Why Does My Dog Cry in Their Sleep?

If you live with a canine companion or have spent time around a dog, you may have noticed them crying, whimpering, or whining in their sleep as they dream.

There are lots of reasons why you pup may cry or whimper in their sleep, and while this isn’t often a cause for concern, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the reasons behind your pup’s sleeping habits.

Our four-legged friends share many human-like characteristics with us, and their sleep cycles and the noises they make in their slumber are just some of those similar traits. If your dog cries in their sleep, it’s likely because they’re dreaming of events from the day and they’re communicating on a subconscious level.  

Keep reading as we explore your dog’s sleep cycle, the reasons behind their sleep sounds, and if you should ever be worried.

Your dog’s sleep cycle 

Like humans, dogs have sleep cycles that include periods of light and heavy sleep. However, a dog’s sleep cycles are generally a lot shorter than ours – during a 45-minute nap they can go through two sleep cycles that include a phase of REM (rapid eye movement) of 1-5 minutes. This is the phase of sleep when dreaming occurs, so it’s during this time your pup may cry, whimper or growl in their sleep. As your dog dreams, they may also “run”, twitch, move their paws, and flutter their eyes (hence the name rapid eye movement)!

While it may be distressing to hear your dog cry in their sleep, these common sleep behaviours are normal for dogs, and they’re a good indication that that your dog is sleeping deeply.

How your dog sleeps can also be telling, so make sure to check out what your dog’s sleeping positions mean.

Why does my dog bark in their sleep?

So, chances are you’ve heard your dog cry in their sleep, but have you ever heard them bark while they snooze?

While barking may seem like the polar-opposite sound to your pup crying or whimpering, the truth is that these sounds are all related and they simply mean your dog is fast asleep and dreaming about what they did that day – they may even be barking at a cat or the postman in their dream!

However, if your dog’s night-time barking is happening frequently, then we would recommend talking to your vet for professional advice.

What should I do if my dog is crying in their sleep? 

If your dog is otherwise fit and healthy, then, as the saying goes, it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie! Since crying, whimpering, and other such noises are normal parts of your pup’s sleep cycle, it’s best not to disturb their precious slumber. In some circumstances, waking your dog when they’re fast asleep could startle them and cause them to accidentally nip at you.

Is my dog dreaming or having a nightmare? 

While your dog is most likely dreaming about what they’ve been up to in the day, like running around the dog park, chasing squirrels, and chomping their dinner, if your dog has experienced trauma in their life this may cause them to suffer from nightmares.

A sign that your dog is having a nightmare is if they’re excessively crying and whimpering. If you think your pup is distressed and having a nightmare, don’t wake them up too quickly or abruptly as they may act out. Instead, say your dog’s name gently until they slowly come around, then soothe them with comforting words until they fall back asleep.

If your dog is having nightmares on a regular basis, then speak to your vet for further advice.

When to be worried  

While a dog crying or whimpering in their sleep is a normal behaviour, if you notice your furry friend making unusual crying sounds or they’re excessively crying in their sleep, then this could be a sign of an underlying health issue.  

Anxiety, illness, and past trauma can all be reasons why your dog is excessively crying in their sleep. Be sure to look out for other symptoms when they’re awake that indicate issues, such as pacing, excessive drooling, licking or biting at a patch of skin, lethargy, or anything that’s different to their usual behaviour.  

As always, if you’re ever concerned about your pup’s health, please seek advice from your vet.  

Sleep gifts at Yappy

To help your pup feel comfortable and happy during nap times and bedtimes, why not pamper your pooch with a super comfortable dog bed from Yappy?

Enhance their comfort with a perfect dog blanket to keep them cuddled up at night. You could also throw it on the sofa so they can sleep right next to you during your movie night. 

Cushions can also provide more comfort and a pleasing aesthetic feel to your home. And, if they’re ever staying out for a sleepover somewhere else, or you’re heading away for the weekend together, pick up an overnight bag to carry all their essentials.

If you’d like to know more about what Yappy offers, don’t hesitate to contact us at help@yappy.com.

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