Dogs display a number of unusual behaviors and as a dog owner you have probably experienced some at one point. One of these behaviors is dog barking and crying at night.
It is quite concerning to hear your dog barking and crying at night and particularly distressing if you’re not sure what’s causing the behavior.
We’ll go over the various reasons why dogs bark and cry at night, tips for addressing this behavior, and when to seek help.
Here’s Why Dog Barking And Crying At Night Happens
Dog barking and crying at night happens due to illness, attention seeking behavior, boredom, separation anxiety, fear and old age. To determine the cause of your dog’s barking and crying at night, it’s important to pay attention to their body language and the surrounding environment to help you understand their behavior.
Is it normal for dogs to bark and cry at night?
Barking and crying at night are normal dog behaviors for dogs because they are ways that dogs communicate with both humans and other animals. However, the behavior can be an indication of an underlying medical condition or behavioral problem that needs to be addressed.
Excessive barking and crying at night is a problem if it is disrupting your household or bothering your neighbors.
Reasons for dog barking and crying at night
A dog can also bark and cry at night due to illness because of pain or discomfort they are experiencing.
Crying at night is a way they vocalize how they are feeling and this can indicate to you that they are unwell and need help.
Other changes in behavior due to illness can include a dog becoming lethargic, retching, disinterest in any activities, loss of appetite, irritability, eating of grass, abnormal gait, and other strange behaviors.
Attention seeking behavior
One of the causes of barking and crying at night in dogs is attention seeking. Barking and crying at night is also a way for dogs to communicate their needs and wants. This can be especially common in dogs that are not getting enough attention or mental and physical stimulation during the day.
They may also do this if they feel neglected or sense that you are not paying much attention to them, therefore they may start to bark and/cry to get your attention, to bring your focus to them.
To understand what your dog is trying to communicate, it’s important to pay attention to their body language and behavior.
Another common reason why dogs bark and cry at night is boredom. Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy and engaged.
If they’re not getting enough of this during the day, they will resort to barking and crying at night, to vocalize their frustration.
Separation anxiety is a common cause of barking and crying at night in dogs. It happens when a dog becomes anxious or distressed when separated from their human family or left alone. It can also be caused by a lack of training.
Some dog breeds are more susceptible to separation anxiety than others and tend to suffer more from separation anxiety.
The anxiety can show up in a number of behaviors, including barking and crying at night, which is also accompanied by other behaviors including pacing, howling, or growling at night, and destructive behavior such as digging, chewing, or defecation in the house.
Fear is a normal response in dogs due to a variety of triggers. These triggers include loud noises, unfamiliar people or animals, and changes in their environment
Fear and anxiety can also be caused by poor socialization, dementia due to aging, traumatic experiences, other perceived dangers, and illnesses that contribute to phobia and fears.
A fearful and anxious dog will show behaviors that indicate that they are distressed such as pacing, trembling, crying at night, drooling, excessive barking, howling at night, growling, snapping, incontinence, excessive grooming, and chewing on objects.
Older dogs may bark and cry at night due to old-age health problems. Older dogs may experience sensory decline, which can cause them to become more easily confused or disoriented.
This means they may perceive sights, sounds, or smells that are not actually present. This leads to barking and crying at night because of a lack of understanding of their surroundings.
An aging dog can also bark and cry at night as one of the strange behaviors due to the decline in cognitive function commonly known as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD).
The condition is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, in that, when a dog gets older, their cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, audio or visual processing, and mental sharpness decline.
This causes them to become more anxious or stressed and can lead to increased barking and/or crying at night and also during day time.
In some cases, older dogs may also experience physical discomfort or pain from illnesses, which can cause them to become more vocal, meaning they will bark and/or cry at night in response to discomfort or frustration.
Other strange behaviors in old age include sleeping a lot, sleep cycle disturbance, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, staring, getting lost, clinginess, disorientation, bathroom accidents in the house, or pacing for no reason.
How to stop dog barking and crying at night
Dogs may bark and cry at night for various reasons, and it is a common dog behavior. However, it can become concerning or irritating for some dog parents.
You can stop dog from barking and crying at night by understanding the reason behind it. Here are a few ways you can help a dog that is barking and crying at night:
Provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation
Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to be healthy and also work off pent up energy. Therefore provide toys for them to play with, activities, or exercise appropriate for their age, during the day.
This will help reduce boredom and attention-seeking behaviors.
Provide them with what they need
A dog barking and crying at night can be an indication that they need something from you such as food, or water. The best way to communicate or express this need is to bark and/or cry.
Therefore if this is the case provide them with what they need at the moment.
If your dog’s barking and crying at night is attention-seeking behavior, it’s important to address the underlying cause of the behavior.
This may include providing your dog with more exercise, mental stimulation, and attention during the day, as well as training and behavior modification to teach them appropriate ways to communicate their needs.
If the crying at night is due to fear that might have been caused by a particular trigger, remove your dog from the situation and comfort them.
This includes moving them away from the noise and also minimizing exposure to situations that may frighten them.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
If your dog is barking and crying at night for attention, ignoring the behavior and waiting until they’re quiet before rewarding them can be an effective way to reduce the behavior.
When your dog is behaving well, make sure to give them plenty of praise and rewards. This will help reinforce good behavior and encourage your dog to continue behaving well.
Engage a dog trainer or an animal behaviorist when you need further help to adjust your dog’s behavior. A certified trainer can help you minimize and stop your dog’s behavior.
When to seek help for dog barking and crying at night
If you are unable to identify the potential cause of your dog’s barking and crying at night or if the behavior persists, consult with your veterinarian. This is because the behavior can be due to an underlying health condition.
The veterinarian will conduct a full examination, determine the underlying cause and develop a more comprehensive plan to address your dog’s behavior.
If it is a behavioral problem, they will also guide you on ways to stop the behavior and may also recommend an animal behaviorist for training needs.
A veterinarian should also be consulted regarding your dog’s barking and crying at night when:
The behavior is new or sudden: If your dog’s barking and crying at night is sudden or out of character, it could be a sign that there’s an underlying medical issue.
The behavior is accompanied by other signs of illness: If your dog is exhibiting other signs of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or changes in bowel or bladder habits, seek medical attention.
The behavior is causing a disturbance: Consult with your veterinarian for your dog if the barking and crying at night is excessive and disrupting your household.
The behavior is persistent: Also talk to your veterinarian if your dog’s barking and crying at night continues despite your efforts to address the behavior.
What not to do for dog barking and crying at night
Avoid the following when you see your dog barking and crying at night:
Yelling or punishing them: Avoid yelling or punishing your dog when they bark and cry at night. This form of discipline will only increase their stress and anxiety, leading to even more barking and crying at night.
Instead, keep calm and use positive reinforcement methods for good behavior to encourage them to stop.
Ignoring the behavior: It might seem like an easy fix to ignore your dog’s barking and crying at night, but doing so only reinforces the behavior.
One of the reasons dogs bark and cry is to get their owners’ attention and they are more likely to persist if they are not successful. It is important to address the behavior by implementing an appropriate solution.
Encouraging the behavior: Resist encouraging the behavior by not giving in to their demands by use of barking and crying at night to get attention.
In the long run, this can reinforce the behavior and make it more challenging to stop. Instead, use or get training for your dog to better teach them the appropriate behavior.
Key Takeaway: Dog barking and crying at night
Barking and crying at night are common dog behaviors, but they can be due to an underlying medical or behavioral problem.
When your dog barks and cries, try to assess the situation to identify the possible cause to respond appropriately to the situation and help them.
Seek medical care if they present signs of sickness, discomfort, or when you might not be sure what would be causing the behavior.