Dog whining can sometimes try the patience of even the saintliest pet parent, particularly when it’s nonstop.
But it’s likely your canine companion is actually trying to communicate with you, and often, the message can be a very important one.
Don’t let your pup’s efforts get lost in translation. By paying closer to attention to your dog’s behavior, you’ll be able to figure out why your persistent pooch is whining all the time, and more importantly, how you can help them!
A Dog’s Voice: You Can’t Keep Them Silent
Most often, their gruff voice is accompanied by body language, which, when we put two and two together, helps us to form an interpretation of their message.
Your furry friend may bark, growl, yelp, howl, and/or whine. And most of the time, your pet’s voice is actually both helpful and insightful.
Growling starts in a playful game of tug-and-war with your puppy while they learn canine etiquette. Later in life, growling or snarling sends a warning that can precede an attack. This aggressive behavior states dominance. In a situation of a home intruder, your watchdog will growl and bark to alert you to the unwelcomed presence.
Barking is a communication tool that all dogs use to alert attention to a situation. Sometimes, your four-legged friend will bark upon your arrival home. They simply cannot contain their excitement! A prolonged or frantic bark, however, can communicate distress or pain. There is no single meaning to any form of communication, though, and barking is no exception, as it can have multiple nuances.
Yelping is usually an expression of pain, anxiety, or stress.
Howling is another tool in your pup’s vocal toolbox. Howling can often be associated with stress when your dog is left alone or when they’re experiencing discomfort. But to contrast that, if your household breaks into song, then you might have your pet join you with their howling chorus. This is a normal reaction to high-pitched sounds.
So, as you can see, your noisy pet can choose a variety of ways to get your attention.
And as previously mentioned, sometimes their communication efforts can be helpful.
In the case of dog whining, however, there may be an underlying issue that demands your attention.
Why Do Dogs Whine?
Pet parents will probably agree that whining is quite possibly the most annoying sound in the world.
However, whining serves a purpose: it alerts you to pay attention.
An alarm clock only stops when you press the button. In the same way, your pet will only stop crying when you tend to them and figure out what is prompting them to turn on their animal siren.
Here are seven reasons why your dog may be whining:
1. Greeting behavior
Those little paws do a dance, the tail wags, and the whining ensues.
Pets can whine as a way to channel their enthusiasm.
This behavior may be while they’re waiting for a snack, anticipating mealtime, or greeting their bestie – you!
2. Submissive behavior
Dogs need a way to show that they mean no harm and come in peace, whether it’s toward a fellow canine, the fierce cat next door, or a new and unfamiliar person.
If your pet has misbehaved and knows they’re in trouble, they may whine as a means of apology and to avoid a scolding.
A submissive posture will usually accompany their whine. This could include tucking their tail in, lowering their body, putting their head down, and/or averting their gaze.
3. Seeking attention/wanting something
If the soundtrack of your dog’s whining accompanies your mealtime, chances are they want a tasty morsel from your plate! Appeasing this behavior and feeding your dog from the table can be a habit that is difficult to break.
A dog who whines could also be using their powers of manipulation to get your attention. They might be after a walk, a meal, or some affection.
Just as well, your pup could be alerting you to their need for a toilet break. In that case, the whining is effective communication that can be easily solved.
4. Fear or Stress
Stressful situations could also be a cause of constant whining. Whether it’s during a storm, fireworks, or any other traumatic situation, whining seems involuntary in these conditions.
Read your dog’s body language for any other signs that your dog might be anxious. Signs include cowering, lip licking, yawning, being clingy, and generally looking worried. Pooches who are fearful might pace or hide to try and escape the source of their horror as well.
Your pet’s whining could be the simple result of boredom.
Just like people, dogs require mental stimulation and enrichment. Even couch potatoes can benefit from scheduled play times throughout the day to exercise their brain and help them enjoy their bond with you.
Whether you’ve been too busy to take Fido for a walk or the weather has limited you indoors, boredom can bring on destructive behavior like chewing, howling, digging, and yes, whining too.
6. Injury or Medical Condition
Whining accompanied by limping or licking could be a sign that your furbaby is in pain.
If handling your pet makes them whine, this could also be indicative of an injury.
In this case, the whining is necessary, and your dog is trying to communicate that he’s hurting and needs your help.
Dogs are notorious for hiding their pain, so if the situation has progressed to vocalizations, you should schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible to find the underlying cause of your dog’s discomfort.
7. Separation Anxiety
The human-animal bond is strong, and seeing you go off to work could upset your furry companion. In fact, simply reaching for your shoes and keys could set them off.
Separation anxiety can understandably cause your dog to whine, as he doesn’t wish to be separated from you and is vocalizing his discontent.
Other behavior that is common where it concerns separation anxiety includes urinating or defecating indoors, depression, excessive drooling, panting, pacing, and destructive behavior around the house.
How to Stop Dog Whining
Silence is not always golden, and while whining can try a pet parent’s patience, it is ultimately a valuable tool for communicating.
Putting an end to your pet’s whining is only useful when you try to understand what message they are trying to send to begin with.
Read Your Dog’s Body Language
When we communicate, we use other tools to get our message across. Humans gesture, frown, point, or change the tone of their voice.
Pets also use body language. By looking at their posture, facial expressions, and following their gaze, you can better understand why they are whining.
For instance, a whining dog that’s looking from you to the door is usually communicating that he needs to go outside.
Once you’ve identified what your dog is trying to tell you through his body language, you can offer him alternative means of getting your attention.
Provide an Alternative
If your dog is whining to be let outside, as in the example above, you could provide a different way for them to attract your attention.
A doggy doorbell, for instance, could be an effective way for your dog to let you know that they need to use the outside potty.
Does your pup whine when it wants to be fed? Why not train them to bring you their bowl if it’s close to mealtime?
In the situation where your pup is whining to communicate excitement, you can train him to accept your hand as affirmation instead. This is called hand touch targeting and can be an alternative method for your dog to greet you instead of whining.
Consult a dog training professional for any helpful tips. Signing up for a few training sessions will not only be a fun bonding experience with your canine companion, but it will also instill confidence and trust in your pet while also helping you both to understand each other better.
Use Positive Reinforcement
As you begin to train your dog out of their whining behavior, positive reinforcement should play a key role in your methods.
Rather than scolding your pup, positive reinforcement is a more caring way to train your canine friend. Positive reinforcement is a method where you reward your furbaby for positive behavior.
As an example, if your dog is quiet in a situation where they would usually whine, you would reward their behavior with a tasty treat. Encourage them to continue sitting quietly and affirm them for obeyed instruction.
They will soon learn that they can still communicate their needs to you silently.
Aggressive or impatient behavior toward your dog is not going to solve their problem. In fact, it could stimulate fear and anxiety in them, which is the last thing you want to do as a loving pet parent.
Training your dog to communicate with you in a more effective way and learning to understand their body language and vocalizations will take time. Beyond that, there are bound to be instances where your dog still struggles to understand what behavior you want from him–it’s a learning experience for him too!
That’s why it’s important to always react calmly and lovingly with your pup. This will strengthen the bond you two share and also allow your dog to feel safe and loved with you. It’s easier for us to learn when our teachers are kind and understanding, and the same goes for dogs. If you create a positive environment for your dog to learn new behaviors, you’ll have better success with your training.
Identify Underlying Health Problems
Remember, dog whining can also be indicative of an injury or a medical condition.
If your dog’s whining doesn’t seem to be behavioral, attention-seeking, or associated with mood, then you may want to consider that your dog may simply be experiencing discomfort.
Try to examine their body to find any apparent causes. Be gentle when handling a dog who is in pain, however, as they could bite as a reaction to their discomfort.
If there are no visible wounds, but your pup still seems to be hurting, take them to the veterinarian for a checkup.
Enrich Your Dog’s Environment
If your dog’s whining simply stems from boredom, that can easily be remedied. Your furball simply needs some mental stimulation.
When they’re confined, due to health or weather, you can offer an interactive toy that can engage them. A snuffle mat, dog puzzle, or any other mentally stimulating solution could help significantly.
DOGTV also provides shows for dogs to help with relaxation and entertainment if your dog struggles to see you leave for work. The sights and sounds are scientifically designed with your lonely pet in mind.
Alternatively, with many workplaces becoming pet-friendly, you may be able to spare your pup the boredom of staying home alone. Speak with your employer about potentially bringing along a plus-one to the office in the form of your four-legged friend. ‘Bring Your Dog to Work Day’ can be a fun office activity, and may even show how dogs as permanent staples in the workplace can help people feel less stressed and more productive!
Address Any Stress Factors
Situations that trigger fear or stress in your companion are bound to occur now and then.
If possible, remove your pet from the stressful situation and appease them with a distraction. You can also train your pup to become desensitized to irrational fears.
Some situations might not be as easy to escape, however, such as thunderstorms or holiday fireworks in the neighborhood. In these instances, you might consider offering your pup a holistic option to promote relaxation.
A popular option that more and more pet parents are turning to these days is CBD.
CBD for dogs is a naturally occurring compound found in the hemp variety of the cannabis plant. It can come in many forms, including CBD oil, CBD bites and chews, and even CBD-infused peanut butter.
CBD works by interacting with your dog’s endocannabinoid system, which is a regulatory system in the body similar to the immune system or circulatory system.
CBD is often used to promote relaxation and help animals cope with external stresses.
It can help your dog maintain a calm and relaxed disposition during separation, travel, or tensions caused by changes in your pet’s daily routine It’s particularly helpful for dogs exhibiting nervousness, hyperactivity, or discontentment, or who are responding to environmentally-induced stress such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or new social situations.
Want to learn more about CBD? Read next:
Dog Whining: A Final Thought
Dogs communicate with us in many ways and there are a variety of underlying meanings behind their vocalizations. Your dog whining may be an indication that they’re simply excited to greet you at the front door or it can signal that they want or need something from you. However, dog whining can also be the result of fear, boredom, or discomfort. In these instances, a trip to the vet may be warranted to ensure there aren’t any causes for concern where it regards your pet’s health.
If it turns out your pup is simply dealing with stress or nervousness, a holistic option like CBD is a great tool to have on hand to promote relaxation and help your canine friend maintain contentment. And to combat boredom, consider fun, interactive dog toys that can keep your four-legged friend entertained while also exercising their brain.
At the end of the day, dogs are just like us in that they need love and interaction to feel content. Addressing these needs in your pup will make for a happier dog, and a happier dog means less whining in the long run.
Dog Whining FAQs