Dogs are great recreational partners for us humans. I’m sure your dogs have their favorite activity to do with you. For my dogs, Duke and Bella, going on hikes with me is probably what they enjoy the most. But really, they’re always up for joining us for just about anything…hikes or runs, or really any outing…especially to the dog park or the mountains!
The cool thing is that not only do dogs love hanging out with us humans, but they do it while happily providing us with unconditional love and friendship too! Dogs comfort us, provide companionship, and are our exercise buddies all at once. They truly are man’s best friend!
Us owners should be just as committed to caring for our pet dogs as they are loyal to us. By understanding both their physical and emotional needs, we can try to be as good to them as they are to us.
So, what about dogs that seem to be suffering through the night? Why is my dog crying at night? Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer because most of the explanations are complex.
The abbreviated answer to why your dog is crying at night is: Your dog is crying at night because he has anxiety, he is in pain, he is trying to get attention from you, he is trying to alert you, he needs to go potty, he is a puppy, he learned it from you or another dog, or he is getting old.
Why Do Dogs Cry At Night?
As I’m sure you know, our four-legged friends are capable of expressing a variety of emotions, and it can be confusing when you hear your pup crying out in the darkness. I quickly covered the top reasons why above, but really, most of those reasons require a deeper explanation.
Let’s explore the potential reasons behind dogs’ night time cries. Hopefully, with a better understanding of why your dog is crying at night, you can take the appropriate steps to remedy the situation.
When it comes to why dogs cry at night, anxiety is one of the major causes. All of us suffer from anxiety at some point or another; for your furry friend, it could be brought on by many different things such as loud noises made by neighbors or even the dreaded separation anxiety.
Other things could cause anxiety for your good boy too. For instance, maybe you introduced another pet into your home and your dog isn’t sure if he’s going to be as loved. Or maybe a new dog is playing too rough and your old pooch needs a break.
Pain is also a factor that can cause your dog to whimper at night. Pets often try their best to hide any injuries or illness, but if your good boy really hurts and the ache is lingering, he might not be able to help it.
Sometimes, a dog just wants some extra attention from you, his favorite person in the whole world! Dogs love affection and care from their owners, but they might not know how to communicate in an effective (and healthy) way that they’d like a little bit of love.
If your dog is feeling neglected he might see night time as when he has his only chance to express his wants and ask for cuddles/pets.
Never discount your dog’s need to protect you. Well…maybe he sees you as the protector and himself as the alarm. I know that’s how my mom’s Yorkie sees things!
It could be that your pooch is crying at night because he is hearing something that he perceives as a threat that warrants him alerting us. He’s just trying to tell you about the intruder in the next room!
Sure, it’s probably not an intruder or even anything concerning…Maybe your roommate is getting a midnight snack, or it’s something outside like raccoons in the trees or other dogs barking in the distance. But your dog doesn’t know that! For him, crying is a way to let you know you might be in danger.
Need To Go Potty
If your pup is getting up there in age and isn’t able to hold it as long anymore, it can be frustrating for both of you.
On the other hand, maybe your dog is still learning how to hold it all night. Before we got our dog Duke, he spent his life outdoors so he never had to learn to hold it. At first, duke would try to wake me up at night, but sometimes he couldn’t and would have an accident.
Don’t worry though, with a little ingenuity, I was able to help Duke learn to control himself and hold it all night. I set an alarm for the middle of the night to let him out. After he was accustomed to that schedule, I set the alarm for an hour later, and so on, until both Duke and I were waking up at a normal time.
If I remember right, the whole process only took a couple of weeks and it was well worth it. Now, he doesn’t wake me up, and I don’t have messes to clean up.
Still A Puppy
For some dogs, whimpering a little at night might just be part of growing up. The transition from having a mom and siblings around to being the lone dog can be difficult for them.
They may not understand exactly what’s going on or why things are so different now, and it does take some time for them to adjust. This shouldn’t last long enough to even be considered a phase (maybe just a couple of nights). Make sure your dog quickly adjusts to his new life by making his new digs comfortable and make sure he’s happy to be with you.
Another likely explanation could be that your pup has learned that crying at night gets him the attention – and sometimes treats – he wants so badly. Dogs have a knack for picking up on what behavior will result in rewards and they won’t hesitate to do it again and again (and again…) if they get something good out of it.
If you comforted your dog when he was crying at night even though he didn’t necessarily have a good reason, chances are, he quickly figured out that some night time whimpering gets him some sweet pets and love!
It’s also possible that your dog saw another dog being rewarded for crying during bedtime, which prompted him to try his luck.
Even though not as common, dogs can start showing signs of mental deterioration due as they age. And this can lead to all sorts of behaviors; such as crying at night.
Even if your good old dog isn’t exhibiting any other signs of aging, this could still be the case; it’s worth considering and discussing with your vet if nothing else makes sense.
How Can I Help A Dog That Cries At Night?
If your dog is crying at night, you likely want him to stop it. However, sometimes that’s easier said than done. On the other hand, if he only needs a little training and there is no serious underlying issue then consistency and patience might be all that is required.
If you’re not sure where to start with your pooch then check out my helpful tips below.
Address Whatever Is Causing Anxiety
It’s important to take the time to consider why your furry friend is crying at night. Identifying and addressing the underlying issue is always the best approach when possible.
Sometimes though, it might be something you have little control over, like neighbors setting off fireworks. In these cases, it is important to do what you can to make your good boy feel comfortable and safe.
If you cannot identify the source of his anxiety (or whatever might be the cause), try spending some extra time cuddling and petting your dog before bedtime. You might just be able to put him at ease.
Take Care Of The Pain
As I discussed, sometimes discomfort or pain can keep a dog whimpering all night. So, make sure to look at all possible causes for the distress your dog might be suffering from. Things that may seem minor, like skin irritations or an upset stomach, can be major problems for your pooch. And of course, there are also hidden injuries like joint issues that can cause your dog to cry at night as well.
Spend Time With Your Dog
Your good boy needs quality time with his owner just as much as humans need quality time with each other! It’s not fair for your pooch if he only gets the opportunity for attention when you’re trying to get some shut-eye.
Make sure that you set aside some dedicated time every day for him so that he doesn’t feel neglected and left alone.
Of course, if there actually is an emergency – like an intruder breaking into your home, a sudden bout of pain or discomfort, or needing to go potty – then by all means respond!
But otherwise, try not to give in to your dog’s night time barking or whining. It only encourages attention-seeking behavior. (Remember to make sure he’s getting enough attention during the day too!)
Reassure Your Dog
It’s totally normal for your pup to get anxious at night. Reassuring him with some gentle, calming words, like those you share with your dog that let him know he is doing the right thing, can go a long way in helping them feel soothed and secure.
For example, during the summer, my family and I enjoy spending weekends at a cabin in the woods. Like many cabins, it’s equipped with wind chimes that can sometimes get my dogs’ attention at night. Usually saying ‘It’s okay’ and ‘good boy/girl’ a few times is enough to get my dogs to calm down.
Take Care Of The Potty Issue
Making sure your canine companion gets a potty break right before bed will go a long way to ensuring they don’t have to wake you up later on in the night looking for relief.
You could also set up an indoor spot with pee pads where your dog can do their business if need be.
Alternatively, you can commit to waking up and letting them out, just like I talked about doing for my dog Duke (above)!
Don’t Reward It!
When it comes to cries for attention during the night, it’s essential not to give into any begging or whining as this will only reinforce that kind of behavior in the future. Unless there is a good reason, then his bedroom (and yours!) should be a “no barking zone”.
Setting clear boundaries and expectations from the start helps ensure everyone gets their uninterrupted beauty sleep!
Help Your Old Friend
However, if your pup has reached his golden years then you may have to make exceptions. As our elderly furry friends become more vulnerable with age, they may be dealing with increased aches and pains or even cognitive problems that may keep them up at night looking for relief or comfort.
In these cases it is important to do what you can, like investing in a warm and cozy dog bed, leaving a light on near your dog’s sleeping area, and if necessary, consulting your vet.
No doubt your dog gave you years of love, so do your best to help keep him more relaxed as he slowly treks through his advanced age.
Talk To Your Vet
If all else fails and nothing is helping, then it might be worth considering getting personalized advice from a professional such as a vet who can offer customized advice based on the individual needs of both you and your beloved pooch.
Summary: My Dog Is Whimpering At Night
Your dog may be crying at night for a variety of reasons. It could be an underlying physical issue, or it might simply be because he wants attention. Regardless of the cause, there are some steps you can take to help calm your dog and make sure he feels safe and comfy enough to go through the night without disturbing your sleep.
Make sure you dedicate time to playing with your pup every day to help him feel secure and loved. Avoid responding to unnecessary whining or barking at night as this only reinforces his actions as he tries to get attention from you. However, do reassure your pup with calming words if needed and make sure he has gone potty right before bed time.
If all else fails, consider consulting with a vet who can offer personalized advice tailored for your unique situation.
With a little bit of extra effort on our part, our canine companions will be safe, sound and quiet at night.