9 Reason Why My Dog Cry in His Sleep? Should I be Worried?

Those familiar with dogs and their lives have often seen the dogs whimpering in their sleep. Among many other human-like characteristics, whimpering in sleep is commonly seen in dogs. Noticing this whimpering makes us wonder whether the dog is seeing some bad dream that makes it whimper in sleep or if there is something more.

Dogs whimpering in their sleep can subconsciously be a form of verbal communication, but there can be many reasons for this.

Besides dreaming, many other reasons can trigger your dog’s behavior to whimper in its sleep. Let us know more about this behavior of your dog to whimper in its sleep and a lot more in this article.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has a Bad Dream?

When the dogs wake up, they are stressed, fearful, and anxious due to bad dreams. Unfortunately, there is no particular way to determine if your dog is having a bad or recurring dream until your dog whimpers, cries, or growls during sleep.

Even when your dog wakes up and you notice your dog being alert or having anxiety, it is no guarantee that it has had a bad dream.

What Are The Reasons For My Dog’s Whimpering in Its Sleep?

What Are The Reasons For My Dog's Whimpering In Its Sleep?

Before we know the reasons for the dog’s whimpering in sleep, we must look into the dog’s sleep cycle. Only then will we be able to understand why the dog whimpers in its sleep and what could be the possible reasons for this weird behavior of the dog.

1. A Dog’s Sleep Cycle

A Dog's Sleep Cycle

Like humans, dogs too have a sleep cycle that includes two phases: a light sleep phase and a heavy sleep phase. However, unlike humans, dogs have a shorter sleep cycle, as humans have a sleep cycle of 90 minutes but not dogs. In the sleep of 45 minutes, dogs can have two sleep cycles, each of which has a period of REM sleep of 1 to 5 minutes.

Interestingly, smaller dogs have shorter REM periods, whereas large dogs have larger ones. The REM sleep period is the time when dreaming occurs in dogs.

This period of REM sleep is when you notice your dog behaving weirdly, like moving their paws, growling, making faces, crying, whimpering, etc.

You can also notice that your dog has eye movements at this time. These rapid eye movements in this period have given REM sleep its name.

All of your dog’s experiences are normal, indicating that your dog has a healthy sleep pattern. So, if you notice your dog crying in his sleep, it may not be a sign of distress or a problem but rather of deep sleep that your dog is experiencing.

However, if your dog cries in its sleep, it is because it is in pain, or there is another reason.

The main reason for your dog’s crying or whimpering in sleep is dreams. Plus, there can be other reasons like anxiety, seizures, or pain for your dog whimpering in sleep. However, when you notice your dog half asleep but whimpering: boredom or anxiety can be the reason.

Please look at the most common reasons that cause your dog to whimper in its sleep.

2. Puppy Behavior

Your dog’s whimpering or crying in sleep can be expected puppy behavior. Puppies are the loudest for at least two weeks after being separated from their mothers and littermates.

The main cause of whimpering in such a case is your dog’s need for attention and company. Puppies are also more likely to be twitchy in their sleep than adult dogs.

The underdeveloped brain stems of your dog are mainly responsible for sending muscle relaxation signals that are very less efficient in keeping your dog calm, resulting in whimpering in sleep.

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Excessive twitching or whimpering in your dog will fade with time. It is difficult to ignore your dog’s whimpering, but you have to do it, and it will eventually disappear.

At best, you don’t do anything because your dog is sleeping, but at worst, you can make the situation worse by waking up your dog as the whining gets intensified more.

Bonus Read: Is It Normal For A Puppy To Have A Big Belly?

3. Dreaming

When not training or exercising with you, a dog may spend almost half of its day sleeping, but puppies and old dogs have even more sleeping hours.

The first phase of a dog’s sleep cycle is similar to that of a human. So in the case of dogs, you can easily notice phases of deep sleep and the REM phase of sleep.

Whimpering and crying while sleeping is common for dogs, especially during REM sleep, as this is when your dog has dreams.

This phase repeats every 30 minutes for smaller dogs, but for larger dogs and other dog breeds, it repeats every 45 minutes.

During this sleep period, smaller pups sleep for a couple of minutes while larger dogs sleep for 5 to 10 minutes.

Whimpering, crying, and growling are common in dogs during sleep when there is a peak in brain activity.

This activity of your dog may seem uncomfortable or violent, but this surely doesn’t mean that your dog is having a problem sleeping or is going through a bad nightmare.

We can’t ever be sure about what our beloved furry friends are dreaming about, but we can only guess that they are dreaming about some casual situation that happened throughout their day.

Even if your dog is dreaming about something scary, it should not be disturbed by you as dreaming contributes to the healthy mental health of your dog.

For an average-sized dog, the first dream will come when it has been 20 minutes since your dog fell asleep.

When your dog dreams, his muscles twitch, his breathing becomes irregular and shallow, and his eyes move quickly behind his closed eyelids.

4. Seizure episodes

His twitching or weeping while sleeping can be a symptom of seizures or other nervous system disorders.

While what type of whimpering it is can’t help you decide if it is from a seizure or not, the intensity of twitching can easily help you.

The kicking and paddling legs of dogs with seizures are much more rigid and stiffer. As a result, such dogs’ movements appear more violent.

Some dogs may experience different sensations during seizures like they can either urinate or defecate, but this is a rare condition in dreaming dogs.

After a seizure, the dogs seem more disoriented, tend to breathe hard, and drool even more than usual.

If you think your dog’s whimpering in sleep is due to the seizure episode they are experiencing, then you should contact the veterinarian.

5. Boredom


All dogs need daily exercise and a walk to get enough physical and mental stimulation and engagement.

Sadly, many dog owners cannot help their dogs meet their daily dose of exercise and stimulation. Also, house dogs should have proper exercise of at least 30 minutes. It can be either 30 minutes of walking or swimming too.

If you do not take your dog out often for physical exercise, it is a certainty that your dog will get bored of the daily routine.

When everyone goes to bed and your dog begins whimpering or crying in his sleep, you can tell he is bored.

Some dogs can express this feeling of boredom while closing their eyes, and it seems like they are sleeping while they are not actually.

Once you start talking to your dog or take him out for a walk, you will notice your dog is not whimpering or crying in sleep anymore, and the whimpering will stop completely.

Taking your dog out more often for a walk or exercise will greatly reduce the problem of whimpering in sleep. Make your dog exercise regularly, and you will notice a lot of improvement in your dog’s whimpering.

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Bonus Read: Dog Twitching And Flinching: Complete Facts About Involuntary Movement In Dogs

6. Discomfort or painful medical issues

Pain causes your dog to whimper excessively, as when old dogs or dogs having joint pains or other kinds of pain lay down against a surface and tend to put extra pressure on the point where they are experiencing pain, it will cause your dog to whimper even in its sleep.

It is very hard for your dog, who is in pain, to get a good night’s sleep and the appropriate amount of rest that the body requires.

When you think that the reason for your dog’s whimpering in sleep is pain, you need to go to the veterinarian for your dog’s proper treatment.

Rule out pain as the cause of your dog’s whimpering, and then move forward to look into other reasons for your dog’s whimpering.

Bloating, which causes your dog to whimper in his sleep more frequently, is one of the most painful and problematic diseases or issues in dogs.

There can be many reasons that contribute to bloating in dogs. These include bad food, suboptimal feeding schedule, and foreign bodies. These things cause gas to accumulate in your dog’s stomach, causing problems for the dog.

Some dogs are allergic to certain foods that cause them to bloat quickly. When the gas builds up in your dog’s stomach to such a point that there is no more enlargement in the intestine and stomach, it causes immense pain to your dog.

The common bloating condition is a serious problem for your dog and can be disastrous. The causes of bloating that are not considered serious or are not serious can also cause immense pain to your dog.

The symptoms of bloating can be easily seen in those dogs that consume low-quality food or food that is hard to digest just before sleeping.

If your dog is having problems with bloating due to eating unhealthy food, then keep your dog on a bland chicken and rice diet for some time until he recovers. You can also go to the vet and decide what the most suitable diet is for your dog to cure its bloating issues.

7. Improper training

If you have not trained your dog to stop whimpering when they do it for some days continuously, then it will become a habit of your dog, and the dog will continue to whimper throughout their whole life while sleeping.

Most dogs stop whimpering at old age, but many don’t stop at that time either. It is better to take the dog to the behavior classes in early life only, as this can change your dog’s behavior and make him stop whimpering. This will put an end to the problem of whimpering in dogs.

8. Anxiety or separation anxiety

Anxiety or separation anxiety

Many dogs are too attached to their owners and start crying or whimpering when their parents separate from them. This whimpering or crying will continue while your dog sleeps and is caused by separation anxiety.

Sometimes, even when you’re at home and don’t let your dog sleep in the same bed as you, it can cause your dog to whimper a lot.

Separation anxiety is a common problem, and instead of giving your dog medications to treat it, you should give your dog proper training so that it gets cured easily.

Separation is not the only reason for your dog’s whimpering and crying in sleep, but other things may also be present that trigger such late-night whimpering.

9. REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

A rare condition in your dog is a REM behavior disorder, which makes your dog believe their dreams are reality. Your dog starts behaving oddly, like moving its legs as if it is running, in a sleepy state.

With dogs having this disorder, the sleep state that keeps the dog’s movement under control doesn’t happen. The REM behavior disorder makes the dog act like what they are experiencing in their sleep.

Your dog may behave as if they are not asleep, move suddenly, bump into things, etc.

Should You Wake Up Your Dog When It Has a Bad Dream?

Should You Wake Up Your Dog When It Has a Bad Dream?

You will know your dog is having a bad dream when it growls, whimpers, or makes noise. While many pet owners feel it is best to wake up their dog, you should let your dog sleep and not wake it up from its dream.

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Disrupting your dog’s REM sleep can severely affect your dog’s mental health. Also, if you tend to touch your dog during sleep, the active dog will likely scratch or bite you.

The only time you can attempt to wake up your dog is when you are unsure whether it has seizures or a bad dream that’s troubling it. In this case, instead of touching your dog, you can either drop an object or call your dog’s name loudly.

If the dog wakes up suddenly or startles up and you guess it is just a dream, you need to speak softly to your dog to assure it that everything is fine and it was just a dream.

Your dog not waking up even after a loud sound can be due to your dog having seizures, causing your dog to behave weirdly and produce involuntary noises.

When Should You Be Worried About Your Dog?

While a dog crying in sleep seems to be most common, there can be other problems that cause your dog to whimper in sleep that you need to look for carefully so that it’s not harmful to your dog.

REM behavior disorder is one such disorder in which the mechanism that is supposed to prevent the dog from fully acting out the dream is not functioning properly.

A dog with such a disorder can do more than just whimper or move its legs in sleep. Such dogs can easily bite someone, scratch, or cause other harm.

Other than this, if your dog has seizures, it can be worrisome for you to treat it in a particular way. A seizure occurs due to a sudden spike of electric impulses in the dog’s brain. Seizures may be accompanied by running movements in the legs, twitching muscles, etc.

Since it is very common to observe seizures in your dog, it is not always clear whether your dog is facing difficulty due to seizures or if there are other problems.

 Hence, keep track of your dog’s behavior and record a video to show it to your vet. This will let your vet understand the situation to take care of your dog for proper treatment.

Anxiety, illness, and other such conditions can cause your dog to whimper and cry in its sleep more than normal. Look for other reasons, signs, or symptoms like skin rashes, scratching, biting, lethargy, etc., that give you a clear picture of what your dog is actually suffering from and what could be the possible cause.

If you get concerned about your dog’s health, you need to consider seeing a vet and providing proper treatment for your dog.

Get Help If Your Dog Whimpers In Bed Without Any Reason

Get Help If Your Dog Whimpers In Bed Without Any Reason

There could be various reasons for your dog whining and wincing in his sleep, including medical issues or other issues that require immediate attention.

For senior dogs, consult the vet immediately if it is whining continuously before moving to other possibilities. First, ensure your dog is in pain or not, and then start the treatment.


There could be several reasons your dog is whimpering in his sleep, and you need to figure it out as soon as possible. These reasons can be a sign of underlying disease and cause trouble for your dog.

You need to figure out the problem with your dog soon and start the treatment.

Usually, a dog whimpering in sleep is often believed to be normal, but there can be many underlying problems that cause your dog to whimper in sleep—reaching the core reasons and finding a treatment for your dog matters.