Five Reasons Your Dog Is Whining And How To Stop This Behavior

Whining is just one of the ways your dog uses to communicate with you. Yes, it can be appealing, especially when it’s accompanied by a cocked head and cute expression, but if this behavior becomes a habit, constant whining can quickly become annoying.

Dogs whine for a variety of reasons and you have to know why your dog is whining before you can put a stop to it. Let’s look at some of the most common causes for whining:

One – Your dog is trying to tell you he wants something. This can range from his water bowl is empty to he’s hungry, he wants to go outside or that favorite chew toy got pushed under a piece of furniture and he can’t reach it. These are relatively easy reasons to fix, as once you see what he’s whining about, you can correct the problem and the whining should stop.

If you just took your dog out and he immediately wants to go again, this could signal a digestive or urinary problem. Observe your dog closely for any change in bowel movements or straining when urinating. If you observe any changes or this behavior continues, consult your veterinarian.

Sometimes a dog will whine for more food just after you have given him his meal. Assuming he is getting the proper amount of food for his breed and body weight, never give your dog more food as a response to his whining. If you do, you’ve just reinforced the behavior and his whining will only become more of a problem.

Two – Your dog is trying to tell you that he’s stressed or fearful. This type of whining is often accompanied by other behaviors such as trembling, panting and pacing. Look at what could be new in the environment that could be making him anxious.

Sometimes if a family member has “gone missing” such as having to go into the hospital or is away on an extended trip, this can trigger stressful whining. Also, sometimes separation anxiety will cause dogs to whine and you may notice this immediately before you are ready to leave your house. 

Three – Your dog is whining because he wants your attention. The key to this is to make absolutely sure you are giving your dog enough exercise each day, as well as the mental stimulation he needs to remain emotionally healthy. Challenging puzzle toys, plenty of walks, and playtime are essential.

Four – Your dog might be trying to tell you he’s in pain. Look for a pattern to his whining, such as every time he gets up from his bed or tries to go up stairs. This might be a clue to joint pain from arthritis. If you are sure your dog is not stressed and his needs are all being met and he isn’t fearful or anxious, then consult your vet to be sure there is not an underlying medical problem causing him to whine in pain.

Five – Your dog is trying to tell you he’s sorry. Sometimes dogs whine as a signal of submissive behavior. This can happen after you have scolded them for bad behavior. This type of whining is often accompanied by a bowed head and tail between the legs. If this is the case, then just nod your head to accept his apology and then walk away. Don’t make a fuss, just go on with your routine.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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