Why Do Dogs Whine?

Dogs can’t speak, but they communicate plenty through non-verbal cues. A tail wag means “welcome home” and “I’ve missed you.” A slobbery lick on the face means “I love you so much.” Begging and puppy dog eyes are usually not-so-subtle requests for food.

But some behaviors, like whining, are harder to interpret because dogs whine for many reasons. Dogs whine when they want something. Dogs also whine when they’re bored, anxious, excited, seeking attention, or in pain. But without knowing why your dog is whining, it’s hard to know how to help them. Read on for tips to help you decode what your dog’s whining may mean.

Photo: Pixabay

Dogs Whine For Help

Fido can’t speak, so whining is the next best way to ask for help. Maybe your dog is whining because the food/water bowl is empty, or perhaps she needs a walk or potty break outside. Once you help fix your dog’s predicament, the whining should stop. But if your dog is whining for second helpings, be wary of setting a bad example. Giving your dog whatever he wants might stop whining short-term, but it’s also the best way to teach your dog whining leads to extra food or treats.

Photo: Pixabay

Dogs Whine When They’re Hurting

If your dog is whining for no apparent reason, this could be a sign something is wrong. Dogs whine when they’re injured or hurt, so your pet’s whimpering could signal an injury, illness, or another health problem. Pay attention to when your dog starts whining. Does your dog whine when she jumps onto the couch? Does your pet whine while climbing up and down the stairs? These could be signs that your dog has arthritis, joint pain, or another injury that warrants a trip to the vet.

Photo: Pixabay

Dogs Whine When They’re Bored

Dog act out when they’re bored, and whining is one way to express their discontent. If your dog is whining, it could be because she’s not getting enough exercise or stimulation. Take your dog for an extra walk, go play some fetch, or buy interactive dog toys to help keep them entertained. Bored dogs are also prone to chewing, barking, and scratching, so keeping whining dogs busy is in everyone’s best interest.

Photo: Pixabay

Dogs Whine When They’re Anxious

Dogs help humans manage anxiety, but ironically, dogs are pretty anxious creatures themselves. And when dogs get anxious or nervous, they communicate their distress by (you guessed it) whining. If your dog is whining, look around to see if anything (or anyone) could be making your pup nervous or stressed. Did a stranger show up at the door? Are there fireworks, police sirens, or other loud noises outside? If your dog starts whining each time you put on your coat to leave, s/he might have separation anxiety.

If dog whining stems from anxiety, your pet may exhibit some other anxious dog behaviors:

Signs of separation anxiety in dogs

  • Barking
  • Pacing
  • Panting
  • Drooling
  • Trembling
  • Urination
  • Chewing and other destructive behaviors
  • Anxious dogs may benefit from extra walks, Omega-3 Fish Oil supplements, and a calming coat or anti-anxiety shirt. The Snuffle Dog Interactive Puzzle Mat from The Animal Rescue Site Store may also reduce anxiety (and subsequent whining) in dogs.

    Photo: The Animal Rescue Site Store

    Dogs Whine When They Want Attention

    Whining is also a classic attention-seeking behavior in dogs. Just like human babies and children throw tantrums to get attention, some dogs learn that whining helps them get their own way. Be careful of accidentally rewarding your dog for whining and other attention-seeking behaviors. This easy mistake basically guarantees the whining will continue.

    Photo: Pixabay

    Dogs Whine to Apologize

    Dogs descended from wolves, and there are rules that come with being part of a pack. This leaves dogs whining as a form of appeasement behavior. Does your dog whine after being scolded for chewing your shoes or helping himself to your dinner? Whining is your guilty dog’s way of apologizing to you–the pack leader–and asking for your forgiveness. After you accept his apology, your dog should relax and stop whining.

    Photo: Pixabay

    How to Stop Dog Whining

    The first step to stop dog whining is to identify why your dog is whining, and then address the root cause(s) behind his behavior. If you can’t reduce your dog’s whining by following the steps above, contact your vet to rule out injury, illness, and anxiety, which can also be caused by hormonal disorders. Finally, consider re-training your dog to avoid whining and other attention-seeking behaviors. Dog whining is common, but more often than not, we dog owners are partly to blame. Visit The Animal Rescue Site Store for treats, toys, leashes, and other pet supplies that help make training a breeze.

    Photo: Pixabay

    Additional Resources:

  • 11 Things Your Dog Is Trying To Tell You
  • Re-Training Attention-Seeking Behavior In Dogs
  • Anxiety In Dogs: How To Calm Your Anxious Dog (And Improve His Bad Behavior)
  • How To Help A Dog With Separation Anxiety
  • Can Dogs With Chronic Anxiety Benefit From Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation?
  • Help Rescue Animals

    Provide food and vital supplies to shelter pets at The Animal Rescue Site for free!