Why Does My Dog Cry in His Sleep & How To Stop It

Why Does My Dog Cry in His Sleep – If you love dogs, you are aware of how similar they may be to us. And similar to us, our dogs have quite active dream lives. Dogs amuse us by chasing rabbits and squirrels while they are sleeping. However, our dogs occasionally groan and howl in their sleep, leaving us to wonder why.

Is your dog in discomfort, or have the rabbits and squirrels staged a coup? Should I risk a bite and rouse my dog from his phantom nightmare? Before exploring the causes of this behavior, you need have a better understanding of your dog’s sleep patterns.

Why Does My Dog Cry in His Sleep

Dogs need more sleep than we do. They can sleep between twelve and fourteen hours every day, therefore it is not uncommon to find your pet sleeping the majority of the time.

Comparable to human sleep cycles, dogs must enter REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep in order to dream. The sleep cycle of a dog consists of two phases: the slow-wave phase and the REM phase. Ten to twenty minutes after your dog falls asleep, the slow-wave phase begins. The rapid eye movement (REM) phase, or deep sleep, follows the slow-wave phase. REM sleep is most likely when your dog sleep-cries.

The REM phase lasts between thirty and forty-five minutes, depending on the size and age of your dog. Larger dogs dream less often but for longer durations, whilst smaller dogs dream more frequently but have shorter dreams. During dream cycles, when your dog may whine, whimper, or growl, brain activity is at its peak.

What Do Canine Dreams Involve?

Since we can only examine brainwaves with our existing equipment, it is impossible to say with certainty what dogs dream about. While brainwaves provide an excellent picture of sleep cycles and the onset of dreaming, they cannot reveal the content of a dream. Moreover, regardless of how well you and your dog communicate, they cannot tell you about their dreams.

Do not presume that your dog’s cries during sleep are the result of a nightmare. Dogs most likely dream about the happenings of the day. For instance, if your dog’s legs move or twitch while he’s asleep, he’s likely dreaming of sprinting in the backyard or chasing a squirrel. Your dog has likely engaged in similar behavior throughout the day.

Indications Your Pet Is Dreaming

The body heals itself and prepares for the next day during REM sleep. During this phase, the brain’s activity levels increase in order to send signals to all body components. Consequently, dreaming takes place during this phase of sleep. The brain sends impulses to different muscles in the body, and when your dog is dreaming, you will observe the following:

  • Muscle contractions, such as in the limbs
  • Rapid movement of the eyes
  • Making gestures
  • The dog is howling, whining, whimpering, or growling
  • Reasons for Your Dog’s Sleep-Related Crying

Before concluding that something is wrong with your dog, the following list of potential causes for sleep-related howling is provided.

Reason Dog Cry in His Sleep Dreaming

Dreaming is the most prevalent cause of your dog’s nighttime crying. As described previously, a variety of symptoms suggest that your pet is dreaming. When your dog screams in its sleep, it is likely dreaming about the events of the previous day. Did your dog pursue an object? Did it receive a nail trim? During sleep, your dog’s woofs, wines, and screams may be a repetition of the day’s happenings.

Age Are The Reason Dog Cry in His Sleep

If you have a puppy at home, it is normal for it to whine or cry while sleeping. Puppies that have just been separated from their moms and littermates will whimper and cry when asleep and awake. In this circumstance, you must console your puppy in a manner that does not encourage him to whine. Similar to human offspring, dogs build solid bonds with their human parents. Give your puppy time to adjust to its new home and make it feel warm and secure, and it will sleep with less crying.

Traumatic Life Events

When adopting a puppy from a shelter, you should inquire about any traumatic past experiences. The dog could have been orphaned, isolated from his littermates, injured, etc.

Dogs can also get Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, just like people. Even as an adult, your puppy can revisit these incidents in his nightmares. To resolve this issue, you should consult your veterinarian regarding the appropriate course of action. Medication and behavioral therapy are frequently used to treat PTSD. Your veterinarian can advise you on the most effective treatment for your dog.

Medical Problems or Pain

Medical issues and discomfort that are painful or uncomfortable can cause your dog to cry out in his sleep. Arthritis can make it difficult for senior dogs to rest peacefully. Sleeping can place strain on afflicted joints, producing pain and resulting in whimpers and sobs.

Distancing Anxiety Why Dog Cry in His Sleep

Attached dogs may have difficulty sleeping alone, resulting in nighttime whining and crying. If you have a puppy that cries in his sleep, separation anxiety may be the cause. If you do not want your dog to sleep with you, you should immediately begin crate training. If you pick up your puppy every time it whines or cries, it will learn that whining and crying are effective means of gaining your attention. Make your puppy’s crate a pleasant place to be, where nice things occur, and your dog will soon sleep contentedly within.


Dogs are often energetic and lively creatures. You must offer them with opportunities for mental and physical stimulation to ensure their general wellness. If your dog does not get enough exercise, he may develop behavioral issues or become bored. Additionally, it is essential that you find new activities to do together on occasion. If your dog consistently plays with the same games or toys, he is likely to become bored. Provide your dog with opportunities to use its mental and physical energy, and you will prevent it from whining.


Sleep-related twitching and sobbing may indicate a seizure or other neurological problem. The level of twitching distinguishes dreaming from seizures, although whimpering does not. Your pet also twitches while sleeping, but the twitching during a seizure appears more uncontrolled. There may be writhing or tremors all over your dog’s body or in a particular body region.

The majority of dogs experience seizures when awake or shortly after awakening, although seizures can also occur during sleep. Your dog may quiver, kick, or paddle its legs for thirty seconds or less while dreaming. Consult your veterinarian immediately if these motions are forceful, linger longer than normal, and your dog awakens appearing bewildered.

REM Behavior Disorder

Some dogs have an unusual disease called REM Behavior Disorder. Your dog will engage in physical movement while sleeping, similar to sleepwalking. As a result of this disorder, your pet may run into walls, attack inanimate objects, and cry out or snarl while dreaming. Dogs with REM Behavior Disorder do not exhibit any evident signs of confusion or disorientation upon awakening. Consult your veterinarian if you observe any of these symptoms in your pet. Your dog could accidentally harm himself or you during these episodes.


The greatest thing you can do if your dog is crying in his sleep is to wait for him to awaken. Avoid shaking your dog awake. You could startle your pet, resulting in an inadvertent bite. If you believe your cat is having a nightmare, you should try calling their name to wake them up. A few pets will help them fall back to sleep peacefully.

Consult your veterinarian promptly if you observe your dog exhibiting symptoms of any of the aforementioned diseases. Since dogs cannot adequately communicate their needs to humans, it is your obligation to rule out the possibility that this behavior is caused by a medical issue.