Why Is My Dog Whining at Night?


Being kept up at night by a dog’s whining tends to elicit different types of reactions from owners. Some get irritated, some get frustrated, but most, if not all, become concerned.

For novice dog owners, questions like “why is my dog whining at night?” are common, especially when there are many reasons for this phenomenon. However, unlike most people assume, dogs whining at night is more than just dogs throwing a random tantrum. To know the answers to these questions, keep on reading.

What is Dog Whining?

Before you can understand why dogs whine at night, you must first understand what dog whining is.

Dog whining is a dog’s distinct attempt to communicate with its owner. This could be about an unmet need or something that makes them restless. It is a repetitive, high-pitched nasal sound that they release with their mouths closed.

Sick or injured dogs will exaggerate this sound to a yelp or whimper, but dogs who are simply trying to convey something will do it just loud and persistently enough to catch your attention as though they are trying to speak with you but in a foreign language.

Before you can deal with them, you have to understand what they need entirely. You might be asking, “why does my dog whine at night?”. While most dogs whine at the silliest things, there are several other reasons why they do that. Here are some of them:


1. Appeasement

This behavior refers to dogs who whine excessively in the presence of other people or new dogs. Apart from that, this form of whining is often accompanied by submissive postures like a tucked tail and a lowered body.

This may mean that your dog feels intimidated or cautious around an unknown visitor or furry friend.


2. Greeting

In contrast to appeasement behavior, another reason why a dog whines is when it serves as a greeting. Some friendly dogs who get too excited when visitors arrive tend to whine in glee. Moreover, this is often observed when owners come home after being away for hours.


3. Attention

If you’re wondering, “why does my dog keep whining at night?”, then he’s probably begging for your attention.

The two previous cases often happen during the daytime, so if your question is about persistent whining, specifically during nighttime, this may be the reason. At night, some dogs constantly whine to gain their owners’ attention.

This may even happen during meals or when they want to play or get a treat.


4. Discomfort

For puppy owners, one of the most common questions they ask is “why is my puppy whining at night”. This is particularly true with newly adopted puppies, as whining is another way for them to express their feelings of stress and anxiety, and some even do this involuntarily.

This form of whining is often caused by a sudden change in environment or discomfort, among other reasons. Most cases like this are temporary and will eventually cease when your dog becomes more familiar with its new surroundings. You’ll be glad to know that once your puppy settles in, you won’t have to wonder why is my puppy whining all night anymore.

If none of what’s previously mentioned is the cause for your dog’s excessive and persistent whining, then it could be a symptom of a more severe problem.

Some of these potential issues include separation anxiety, injury, or other medical conditions that may need a more thorough evaluation. Moreover, most of the time, this will occur with dogs of older age or those with existing medical conditions.


5. Fear and Anxiety

Anxiety is quite common among puppies or younger dogs, but an older dog acting like an anxious puppy could mean it’s experiencing anxiety or, worse, intense fear.

As mentioned a while ago, anxiety is caused by sudden changes such as keeping an indoor dog outside or loud noises such as thunderstorms. So if you ask, “why is my old dog crying at night?”, then either of the two could be the reason.

One of the most common types of anxiety in dogs is separation anxiety. Similar to how it occurs in people, separation anxiety is feeling discomfort or anxiety when left alone.

However, for dogs, this is characterized by whining, panting, pacing, drooling, or other signs of distress while you prepare to leave or while you are away.


6. Pain

Why is my dog panting and whining? Another cause of whining is injury or joint pain, as puppies and old dogs are more prone to these. Therefore, regular checkups and evaluations are necessary to ensure that your dog is not suffering from any injury.

This is particularly important for older dogs because no matter how active and healthy your dog is, eventually, old age would take its toll on them. So, if their whining and whimpering become excessive, it would be best to take them to a trusted veterinarian for immediate treatment.


7. Mental Issues

Why is my dog howling at night? This is a question that often leaves dog owners confused.

Dogs, just like humans, may also develop neurological issues such as dementia as they grow older. Therefore, older dogs that often cry, whimper, and whine could be suffering from cognitive decline due to old age.

This behavior is persistent and would even reach extreme lengths, such as howling at night that would seem to have no reason at all. In this case, it would be in the owner’s best interest to have them checked at the veterinarian as well.

How to Deal with Dog Whining?

If you’re sure that your dog’s whining does not need any veterinary intervention, the next question would be what to do specifically during these situations.

One thing you need to know is that dog whining is a learned behavior. Therefore, as long as you tolerate it, it will never stop. If you want to fix this behavior, you first need to identify which of the causes mentioned above is the reason why your dog is crying at night.

Then, you may use the following tips to stop your dog from whining, based on what kind of whining they do.

1. Appeasement Whining

As mentioned, appeasement behavior is exhibited when a dog feels threatened or intimidated by a particular presence, which can be from a stranger or another dog.

You can determine this behavior if your dog crouches or rolls over its stomach with ears or tail tucked. In addition, they would also try to avoid eye contact and stray away from the perceived threat.

This is normal, but the best way to prevent this behavior from persisting is to boost your dog’s confidence. Some techniques or activities you could have your dog do are as follows:

  • Reward-based training
  • Dog sports (Flyball, agility, musical freestyle, etc.)
  • Interactive Games (Tug, fetch, etc.)

Moreover, avoid giving physical and verbal punishment as this could put all your efforts to waste. Intimidating your already easily threatened dog would only reduce their confidence and increase their appeasement whining.


2. Greeting Through Whining

To control a hyperactive dog from whining when greeting people, the best way is to divert their attention to something else, such as their toys.

This is because telling them to be quiet will not work unless trained to respond precisely to the word. In addition, an overly excited dog would experience difficulty controlling its behavior. Here are some ways to keep your greetings simple to stop your dog from excessive whining during greetings:

  • Speak in low and modulated voices and avoid excited tones
  • Make small and slow movements
  • Interact with your dog only when they are relaxed and less excited

Another option you have is to teach them specifically what to do when guests are over, such as sitting or giving them toys. Their whining will significantly be reduced if dogs are kept busy during these times.


3. Whining for Attention

For dogs who whine just to get what they want, the way to get them to tone down is to make them realize that being quiet is a better method.

Unless the owner has unmatched patience, this could be tough to carry out since giving in would be the easier and quicker option. However, teaching your dog to whine less for attention would be the better choice in the long run.

Of course, there will also be times when owners unknowingly reinforce the behavior by maintaining eye contact, touching, and talking to them, even when they’re reprimanding them.

In this case, your dog will not take your scolding seriously. Instead, they would feel victorious because you’ve given them the attention they need. Thus, the best way to show them that you are upset is to make dramatic gestures such as crossing your arms over your chest and ignoring their whining.

In addition, rewarding them when they become quiet is also needed to make them realize that this works. Intentionally giving them treats or attention while they are quiet is also another alternative.

This way, they’ll become more motivated to stop whining because they know that this is the best way to gain your attention.


4. Anxious Whining

Reducing whining that stems from anxiety is one of the most challenging tasks because to get your dog to stop doing so, you would need to eliminate what’s causing its anxiety or stress.

Moreover, aside from whining, anxious dogs will be restless and nervously pace around the house and licking. It is also important to note that dogs under extreme stress would be unable to control their whining.

In severe cases like this, it is best to ask help from a veterinarian as they can prescribe medications to reduce your dog’s anxiety. However, you shouldn’t give any medication for behavioral problems to your dog unless you have consulted a veterinarian.

Lastly, you may learn more about anti-anxiety medications from a certified Veterinary Behaviorist or an Applied Animal Behaviorist (ACAAB or CAAB).


5. Stopping Older Dogs From Whining at Night

Unlike younger dogs, old dogs mostly whine not because they want attention but simply because they are old. In this case, training would be less likely to work as their cognitive skills have already declined.

With that said, here are some ways you can help your old dog whine less at night so you won’t have to ask yourself, “why does my dog cry at night?”. However, keep in mind that these are ineffective if they’re suffering from pain.

  • Tire your dog enough to have them fall asleep immediately by taking them out on a long walk before going to bed.
  • Feed your dog enough food and water.
  • Reduce the water you give at night.
  • Play relaxing music.
  • Give them something with a familiar scent, such as your shirt.
  • Reward quiet behavior.


Overall, dogs are still man’s best friend, despite the inability to communicate directly. However, they are gifted with other ways to express what they want, including body movements and whining. Therefore, it is up to us to meet them halfway.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to dogs alone. In fact, many animal behaviors can be difficult to understand unless we take time to learn them, such as dogs peeing a lot or excessive cat meowing, a phenomenon that’s similar to dog whining.

Hopefully, this article has answered the question, “why is my dog crying at night?”. Does your dog show any of the above? If so, then share with us your experience below.


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