Your restless pup keeps whining at night…
And it’s come to the point that it makes you sleepless, too.
Relax…I know it could be both frustrating and worrisome…
But this article’s here to help you change that.
Read and discover:
- 15 reasons why your dog whines at night.
- 5 tips to help you stop your dog from whining every evening.
- 3 types of anxiety that make your dog whine during the night.
- And many more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog whine at night?
- 13 reasons why dogs whine at night
- How to stop a dog whining at night? 5 tips
Why does my dog whine at night?
Your dog whines at night because they’re in heat, anxious, injured, in pain, sick, or itchy from allergies. It could also be from hunger, wanting to pee or poop, hunting, discomfort, or high energy. Other times it could be because of a sleep disorder or dementia.
13 reasons why dogs whine at night
#1: They’re in heat
Your female pup might be whining because she’s in her season.
It’s an observed behavior for female dogs in heat.
Dogs are biologically driven to reproduce. That’s why they desire to find someone to mate with…
And they won’t care what time it is.
Your pup aims to escape and find a male canine.
“When could I expect my dog’s first heat period?”
Your canine’s first season could occur between 6 to 15 months of their age.
“Okay…then how long would each season last?”
It varies from one dog to another.
So, let’s further understand a female dog’s heat period…
It’s called the estrous cycle, and according to the MSDVM, it has 4 phases:
- The start of your dog’s cycle.
- It could last for about 7 to 10 days.
- Blood-tinged discharge is secreted.
- Your pup’s vulva is swelling.
- In this phase, your female dog doesn’t allow mating yet.
- The real ‘heat’ period.
- It lasts for 5 to 10 days.
- In this phase, mating is allowed by your dog.
- The flow of bloody discharge stops in this phase.
- 10 to 140 days after heat.
- In this phase, your dog is either pregnant or resting.
- This is the rest period.
- It happens between the diestrus and the next proestrus (start of the cycle).
How about male dogs?
Do male canines experience heat periods?
Yes, they get their heat period, too.
However, it doesn’t consist of any cycle like in female dogs.
It’s because they could get aroused all year round. If they do, they might exhibit sexual frustration. That could result in whining at night, too.
You might also like: 17 Tips On What To Do When Your Dog Is In Heat (& Bleeding)
#2: Call of nature
That whining you hear from your dog at night might mean they have to go number 1 or 2…
With that, whining is not the only issue.
Your pup exhibits this behavior because they’re not initially potty-trained. So, Fido tends to go pee or poop inside the house.
Other reasons for your pup’s house soiling could be:
- Fear of going outside.
- Incomplete house training.
- Dislike of the current weather.
- Their urine is already marked on the surface.
- Surface preference, e.g., they don’t like going in the grass.
Along with the whining, your pooch will show other behaviors like:
- Constant barking.
- Scratching the door.
- Sniffing with determination.
- Trying to get out of the room.
And if they do show this, they’re due to go poop or pee.
#3: They want to hunt
Something’s activated in your dog that makes them whine at night…
I’m talking about their innate prey drive, which compels them to hunt.
Maybe your pup heard a rustle in the nearby bushes.
Your pup might have detected faint footsteps from afar, too. After all, research claims that dogs can hear 4 times better than us.
Whichever it is, your dog wants to alert you and start the search.
Let’s break down this situation and the natural urge of your pup:
Where it came from and what it is
A dog’s prey drive was mostly used in the wild.
Back then, your pup’s ancestors hunted to survive.
They pursue smaller animals and scare off even the littlest critters. They do so to provide for themselves and their pack.
Moreover, their hunting skills include:
- Capturing prey.
- Killing small animals.
- Focusing on things that are moving.
All of those are kept in your dog’s biology despite domestication.
That’s why some dog parents experience being handed with a bird or a rat by their dog…
AKC tells us that it’s an impossible task to remove a dog’s prey drive.
It’s because every time your canine makes a successful hunt, they feel an addictive high surge in them.
Some dogs have a higher prey drive
Dogs that have a strong prey drive are more ideal hunters.
Such canines are bred to hunt and herd. They are:
- Border Collies.
- Australian Shepherds.
That’s why you’d likely notice these breeds in rescue groups, farms, or law enforcement.
#4: Apparently, they injured themself
In this episode of your dog’s restlessness, they may have injured themselves.
Thus, the whining at night.
They may have gotten their injury during the day, too.
And at night, when they’re not distracted by anything, the pain becomes evident. It’s time for them to endure it…
But they can’t.
And so, they whine to let you know.
Here are the most common injuries in dogs:
These are injuries in your dog’s tendons. The latter acts as a link to their muscles and bones.
Usual causes of sprains in dogs:
- Falling from heights.
- Slipping accidentally.
- A wrong jump during their regular play session.
It’s commonly found in your pup’s hips and thighs.
This injury is the damage in your dog’s ligaments, which connect bones.
This type of injury causes joint damage.
Moreover, it could happen due to:
- Hard landings.
- Wrongly stepping on a hole.
It’s also common in dogs that are:
- Physically active.
#5: They’re uncomfortable
Your dog’s whining may be directed as a complaint…
“What could they be complaining about?”
Oh…dogs are picky creatures…
In this situation, your dog might be having trouble being comfortable.
And it could be due to numerous things like:
Fido might be bothered by your room’s temperature.
For dogs, environmental temperature is critical. It’s because Fido has a harder time than us with regulating their temperature.
Your room too hot or too cold?
Then your pup will likely stir at night and whine.
Remember: Keep the temperature between 101°F (38.3°C) to 102.5°F (39.2°C).
Your pooch might feel like it’s such a crowd in your room. And with that, they might be feeling overwhelmed.
Maybe there are things on the floor that hinders them from lying there. They want to spread their belly flat, but they can’t.
You might notice that they’re stirring. They could be going from one place to another in your room.
They might be whining as a request for you to open the door and let them out.
“Hooman…I need space…”
Their dog bed
You make sure that your dog is comfortable for you. It’s because you want a good night’s sleep.
Well, the same goes for your dog…
They go to sleep for at least 8 to 12 hours a day. That’s why their dog bed is essential for them, too.
So, if your pup whines at night due to discomfort, their bed might be a culprit.
It might be old, and they’ve outgrown it.
Or maybe, the cushion has absorbed most of their body heat. With that, the bed is too warm to lay on, and it’s uncomfortable.
#6: They’re not feeling well
Whining at night could indicate that your dog’s feeling ill.
They might be in distress due to the internal pain they’re feeling.
Like I said in reason #4, your pup is free of distractions at night. That’s why pain becomes more unbearable for them. And so, they whine to project their ache.
Types of illnesses that cause restlessness in dogs:
- Ear infections.
- Dental problems.
- Cushing’s disease.
- Gastrointestinal issues.
- Skin diseases (to be further explained in reason #12).
Note: The illnesses mentioned above are just plausible reasons for this cause. It’s still best to consult your dog’s veterinarian to have your canine diagnosed properly.
#7: Sleep disorders
As I said, dogs sleep for at least 8 hours a day. To add, they do so not only because they need to, but because they love to!
That’s why it’s alarming if your dog feels the other way with sleep. Then, with whining in the equation, your attention in this matter is really essential.
That’s because your canine might be experiencing a sleep disorder.
And research tells us that such affects your dog’s physical and cognitive functions.
Moreover, lack of sleep can slow down your pup’s immune response.
According to PetMD, dogs with sleep disorders show:
- Developed aggression.
- Frequently waking up at night.
- Sluggish behaviors during the day.
Here are common sleep disorders in dogs:
This disorder is rare in dogs.
It’s when your dog has a hard time sleeping.
A health problem could cause it. Examples are:
- Kidney disease.
- Frequent need to urinate.
- Stress and pent-up energy.
This is a nervous system sleep disorder.
Low levels of hypocretin cause it. The latter is a hormone that maintains normal sleep patterns.
Sometimes, the cause for this is unknown. Other times it could be due to:
- Lack of activity.
- Immune system dysfunction.
It’s not curable, but it’s not life-threatening. However, the sleeplessness it brings causes disruption in your dog’s daily functions. Therefore, it decreases your canine’s quality of life.
REM Behavior Disorder
You look at your whining dog and see that they’re not awake…
You look more closely, and it’s like they’re chasing something in their dream.
Your pup might be showing REM Behavior Disorder. It’s a disorder that causes physical activity during sleep.
After an episode, your pooch will usually wake up. There’ll be no evident confusion.
For further reading: 13 Odd Reasons Why Dogs Wake Up In The Middle Of The Night
#8: They’re still a puppy
Are you asking on behalf of your new addition to your canine babies?
Then, brace yourself…
A new puppy’s going to be a tough start in their first couple of weeks.
And that includes their whining at night.
Once you take a puppy home, they’re separated from their siblings.
All their life, they’re used to sleeping with their litter along with their momma.
That being all the things they know (for now), the separation is shocking and upsetting.
That’s why your new pup might refuse food from you during their adjustment period.
And, in the new bed that you prepared for them, they might feel unsafe.
Now, here comes the whining and barking…
If they have adjusted to their sleeping arrangement, then it could be something else.
It could be due to their need for frequent toilet breaks. At night, your pup might need to go pee or poop. And there goes the whining to alert you…
#9: Your pup’s still hungry
Your canine’s whining might be a cry for a midnight snack…
They might be hungry at night, and they hope to tell you by whining.
So, should you grant Fido’s wish for the night?
The answer is a ‘no.’
It’s because feeding your dog at night could cause:
- Weight gain.
- Frequent need for toilet breaks at night.
- A recharge on their energy, therefore they’d have high stamina at night. (To be continued in reason #13)
“Then what can I do?”
The best way to deal with it is to ignore them for the night.
The next day, you should start fixing their diet and meal times. (See tip #3 for the proper meal time intervals and amount)
Aging is an irreversible process. With that, it brings other irreversible changes in your dog’s life, too.
The exact thing that brings these turnarounds is canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CCDS).
And as Senior Fido goes through these changes, their cognitive functions are affected.
This causes them to get confused and irritable.
With that, they could begin whining or even howling at night on the moon.
Moreover, there’s an acronym for the group of clinical signs of CCDS. It’s called ‘DISHA,’ and according to the MSDVM, it consists of:
|Disorientation||Your canine is confused. That’s why they get lost, stay in weird places, and perform peculiar behaviors (e.g., staring).|
|Interaction changes||They begin to be withdrawn and prefer isolation. Their interest is also down.|
|Sleep-wake cycles||Their sleep becomes disrupted. As a result, they become restless.|
|House-soiling||Your canine disregards their years of training and starts to go inside the house. They might even pee at you as well.|
|Activity changes||Their focus is easily interrupted. Also, their reactions to different stimuli have changed.|
Continue reading: 9 Reasons Why Your Dog Is So Restless At Night + 9 Tips
#11: They’re itchy
You wake up to your dog’s whining…
You take a look at them, and they’re aggressively scratching their body…
It’s like revving a motorcycle. It lets out a vrooooom only when you rev it.
In your dog, when they scratch (rev), they whine (vroom). And as their body shakes, their whining voice shakes as well.
Why are they acting that way?
They could be experiencing allergies.
The itchiness brought by it causes your pup to stay up all night.
Your dog might have eaten something they’re allergic to.
The night comes, and the condition manifests…
Research tells us that food allergies cause up to 20% of allergic dermatitis. The latter is a skin reaction to allergens.
Moreover, a study says these are the most common food allergens in dogs:
- Dairy products.
Along with extreme itching, vets say that these are symptoms of food allergies in dogs:
- Weight loss.
- Gastrointestinal issues.
- Hyperactivity or lack of energy.
Flea allergy dermatitis
Even one flea bite could cause itching for days.
That’s how flea bites affect your dog.
First, they feed off of your pooch’s blood.
Next, they leave a trace of their protein-filled saliva in your dog’s skin…
With that, your pup’s body reacts to the allergen (flea saliva). Then, it causes flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) in your dog.
A sign of FAD is hair loss and licking in the flea triangle. This area consists of your dog’s:
- Base of the tail.
- Rear part of the legs.
Reading tip: Help, My Dog Is Constantly Scratching And Biting Himself!
#12: They’re still full
It’s time for the continuation of reason #9…
There, I said that feeding your dog at night is a no-no. It’s because food converts to energy.
So, if you fed your dog close to their bedtime, their stamina would be bursting at night.
Your pup will feel both restless and overstimulated.
They might walk, run around, and play. By doing so, they burn off their recharged energy.
As for you, it might feel like a nuisance. It’s because you’re dealing with a hyperactive pup… at night!
They might go to bed but struggle to sleep. And so, they whine as a result of restlessness.
And sometimes, the effects might be more evident and disturbing.
It could happen if your dog didn’t have enough stimulation during the day.
Note: It’s also worse for a puppy. It’s because puppies have high energy to start with.
So, the equation becomes:
Unused energy from the day + New energy from the late meal
“What’s it equal to?”
Oh… the sum is:
Whining could be an indication of anxiety in your dog.
It can show during the night or day – whenever your canine comes across their stimulus.
These are the examples of anxiety that your dog could be experiencing:
Post-traumatic disorder (PTSD)
You might be wondering…
“Dogs can experience PTSD, too?”
Sadly, they can develop it, too…
Experts tell us that these could cause PTSD in dogs:
- Natural disasters.
- A serious accident.
- Loss of a dog parent.
- Getting abandoned before.
- Fighting with other animals.
On the other hand, here are the signs of dog PTSD if they see or re-experience their stimulus:
- Tucked tail.
- Sudden aggression.
- Clinging to you in fear.
- Ears are flat and pinned back.
- Over focusing on their surroundings.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
This is what research states:
Generalized anxiety in dogs could manifest regardless of the context.
That means that your dog could exhibit constant fear and anxiety.
And since it manifests randomly, your dog needs extra patience from you. It’s a severe condition that affects your dog’s quality of life.
And sadly, it’s common in dogs and is misdiagnosed or unrecognized.
PetMD tells us what dogs with GAD face:
- Sleep disturbances.
- Difficulty in focusing.
- Learning commands slowly.
- Filtering out what to be anxious about.
- Doing poorly in group training classes.
This time, your hyper-attached pooch might be whining because of separation anxiety.
Vets describe separation anxiety as:
A dog being overly attached or dependent on their guardian/s.
If separated from the person, the dog becomes highly anxious and distressed.
It could lead to the destruction of your belongings, vocalizations, or house-soiling.
Do you let them sleep with you in the bed?
If it’s a ‘no,’ then that might be it (among other situations)…
Your dog doesn’t want to get separated from you, even in their sleep.
Read next: Why Does My Dog All Of A Sudden Have (Separation) Anxiety?
How to stop a dog whining at night? 5 tips
#1: Target their anxiety
Anxiety is common in dogs. That’s why there are a lot of proven ways to calm an anxious dog in these times. Some ways aim to eradicate anxiety in dogs altogether.
Here are 3 examples:
In this training method, you’ll have to put your dog face-to-face with their fear.
However, you should do so in a gradual manner.
The aim is to let your dog face their stimulus in a little amount first.
Along the way, your dog becomes less reactive with it. There, you’d also need to increase their exposure to the stimulus.
You should do this until your pup no longer has any reaction to the thing that they fear.
Play any white noise at night
There is a science behind dogs being calm using white noise and music.
That’s why your pup easily sleeps if the TV is on with a bearable volume. Your pooch treats it as white noise.
However, you might not prefer leaving the TV on for the night.
Luckily, there are gadgets that are specifically built to make white noise.
Like this Douni Sleep Sound Machine that has a timer that you could set.
The purpose of such is to hide other stressful sounds. With that, it lessens sleep disturbance and improves it.
Seek a vet’s help for the best advice regarding your dog’s anxiety.
If it becomes or seems unmanageable, your pup could be prescribed medications.
Note: You’d still have to continue managing your dog’s anxiety. It should only be partnered with the medicine.
Some of the medications are over-the-counter. However, it’s best to consult a vet first for the proper medicine and dosage.
Anxiety medications to expect for your dog:
- Sertraline (Zoloft).
- Diazepam (Valium).
- Alprazolam (Xanax).
#2: Provide them enough exercise
During the day, you should stimulate your dog enough.
As a highly social being, your dog would surely appreciate it.
And you would appreciate it, too…
Because an exercised dog is:
- More mindful.
And by getting rid of their energy through exercise, your dog could have a better sleep at night.
What if you don’t have any more time to squeeze in on their exercise?
I got you…
You could try:
Interactive toys for your dog’s healthy mind
Toys that are fun, puzzling, and rewarding are enjoyable for your pup.
Playing with such could also equate to physical stimulation.
This Kong wobbler interactive treat dispenser is a doggy-staple! Your pup could also make use of the colorful Treat Maze, which is a good starter for toy puzzles!
Warning: Still keep your dog’s regular exercising arrangement. Don’t replace their physical exercise with more mental stimulation. Your dog still needs to work their body out.
#3: Establish a meal routine
According to vets, you should feed your dog twice a day. These meals are given between 8 to 12 hours.
“What happens if I go over the 12-hour interval?”
Then your dog’s stomach will get hyper acidic. That can then cause nausea.
Lastly, in your dog’s next vet visit, tell them about this. You can ask the doctor to compute your dog’s needed calorie intake per day.
Once you know how much, start building your dog’s diet around the requirement.
Note: Make sure to include treats given in the middle of the day into the equation!
Overall, the amount of food a dog needs depends on their:
- Activity level.
- General health condition.
#4: General check-up
Since some of the reasons suggest a medical issue, you must check your dog’s health.
You could assess at home first.
Body parts to check are the following:
Any changes or anomalies in these body parts could indicate a medical issue.
You should also take note of your canine’s heartbeat. The normal range is 70 to 120 beats per minute.
Then, also observe their breathing. Are they struggling to breathe? When breathing, are any peculiar noises evident?
If you say ‘yes’ to the questions and observe something in your dog’s body, seek a vet’s help.
#5: Make them comfortable
If comfort is the issue, then you might need to make small changes for your dog…
Note: Big and sudden changes could be confusing for your dog. Make sure to make these changes minor and gradually.
What you can do:
- Change their dog bed. It might be time for a new one.
- Buy a calming diffuser. Your dog might appreciate this vet-recommended calming diffuser kit by Adaptil.
- Make space. Your pupper might be needing it. They might want to go from one place to another in your room. Making space would let them do so.
- Put a water bowl inside the room that your dog sleeps in. It’s especially needed when the weather’s cold or the air conditioner is on. It’s because both cause dry air and make your pup thirsty.