There are a number of reasons your dog could be whining at night, however they all have one thing in common, they result in you having a broken night’s sleep. To help you deal with this behaviour problem and sleep through the night, we’ve listed 10 solutions below that could bring peace to your house after the lights go out.
1. Work out Why Your Dog is Whining
If you can work out what lies behind your dog’s whining you stand a better chance of choosing the right approach and being successful in stopping the problem. The three most common causes of dog whining is anxiety, discomfort or attention seeking, so watch your dog closely to see what clues they give you. Notice how you react when they start whining and how they react to you, as it should give you all the information you need to decide on your approach to the problem and start taking action.
2. Make Basic Checks Before You go to Bed
We sometimes overlook the most obvious reasons, so make sure your dog isn’t whining because they are hungry, thirst or need to urinate at night. Get into the habit of always letting your dog out last thing at night, as beyond the puppy stage they should be able to go through the night. If they need to urinate frequently, check with your vet as they could have a urine infection. If you do need to let them out at night, do it with as little attention paid to your dog as possible, as if you play with them or pet them they could start to wake you up at night for the attention.
3. Check That Your Dog Isn’t Cold
Some dogs start whining at night because they are cold, so if they sleep in a kennel outside, make sure it is out of the wind and that you provide lots of warm bedding and if they sleep in the house, check that their bed is not in a draught. Some dog owners use bean bags that can be warmed up to keep their dog warm, cosy and asleep all night and I have heard of others who even use heated blankets. However, if you are going to use this method, always make sure your dog does not get too hot and that they are unable to chew any wires attached to the blanket.
4. Deal with Dog Separation Anxiety Issues
A lot of dog whining is driven by separation anxiety in dogs, so if your dog sleeps separately from you and starts being vocal the moment you leave them alone, anxiety could well be the reason. Another clue that this might be the cause is that they respond in this way whenever you leave them, day or night. You will need to use desensitization training to help get rid of separation anxiety and a lot of patience, as they can take a while to respond positively. Another way to help with this problem is to learn how to show your dog that you are the decision maker or pack leader, which can be very reassuring for an anxious dog.
5. Make Sure Your Dog is Tired
If your dog gets restless at night, struggles to settle down and then starts whining at you, try exercising them an hour before bedtime to use up some of their excess energy. Many dogs will instantly flop down on their bed to sleep after a long walk, but if walking after dark doesn’t appeal to you, try an energetic game of tag or fetch in the garden or house.
6. Soothe Your Dog with Sounds
A ticking clock placed in the dog’s bedding can help keep a dog calm as the ticking mimics the regular heartbeat of another dog. This can be very useful with dogs that don’t like to be left alone and especially with puppies that could be missing their Mum or brothers and sisters. Just beware that your dog cannot reach the clock and use it as a chew toy.
7. Soothe Your Dog with Smells
If you think your dog is whining at night because they wake up and want you, put something that smells of you in with their bedding, like an old jumper or T-Shirt. This may provide just enough comfort to keep your dog sleeping until morning.
8. Make Sure Your Dog is Pain Free
Pain or discomfort of some kind could be causing your dog to wake and start whining, for instance a dog may not notice joint pain until they lie down at night. If you think that could be the case with your dog, have them checked over by your vet as soon as possible.
9. Get Your Dog a Crate
A crate can feel like a den to a dog, so if you think your dog is feeling a bit insecure left alone downstairs at night, a crate could give them the extra security they need. When you introduce them to a crate, make it a nice place to be with bedding and toys and treats. Gradually build up the time they spend in their crate during the day until you feel like they will be all right to be left overnight.
10. Ignore Your Dog’s Noise
If your dog’s nighttime noise is all about getting your attention, the fastest way to stop it is to ignore it completely. That means not responding in any way to their whining, don’t speak to them, touch them, or even catch their eye. It’s not always the easiest way to break this pattern of behaviour, as you can feel really guilty for a few days, but if your dog is healthy, has been fed, watered, exercised and let out to toilet before bedtime, you know they are fine, so invest in a pair of ear plugs and stick with it. It shouldn’t be too long before they work out that their whining is not getting them the attention they were looking for and they should stop.