Having a dog is one of the most satisfying feelings. After all who does not love a furry animal roaming around the house, having fun, running in the garden, and being your companion always? Most dog parents would be aware that dogs bear a lot of similarities with human characteristics.
Just like us dogs have emotions too. They feel happy, sad, and angry and sometimes they even cry during their sleep. Have you wondered ever why do dogs cry in their sleep? Well, if you are a dog parent you might have found your dog crying while sleeping but you never could find out the reason.
As a pet parent, you might have felt afraid when you saw your old dog crying in sleep or tried to find out ways to calm down an anxious dog at night. So, let’s deep dive and find out why do dogs cry in their sleep and whether should you be worried about it.
Reasons why do dogs cry in their sleep:
First of all, if you have been worrying about why my dog whimper in his sleep, you must know that this is very common in most dogs.
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1. Your dog is experiencing pain
When dogs feel pain, they do cry in their sleep. The pain can be for various reasons such as from a recent injury or any ongoing medical condition. Sometimes if the dogs are under certain medications that can cause discomfort in them as well where they end up crying in their sleep.
If you have an old dog, you might experience this frequently. Sometimes old dogs pant at night or cry out if they are having joint pains, they will most likely whimper at night. Health conditions play a major role in determining your dog’s proper sleep. Since he feels uncomfortable, he cries to convey his pain to you.
Sometimes when dogs start to feel sick such as if they catch a cold or ate something which upset their stomach, they whimper and cry in their sleep.
2. Your dog is new to the environment
If you just got a puppy, you have to be extra cautious while looking after him. The sudden change of place, meeting new people, and a new environment can make a puppy anxious and it usually takes some time for puppies to get accustomed to the whole new setup.
Hence you will find puppies crying in their sleep as they feel insecure, especially during the initial days. They miss their old space, miss their mothers and all these make them cry in their sleep.
Even newborn puppies whine in their sleep because they are always seeking attention. Since everything seems new for them, they require extra attention and love. Giving them a sense of comfort and petting them can help to calm them down and make them adjust to the new surroundings.
3. Your dog is dreaming
Just like human beings, dogs also dream while they sleep. And not all dreams are pleasant. If your dog dreams of any unpleasant condition or has a nightmare, he is likely to end up crying in his sleep. Twitching, and whimpering are some of the common symptoms that your dog is dreaming of.
As per research, dogs also have REM or rapid eye movement in their sleep which is another indicator that your dog is having a dream. Moreover, if your dog has experienced any sort of bad incidents in their life like accidents or trauma, they have those flashbacks as nightmares that scare them.
However, not only have nightmares they also dream about, everyday things such as running around in the park, catching a ball or chasing a squirrel, etc.
Apart from twitching and whimpering, your dog can breathe heavily or you can find them moving their legs or shivering in their sleep due to their dreams.
4. Your dog feels bored
Dogs need to be kept physically active for good health. A daily dose of exercise helps them to be not only in good shape but also in good mood. If they do not get an opportunity to move around or stimulate their energy with any physical activities they often feel bored.
However, due to busy schedules, often pet parents do not have enough time to take their dogs for a walk or a run. The lack of physical activities or engagement leads them to feel sad and bored and you can find your dog crying at night. Since this is a suppressed desire in them, they express it through whining or crying in their sleep.
Getting your doggos physically active or exercising them for 30 minutes can help reduce their boredom and you will not find your dog twitching and crying in their sleep anymore.
5. Your dog’s age matters
You can see your dogs crying in sleep whether you have a puppy or an old dog. Both of them go through various conditions such as health issues, adapting to a new place, feeling detached, and many more. Since they have a lot of emotional upheaval going on in their lives, dogs often cry in their sleep.
For puppies, it becomes more difficult as they are separated from their mothers and they do not feel secure in their new place in the beginning. So, out of fear and attachment issues, they whine or twitch in their sleep.
With old dogs, the scenario is a bit different. Older dogs are prone to have health issues like joint pains, stomach pain, or other chronic diseases which is a reason for them to feel discomfort and uneasiness. As a result, old dogs pant or cry in their sleep.
6. Your dog goes through anxiety issues
You will be amazed to find the similarities between human behavior and dog behavior. You may suddenly notice that your dog wants to sleep with you all of a sudden. Dogs also have anxiety and separation issues which can disturb their sleep at night resulting in crying and whining.
If you had gone for a vacation leaving your dog for a few days, or your dog was taken care of by your neighbor or kept at dog creche, he will feel anxious. His anxiety or separation issues will strike up even when you have come back because he still could not forget those days.
Besides, if your dog always craves attention or your touch, and you are unable to give him that time, he will express his emotions through crying at night. Sometimes storms or thunder at night can be some of the other reasons for your dog to cry in his sleep.
7. Your dog can experience seizure episodes
Seizures are usually neurological conditions of dogs where they can shiver or experience convulsions. Any other disturbances in the nervous system can lead to a seizure condition. Sometimes dogs paddle their legs very fast or starts kicking in their dream and all these various reasons cause crying in their sleep.
In general, this condition lasts for not more than 30 seconds. However, if you see your dog going through this phase frequently and the condition lasts longer, make sure to visit a veterinarian.
8. Your dog requires more training
Crying in sleep is not unnatural or uncommon. However, there are ways to stop this and help your dog sleep normally again. Crying at night causes interruptions in their sleep which can have adverse effects on the health of the dog if it continues for long. So, it’s best to keep a check on his sleeping pattern from the beginning and help him sleep properly.
Sometimes when dog parents do not bother about this condition, the dogs continue to whine and cry in their sleep. So, it is important to provide them with behavioral training, so that they control this behavior at the earliest. Hiring a dog trainer is another option if you wish your dog to have personal attention and proper supervision and guidance.
As a dog parent, you might be astonished to find so many reasons for dogs to cry in their sleep. However, there are ways to calm a restless puppy or a crying dog.
How to calm down a crying dog at night
- Spend ample time with your dog. If your dog suffers from anxiety or separation issues, all he needs is your undivided attention and time. So, make sure to spend a lot of time petting him, cuddling him, and playing with him before you put him to sleep. He will be in a calm and comforting mood and will slowly get rid of the habit of crying in sleep.
- Give him a comfortable space to sleep. If your dog gets easily afraid of loud sounds or storms or you have got a new puppy, you must provide him with a nice, soft, and comfortable dog bed. He will feel a sense of security as he will know it is only his space and he will have a peaceful, sound sleep.
- Play some soothing music before bedtime. A calming sound will help your dog to feel restful and quiet. The soft, comforting ambiance will keep him away from any bad dreams or past traumas.
- Give him some cuddle toys while sleeping. This is extremely effective for a newborn puppy as he will not feel alone and the toy will be his companion. It helps to feel safe even in a new place.
- Pet them in their sleep. If you find your old dog crying or panting at night due to pain or health issues, pet him immediately. Rub his back gently and be there with him for a few minutes until he feels calm and composed.
- Visit a vet if he has a serious health condition. Seizures or any other consisting pain can cause crying in sleep and if the condition sustains, you must take him to a vet for a checkup.
There is nothing to worry about if your dog cries in their sleep. There are various reasons and once you detect the right one, you can also help him come back to his normal behavior. However, as a pet parent, it is necessary to always keep an eye on your dog’s behavior and sleeping patterns to keep him safe and healthy.
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FAQ – Why Does My Dog Cry In His Sleep
1. What is my dog dreaming about when he cries?
Ans– Your dog is probably having a nightmare or dreaming about a negative incident such as past trauma, or accidents. If dogs feel anxious while dreaming, they cry.
2. Should I wake up my dog if he’s having a nightmare?
Ans– If your dog is having a nightmare that you can figure out by his movements like heavy panting, kicking, and throwing his legs, it is better to leave in that condition. Although you will be willing to calm his restlessness, he can lash at you if you try to pet him.
3. Are dogs dreaming when they whimper in their sleep?
Ans– Rapid Eye Movement or REM suggests that your dog is dreaming and in most cases, they end up whimpering in their sleep.
4. Is twitching while sleeping normal for dogs?
Ans– Twitching is very common for dogs while sleeping. Either they are dreaming something or trying to communicate their emotions through twitching. Make sure not to wake them up as it can disturb their sleep.