Why Does My Dog Cry In His Sleep

A dog that cries in his sleep is uncommon and can happen when he is feeling unwell and is in pain. 

It could also be the case when he is having a nightmare and is afraid of something that happened in the dream. This makes him feel anxious or uneasy, and he starts to whine.

But is that the only reason for a dog to cry out in his sleep? In this post, we’ll find out more.

Your Dog Is Reacting to a Scary Dream

Your dog whines in the night because he is dreaming about something that makes him uncomfortable, and that is what is causing him to cry. 

It is possible that he dreamed that you abandoned him in the street, and he was left to survive by himself. As a result, he might have started crying out of fear.

A dog’s nightmare could also be triggered if you lose him on a walk before you find him again.

Dogs have similar electrical activity to the human brain, so they may be recalling events from their daily lives. 

You may find him barking or making leg movements during his sleep apart from whining. These behaviors may be indicative of his separation anxiety and fear.

Health Issue Causing Him Pain and Discomfort in His Sleep

Dogs who are in pain will act differently than usual. They will moan or cry out in their sleep.

The discomfort may be caused by a joint problem, back injury, or it is also possible that the dog is uncomfortable sleeping in a specific position.

Other signs of pain include ear infections and respiratory problems.

If your dog is whining frequently in his sleep, you should seek medical attention. A trip to the veterinarian is the best way to determine whether your pet is experiencing any health issues.

The Rem Sleep Cycle Is Responsible for His Whining

It is not uncommon for dogs to go through phases of light and heavy sleep, just like humans. 

In contrast to human sleep cycles, dogs’ sleep cycles are significantly shorter. Therefore, it is possible for them to go through two sleep cycles in a short 45 minutes’ sleep, each of which includes 1-5 minutes of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. 

Usually, a smaller dog’s REM period is shorter than that of a larger dog’s.

The rapid eye movement stage of sleep is when dreams occur. In this time of sleep, your dog might move his legs or paws, make faces, growl, whimper, or cry out in his dreams. This stage of sleep is also marked by rapid eye movements, which gives its name.

This sleeping pattern indicates that your dog sleeps well. Therefore, crying in your dog’s sleep is not necessarily a sign of distress, but rather an indication of deep sleep.

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It’s Normal for Puppies to Cry While Sleeping

You can expect your puppy to whine or whimper while asleep if you have one at home. 

In the early stages of separation from their mothers and littermates, puppies will cry and whine while they sleep as well as during the day. 

This is because they are scared, confused, and lonely. These feelings can be difficult for a puppy to cope with.

You need to be able to comfort your puppy in a way that makes him feel that everything is going to be fine, and he is well taken care of. Providing him with comfort and attention will help.

Comfort means giving your puppy a warm and safe environment. Being attentive means giving more attention to your puppy, such as petting, talking to, or playing with him. This will reassure your puppy that he is being cared for.

His Sleep Is Disrupted by His Traumatizing Life Events

Inquire about any traumatic experiences a puppy has had before adopting it from a shelter. As with humans, dogs can also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

You can expect your puppy to reflect on these experiences throughout his lifetime in his dreams and will cry occasionally in his sleep whenever he recalls them.

Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on what steps you should take in order to address this problem, so you should talk to him about it. 

PTSD is usually treated with a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. You can ask your veterinarian for guidance as to what treatment plan is most appropriate for your dog.

Occurrence of Seizures During His Sleep

Seizures and other nervous system disorders can cause twitching, whining and vocalizing while sleeping.

You can’t distinguish dreaming from seizures based on the type of whimpering, but you can based on the intensity of the twitching.

Seizing dogs have much more rigid and stiff legs, which makes their movements appear much more violent.

Defecating and urinating are also common during sleeping seizures, but not in dreaming.

Seizures will result in dogs appearing disoriented, breathing heavily, and drooling excessively.

Consult your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog is having seizure episodes while sleeping.

Expressing His Boredom by Whining

Physical and mental stimulation and engagement are essential for a dog’s well-being.

It is unfortunate that many owners are unable to provide their dogs with adequate exercise.

Dogs should at least receive 30 minutes of exercise every day, and some breeds, especially those bred for hunting or guarding, will need to be kept active for a longer period of time to help them release their pent-up energy.

If you have a high energy dog like the American Cocker Spaniel, it is important to take him on a long walk. This will help to keep his energy in check and make him sleep better at night.

Simple obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, down, heel, off can be incorporated into your dog’s daily routine to stimulate his mind and make him mentally active.

Without enough playtime, your dog is likely to get bored with his daily routines.

He will then express his boredom by whining and whimpering unintentionally after everyone goes to bed.

In some cases, dogs express their emotions with their eyes closed, making it appear that they are sleeping, but they are really awake.

In the event the whimpering stops completely once you talk to your dog or let him run around the yard, you have identified the cause – boredom.

When boredom is the culprit, increasing the frequency of exercise routines is essential.

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Anxiety Associated with Separation

Dogs with separation anxiety are overly attached to their owners and whine when separated.

You may hear your dog whining if you don’t allow him to sleep in your bed if he suffers from this disorder.

Separation anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors such as:

  • Lack of stimulation to keep him from getting bored
  • Long periods of being left alone at home
  • A change in routine
  • A fear of strangers or unfamiliar places
  • Lack of attention from the owners

Separation anxiety is best dealt with by preventing it. If you notice that your dog is exhibiting signs of separation anxiety, try to keep him busy while you are away. 

Be sure to give your dog lots of attention when you are around, and this will help him feel comfortable when he is left alone.

Train your dog to be comfortable being alone by building up his confidence gradually. Make sure that your dog has plenty of stimulation when he is left alone to keep him entertained.


A dog’s sudden crying at night may be caused by nightmares, feelings of aloneness, panic disorder, discomfort, distress, or anxiety.

Even though you cannot pinpoint exactly what happened with only one crying occurrence, paying attention to recurring behavior will help you identify the trigger.

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