8 Reasons Your Puppy Might Be Crying

If your puppy is whining a lot at night or in general, find out what you can do to help.

Published January 16, 2023
Little Vizsla Howling

Why do puppies cry? Puppies cry as a way to communicate with you. It's the sound they make to let their mother dog know where they are and that they need something, like food or warmth. But what they're trying to express can vary based on the situation and other physical signs or behaviors. There are eight primary emotions that could prompt your puppy to cry at home.

1. Excitement

Sometimes a puppy cry is a sound of joy. For example, if your puppy cries when they greet you, before a walk, while playing, or when they spot a squirrel out the window, it could be that they're simply expressing their excitement. In these cases, your puppy will usually also wag their tail, jump about, or show other signs of happiness.

2. Anxiety

Maybe your puppy is crying to express that they're anxious, stressed, or fearful. Whimpering can be an involuntary reaction or a self-soothing technique. It's also possible your puppy may be trying to get your attention or seek you out for comfort. In addition to vocalizing, anxious puppies sometimes pant, drool, lick their lips, pace, cower, and have their ears back and tail tucked.

3. Submission

Submissive dogs, or those who fall within the bottom position of the family pack structure, might engage in appeasement crying. They usually do this in response to a human or dog showing them aggressive behavior or appearing as a possible threat. Submissive whining is often accompanied by a submissive body posture, like rolling on their back, tucking their tail between their legs, or crouching close to the ground.

4. Boredom

Have you ever felt so bored you could cry? Puppies can feel the same way. Without enough physical or mental exercise, a puppy can become incredibly bored. They'll whine, bark, dig, chew, and engage in other destructive behaviors. Make sure your puppy is getting enough exercise so they can shake all their sillies out. Enrichment puzzle toys and training sessions are a great way to mentally stimulate and tire your little one out, too.

5. Loneliness

It's possible your puppy might cry simply because they miss you. If you're in another room, yet they can hear your voice, they might cry out to get your attention. Puppies often cry at night because they don't want to be left alone. However, being with your puppy 24/7 can lead to separation anxiety, so time apart is actually very healthy. Leave your puppy alone in a safe environment, like a crate if you choose to crate train, for short periods to help them develop the coping tools they need to handle separation.

6. Hunger

A hungry puppy will most certainly speak their mind if their tummy is rumbling. Young puppies should generally be fed between three and five small meals daily until they're at least 6 months old. If you're not feeding your puppy several meals, that could be why they're whining. Their growing bodies need enough nutrients. Check with your vet to ensure you're feeding the correct amount for your puppy's size and age. It's also important to stick with a routine - your dog will likely know if you're even a few minutes late for mealtime!

7. Fatigue

Human toddlers are known for throwing tantrums when they are overtired, and puppies are no different. If your puppy is fatigued, it's possible they could become cranky or fussy. Make sure your pup has access to a calm, quiet place where they can go to take a nap. This is particularly important when in a new environment, such as when visiting a friend over the holidays or traveling with your puppy.

8. Discomfort

Discomfort is a common reason puppies cry. This doesn't necessarily have to mean they're in obvious pain, although an injury will certainly make a puppy yelp and cry out. However, general discomfort can also lead to whining and crying. A puppy will whine if their bladder or bowels feel full and they want to be let out. They'll also whimper if they have an upset belly or aren't feeling well. Consider whether you notice any other signs of illness, such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or low energy, or whether it's time for your little one to potty.

Soothe Your Puppy's Crying

If your puppy is crying, they are trying to communicate something to you. Make sure their basic needs are met so they're no longer uncomfortable, hungry, thirsty, anxious, or tired. If their whining continues, you can then use soothing techniques to stop their crying.

8 Reasons Your Puppy Might Be Crying