As an avid dog lover that helps and rescues dogs I have found that dogs whine at night for many different reasons. It can be rather stressful for dog owners when their precious pooch keeps them awake all night, especially if they don’t know why or don’t know what to look for.
Sleepless nights are no fun and the relationship between dog owners and their dog can become quite strained even to the point where a dog owner may contemplate giving their dog away.
This is when you know you have reached breaking point and the aim of this article is to help you and your dog find a way to either reduce this behavior or better yet stop it all together.
The amount of sleepless nights I have had due to a dog whining, or crying, is beyond imaginable. This is the sad reality of caring for dogs that have had so much trauma and suffering in their lives.
Believe me when I tell you that what I have lost in sleep due to whining is nothing compared to what the dogs are going through and the reason why they whine.
Now, your dog may not have had any trauma or suffering and you may be wondering why I am mentioning this. I mention it because many dogs whine due to fear or discomfort, but regardless of the reason the key is to try to find out why your dog is whining and then work on ways to change it.
Here are 7 reasons your dog whines at night.
Your dog is a puppy. Puppies are the cutest little things on earth. You can’t help but love them. I fall in love instantly and all I want to do is nurture them and provide them with a nice home, but they are so confused.
When you bring a new puppy home it doesn’t understand the change, it doesn’t understand where its mother and siblings have gone. They are in a strange place with strange people and it is very scary for them. They don’t feel safe and so they whine.
They also whine because they want to get out so they can go and find their pack again or go to the toilet. It is a huge change for them and they need a little patience and time to adjust.
You can help your puppy by making it feel safe and secure. Creating a warm soft place for your puppy to sleep is one of the best ways I have found. I often give new puppies soft toys to cuddle, if it is cold I provide a warm water bottle, and to protect them I keep them close to me.
You can give your puppy extra reassurance by putting a clock under their bedding. The ticking can be a great substitute for a heartbeat and I make them a den where they can hide if need be. Using a simple cardboard box makes a great den for a puppy.
One thing to consider with a new puppy that is whining at night is hunger. If your puppy won’t settle then it could be it needs some food.
Puppies feed from their mum at any time during the day and night so your puppies routine could be disturbed due to the change in environment.
2. Older Dogs
Older dogs can whine at night for a few reasons. Older dogs often lose their hearing and this can make them feel vulnerable. Hearing is an important thing for a dog and not being able to hear can affect them mentally.
Sadly their cognitive abilities decline and they become lost and often don’t know what is going on as the vibrational energy they are used to is gone.
Helping an older dog to feel safe is vital. Providing them with a place that they trust and know will help them to be more comfortable. If you can make your dog comfortable the whining should lessen or stop.
This can be achieved by creating a den, providing a crate that has their favourite things, and by making them feel they are not alone. If your older dog doesn’t have hearing issues then it could have medical issues or pain and a visit to the vet is highly recommended.
3. Social Issues
I have found that many of my rescue dogs have huge social issues. Socialization and desensitizing your dog to the normal sounds and behaviors of life is often key to stopping the whining.
The dogs I have that are well socialized almost never whine at night, yet those that aren’t well socialized do. They will whine in fear of noises they don’t know, they will whine for attention, and they will whine when they hear other dogs outside of our home.
As you can imagine having a house full of dogs whining in the middle of the night is a definite no go.
Developing their confidence and providing the dogs with more ways to socialize has helped reduce the whining. Walking them in areas with many people. Playing with them at the beach.
Taking them to places outside the home has played a vital role in helping them overcome the fear of life outside of their doggy haven.
Fear is often a major reason for whining. The problem with fear is it leads to anxiety. Dogs that are anxious will whine. It isn’t their fault, it is their way of crying out for help. They don’t know how to fix it so they will whine.
I have one dog in particular that will start to whine immediately before a thunderstorm. She absolutely hates thunder. It leaves her shaking and her whining is her way of telling me she is petrified. It breaks my heart to see her in this condition.
The problem exacerbates as the other dogs pick up on her fear and when the thunder starts they either dart around the house looking for a way to escape or they start to whine too.
If I know there is a thunderstorm coming, whether it be day or night, I make sure to provide my dog Bella with the security she needs.
For me, it doesn’t matter if it is the middle of the night. If I know thunder is coming I will get up and bring Bella in my room. This is not to say that you have to bring your dog in your room, but learning what reduces your dog’s anxiety and fixing it before it occurs is the best way to prevent the whining.
There are wraps available that can be wrapped around your dog to help their insecurities lessen and they have been very helpful in keeping my dog calm. Bella still has the occasional whine, but for the most part, she now knows the routine and that alone stops her from being fearful.
Boredom and a lack of activity can be reasons why your dog whines at night. If your dog doesn’t get enough stimulation it could be whining at night because it wants to play, it wants attention, or it has nothing better to do. Dogs need to use energy and if they don’t find ways to do that it can result in whining.
Reducing your dog’s boredom during the day by walking them. Try to get them as much social interaction as possible. Give them enrichment toys and create a routine. It will not only help them stop whining at night, it will help them be more mentally sound and confident.
I always say a dog that has used up all its energy during the day has no need to use it at night and should sleep like a baby.
This is a tricky one. As previously mentioned your dog could be seeking attention because it is bored, but it could also be seeking attention in a way that is potentially harmful to the dog and to your mental health.
Attention seeking is a normal behavior for a dog, but when it becomes excessive such as whining at night then it needs to be addressed.
You may not even realize your dog is seeking attention and you could innocently be aiding your dog’s attention seeking habit without knowing it.
For example, your dog whines at night so you get up and try to work out why. You think perhaps it needs to go to the toilet so you let it out for the toilet. The next time your dog whines at night you take it outside to the toilet, but it doesn’t do anything.
You may think there is another problem and so you try some food, but it doesn’t eat. This could all be due to them wanting attention. If you keep getting up every time your dog whines you will just reinforce its negative behavior.
In the past, I have encountered dogs with attention seeking behaviors and although it was hard I got to the point where I would have to ignore it. I knew the dogs wanted attention and they whined at night as they knew I would get up to see what was wrong.
This made me reconsider my behavior in relation to their attention seeking. I stopped getting up at night and I soon realized that what they needed was a way to feel safe and inclusive.
For some dogs it was as simple as reassuring them, for others it was providing them with a place where they felt safe. A crate can be a place of comfort and safety for a dog and many of my dogs love their crate.
To them it is their own little house and they never need prompting to go in their crate. The dogs that whined for attention now no longer whine and their learned attention seeking behavior has been reversed.
7. Pain And Medical Issues
Dogs will whine when they are in pain or if they have a medical issue. If you feel your dog could be in pain or have a medical issue then consulting a vet immediately is advised.
Dogs whine for a number of reasons. Try to relax and reduce the stress for you and your dog by working out what that reason is. For most dogs, it falls into 3 main areas: fear, behavior, or pain. If you can learn what is causing your dog to whine then you are halfway to solving the problem.
Have patience with your dog and remember they are suffering more than you. Give them time to change and before you know it those sleepless nights will be a thing of the past.