14 Things you can try if your barking dog wakes up the baby
By Jason Wooden, PhD | February 7, 2021
When a barking dog wakes up the baby, it’s often a symptom of something going on with your dog. The reasons dog bark include night time sounds, boredom, loneliness, jealousy, separation anxiety, and health issues.
Your options include sound proofing the baby’s room, making sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and stimulation, kennel training, white noise, help from a trainer or vet, and various other remedies.
When a barking dog wakes up the baby, man’s best friend becomes the enemy
You’ve finally got the baby down for night sleeping peacefully in the crib.
You jump into bed, pull up the blankets, hit the lights, and settle in for a desperately needed stretch of solid sleep.
Only, there’s one problem – your dog starts barking and just won’t stop. Before you know it, you hear the sound of a baby crying and with a sense a dread you know you’re in for another long night.
This is when man’s best friend becomes public enemy number one.
When a barking dog wakes up a baby, it can be pretty frustrating.
Dealing with an infant is hard enough. Anything that can make your nights tougher is to be avoided at all cost.
You’re likely not the only who has dealt with this frustration given there are 85 million families in the US alone who own a pet.
Fortunately, when my kids were born, we only had a noisy fish tank to contend which was manageable for the most part. I can’t image having to deal with the menace of a noisy dog too.
Nonetheless, let’s take a quick look at what you’re up against and some practical things you can do to keep your barking dog from waking up the baby.
Why your dog’s barking and other sounds wakes up the baby
According to research, up to a third of all infants experience night awakenings during the first 2 years of life. So, it’s a pretty common issue regardless of whether you own a dog.
The reasons they wake up are varied but include:
- wet diapers
- changes in temperature
- congestion, coughing, and vomiting
- separation anxiety
Unfamiliar sounds may also wake them up which brings us to your dog.
It makes sense that babies would be wired to wake up to new and occasional sounds. In fact, in nature you find animals have a survival instinct to go on the alert when hearing sounds outside of the ambient background.
Glancing through online parent forums, you’ll find night time dog barking is a common question. Interestingly, you’ll find parents in these discussion threads who say their baby sleeps through it.
Why this is the case is beside the point since it’s clearly an issue for you.
Trying to get sleep while managing the normal baby awakenings is tough enough. Add barking to the mix and that takes your frustration to a whole another level.
Let’s take a closer look at why your loveable dog is doing this to you.
What’s causing your dog to bark at night and wake up the baby?
Okay, your dog is not out to get you or your baby.
So, before we get into your options to keep your barking dog from waking up the baby, let’s look at what’s actually happening. The barking is a symptom of something going on with your dog and what you do about it will depend on the specific causes.
The reasons Rover is barking include:
Sounds of the night
Do you live in a noisy urban environment? Dogs have sensitive hearing and will respond to surrounding sounds and hearing another dog bark. If you live out in the country, dogs can respond to passing critters.
New scents and noises
Introducing a baby to your home environment exposes your dog to new scents and sounds, including the sounds of a distressed baby.
Lack of mental stimulation can leave a dog bored especially if left for long periods alone during the day. They’re pretty limited in what they can do on their own.
Also, the arrival of a new baby may mean less interaction and time with you in the evening. This can lead to problem behaviors, including barking.
Dogs are social animals. A new baby can mean a change in routine for your dog during the day and at night. Similar to boredom, loneliness can lead to problem behavior.
Your dog needs to pee
This one is pretty obvious. Things can get pretty busy with a new baby and your their normal evening potty routine may get out of whack.
We’ve all witnessed this at some point whether it’s when someone gets too close to you, greeting a visitor, or adding a new pet to the household. So, it’s no surprise if you see signs of jealousy and barking when you bring home the new baby.
Are you spending less time with your dog in evening? Are they used to sleeping in your bed or bedroom only to be banished after the baby’s arrival? Dogs can become upset when separated from people they’ve bonded to.
A dog may bark if it’s in pain from an injury or illness.
Your dog is getting up there in years and losing it. Dogs may bark for no reason as they become senile.
Bedroom remedies worth a try if a barking dog wakes up the baby
If you want to keep a baby from being awaken by a barking dog, there’s two different ways to approach the problem. There are things you can do to protect a baby from the intruding sound and things you can do to stop the barking.
You’ll likely have to do both depending on your situation.
Let’s look at some bedroom changes you can make that can help keep the noise out.
1) Move your dog to a different night time location
Keeping the dog as far away from the baby is pretty obvious. If the baby is upstairs, keep the dog downstairs.
This may not be practical because of your living space or maybe there are other complicating factors.
Since you’ve likely already tried it and struck out, read on…
2) Sound proof the room as much as possible
There are plenty of things you can do to sound proof a room, some simple and some more involved:
-add more furniture to the room to minimize echoes
-add furniture such as bookshelves along wall
-add wall quits and art pieces to the wall
-add a thick rug or carpeting to prevent sound from downstairs from coming through
-add stripping around the door edge to prevent sounds leaking through
-replace a hollow door with a solid core
3) White noise (sound masking)
White noise is what you get when you combine sounds from many frequencies together. Besides masking background sounds, some people actually find it soothing.
You can try running a household fan or a white noise machine. Keep in mind there are definite downsides, including your baby become overly reliant on it and hearing damage if it’s not at a safe level.
4) Soundproof the walls
You can try adding soundproof wall paper, foam paneling, or acoustic panels to the wall to block out the barking. All are readily available online.
If you’re worried that all the sound insulation will make it harder to hear your baby, you can get a sound monitor.
Now, let’s work the problem from the other end – keeping your dog from barking so much at night.
Other remedies worth a try if a barking dog wakes up the baby
Earlier I listed some of the reasons a dog may bark at night. If you’re looking for ideas to keep a barking dog from waking up a baby, you’ll need to pay attention to when it happens and think about the likely triggers.
What you do about it will depend on a variety of factors:
- When did it first start, before or after the baby?
- Does it matter if your dog is inside or outside?
- Any other dogs nearby?
- How much has your evening and nighttime routine changed?
- Is your dog dealing with any health issues?
- How old is your dog?
Depending on your situation, there’s a wide range of remedies to try. If you’re dealing with multiple triggers, you may have to mix and match.
1) Ignore the barking
Make sure you’re not rewarding the behavior. Dogs respond to reinforcement.
If you think your dog is barking to get attention, you can try ignoring it. Obviously, this may be hard to do at night.
If it started happening during the day and at night since you brought the baby home, you can practice ignoring the barking during the day and evening. When they’re finally quiet, reward them with praise or a treat.
2) Bring your dog inside
If you think the trigger is outdoor sounds and critters, start keeping them in the house at night.
3) Exercise before bedtime
Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. That way they’re less likely to bark from boredom. A long walk in the evening will help to tire them out.
4) Make sure they get to pee
It’s easy for a new baby to disrupt your usual routine. Make sure you’re sticking to a schedule with your dog and they get to potty before bedtime.
6) Make sure they’re comfortable
If you’ve recently moved your dog to another sleeping spot, make sure it’s a space comfortable for dogs. Besides having enough space for them to lay out, make sure it’s not too hot or cold, too loud, or too bright. You may even to get a cushier sleeping pad.
8) Anti-bark collars
This remedy is a little bit controversial due to concerns about it being a form of punishment. While you can now find collars that do not use electroshock, there’s still the concern that it doesn’t address the underlying causes and it’s considered by some to be unreliable. Learn more
9) Get help from a trainer
A professional dog trainer can help you identify the triggers and come up with a solution that works for your unique situation.
10) Get help from a vet
There may be something going with your dog you’re not aware of. It’s worth a visit to the vet especially if your dog hasn’t had a recent checkup.
Other things to help keep your baby’s sleep on track
You may be worried because your barking dog wakes up the baby, but there are other things that can help keep your infant’s sleep on track:
Set a daily schedule – keep consistent naptimes and bedtimes
Establish a bedtime routine – calming activities such as feeding, bathing, cuddling, reading, singing, or quiet music can help get them ready for sleep
Watch the room temperature – experts recommend keeping the room between 68- and 72-degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 22 degrees Celsius).
Allow them time to settle down – they may fuss or cry before getting more comfortable and falling asleep, so you may need to sooth them
Put them to be bed sleepy, but still awake – this can help them learn to fall asleep on their own
Encourage them to sleep more at night – expose them to light and noise at day, dimmed lights and quiet as bedtime approaches
Smart night time feeding – if your baby wakes up during the night to eat, feed them in a dark and quiet environment
More places for help:
You may also be interested in:
1. “Facts + Statistics: Pet statistics”, Insurance Information Institute website
2. Infant sleep and its relation with cognition and growth: a narrative review, Nat Sci Sleep. 2017 May 15;9:135-149.
3. “Why Do Dogs Bark at Night?”, Petsafe website
4. “How to Stop a Dog from Barking at Night”, Rover.com
5. “How to get your dog to stop barking”, Humane Society of the United States website
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