My Dog Won’t Lay Down To Sleep – What Can I Do?

Laying down is something that comes naturally to every dog. So when your dog won’t lay down to sleep, you might start to wonder if something is wrong. Unfortunately, this is one of those topics where we can’t give you a solid black and white answer. Several things could be causing your dog not to lie down. Some are medical, others are behavioral.

In today’s post, we are going to start by going over our top solutions to get your dog to lie down. If one of these fixes the issue, there’s a good chance it was behavioral and not medical. If your dog still doesn’t lie down to sleep, there could be something medically wrong. We will go over a few of the medical causes, but remember to see a vet ASAP.

Five Quick Solutions to Get Your Dog to Lie Down

Dogs are funny creatures. Sometimes the smallest change can completely throw off their behavior. If your dog doesn’t lie down, it could be because something is slightly off and they don’t like it.

Here are five quick solutions to get your dog to lie down.

They’re Scared of Something in The Room

Some dogs are easily scared. My parent’s dog came over one time and she refused to eat her food or go anywhere near her bowl, which is strange for her because she’ll continue eating until you take the food away.

Once I moved the food bowl to the other side of the kitchen, she darted over and began eating her food. Her food bowl was next to the fridge, and it turns out she was scared of the refrigerator. It must have made a noise that frightened her when she was previously eating.

The same can be true with lying down. Maybe your dog is scared of something in the room. Whether that be the clock that makes noise or a new sofa, your dog might just be frightened…and a frightened dog won’t lie down, they’ll stay on alert!

Try moving the dog bed to a different room and see if your dog will relax and lie down. If so, there’s a good chance something in the other room scared your dog.

Did Another Dog/Animal Lie on Their Bed?

I’ve seen this happen quite a bit in shelters. Dog’s mark territory with their scent. If the scent of another animal gets on their bed, they may no longer view it as their bed. The best way to fix this is to get the scent of your dog back on the bed.

Luckily, for most dogs, this is easy to do. Just use treats! Place a few treats on the bed and praise/pet your dog when they’re on the bed. If possible, force them into a lying position. However, if it looks like they’re in pain, stop immediately.

Did You Get Them a New Bed?

If you got them a new bed, they might have no idea what it is or if it’s theirs. This is especially true for dogs that are well trained. You’ve put in all that time and effort into training your dog to stay off the couch and love seat, so when you get rid of their old bed and buy them a new one, they might think it’s just another piece of furniture they’re supposed to stay off of.

The fix for this one is the same as the one above. Use treats and encourage them to lie down on the new bed.

Did You Clean Their Bed?

Cleaning a dog’s bed is like cleaning a teenager’s bedroom…they hate it!

Seriously though, if there is one thing you do that dogs absolutely hate, it’s when you wash their bed. They want their scent on the bed, and according to them, the stronger the scent, the better.

If the bed gets dirty enough to the point where you need to wash it, at least lightly wash it, don’t deep scrub it. It also helps if you place a few of their toys on the bed afterward. This can help get their scent back on the newly washed bed.

Is Their Bed in a Different Room?

Some dogs can be creatures of habit. So much so that if anything is different, they’ll become unsettled and restless. This is especially true for dogs that suffer from anxiety. If you have moved their bed into a different room, they might just be confused. Try moving it back to the old room and see if they’ll lie down.

If they do lie down, that means they just don’t like their bed being in the new room. The fix to this one is simply time. Give it enough nights and your dog will eventually give in and accept the bed being in the new room.

If Your Dog Still Won’t Lie Down

If none of the five quick fixes above worked for you, there could be something else going on. Go through the following five questions and see if any of them apply to you.

Are They in Pain?

This is probably the main reason a dog won’t lie down. I know you might be thinking, “but it doesn’t look like my dog is in pain.” Although it may not look like they’re in pain, there’s a chance they are.

Dogs don’t like to show they’re in pain. It’s a sign of weakness and would let predators know that they’re easy lunch. Your dog might not be facing any predators, but the instinct to hide pain is still there.

If your dog is whimpering, breathing heavy, or pacing, they might be in pain. Pay close attention to how they walk and sit. If it seems likely they’re favoring one side (even slightly), they’re probably hurting.

Are They Uncomfortable?

Yes, some dogs won’t lie down because the floor is uncomfortable. If they have a bruise, the hard floor might hurt them. The surface might also be too hot or too cold for them. Most dogs won’t let this get in the way of lying down, but some smaller breeds with thin bones (such as Italian greyhounds) might.

Do They Have Anxiety?

If something in the household is different, it might cause anxiety for your dog. When dogs are anxious or stressed, they usually don’t lay down (survival instinct).

Did any significant change recently happen? Did a loved one move out? Did you have another dog or animal that recently died? Did you rearrange the furniture or get new furniture? All these things can cause an anxious dog to become restless.

Are They Old?

We wrote an entire article on what to do when your old dog doesn’t lay down. The primary cause of this one is muscle loss and arthritis. When dogs begin to show signs of getting old, you’ll notice things quickly go south.

Dogs that suffer from muscle atrophy (muscle loss) find it difficult to stand up. Because of this, they may choose not to lie down for a while. Dogs that suffer from arthritis know how painful it can be to stand back up, so they’ll decide not to lay down until they have to.

Sleep is important for elderly dogs, so if you have an elderly dog who won’t lie down to sleep, schedule an appointment with your vet to discuss how to make them as comfortable as possible.

Other than the pain from muscle loss and atrophy, older dogs can suffer from dementia. This means they could have confused their sleep/wake cycle. When it’s time to sleep, their brain might think it’s time to be awake.

Did They Get Enough Exercise?

Some dog breeds tend to be more on the lethargic side (such as bulldogs and pugs). Other dog breeds have a ton of energy (such as boxers and huskies). Lookup a list of high energy dog breeds. If your dog is on that list, they may refuse to lay down at night because they have a ton of built-up energy.

The fix for this one is simple, let them run around more each day. Take them on plenty of walks, and if possible, find another dog for them to play with.

Major Medical Causes

When your dog won’t lay down to sleep, unfortunately, we can’t rule out major medical causes. There is an endless list of medical reasons that would cause a dog not to lie down. Below are the most common:

  • Bloat
  • Pancreatitis
  • Heart Issues
  • Respiratory Issues

All of these are serious and can be life threatening. When in doubt, it’s best to get your dog into the vet ASAP. When it comes to medical issues, every second counts.

Getting Your Dog to Lie Down to Sleep

What if I told you there is a great solution that will work for almost all the causes listed above (except the major medical causes)?

That solution is CBD. If a dog is in pain, CBD helps with the pain. If a dog is anxious, CBD calms anxiety. If a dog has too much energy, CBD can calm them down.

With that said, we want to caution you not to use CBD as a long term fix. Although it’s probably safe to do so, it’s still important to get to the root cause of the issue. But in the meantime, CBD is a great tool to use to get your dog to lie down to sleep.

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