Dog Whining: Why It Happens & How to Stop It | Pupford
November 13th, 2023
Filed under Pet Parenting
As dog parents, we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to take care of our pups -- and part of that means reacting when something appears to be wrong. But it can be frustrating to hear your dog whining as if something were wrong, only to find they just want attention or to be near you.
In fact, how to deal with a dog’s whining is one of the most common questions we get from new dog parents in our group.
So if your dog has a tendency to whine when you’re not giving them attention and you’re wondering what you can do about it, we’ve got you covered!
Today we’re going to be talking about ⤵️
- Reasons why your dog might be whining
- Dogs whining at night
- Other attention-seeking behaviors
- How to stop dog whining
Before we get started, we want to know a little bit more about your pup’s situation (it helps us make better content for the future), so take a second to fill out this 3-question survey ⬇️
Thanks for telling us a little more about your dog’s whining -- never thought you’d hear that huh?
If you want to provide more details, feel free to tell us in the comments. You might find other pup parents in a similar situation!
Now, let's get right to the full dog whining article ⏬
REASONS WHY DOGS WHINE
The first question you should ask yourself shouldn’t necessarily be “how do I stop my dog from whining?” but rather “why does my dog whine?”
Understanding why your dog does a certain behavior is so important in helping them change it.
Let’s take a closer look at the science behind dogs whining.
Dogs have a few different ways of communicating with us, one of which being whining. They will often whine when there’s an immediate need that needs to be addressed or when they’re feeling a strong emotion.
Here are some of the common reasons why dogs whine 👇
WHEN THEY FEEL STRESSED AROUND PEOPLE OR DOGS
If a dog or person is making your dog feel stressed or afraid, they may whine in combination with a submissive posture (tail between legs, head down, etc.).
Sometimes whining can be an appeasement signal, which is simply them trying to show you they are not a threat.
Related Reading: Appeasement Behavior in Dogs
WHEN THEY'RE SAYING HELLO
Dogs might whine if they’re especially excited to see a person or another dog.
This type of whine is typically shorter and is accompanied by lightspeed tail wags!
SEEKING ATTENTION AND BOREDOM
Dogs will whine when they want a desired object or attention -- and if you give in once, it will continue.
This one is quite self-explanatory... but think of this type of whining as what a child does when they aren't allowed to have ice cream.
INJURY OR ILLNESS
Whining can be a response to pain.
If you notice your dog whining when being touched, or suddenly upon movement, or whining excessively without stopping, it’s best to see your veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out any serious conditions.
Related Reading: 10 Signs a Dog Is In Pain
ANXIETY AND SEPARATION ANXIETY
Whining is a response to stress, and you leaving your dog can be really stressful if they suffer from separation anxiety. If you notice the whining and crying happens most when you’re not in the room and is often accompanied by destructive behavior, having accidents, and pacing, separation anxiety is likely the culprit.
DOG OR PUPPY WHINING AT NIGHT OR IN A CRATE
Sometimes being a new dog parent can come with just as many sleepless nights as being a human parent.
If you find your dog whining or crying more at night when you go to bed and they’re in their crate, you’re not alone -- this is extremely common.
More often than not, separation anxiety is to blame. Your pup can’t see you -- or anything for that matter -- for an extended period of time which will likely stress them out.
Just be careful in this situation.
Giving in “just one time” and bringing them to sleep with you can make separation anxiety issues worse.
OTHER BEHAVIORS THAT GO ALONG WITH PUPPY WHINING
Another good way to figure out what’s causing your dog’s whining is to see what other behaviors go along with it.
Here are some behaviors to look out for ⤵️
- Pawing at something: They likely want something that’s out of reach.
- Cowering, submissive poses: They’re feeling threatened by someone or something around them.
- Whimpering when moving or being touched: They might be in physical pain (its’ always best to call the vet when you suspect pain or illness!).
- Destructive behavior: They are experiencing separation anxiety or are not getting enough physical and mental exercise. You can read more about destructive behavior in dogs in this article.
More often than not it’s separation anxiety that’s what’s causing your pup to whine, but this little checklist above can help you narrow it down.
HOW TO STOP A DOG FROM WHINING
Now that you know the likely causes of your dog’s tendency to whine, let’s talk about the things you can do to get them to stop.
A lot of it has to do with giving your dog enough stimulation and exercise and training them to control their impulses.
The result will be a happier, calmer, less anxious pup -- and that means less whining!
Here are some things you can try with your pup to ease anxiety and get whining impulses under control ⤵️
IMPULSE CONTROL TRAINING
Since whining is often an emotional impulse, teaching your pup to have control over their impulses can help them control their whining.
This collection of 21 Impulse Control Games can teach your dog to be calm and focused no matter their emotions.
TRAINING FOR BEING LEFT ALONE
Did you know you can train your dog to be happy when home alone? This will help them tackle that separation anxiety in no time.
For guidance, check out our Separation Anxiety Course, part of Pupford Academy.
The basic idea is to slowly and gradually teach your dog proper 'left alone' behavior. Baby steps!
Related Reading: How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone?
USE ENGAGING TOYS TO STOP A DOG THAT KEEPS WHINING
Keeping your dog engaged will keep them busy and happy while giving them simultaneous fun and mental exercise.
Getting the proper amount of stimulation is key for a variety of behavior problems, including excessive whining.
Two effective engagement toys are snuffle mats and lick mats.
Learn more about snuffle mats here.
Also, learn more about lick mats here.
SOMETIMES, IGNORING IS THE ANSWER
If every time your dog whines out of boredom or attention-seeking you give them attention... game over!
In many situations, ignoring the behavior will help it extinguish itself over time. The key here is consistency.
If you're going to ignore attention-seeking-whining, then you have to ignore it EVERY single time.
Related Reading: 7 Signs Your Dog is Feeling Neglected
RECAP OF DOG WHINING
Let's face it, a whining dog can be frustrating at times.
But now, you should have some tools to help overcome your dog's whining and teach them proper alternative behaviors!
Here's a quick recap of some things you can do to stop your dog's whining:
- Provide mental exercise
- Teach impulse control
- Sometimes, ignoring is the answer
- Training your dog to learn to be left alone
Have you tried any of these tips to tackle your pup’s whining? Have any other tried and true methods that have helped you navigate dog parenthood without sleepless nights?
We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!
PLUS, don't forget to get yourself a Lick Mat.