My Dog Keeps Wanting To Go Outside At Night?


This is a story about a dog that is so spoiled that I have ended up having to barricade large parts of my kitchen before I go to bed every night.

It is a complete faff and total nonsense and I am to blame.

So why is it that I have to turn the kitchen into the scene of some bizarre burglary every night?

It is because I have a dog that keeps wanting to go outside at night. 

And in this article I explain six possible reasons why your dog is determined to go outside and then detail a couple of ways that you can stop this behaviour.

But before any of that, I want to talk a bit about the great ways that dogs use to communicate- if a dog wants to go outside, it needs our help. 

How does your dog let you know that they want to go out?

Dogs communicate with us in all sorts of different ways.

One of our previous dogs was incredibly vocal when she wanted something and would think nothing of waking up the house at 6.30 in the morning to let us know that she wanted breakfast.

Her daughter, who is still with us, is much quieter but her way of getting our attention in the middle of the night is to scratch at the door until I come down and let her out.

How does your dog communicate that they want to go out at night?

Five reasons why your dog wants to go outside at night

[1] Predator- fox or coyote

Dogs are naturally very protective of their territory and their family. 

And this is particularly true at night, whilst we are all asleep. 

I am very fortunate to live on the edge of a city, with nothing next door apart from a 10 acre field.

It is wonderful to have such an open space so close and an area which is so full of wildlife.

And that means that foxes and badgers are in the field and our back gardens very frequently.

And as you can imagine, this drives my dogs mad.

The smell and the sound of a predator, taps into a dog’s ancient DNA. 

Particularly my youngest, Sylvie, who has a bit of an obsessive personality and will happily sleep with her head stuck out of the cat flap. 

[2] Upset stomach/ diarrhea

The second reason that your dog might want to go outside at night is because they have a touch of diarrhea. 

We have all been here.

Our dog’s normal bullet proof stomachs let them down once in a while.

You kind of know it, when as you are out for the evening dog walk, the dog poop is more liquid than solid.

So it is very unlikely that they will make it through the night without an “accident.”

And if your home life is anything like mine, then this can lead to a bit of to and fro between my wife and I as we silently accuse each other of causing it!

Fortunately, for most dogs an upset stomach lasts less than 24 hours- meaning that your beauty sleep will only be disturbed momentarily. 

[3] Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

This is very similar to what we discussed above only it involves wee and not poop. 

Just as, on occasion, our dogs eat the wrong thing or pick up a stomach bug so our dogs can pick up a urinary tract infection.

One of the symptoms of a UTI is that a dog cannot control when they need to urinate- which could mean that you have a very disturbed night.  

A few months ago, I was in this position with my 13 year old golden retriever.

But out of the blue one evening she started scrambling to get out every hour or so and if I didn’t make it in time, she would wee in the house. 

Dogs are naturally clean animals and so they wouldn’t willingly mess in their own home.

I took her to the vets in the morning with a heavy heart. 

At 14 I didn’t think that it was any kind of infection, I thought that it was age related incontinence and that it was the beginning of the end for her.

However, the story has a happy ending because it was a UTI and after some meds it cleared up and she is still going strong!

[4] Spoilt

The fourth reason that a dog might want to keep going outside at night is that they believe they have a right to go out whenever they want.

And we can blame it on our badly behaved dogs that never seem to listen to us but realistically behaviour like this often comes from us, their parents and owners.

And I speak from personal opinion as I have one of these dogs.

A dog that I have lavished with so much love and attention that she thinks that she can do whatever she likes, including getting me out of bed at 4am. 

And why does she think that this is acceptable?

Because I had come to her more than a few times (at this hour) before. 

Sylvie sleeps downstairs where she is shut in the kitchen.

To get my attention, she scratches on the door and this will go on for more than an hour.

So it is my fault!

[5] Temperature

The next reason why your dog might want to keep going outside is because they are too hot inside.

Obviously this will only happen in the summer, if at all, but some places get so hot in the summer than even the night time temperatures will be uncomfortable for a dog.

They will want to be outside- where it is cooler. 

[6] Fear

The final reason why a dog might want to go out at night is that they don’t want to stay inside because they are scared.

There are any number of reasons that a dog will be scared. 

Dogs are very sensitive to noise.

 And so it could be that two people have just been shouting at each other in the house, or the row might be next door. 

Other noises that are likely to really frighten a dog include fireworks and smoke alarms.

And speaking from bitter experience, some dogs are petrified of smoke alarms.

And such noises can cause such a level of panic in a dog that they start to act incredibly irrationally.

How to stop your dog from wanting to go outside at night

Glancing back over the six reasons that I have given above, there are certain situations where you would find it very hard to stop your dog from repeatedly wanting to go outside.

For example, it is natural that a dog with a dose of diarrhea or a dog with a UTI would want to go outside.

But there are certain situations in which you can stop from dog from wanting to bolt into the darkness.

Let’s take the example of a dog wanting to go outside to chase a predator.

My dog would like the right to chase a predator at all hours of the day because I have let her out at all hours of the day in order to do this.

And there are two ways that I can solve this. 

The first way and the best way is to ignore the behaviour, which means that I don’t come down to her in the middle of the night.

Regardless of how much or for how long she scratches at the door, I don’t come downstairs.

And after a time, she gives up scratching at the door because it isn’t getting her what she wants- which is for me to come down. 

The only trouble with this is that it happens in the middle of the night and it keeps my wife awake.

Therefore ignoring it isn’t really an option.

That leaves me with my second tactic, which is to get rid of the trigger.

Which means in the case of a dog that wants to chase a predator, that I need to get rid of the predator!

Which short of erecting a six foot fence around my house, isn’t really possible. 

Or staying up all night and shooting them on sight.

The solution that I have come up with is complicated enough and it is a solution of three parts.

Part one is blocking access to the cat flap- so that Sylvie can’t stick her head out of it.

Part two is to block access to the patio doors- again Sylvie likes to lie down next to them and listen out for “intruders”.

And the third element to this farce is that I then block access to the kitchen door so that she can’t get our attention by scratching it. 

Simple, eh?

James Grayston

My name is James and I love dogs. have owned four Golden Retrievers in the past 15 years. Currently I own two "Goldies"- a five year old and a seven month old. The photo shows me with our youngest when she was about 7 weeks old!