Night time crying or whining can be frustrating and detrimental to the health of both you and your pooch. While it’s easy to shrug off whining as just annoying behaviour, the truth is crying and whining are your dogs' way of telling you something.
There are some common reasons why your dog may be whining at night:
1. Seeking your attention
2. A sign of boredom
3. Communicating pain or discomfort
4. Communicating excitement
5. Signs of stress
Whether or not you should respond to your dogs’ whining, depends on the underlying reason. Without truly understanding the cause, you may inadvertently encourage their whining, which will turn it into a problem behaviour.
To get to the bottom of the whining, you might want to try the following:
Familiarise yourself with the different types of whining: Pay attention to the sound of your dogs whining, you may notice different pitches which could indicate different things. For example, their 'I'm bored' cry may be distinctly different from 'I want something'. Learning to read their 'whining language' may help you understand the cause and therefore help you respond to the problem.
Don’t give in to their ‘wants’: If your dog is simply whining about something they 'want' (a toy, a treat etc), it’s best not to give in immediately as this will almost certainly cause more whining as they will use it as a tool to get want they want, quickly.
Do give in to their ‘needs’: This may be obvious, but it's important to mention that if your dog is whining about something they need to do (like going to the bathroom), then it’s extremely important to allow them to go outside rather than forcing them to hold it.
Learn to read signs of stress and anxiety: Dogs can develop fears and phobias which cause them to become stressed and anxious. Try and find the source of the anxiety (e.g loud construction next door, a drone overhead, etc that is spooking them) and desensitize your dog to the fear.
Provide enrichment: To curb boredom, ensure their environment offers plenty of mental and physical stimulation. A dog with built-up physical and emotional energy is more likely to whine.
Seek help for pain and discomfort: If you have any indication that your dog’s whining is the result of pain or discomfort, seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.