In this post, we discuss the reasons why your dog whines so that you can better understand your pet and what they are trying to communicate.
Dogs can have great communication skills, but sometimes we humans can’t quite understand what they are saying because we don’t “speak dog” well enough.
Whining can be one of the many ways our dogs communicate with us. If it becomes an excessive everyday habit, whining can become quite annoying.
If your dog is whining too much and you want it to stop, you need to start by understanding why they are behaving this way so that you can address it, including dog training if necessary to break a bad habit.
Reasons your dog whines
- They want/need something
- Stress or fear
- They want attention
- Separation anxiety
- Suffering from pain
- They are saying sorry
They want or need something
This reason is the most common for dog whining behavior and usually the easiest to figure out. Your dog is whining because they want something.
Maybe you forgot to feed them on time. Maybe the water bowl is empty and you didn’t notice. Maybe they want to go for a walk.
Those kinds of whining behaviors can usually be figured out an addressed quickly. The problem can arise when your dog is still whining after being fed or after going for a walk. This could indicate a behavior problem or maybe a bladder or digestive problem. If a health issue is a cause then it’s time to go to the vet.
Stress or fear
Whining can often be a result of fear or anxiety in dogs. If it is caused by stress, the whining is often combined with other behaviors such as shaking, panting, or pacing.
Are there changes in the household that could be upsetting them? What other factors could be making them anxious. Try to get to the bottom of this and address other issues and give your dog reassurance.
Related: How to get your dog to stop barking
They want attention
Another common reason for dog whining is pretty obvious… they want attention! You see this behavior in dogs and in children alike. They don’t like what’s going on or they don’t like the lack of attention and they whine.
Make sure your dog is getting enough attention, play, and exercise. Some dogs need more attention and need your help in burning up excess energy with playtime and/or walks. When that doesn’t happen, they might whine until they get it, or engage in other destructive behaviors like chewing or digging.
Some dogs react to separation anxiety by getting into trouble around the house, and others will whine or cry. Maybe they aren’t comfortable yet with their local pet sitter. There are ways for dog owners to address separation anxiety using desensitization and conditioning techniques. With some research and some behavior training, you can help your dog cope.
Related: How to leave your dog home alone
Suffering from pain
Whining is sometimes an indication that your dog is in suffering from some kind of physical distress. If they whine when they have to go up the stairs or jump down from the couch, this may be caused by joint pain or arthritis.
If your dog has all their needs being met, are getting their food, play and exercise with no obvious stress, then it’s probably time for a trip to the vet to have their physical health checked.
They are saying sorry
Whining can be an expression of submissive behavior. They might be acknowledging that they are lower status in the pack. They might have broken the pack rules and whining is a way of letting you know they are apologizing.
This kind of behavior goes all the way back to their ancestors, the wolves. You can help by acknowledging their apology and walking away.
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