its sleeping environment, separation anxiety or that you have inadvertently rewarded the behavior.
There are some nuances that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd does it. Once you have a good idea of the cause it will become easier for you to get it to stop.
Why your German Shepherd is restless at night
Each of the different reasons that your GSD does it will likely come with some clues.
Below, I will explain why it might be doing it and what would make each of the causes more likely.
A problem with its diet
The cause of it being restless at night could be that there is a problem with its diet. This would be more likely if it tends to become more restless not too long after eating including during the day.
The problem with its diet could be that it is eating the wrong foods or that it is eating too much. This would be more likely if it started being restless after you changed its diet. It could also be the case that someone else has been feeding it things that they shouldn’t. You can look here to see what you should and should not be feeding your GSD.
It could also be the case that you have been feeding it too late in the evening. This would be more likely to be the reason if it is less restless when you feed it earlier than usual in the evening. Instead of feeding it late in the evening, it would help to feed it early on in the evening.
Not enough exercise
German Shepherds are a breed that is meant to get a lot of exercise on a daily basis. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to develop behavioral issues including being highly energetic.
Generally, it is recommended for them to get an hour of exercise per day. If your German Shepherd isn’t getting that much then it would help to make sure that it does.
There is a problem with its sleeping environment
It could be the case that a problem with the area that it sleeps in is causing it to be unable to go to sleep. This would be more likely if it is able to go to sleep more easily in certain locations and if there are obvious problems with its sleeping environment such as being too bright, hot or noisy.
It might be the case that your German Shepherd has some separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and being left alone causes it to become anxious. This would be more likely if it starts showing signs of being anxious when you are about to leave such as by pacing or crying.
You have inadvertently rewarded it
The reason that it does it could be you have inadvertently trained it to be restless at night. If you tend to give it things that it wants, when it is restless, such as more attention, toys or treats then it will learn that being restless causes it to get those things so it does it more.
Instead of giving it things that it wants when it is restless it would help to reward it when it is well behaved and to avoid giving it attention when it is restless unless there is a clear cause for it.
Things to consider
There are many things to consider that could help you in figuring out why your GSD does it. Below, I will mention some particularly helpful things to consider.
When it started doing it
It would help to consider the timing of when it became restless since it could be the case that there was an event that triggered it to start doing it.
If it started doing it suddenly then it would make it more likely that it is due to things such as a change in its diet, a change in its sleeping environment or that it has gotten an illness or injury.
Whereas, if it has always done it then it could be the case that you inadvertently trained it to be that way from an early age, you feed it too late or that there has always been a problem with the area that it sleeps in.
When it does it more
The timing of when it does it more would also be something to consider.
For example, if it does it more when you feed it late at night then it would be much more likely to be due to feeding it too late. Whereas, if it does it more when there is a certain noise such as wind then it could be due to that.
How old it is
If your German Shepherd is still a puppy then it is to be expected that it will be restless at night. This is because it will initially be more anxious when it is left alone and it will not be able to last as long without peeing.
If it is not a puppy anymore then it could be due to any of the reasons mentioned above and it would help to consider the timing and when it started doing it.
What to do about your German Shepherd being restless at night
Below are a number of options that you have when getting your GSD to stop doing it. The best option for your GSD will depend on the cause of why it is doing it.
Give it exercise
As mentioned above, it is important to make sure that your German Shepherd is getting exercise on a daily basis. If yours is already getting exercise but it is still acting restless then you could wear it out more by getting it to play fetch. You could also try exercising it in the evening.
Avoid negative reinforcement
As was also mentioned above, it could be the case that you have inadvertently trained your GSD to be restless at night. Instead of giving it things that it wants when it is restless it would help to reward it when it is well behaved and to do the things mentioned below.
Deal with its separation anxiety
It would also help to deal with your German Shepherd’s separation anxiety if it seems to have it.
To do this you would need to gradually get it used to being without you for longer and longer periods. You would do this by:
- Initially making it seem like you are about to leave and then to reward it for not becoming anxious
- Leave for a very short period and then reward it for not being anxious again
- Leave for longer and longer periods rewarding it for not being anxious each time.
Ensure that it is getting the right diet
It is important to make sure that your GSD is eating correctly. You can look here to see what you should and should not be feeding it. Asking your vet if you have been feeding it correctly and in the right amounts would also help.
Consider crate training
Crate training is where you teach your German Shepherd to learn to be comfortable inside of a crate designed for dogs.
If you crate train your German Shepherd in the right way it will give it a space where it can feel safe. This will give your German Shepherd a space where it will be able to feel secure at night without you being around.
Take it for a checkup
If you are unsure of why your GSD is restless at night, it has started doing it suddenly or it has been showing signs of illness or injury then it would help to take it to a vet for a checkup. By doing so you will be able to make sure that there is not a medical issue and you will be able to get expert advice tailored to your particular German Shepherd.
If you would like learn everything that you need to know about how to have a happy, healthy and well-behaved German Shepherd, take a look at the German Shepherd Handbook