Last Updated on November 17, 2021 by Marco C.
We usually love it when our dogs sing us the song of their people but not when it’s in the middle of the night. So, you might be wondering, my dog has started crying and whining at night – is it serious?
The short answer is – probably not. Most of the standard reasons for why is my dog whining all of a sudden are behavioral and pretty easy to deal with. However, there are some potentially unfortunate and harmful problems that will necessitate your immediate attention. Besides, even if it’s just a behavioral issue, you’d still want to sort it out and alleviate your dog’s frustration.
My Dog Has Started Crying and Whining At Night – The 8 Most Common Explanations
We can pinpoint about 8 common causes for this problem. The first 6 we’ll list are relatively harmless but still require your attention. If you’ve ruled all six of them out, however, the latter two reasons are more serious. If either of them is the case, you might want to consult with your vet. But, let’s first start with the more common and tolerable causes.
1. General Anxiety
Just as we often have trouble sleeping when we’re nervous or stressed out, so do dogs. Some people are surprised when they first hear that a dog can have anxiety. After all, what does a pet dog have to be so anxious about?
Quite a few things, actually – a recent move into a new place, the loss of a family member, the unexpected addition of a new family member, or even something as simple as a diet change. Many dogs are also scared of fireworks and thunderstorms – two things that aren’t all that uncommon at night.
2. Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a similar but sufficiently different problem to be worth its own mention. This is a problem that often befalls extra social and intelligent breeds like the Labrador Retriever. Such dogs need a lot of social interactions and mental stimulation, as well as to be close to you as much as possible.
So, if you work away from home and plan on leaving your pooch for extended periods of time, separation anxiety is to be expected. And, for those that work nightshifts, you can be sure that your dog will be very whiny while you’re away.
This is a very simple but quite common problem. If you have a dog that needs lots of playtime and attention but you’re giving it almost none, your pet can get so bored that it starts having issues falling asleep. This is different from separation anxiety as it’s not related to whether or not you’re home – your dog is just bored regardless.
Fortunately, the solution is pretty simple – give your dog some attention and playtime throughout the day and especially before bedtime.
Learn more about: How Much Exercise Do Labs Need To Stay Healthy And Fit?
Dogs can get excited over a lot of things. A new toy, a new dog bed, the fact that someone is finally home, and so on and so forth. So, this excitement can often be expressed with restlessness, as well as whining and crying. Fortunately, this isn’t a serious issue. Just try to calm your dog and the problem shouldn’t persist.
5. A puppy’s Cry For Attention
The simplest explanation often is that young puppies are just constantly crying for attention. So, especially if you have a young, prepubescent dog, it might just be that it wants constant pets, including in the middle of the night. Just like a human baby that cries even without being hungry or unwell, a puppy can do the same.
The solution here is quite simple – deny your puppy attention in the inappropriate hours of the day. Then, just compensate your pet throughout the rest of the day. This can feel cruel at first but it will quickly teach your pup that seeking attention at 3 a.m. simply doesn’t work.
6. Habitual Whining Due To Lack Of Training
Going off from the previous point, it’s very common even for adult dogs to whine for attention in the middle of the night. This usually happens when the dog has been taught that cries for attention get rewarded. The solution here is the same, it just takes a bit more patience – ignore all cries for attention after you’ve gone to bed.
7. Digestive Issues
Bloating (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus) and other digestive issues are common causes of midnight crying for dogs. A quick vet visit and a diet change should fix this issue. Don’t postpone, however, or the problem can get much worse.
8. Pain and/or Medical Problems
If you have an older dog whining at night or even a mid-aged dog, you should consider the possibility of other health problems. There are many chronic illnesses that can befall dogs after a certain age, and many of them are breed-specific too. Listing all of them here is impossible, so suffice it to say that you shouldn’t ignore this problem. Especially if you’ve ruled out all or most of the potential causes above, you should definitely get your dog to the vet.
How To Stop A Dog From Whining At Night?
You may have heard that consoling a dog when it’s stressed out or afraid will so will reinforce your pet’s belief that it’s right to be anxious. This leads a lot of people to believe that it might be better to just let your dog deal with its anxiety on its own.
However, many behavioral specialists disagree with this theory. Instead, they recommend tackling your dog’s anxiety or fear head-on with proper training.
Of course, if the answer to the “My dog has started crying and whining at night, what should I do?” question is that it’s just being a primadonna and wants attention – then you might be better of ignoring your pup for a bit.
If the issue is neither anxiety nor boredom or attention-seeking, however, you might want to consult with a vet. There are myriad possible health concerns that may be keeping your dog up at night.
In Conclusion – My Dog Has Started Crying and Whining At Night – What Should I Do?
More often than not, midnight crying and whining shouldn’t be that much of a problem. Most of the behavioral problems that cause this are easy to deal with once you’ve figured out what causes the problem.
However, do not ignore this issue for too long. If the whining and crying don’t pass with a few behavioral changes, then you may be faced with a health issue.