Why Do Dogs Whine?

Is your dog whining at you? 

Sometimes your pup may whine when they are waiting for their dinner to be served or maybe sometimes for no reason at all.

If your dog is an excessive whiner and you can’t figure out how to make them stop, it can become very frustrating.

So why are they whining? What are they trying to say? Are they hungry, sad, sick or bored?

Discover the reasons behind why dogs whine and how you can stop bad behaviours of excessive whining.

dog sitting on couch looking at camera and person in background

Why Dogs Whine

Whining, just like barking or growling, is a way for dogs to communicate.

Whining is especially common in puppies as they are learning how to communicate their wants and needs. This is because a puppy will whine when they want food or attention from their mother.

Most of the time it is obvious as to why your dog may be whining. They may be begging for food or be excited when they see you pick up their leash. However, sometimes you may not understand why your dog is whining.

When your dog whines, a certain body language will usually accompany the behaviour and can therefore help you get a better understanding of why they are whining. To help understand what your dog is whining about, pay attention to each whine and body language. This can help you to understand what your dog may be trying to communicate to you.

Here are the most common reasons as to why your dog is whining:

Asking for something: If your dog wants something from you, such as a toy, food, to go outside or go for a walk, then they may whine at you to try and tell you. If this is the case, you may notice them shifting their eye contact between you and the object of what they want.

Attention Seeking: Whining for attention from you may occur if you are doing something that does not involve your dog, like playing with another pet or having a conversation with someone. Your pup may be whining due to jealousy. 

Boredom: If your dog is whining due to boredom then they may also incorporate a sigh at the same time. This whining may occur if they have not undertaken any physical activity or excitement in a while.

Excitement: If your dog is really excited then they may let out loud whining to voice all the energy they have. Whining due to excitement may be accompanied by barking, jumping up and down and running around.

Stress: Whining is a common occurrence when a dog may be stressed, anxious or afraid. If your dog is whining due to being stressed or anxious, then they will usually show the signs of calming signals at the same time. This can include gestures such as yawning and lip-licking to help themselves calm down.

Pain or Discomfort: Your dog may also be whining if they are in pain or sick. They do this to try and get your attention and tell you that they are unwell or to try and calm themselves down. If you find your dog excessively whining and have ruled out all other causes, then it may be best to take them to the vet.

boston terrier looking up at camera

How to Stop Excessive Whining

If your dog is an excessive whiner, then it is best that you try to put your finger on exactly why they are whining so much. Once you figure out the reason behind their whining, try to discover ways in which you can give your dog what they need so they don’t need to whine anymore.

Never punish your dog for their whining as this can cause a fearful or anxious dog to be more stressed out and therefore they may whine even more. 

If you find that your dog is whining due to stress, fear our anxiety, then you need to try find what is making them feel this way. Fears and phobias can affect your dog and if they become known, you should work on training your dog through their fears and worries.

dog looking sad up at camera

When to Seek a Vet

If your dog is continuing to excessively whine after you have accessed all that could be causing their whining, then it may be time to take them to the vet. Your dog may be in pain or sick if they are continuing to whine without a cause. Whining when in pain or sick may be accompanied by looking, sad, down or anxious.

Ensure that you handle your dog with care when taking them to the vet as they may be in pain or stressed and could get protective and aggressive if they are not feeling themselves.

woman holding dog with vet

How to Respond to Your Dogs Whining

If you understand why your dog is whining, such as if they want food or if they want you to give them attention, then be sure you do not accidentally encourage their whining. If you immediately give your dog what they want every time they whine then you may be encouraging their behaviour.

This is the most common reason behind a dogs whining. It is very hard to resist a whining puppy, however if you give in, then you may end up with a whiny adult dog.

Instead of giving your dog what they want every time they whine, try to give them their treats, playtime or take them for a walk before they feel the need to whine. 

If you are walking your dog every day, giving them enough attention and feeding them on time, then they will have no reason to whine. If your dog whines all day until you take them for a walk, try taking them for a walk in the morning instead. Feeding your dog breakfast or dinner at the same time everyday will help to stop/prevent whining as they know when they will get fed and have no reason to whine at other times.

dog looking up at camera

If you’d like more vet approved pet health advice, sign up to our monthly newsletter here, or visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Pet-Health.

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