Written by Vet Tech

Why Do Dogs Whine And How To Stop It

Amber LaRock
Written by: Amber LaRock, Vet Tech
Since your dog or dogs can't speak human, they whine. For them whining is the ultimate communication tool with humans. Here is what it means.

Whining is one of the many ways that dogs attempt to communicate with us or other dogs.

While their whining can be seen as undesirable behavior, it’s likely that they are just trying to communicate their needs with those they love.

In order to prevent your pup from whining, it’s important to understand the reasons behind their whine, and see if you can offer your pup what they are seeking!

In this article, we’ll dive into the possible reasons behind a dog’s whine, and how to limit this behavior in your home.

Are There Different Reasons Behind Their Whines?

Since most dogs enjoy talking to their family, there are a number of things they could be trying to tell us with their whines.

Some possible reasons behind their noises include:

  • Physical needs: Dogs are known to whine and growl at their owners when they are hungry, thirsty, want a treat, or any other physical needs they may be experiencing at that moment.
  • Emotional needs: Since canines love to express their feelings at the moment, your pup may often vocalize when they’re feeling bored, excited, or even nervous.
  • Their surroundings: While this can be limited with proper socialization at a young age, your dog might alert to noises in their surroundings such as cars passing by, a ring of the doorbell, a dog passing by on a walk, or a number of other environmental reasons.

Specific Reasons Your Dog May Be Whining

Whining is a common behavior in dogs, as they first learn how to communicate with their mother by whining and crying each time they need to communicate their wants.

Similar to how a baby cries when they are hungry, this behavior is instilled in their DNA. Though this is quite common in puppies, it can, of course, become frustrating as it continues into their adult years.

In order to help alleviate your dog’s whining in your home, it’s important to understand the common reasons behind their vocalization.

Some reasons behind a dog’s whining include:

1. They Need Something

It’s usually quite obvious from a dog’s whine that they are wanting something.

Whether they are standing at your feet as you cook, or whining at the door as they wait to be let outside, their whines can often be straight forward.

A dog may whine when they are wanting to go outside, they want their favorite treat, they need you to fill up their food bowl, they want to play a game of fetch, or to express any other desire they may have!

2. They Are Craving Attention

Your dog may whine and grumble when they are seeking more of your attention.

Our pups love to spend time with their favorite humans, so they may crave your attention and comfort if they feel they are not getting enough of your time.

This can present in the form of whining, pawing at your leg, nudging at you in an effort to receive head pats, and more!

3. They Are Bored

Similar to a human child, your dog may whine when they are experiencing boredom.

Our furry friends have excess energy that they’ll need to burn off each day in order to feel fulfilled, so they will often make a fuss if they are not expelling this pent up energy.

A bored pup may present their frustration in the form of whining, turning to destructive behaviors, or even cranking up the volume and barking for your attention.

4. They Are Filled With Emotions

Since dogs are unable to properly vocalize their feelings when they are overcome with emotion, they will often react to overwhelming situations with whining.

Situations such as an owner coming home from work, visitors being present in your home, new pets being brought into your home, and any other exciting situation can cause your pup to whine and wiggle with excitement.

This is also true in situations that cause your pup to become nervous or scared. Whining is a coping mechanism used in many situations.

5. They Are In Pain

If you are unable to soothe your whining pup, it’s time to consider that their whining may be a result of their discomfort.

Unfortunately, our dogs are not immune to common ailments that can cause them to experience pain.

Dogs can experience discomfort in the aftermath of any surgical procedures or injuries, as a result of old age, due to joint pain, and any other condition that can cause discomfort.

Similar to humans, their aches and pains can cause them to groan or whine as they attempt to work through their discomfort.

6. They Are Stressed

Just like us, our pups can experience stress and anxiety. Though their triggers may differ from ours, their daily stress can be just as impactful.

Our beloved companions may whine if they are experiencing stress from changes in your home, the disappearance of their favorite human, moving to a new location, going on a car ride, or any other situation that is known to be stressful for dogs.

How Can You Limit A Dog’s Whining?

If your dog is especially noisy, there are a few ways you can work together to limit the barking and whining. If your dog is whining excessively, it’s likely that they are missing something in their day to day habits.

Some tips to limit your pup’s vocalizations are:

1. Exercise

Most dogs require a minimum of 30 minutes of daily exercise in order to feel fulfilled. When dogs are unable to expel their energy through exercise each day, they may begin to whine and bark as a result of this pent up energy. By meeting your dog’s daily needs for exercise, you can help to tire out your pup and limit their need to whine for extra attention.

2. Play

Since some dogs have so much energy, they live for the moments that they are able to play with you. By incorporating daily interactive play with your furry friend, they are less likely to bark out of boredom. This is also a perfect time to bond with your pup.

3. Enrichment

Try your best to fill your home with plenty of objects that can cure your dog’s boredom. This means giving them plenty of toys, offering them mentally stimulating toys and treats, and giving them a cozy bed to curl up in when they are tired. By enriching their environment to meet their needs, they are less likely to whine.

4. Training

Basic obedience training can go a long way in your household. Obedience training can help to give your pup some basic manners and give you more control over their behaviors in your home.

5. Quality Time

If you are unable to spend enough time at home with your furry friend, it may begin to show in their whining habits. When you are spending quality time with your dog, providing adequate exercise, and setting aside playtime, they will be more inclined to rest and resist the urge to bark and whine.

6. Socialization

If your dog’s whining is focused around noises, other dogs, or around sights they are not used to, it may be time to work on socialization. When a dog is used to certain exposures, they are less likely to bark at their appearance. Make sure to expose your dog to other people, dogs, sights, and sounds in an effort to limit barking.

7. Limit Your ResponsE

If you’re positive that there’s no real need to immediately respond to your dog’s whining, it’s best to ignore it. Once you notice a moment of silence, offer praise, a treat, or a similar reward that teaches your pup how much you adore your quiet time together.

When Should You Worry?

When it comes to a dog’s whining, it can be challenging to know when their whining is something to take seriously. In order to determine if their whining is due to something more complex, go through this checklist each time your pup is whining.

  • Make sure their food and water bowl is full.
  • Take them outside and see if they need to do their business.
  • Offer them a stimulating toy that keeps their attention.
  • Give them a quick belly rub and see if it’s your attention they seek.
  • If they seem to be whining at a specific target, investigate and see if you can find the object that’s capturing their attention.

If none of the above options seem to soothe your pup, then it may be time to reach out to your veterinarian. Since a dog’s whining can be due to their discomfort it’s always best to take their vocalization seriously in case it’s due to a medical concern.

The Bottom Line

Though a dog’s whining can be a bit disruptive, the best way to limit this behavior is through understanding.

Make sure to educate yourself on the reasons behind a dog’s whining, and you can help to limit this behavior in your home!