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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I guess I'm hoping for some reassurance/sanity check.

Loki has taken to barking his displeasure at night when we go to bed. He's always been pretty quiet and prefers to communicate with nose boops, paws, and eye flicks. Usually, he only barks to tell us that something is wrong (e.g. the towel fell on the floor, there's a critter in the vent,...). He sleeps right outside of the bedroom and has since we brought him home over 6 months ago (he's currently 14 months old). While he's not thrilled about it, he also hasn't had an issue sleeping alone.

Early last week, he suddenly started whining at 2 AM. I waited behind the closed bedroom door to see if he'd settle, but since he didn't, I took him out. Turned out that he had an upset stomach and he raced out the door. The next night, the same thing happened. I took him out, and again, upset stomach.

His stomach issue has since resolved, but he somehow figured out from these two nights that whining (which had escalated to barking) leads to a human coming back out of the bedroom. For the past couple of nights, he would go from what looked like a pretty comfortable sleep (on his side, slow breathing) to bolting up and barking the moment the bedroom door closed. The barking episodes are usually about 3 minutes long, but it doesn't seem to be improving (he added some new variations last night by whining and rattling his pen along with the barking...). He does settle and goes to sleep afterward, however. Unfortunately, leaving the bedroom door open so that he can see us has not helped.

I'm pretty sure it's demand barking more than separation anxiety (although he's prone to that too) so we've been ignoring him/waiting him out, but I'm wondering if there's something more that we can do to help hurry along the process. While our neighbors have been very understanding and patient, we do live in an apartment so I'd like to resolve this quickly. Help?
 

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Totally feel for you. Most dogs learn this at some point as they experiment with the rules. The issue to me sounds like he needs help settling. I'd work on adjusting his routine so he naturally wants to settle at that time more than he wants to play. A long walk or some training or play before a shorter bedtime slowdown may be what he needs. I'd also try some natural melatonin given 30 min prior to bed to try to kickstart his urge to settle.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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He may be testing his boundaries in that delightful teenage way. He may also be feeling some anxiety after those unpleasant stomach episodes.

Now that you’re not closing the door, what moment triggers the barking?

And is his crate big enough that he doesn’t rattle it at night trying to get comfortable?
 

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I was thinking more fresh air before bed might do the trick too, like what Raindrops said.

You don't even have to cover a lot of distance, maybe a block or two. Walk tai chi slow and let Loki sniff everything like a metal detector at the beach. The sniffing + fresh air will drain Loki in a good way, you will probably sleep good too.

I'm not sure if your in a snow land or not. Wool socks & boots to be comfortable. Obviously don't push the limit, but if your ready to go inside then Loki probably is too.
 

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Normie seems to go through cycles when he has problems. He whines or barks if he hears an outside sound that he finds threatening. And (I think) he sometimes whines to check that he's not home alone.

I put him to bed in his crate in the living room, then go down the hall to a guest room to read for an hour or two instead of staying near him. If he whines during that time, I just stay in the back and say 'No! Normie' and it's usually over.

2 AM whines mean a cold trip out my warm bed to say "NO." I never enter the living room where he is. I'd go for distress cries, but not for his usual whining.

I don't have a quick solution to offer. Most of my dog life is based on human patience.
 

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I won’t be popular here but I have no patience for this. I need my sleep, my health depends on it. If and only if I’m sure there is no medical issue or emergency, I just stay in bed and yell at the top of my lungs « shut uuuuup » (the dogs are one floor down, so I need to yell).

That’s it. It works.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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I can relate, @Dechi. I also have no patience for nighttime disruptions. Because of my chronic health issues, sleep is extremely precious to me.

When Peggy started getting restless in her crate at the start of adolescence, I could have yelled at her and she’d have absolutely stopped in the moment. But yelling gets my adrenaline surging. Plus she’d still have been uncomfortable, which would have resulted in light sleep and all the problems that go with that.

Sizing up her crate instantly addressed the underlying issue and she went back to sleeping soundly for as long as we ask her to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks all! It does feel like he's experimenting to see what can get us to do what he wants, but there's a chance that something happened during the last week that's still throwing him off. I'll try to do the suggested walk before settling him down today to see if it helps. He usually gets a nighttime walk about two hours before bedtime, but that might be enough of a gap that he's already working his way back up to being unsettled again.

@Raindrops I'll look into melatonin if he doesn't improve - This reminded me though, I have a bag of Composure for his car rides so I might try giving him a dose of it to see if it'll help tonight.

@Dianaleez @Dechi He does respond to being told "no" generally and "OK, thank you" for alert barking, but I wonder if the same would work if the barking is attention-seeking, or would any sound from me be rewarding?

@PeggyTheParti He stands up the moment that I head towards the bedroom, and then he starts barking when he realizes that I'm not coming back out. So it's usually not immediately after I'm out of the room, but a minute or so after.

His bed is currently in a pretty large pen since it seemed like his crate could be too small for him at night (although he now voluntarily sleeps in the crate during the day...go figure). He can comfortably sprawl out in there (awkward legs and all) with plenty of space left for his water bowl. My guess is that he was rattling the pen by slapping it rather than pacing and knocking against it.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Do you turn on a light? We still do this, but with puppy Peggy we were extra careful to keep the house dim at night. That encourages the natural production of melatonin.

You could also try mixing up your nighttime routine a little, like hitting a reset button. Maybe don’t put him to bed until you’re going to bed. Or you could reward him for quiet. Wait for the bark and then as soon as he’s silent, let him out or give him a yummy chew. Something to explain to him “Bark bad/quiet good.”
 

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I won’t be popular here but I have no patience for this. I need my sleep, my health depends on it. If and only if I’m sure there is no medical issue or emergency, I just stay in bed and yell at the top of my lungs « shut uuuuup » (the dogs are one floor down, so I need to yell).

That’s it. It works.
I would love to follow your example - but my husband sleeps quietly beside me and would probably have a heart attack if I yelled. Perhaps I'll do it on a night that I'm looking to avenge an imagined slight.
 

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When Peggy started getting restless in her crate at the start of adolescence, I could have yelled at her and she’d have absolutely stopped in the moment. But yelling gets my adrenaline surging. Plus she’d still have been uncomfortable, which would have resulted in light sleep and all the problems that go with that.
Yes, it does trigger adrenalin and it takes me a while to get off it. You’re right it’s better to find the underlying cause and deal with it. In my case I can’t really deal with anything as Beckie is just reacting to noises from the neighbors or the guys shoveling my yard so the dogs can go pee (they often come late at night).

He does respond to being told "no" generally and "OK, thank you" for alert barking, but I wonder if the same would work if the barking is attention-seeking, or would any sound from me be rewarding
My dogs sense I’m really annoyed and they don’t want that kind of attention, so it works for me.

I would love to follow your example - but my husband sleeps quietly beside me and would probably have a heart attack if I yelled. Perhaps I'll do it on a night that I'm looking to avenge an imagined slight.
Ha Ha Ha, I can picture you screaming with the husband falling off the bed from being waken up so furiously...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Do you turn on a light? We still do this, but with puppy Peggy we were extra careful to keep the house dim at night. That encourages the natural production of melatonin.

You could also try mixing up your nighttime routine a little, like hitting a reset button. Maybe don’t put him to bed until you’re going to bed. Or you could reward him for quiet. Wait for the bark and then as soon as he’s silent, let him out or give him a yummy chew. Something to explain to him “Bark bad/quiet good.”
We don't turn on a light. But we do leave music on for him and the light from the monitor (the only light source) might be throwing things off. We'll turn it off tonight to see if it helps. Usually by the time that I leave the room, however, he's sleepy or asleep in his pen.

He typically gets his longest training session of the day after his evening walk, so I just added an extra walk right before bedtime last night. It might just be a coincidence, but his barking got worse (longer, with a break in between to start again, and with the added variation of a whine and a groan at the end). I would hope that it's an extinction burst, but, realistically, it probably was not. Oof.

I think we may have to do a change in the routine or add something that clearly shows that being quiet is the desired behavior. He's usually so quick to form associations (good and bad ones) but I guess "lack-of-response" is harder for him to identify as a response to his barking compared to something like "leaving the room" (which generally works quickly to stop his other attention-seeking behaviors).

He rarely does things like this without a very specific goal or reason...Wish I can speak dog. 😅
 

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Probably not a popular solution here, but Annie used to wake me up to go out in the middle of the night. She switched to sleeping on my bed, and if she woke me up I 'remembered' to put her in her crate. Miraculously, she stopped needing a middle of the night pee!

I wonder if something similar might work. If he wakes you up, let him out for a pee then stick him in his crate somewhere away from your room to sleep the rest of the night (assuming he prefers the pen to the crate). Basically - your options are sleep quietly in your pen, or sleep further away from the humans. I would probably try this on a night you are willing to not sleep, on a day your neighbours aren't around...
 

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I guess I'm hoping for some reassurance/sanity check.

Loki has taken to barking his displeasure at night when we go to bed. He's always been pretty quiet and prefers to communicate with nose boops, paws, and eye flicks. Usually, he only barks to tell us that something is wrong (e.g. the towel fell on the floor, there's a critter in the vent,...). He sleeps right outside of the bedroom and has since we brought him home over 6 months ago (he's currently 14 months old). While he's not thrilled about it, he also hasn't had an issue sleeping alone.

Early last week, he suddenly started whining at 2 AM. I waited behind the closed bedroom door to see if he'd settle, but since he didn't, I took him out. Turned out that he had an upset stomach and he raced out the door. The next night, the same thing happened. I took him out, and again, upset stomach.

His stomach issue has since resolved, but he somehow figured out from these two nights that whining (which had escalated to barking) leads to a human coming back out of the bedroom. For the past couple of nights, he would go from what looked like a pretty comfortable sleep (on his side, slow breathing) to bolting up and barking the moment the bedroom door closed. The barking episodes are usually about 3 minutes long, but it doesn't seem to be improving (he added some new variations last night by whining and rattling his pen along with the barking...). He does settle and goes to sleep afterward, however. Unfortunately, leaving the bedroom door open so that he can see us has not helped.

I'm pretty sure it's demand barking more than separation anxiety (although he's prone to that too) so we've been ignoring him/waiting him out, but I'm wondering if there's something more that we can do to help hurry along the process. While our neighbors have been very understanding and patient, we do live in an apartment so I'd like to resolve this quickly. Help?
I don't think you mentioned Loki's age, but spoos are intelligent and figure things out quickly.

When he was very young, my spoo had a difficult time with the kennel including night time. (My husband goes to bed early to get up early for work.) I used a quiet calm but firm voice "Spock, no. Hush now." We also created a bedtime routine where I sat by the opened kennel and allowed him to lay on my lap while I rubbed his ears. (He LOVES ear rubs and relaxed.) After a few minutes I would quietly tell him it was time to kennel for bedtime and encourage him into the kennel. (He is a dog who pushes back strongly when being forced against his will.) This routine worked well and his night time crying and barking stopped in a short time. Eventually, he just stopped needing the routine and entered his kennel when told. He went through a spell where we went back to the routine for a very short time (less than a week). As he approached 1 year old, he started hiding behind a living room chair at bed time. A small treat reward upon entering his kennel curbed this quickly. Now, he runs for his kennel and does not cry or bark without real cause at night. (He does still cry and bark when I leave for work.)
My advice is to stay calm and be firm; let him know this does not please you. Stick to your guns and do not let your dog out unless you really believe something is wrong. As others have said, extra evening exercise or playtime should help too. And maybe try a bedtime routine. If you are consistent, his behavior should change within a week or 2. Fingers crossed that your neighbors continue to be understanding.
 

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I would put that on ignore if it is clearly demand barking. If you responded you have taught that being demanding works. When Lily and Peeves were youngsters Peeves would often stand by BFs side of the bed and whine. BF would get up and take him out. He still whines on BFs side of the bed and BF still takes him out 12 years later. I have no use for any of that so I ignore it. If there is an indication of urgency or I knew before going to bed that whoever is whining at 2 AM hadn't felt well during the day, then sure I get up and take them out. This morning the poodles and I stayed in bed until a little after 8:00 AM. I really needed the sleep and the poodles know better than to wake me unless it is important.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The first night without barking since last week! Fingers crossed that we have gotten over this, but we'll see tonight.

My partner made the observation yesterday evening that Loki was clinging more to me than usual lately, which he usually does only when he's feeling unwell. He's back to his old self again physically, but he is still following me/sticking close to me more than usual. Similarly, we realized that while he's never liked having doors closed on him (but he usually just sits and stares at it), he has started barking at it (but since it's usually just a short bark/huff, I hadn't really taken note of it). So we thought maybe it was a combination of this extra clinging to me that's ramping up some anxiety towards his bedtime routine and the growing habit of barking at the bedroom door.

So I took a modified approach to @For Want of Poodle's suggestion. Before bedtime yesterday, whenever I go into the bedroom, I left the door open a crack. When he starts barking, I closed the door. When he was quiet, I opened the door a little again. He doesn't like it when I'm in another room, but he likes a completely closed door even less. He stopped barking at the door pretty quickly.

We also changed his bedtime routine. My partner ended up putting Loki to bed instead (whereas that's usually my task) so that I could leave the room earlier. He said that Loki was concerned and sat outside of the bedroom, but was quiet and lost interest after a while. He then did Loki's usual bedtime routine of leaving him in the pen with some treats and we left the bedroom door open a little bit last night.

Not really sure which piece "fixed" things, or maybe the nights of him barking and us ignoring him finally clicked, but hopefully, it's been resolved.
 
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