Why do dogs whine? There are many possible reasons and a whining dog does not always indicate that the animal is in pain or discomfort. For example, puppies whine a lot more than adult dogs as a rule. Often puppies are seeking attention or food, or both.
Dogs communicate in many different ways. The most common means of communication for a dog is body language. The next most common means is barking. Whining is probably the third most common means of communication, and your dog may whine for many different reasons. Here then are 10 reasons why you have a whining dog.
1 – She is in pain or in some kind of physical distress
If you suspect your dog is in pain, but there are no obvious injuries, look for other less obvious reasons. If your dog is no longer in the prime of youth, watch carefully as she tries to jump up onto the couch, or tries to go up the stairs. If this kind of activity makes your dog whine, then she could have arthritis.
Arthritis causes joint pain, and it’s usually most common in older dogs. She may be fine when sitting or lying in one spot, but when she has to exert herself, especially when trying to jump, your dog can experience sharp joint pain and your dog may whine as a result.
An excellent supplement to help prevent arthritis is CBD oil given regularly to your dog. It will reduce inflammation, among other things, and give your dog a better quality of life. Find out more here.
If she doesn’t seem to have arthritis, and no obvious injuries, then check her breathing. Is her breathing labored? Is there a wheezing sound? If so, you should probably consult your veterinarian.
Is your dog eating normally? One of the first signs of illness can be a lack of interest in food. One other thing to look for, and I know it isn’t very pleasant, is any obvious changes in her poop.
Does she have difficulty doing her toilet? Is it very loose, or very hard? Does she whine while she’s doing it? The answers to these question might provide you with the right answer, or at least an answer you can take to your veterinarian.
2 – She is excited or bored
It should be fairly obvious whether your dog is whining through excitement or boredom. An excited dog is usually bouncing or jumping around. She wants something good to happen, and she wants it now!
If a dog is bored it may whine because it can’t stand good things not happening, and it wants something – anything – to happen. A bored dog will usually be listless with drooping ears, and she may also have her tail between her legs.
Your dog is more likely to whine through excitement than through boredom. It is usually obvious too. She may whine when you pick up her leash in preparation for going on a walk. The whining is her anticipation of the good things to come.
A whining dog can also be the result of her seeing something through the window. If she is in the habit of watching what’s happening outside, observe her to see what it is that makes her whine. You can change this habit by preventing her from seeing the trigger.
If you find that her whining with excitement at the thought of going for a walk is annoying, then don’t let her see you pick up the leash. Then take her outside by grasping her collar and only attach the leash to it when you are both some distance from your home.
3 – She is alerting you to something she thinks is important
Dogs can sometimes use whining as a means of alerting you to a particular situation. Often they will prefer barking as a means of alerting you, but sometimes it might be an anxious whine.
If she becomes a whining dog in the middle of the night, it could be because she has detected a burglar. Or it could be because she heard a piece of waste paper blow by. She will likely treat each incident with equal importance, meaning you will have to investigate each time to be sure everything is all right.
Should you be fairly sure your dog whines only to alert you, then you can fairly easily break the habit. When she whines, call her to you and give her a treat. Before long she will probably whine a couple of times at something that caught her attention, then she will go to you expecting a treat. Don’t disappoint her, and before long her whining may stop.
4 – She is stressed in some way, or afraid of something
When a dog is stressed or anxious, or afraid of something, they will often whine. This is usually accompanied by a specific type of body language known as appeasement gestures. This simply means that the dog will avert her eyes, lick her lips, or yawn. She may whine and yawn at the same time.
Your dog is simply telling you and anyone else that she is not a threat. She is also attempting to calm herself. There may be other visual indications of her fear, such as a tucked in tail, flattening of the ears, or a cowering stance.
If you become aware of your dog exhibiting any of these signs, try reassuring her gently. Give her a treat, speak softly to her in a quiet and kind manner. If you can work out what it is that is causing her stress, or making her afraid, try to remove or negate the cause.
5 – She is seeking attention
This is a common reason why you have a whining dog. Dogs are a lot like children in many ways. When no one is paying them the attention they feel they deserve, they will often whine, or yelp until they get what they want.
Your dog will also use the attention seeking whine when it gets jealous. You may be talking to another person for too long, at least in your dog’s mind, or you may be doing some task that does not involve her. If the attention is not on her, she may whine in an attempt to get your attention.
Her whining will only continue if you give in to it. Your dog should learn that she is not always the center of attention. Ignore her while she is whining, and if she stops, then give her some attention.
6 – She is needing or wanting something
Your dog will quickly learn that you can do things that she can’t. If her favorite toy gets stuck somewhere, and she cannot get it unstuck, she may whine for you to help her out. Usually, she will be close to the problem, so it can often be obvious what she wants you to do.
Other needs or wants may be less obvious, such as her wanting to go for a walk, or wanting you to give her water or food. Her whining should stop once you fix the problem.
7 – She is sorry for something she did
When you scold your dog for something she did wrong, chewing your shoes, rummaging through the wastepaper bin, barking too much, for example, she may start whining in a submissive way, acknowledging that you are the ‘top dog’ and asking for your forgiveness.
This kind of behavior is a throwback to her wolf ancestry. When a wolf breaks the rules of the pack, it can be shunned by the others. It then needs to be accepted back into the pack, so it will put its tail between its legs, bow its head in a submissive gesture, and beg for forgiveness. It may also whine a little.
If the reason you have a whining dog is because she is saying sorry, then you should acknowledge the apology, but immediately walk away from her. She will understand she has been allowed back into the ‘pack’, but also that you are not pleased with her breaking the ‘pack’ rules.
8 – She may have some form of mental illness
Dogs can suffer from mental illness, just as humans can. Your dog may have depression. This is not a case of just feeling sad, for depression is a lot more serious than that. Depression in a dog is not easy, even for a trained animal behaviorist, to diagnose.
If your dog sleeps a lot more than she should, exhibits excessive licking, shows little interest in eating, shows little interest in the things she used to enjoy, and of course, whines, then a mental illness, such as depression, may be the cause.
9 – She may be suffering from PTSD
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is something we tend to associate with the likes of war veterans, but your dog can suffer from it too. If your dog came from a rescue center, for example, she may have suffered abuse at some time. Whining because of PTSD is simply her remembering, or reliving, the stress of that abuse.
PTSD can result from an accident or some natural disaster, and it does not have to be abuse by another person. The result will be broadly the same, however, and whining can be her way of coping.
Dogs with PTSD may also exhibit other signs, such as excessive barking, always on alert, being easily frightened, a habit of hiding away somewhere, or the occasional trembling or shaking. Dogs with this condition need a lot of gentle reassurance and love. They may never fully recover, but love and kindness, reassurance and a lot of patience and attention will definitely help.
10- She may have dementia
Your dog can develop dementia, just as humans can. This is unlikely to be the case with a young dog, but when your pet gets into her senior years, consider dementia as a possible cause of her whining.
She is likely to exhibit signs of disorientation if she has dementia. Her memory will suffer, and people she once recognized immediately may become strangers to her. She may also suffer from anxiety and depression, and start to pace a lot. A dog with dementia can be difficult to care for, but this is a time when she needs you more than ever.
Bonus – the 10 breeds most likely to whine
There is no hard and fast rule as to which breed of dog will be most likely to whine a lot, but this list is a good guide. Bear in mind that small dogs tend to whine more than larger dogs.
- Yorkshire Terrier (Yorkie)
- Alaskan Malamute
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Toy Poodle
- German Shepherd