My Dog Has Started Crying and Whining At Night

Last Updated on September 13, 2021 by Marco

Has your dog started crying and whining at night? This can be a very frustrating time for dog owners – not only are you worried about your dog’s wellbeing, you are also desperate for a good night’s sleep!

So why do dogs whine and cry at night? In this article, we will look at some of the reasons why a dog which has previously been a solid sleeper has started to cry and whine at night, for no apparent reason.

Why Is My Dog Crying At Night?

There are several reasons why your dog may be crying or whining at night, and for no obvious reason to you. But your dog has their reasons. When a dog cries and whines, it is often to tell you that they are experiencing discomfort or feeling anxious about something.

Reason #1: Location

Have you moved the dog’s sleeping quarters? A dog who has previously been allowed to sleep on the bed where their owner sleeps, that finds itself suddenly sleeping in the laundry, or outdoors, is likely to cry and whine because they miss you! They are feeling anxious about being separated from you, their human. All they want is to be reunited with you again (in your warm and snuggly bed), so they cry and whine to let you know that they are not at all happy with the current arrangement.

The question is, do you let them back inside? If you do, be aware that you will be rewarding their whining and next time you put them out at night they will cry even louder.

Reason #2: Health Reasons

Could your dog be experiencing pain or discomfort all of a sudden? If this is the case, then they will not only be crying at night but throughout the daytime too. They may also yelp or cry out if you touch them on a part of their body that is tender.

If you think that your dog is in discomfort or pain, and they are trying to tell you by crying or whining, take them to the vet right away.

Reason #3: Their Age

Young Dogs

Is your dog still a puppy? It is quite common for young dogs to cry and whine at night if they are settling into a new home. Try to remember that it was not long ago that they had their mother and littermates for company. 

If this is the case with your dog, you must be patient, reassuring, and loving. Cuddles, pats, and soothing words will help comfort your puppy. This is not the right age to be leaving your dog alone for long periods of time, they need to be with you, their new family. 

If they are left alone all night long, you can bet that they will cry all night long too. If you do not want to have the dog in the bed with you (which is smart, given they can fall out of bed and hurt themselves, or get squashed by an adult human), then set up a cosy little dog bed or crate in your room so that they know you are close.

 dog whining at night for no reason

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Older Dogs

Is your dog an older dog? Are you remembering to let them out to go to the toilet at night more often now? Older dogs may need to relieve themselves more frequently than younger dogs, and your golden oldie may be trying to communicate this to you by crying. 

Sadly, our senior canines sometimes succumb to canine dementia. You can read more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment here. But basically, it affects them the way dementia affects people, including upsetting their sleep cycles. They forget things, which can cause them distress. This may lead to crying and whining. 

Reason #4: They Can Hear Something You Can’t

Compared to humans, dogs have ‘off-the-charts’ hearing, and their auditory system can detect noises we cannot.

Perhaps your dog can hear another dog barking or whining a few streets away, which sets them off for the night. Argh!

Reason #5: Separation Anxiety

Could your dog be missing someone? Has a family member gone away for some reason? 

What about other pets? Has your dog lost another canine companion for some reason? 

Perhaps your dog is missing someone. Dogs grieve over a loss too, and their night cries may indicate that they are experiencing anxiety due to being separated from a loved human or animal.

Reason #6: Lack Of Stimulation In The Day-Time

A bored dog is a recipe for disaster. If your dog is bored, then they may cry and whine at night to let off some steam because they are frustrated.

The perfect antidote to this kind of night-time crying and whining due to boredom is to wear them out during the day.

Take them for at least one walk per day (possibly two, depending on their breed type, exercise needs, and age), play catch with them in the backyard, and give them plenty of attention. Give them something to safe to chew on too, like a big raw marrow bone split lengthways (dogs can spend hours licking the marrow out of these!)

Hopefully, once your dog is all tuckered out for the day then they will sleep like a baby come bedtime!

Dogs That Cry and Whine At Night

Dogs that cry and whine at night are trying to tell you something. They may be crying and whining at night due to:

  • New and unfamiliar sleeping quarters (away from you);
  • They are sick and/or in pain (in which case, take them to the vet immediately);
  • They are an insecure young pup that is new to the household;
  • They are an older dog that may have the need to toilet more often, or has developed a cognitive problem associated with aging;
  • They can hear something you can’t, i.e. other dogs barking;
  • They are missing someone who is now gone, whether it be a human or another pet;
  • They are not getting enough physical and mental stimulation during the day.

This is not an exhaustive list, and as always, if in doubt about your dog’s wellbeing seek the opinion of your veterinarian.

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