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Dog Whining

Although they don’t have the ability to speak like humans, dogs have their own ways of communicating. In case you didn’t know, dogs communicate by body language, barking, and also whining. Dogs whine for a variety of reasons, and if left untreated, whining becomes very often a regular habit of the dog and can be very debilitating for the owner. To stop a dog from whining, you must first understand the reason for such behavior. In this article, you can learn more about the potential reasons why dogs whine as well as how you can stop a dog from whining.

Why Is My Dog Whining?

Dogs whine for a variety of reasons; the most common reasons are:

  • Pain, Injury or Medical Condition
  • Stress or Anxiety
  • Lack of Attention
  • Appeasement Behavior

Puppies whine more and for many other reasons. If you have a puppy please jump to the section “Puppy Whining“. In the following we will examine every common reason and try to give a possible solution.

Pain, Injury or Medical Condition as a Cause of Dog Whining

If a dog that usually doesn’t whine suddenly starts to vocalize in that way, the first thing to suspect is pain or injury. Dogs can get hurt in the park, while playing with other dogs, due to sudden movements, while jumping on stairs or from a car, etc. After the injury, dogs whine as a reaction and as a way to express their pain. In this case, the dog should be taken to a vet as soon as possible so the injury can be treated properly.

Whining can also be the result of pain not caused by an injury; such pain can be the result of post-surgery sensitivity. Days after surgery, if your dog feels pain, whines, doesn’t interact, doesn’t have an appetite, and only lies down, it’s necessary to contact a vet for consultations and dog painkillers so recovery can progress pain-free.

When it comes to medical conditions that can cause whining, the most common are those that can cause permanent discomfort and pain in the dog. The most common example of such a condition are joint problems. If you want to learn more about this topic, please read our article “Dog Joint Pain“. Dogs that have this problem often whine when climbing stairs or going to bed. They can whine after long walks or while getting up in the morning because in those periods, they feel more pain than usual and respond to it by vocalizing and limping.

Stress or Anxiety as a Cause of Dog Whining

Dog behind chair

When they find themselves in a stressful situation, dogs can express discomfort by whining. In addition to vocalization, discomfort in dogs that are stressed out can also be recognized by their body language. Dogs that feel uncomfortable or anxious tend to bend their ears, lick themselves excessively, or hide behind their owner.

Also, a very common type of anxiety that results in whining is one that occurs when separating and leaving the dog alone at home. Most often, separation anxiety occurs in dogs that like attention, and it’s difficult for them to be separated from their owners. Dogs that have this problem need to be taught to stay alone. Such habits can be corrected by training.

Lack of Attention as a Cause of Dog Whining

Dogs like to get the attention of their owners, and if they are taught to always get everything, they can express dissatisfaction with whining during any change they are not satisfied with. The most common cause of this kind of whining is when dogs are given food from the table. If you give food to a dog when you eat, your dog will probably come to your table every time you eat, whine and look for some food.

Also, dogs seek attention when they are bored. In this case, whining happens when a dog doesn’t go out enough and has a lot of energy and in the owner’s presence, the dog complains and whines. Dogs that have excess energy and seek attention can also develop destructive behavior and start destroying things around the house, biting the furniture, and scratching the floor, so it’s very important to pay attention to this behavior in order to correct it as soon as possible.

Dog yawning

Dogs often seek attention by whining when they are put in a crate for the first time or when they are alone without their owner. Some owners don’t like their dogs staying in the crate, and that’s perfectly fine. However, the use of crates is not cruel if the dog, through crate training, sees his stay in it as something positive, not as a punishment or a place where he will be for a long time. It’s natural for dogs to crawl to hidden places, to have their own corner and a place to rest and sleep, and that is exactly what the crate’s purpose is. Crates can be found in different sizes and shapes, which you will of course adapt to the size and needs of your dog.

Whining for attention is common, but certainly it needs to be corrected if owners want to train their dog to stay in a crate and not to whine every time when left alone.

Appeasement Behavior

Appeasement behavior is a form of social behavior in which one party seeks to pacify the aggression of another by taking an inferior social stance.1https://psychology.wikia.org/wiki/Appeasement_behavior

Whining when meeting new people or dogs is a common occurrence in dogs. This kind of behavior, in addition to whining, is accompanied by a change in the dog’s posture. The dog bows, bends his tail, holds his ears back and makes no eye contact. This behavior occurs when dogs show appeasement gestures as a signal that they don’t pose a threat to the environment in which they find themselves.

Puppy Whining

Tired dog

When dogs are small, they need to get used to new situations and become aware of the new environment in which they live. They want attention, love, and commitment, and they express their emotions through body language and vocalizing by barking and whining.

Puppies are irresistible and sweet, and that makes you want to give them all the attention and everything your new puppy wants, but mishandling a puppy can create a pattern of misbehavior that is difficult to correct later. So it’s very important to act properly and to teach the dog proper behavior, starting on the day he arrives to your home.

A puppy most often whines in these cases:

  • Attention-seeking
  • Boredom
  • As a sign of greeting
  • Stressful situations
  • Due to pain

Puppies always like the fact that all the attention is on them, and if you have other responsibilities and can’t devote yourself as usual, a puppy starts to whine. This behavior needs to be corrected, as the puppy will get used to whining every time he wants something. When you realize that this is the cause of whining, you should no longer pay attention to whining. This behavior should be corrected by a reward system. When a dog realizes that behavior contrary to whining is rewarded, he will stop and understand it as a motivation not to whine.

If your puppy is bored and that’s the reason why he whines, you need to walk and train him more often, or give him toys so he can spend the excess energy he has. It’s important to keep him busy and to train him and teach at least some simple commands.

If you notice that the puppy whines during the greeting, and that this type of behavior continues and repeats itself every day, you should definitely work on that because it will grow into a normal mode of behavior. The easiest way to solve this problem is to draw the puppy’s attention to something else when greeting you, a new person, or another dog. Also, when the dog sees and greets you, he is very excited, and it’s very important that you reduce that excitement and don’t encourage him by being calm and talking to him and by petting him only when he goes from excited to calm.

Another cause of whining in a puppy is stress. As they are in a new environment, many circumstances create stress for them, from meeting other dogs for the first time, to being in a crate and staying alone. It’s important to find out which of the factors causes stress and to present them positively for the dog. Also learning, training, and rewarding combined with a little patience can make a big difference in stress-caused whining.

If your puppy has suddenly started whining and looks depressed and sad, especially after playing with other dogs, after falling, or after a jump, it is likely the reason might be an injury or some sort of pain. You need to take him to the vet as soon as possible to find out the cause and to treat the injury.

How To Stop a Dog From Whining?

If you want to stop your dog from whining, you need to act on the cause. If the cause of whining is pain, injury, or a medical condition, the dog should be taken to the vet as soon as possible in order to detect the cause of pain and to treat it properly.

If the dog’s pain is chronic and is the result of joint problems, in this case, supplements have been shown to work well and to relieve pain. The best ones for relieving joint pain are chondroprotectives, which contain glucosamine, chondroitin and similar active substances, like Pup Science Hip & Joint Relief, that can help restore joint function. You can read more about joint supplements in our article “Joint Supplements for Dogs“.

As an owner, you can try to fix and correct whining caused by stress or anxiety on your own by creating small changes and by doing dog training. You need to understand how your dog feels and what it is that creates stress for him. For dogs, anxiety can be created by changes, such as introducing new pets or people, changes in the home, separation from owners, staying in a crate, or staying at home alone. A dog that shows signs of anxiety in these situations should be trained so that staying at home alone, or staying in the crate, is understood as part of a normal routine.

The best way to train dogs is to reward their good behavior, and to show them how to be calm while walking, meeting new dogs and people. Also if you are trying to leave your dog alone, it’s very important not to leave him for a long period but for shorter periods and gradually to extend them.

If your dog, despite your persistent attempts to help him and reduce anxiety, doesn’t change, you can consult a vet for help. The vet may recommend medications that reduce the dog’s anxiety and depression. If your dog doesn’t need medication, there are drug-free accessories on the market such as collars, anxiety jackets, beds, and similar products that are made to help relieve stress.

As for attention-seeking whining, owners sometimes unknowingly reinforce this type of behavior because they can’t resist petting or reaching for their dog. Most often, dogs ask for attention upon guest arrivals, meeting acquaintances, and during meals when they turn attention on themself by whining for a piece of food.

When a dog whines for attention, make it clear, by using body language signs and turning away from the dog, that such behavior is not good. Keep in mind that it is wrong to approach and cuddle your dog while he is misbehaving. This problem is best solved by rewarding the dog when he calms down and when he stops whining by giving him a treat and by paying attention to him.

If you want to educate yourself more on how to influence your dog’s behavior and how to avoid inappropriate situations, you can read books on this subject or hire a dog training professional who can help you find a way to stop unwanted dog behavior.

In dogs that feel submissive and whining occurs as one of the consequences, it’s crucial to help them build self-confidence. It’s very important to socialize the dog; take it to the dog park to meet and play with other dogs. It’s also desirable to play with the dog and to reward him with treats and cuddling when he does something good. Avoid punishing your dog, because it can further affect him and increase appeasement.

Conclusion

Dogs whine as a way of communicating and expressing themselves. It’s normal for your dog to whine, and it is his way of letting you know that something is happening. There are many different reasons for dog whining; the first one to suspect if the dog starts to whine suddenly is pain. Pain can be caused by injury that occurred in a dog park, during playtime or while you didn’t pay attention. Also, whining due to pain is very often associated with joint pain, and if you suspect that your dog is whining because of any type of pain or injury, it’s best to visit a vet to find out the cause. If your dog has joint problems, you can read more about how you can help him in our “Dog Joint Pain” article.

Whining is a way for a dog to show stress and anxiety and to express his mental and emotional state. Simply put, this means that your dog whines because he lacks attention, because he doesn’t like to be left alone, but such occasional behavior can grow into a habit and make you very frustrated. Therefore, it’s very important to identify the causes of whining, which you can read more about in the “Why Is My Dog Whining” section. After recognizing the cause, it’s important to act immediately by training with positive encouragement and by rewarding good behavior with treats so the dog will associate good behavior with the reward, and it will become a new, good pattern of behavior. You can learn more about how to correct dog whining in the section “How to Stop a Dog From Whining“.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Dog Whining

Why Is My Dog Whining All of a Sudden?

If a dog that normally doesn’t whine suddenly starts to do it, it’s very likely that it is due to pain. If whining starts at once, it’s always recommended to first visit the vet, so he can determine if the cause of whining is injury or another pain-related cause. If pain is not the cause, monitor the behavior and the situations in which the dog whines. When you find out what these situations are, you will also discover the cause, and by correcting the behavior, the whining can be reduced or stopped. To find out more about the possible causes of whining in dogs, please read the “Why Is My Dog Whining?” section.

How to Get a Dog to Stop Whining?

You will stop whining by first discovering the cause. Once you discover the cause, you will work with your dog to correct such behavior. In most cases, whining can be corrected with training and rewarding your dog with treats when he is not whining and when he is calm. Also, it is very important not to pay attention to your dog while he is whining and while he is in a state of excitement. Depending on the cause, this behavior can be prevented differently, and you can read more about it here.

How to Stop a Dog From Whining at Night?

Dogs whine at night because they feel lonely so they seek your attention. If you don’t want your dog to sleep in your room or bed, you will need to teach him to stay out of it and in his own bed. When a dog whines, you should not pet him or pay attention to him. Show your dog with calm and assertive energy and body language that what he is doing is unacceptable. Only when the dog stops whining and is calm should you pet him and give him a reward in the form of treats, or pieces of his favorite food, so he can realize that he is behaving well and that he should continue this positive pattern.

How to Stop a Dog Whining in a Crate?

In most cases, dogs whine in the crate because they feel lonely, want attention or are bored, and sometimes it’s necessary to train the dog to love the crate and not to whine while in it by presenting the crate to the dog as a positive experience. It is good to make the dog tired by taking him on long walks and playing before going to the crate, so that when he comes home, he is ready to rest. If your dog starts to whine while he enters the crate, don’t approach him and give him importance, but with a resolute attitude and body language, give a sign to stop. When the dog stops whining, approach the crate, pet him, and give him a treat or a piece of food he likes to realize that he has been rewarded for such behavior. The dog will very quickly understand and associate the crate with a positive experience and will certainly stop whining when he is in it.

Is My Dog Whining Because of Pain?

One of the reasons for whining can be pain. If the dog suddenly starts whining, after a sudden movement, running, or playing in the park, and if he hasn’t shown this type of behavior before, it’s very likely that he has been injured or feels pain. In case you suspect that your dog is whining due to pain, it’s very important that you visit a vet to find the cause and to treat the injury.

References

1 https://psychology.wikia.org/wiki/Appeasement_behavior
Dr. Anida Dinarevic (DVM)
Dr. Anida Dinarevic is working for a dog shelter “Animal Care” in Mostar, specialized for small animals. She has successfully completed several seminars and internships at many prestigious colleges in Vienna and Istanbul. Currently, she is supporting a stray dog neutering project. She is the mum of the 6-years old Malteser ”Bully”.

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