Why Your Dog Is Whining: What You Should Know

dog laying in a flower field

Dogs communicate their needs and emotions in a variety of ways. Many dogs, such as hound dogs, are known for howling. Other breeds are known for barking to alert their owners of potential threats outside of their homes. Puppies whine to alert their mother that they need care, and all dogs will yelp when they are in pain.

Dog whining is an essential part of their way to communicate with both humans and other dogs. Whining allows them to let you know when they need to go outside for a potty break, when they are hungry, and if they are feeling sick or in pain. While dog whining is not a troubling behavior, excessive whining can be problematic. Knowing why your dog is whining is the key to using this behavior to your benefit and ensuring that your dog is as healthy and happy as possible.

Dog whining can mean different things in different contexts. Some dogs whine more than others, and some rarely whine. As a dog owner, it’s a good idea to become familiar with your dog’s whining and what it typically means. We’ll look at all the dog whining basics and how to understand this form of canine communication.

Whining Breeds

All dogs can be susceptible to excessive whining, and odds are that every dog will engage in whining more than once in their life. Some dogs may whine more than others for a variety of reasons. Certain breeds are known to whine more than other breeds. While this doesn’t mean that every dog of this breed will be prone to whining, it’s a good idea to know if it’s in your dog’s genetic makeup to whine more frequently.

The most common breeds that are known for whining include Huskies, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, Foxhounds, Alaskan Malamutes, Miniature Schnauzers, Toy Poodles, German Shepherds, Basset Hounds, Beagles, and Dachshunds.

Types Of Whining

Some whines are based on different needs, wants, and emotions than others. Whining almost always has a cause and a cure that you can identify as a dog owner. When your dog is whining, try and narrow it down to one of these possible causes.

Greeting Behavior

Almost all dogs get excited when they meet new friends, whether they are canine or human. Dogs get even more excited when their owner comes home from being away, especially if they have been home alone. Because of this, your dog may be prone to whining when they are greeting you, another human, or another dog. This whining is a way to show their excitement for whoever they are greeting.

dog sitting in front of a blue background

Appeasement Behavior

Dominance and submissiveness are big things in the canine world. Every dog is finding their place in a social circle, whether it’s within their household or when socializing with other dogs. Because of this, whining can be common for dogs who are adopting a submissive posture. If your dog is feeling threatened or nervous about humans or other dogs and becomes submissive, they may begin tucking their tail, lowering their body, lowering their head, looking away, or whining.

Submissive behaviors can be seen when dogs get disciplined. Often, a dog will whine to be submissive to you as a dog owner after they have been punished for doing something wrong. This is their way of letting you know that they understand you are their pack leader.

Attention Seeking

Dogs love to get attention from their owners. There is nothing in this world that they appreciate more than treats, praise, and pets from their beloved human. Because of this, they may begin whining when they want your attention. Dogs engage in this behavior in hopes to get some pets, rewards, or objects such as toys and treats.


Just like humans, dogs can be prone to anxiety. This anxiety can range in severity, be triggered by various things, and can be frequent or occasional. Signs of anxiety typically include trembling, pacing, panting, and whining. Your dog may become anxious and begin whining when they meet new people or dogs, hear loud and unknown noises, or are traveling to a new place.

Separation Anxiety

Dogs are affectionate animals who form strong bonds with their owners. Because of this, they can be prone to developing separation anxiety. If your dog is whining right before you leave the house, right after you close the front door, or when you return from being away, they may be feeling anxious because you are gone. Hearing dogs whining can be troublesome for your neighbors, especially when you are away and it goes on for long periods. Because of this, it’s a good idea to manage separation anxiety the best that you can. We’ll discuss various ways to combat canine separation anxiety in a bit.

dog standing in a grass field

Pain or Illness

Dogs often whine to let you know that they are in pain or something isn’t right. Since dogs can’t communicate verbally to let us know about health issues, it’s best to take their vocalizing as their way of communicating various symptoms. If you notice that your dog begins whining suddenly and intensely with no obvious cause, be sure to get them checked by a vet for possible injuries or illness.

Basic Needs

While dog whining almost always has a meaning and a motivation, sometimes this meaning is very basic. Dogs often whine to communicate simple needs. Going to the bathroom, food, water, or a walk can all be a reason that your dog whines. If they get a toy stuck under the crack of a door or they can’t get past an obstacle like a laundry basket, they may begin to whine.

While all of these needs are relevant reasons to whine, don’t let your dog manipulate you through their whining. If your dog has already had their recommended amount of daily food, don’t let them trick you into giving them more through whining. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which often causes an abundance of other health issues. While listening to your dog’s whining and helping them is always a good idea, it’s important to remain in charge.

If your dog has already had their recommended daily exercise and is whining consistently to go out, they may be experiencing a health issue that affects their bladder. Diabetes and other health problems can cause your dog to urinate more frequently. If you notice excessive needs for bathroom breaks, be sure to bring this up to your vet.

How to Manage Excessive Whining

While some whining is expected from any dog, excessive whining can become an unwanted behavior. All dogs whine for different reasons, and finding ways to manage whining that is appropriate for the cause is essential. An anxious dog who is whining needs to be managed differently than a dog who is whining to seek attention.

dog running through the water

Managing Greeting Behavior Whining

Every dog owner wants to make the best impression that they can when they introduce their pup to a new human friend. Because of this, excessive whining during greetings can quickly become an unwanted behavior. Thankfully, there are some great tips and tricks to manage whining during greetings.

One of the best ways to manage whining during greetings is by diverting their attention to a toy or treat. This is more effective than simply telling them no. Diverting their attention to something else will allow them to channel their excitement into a treat or toy and will downplay the greeting to a normal experience. Teaching your dog to sit or lay down during greetings can be a great way to divert their focus to listening to your commands rather than focusing on how exciting this new person is.

There are other great ways to downplay greetings and make them less overwhelming to your dog, which will reduce their likelihood of whining. Try to keep greetings short and simple. In addition, avoid speaking in loud and excited tones, and keep your movements calm. Finally, wait to pet your pup until they have calmed down and aren’t whining. All of these greeting strategies will help to take the excitement out of greetings and minimize whining.

Managing Appeasement Behavior Whining

Appeasement whining is very normal, typical canine behavior. Dogs may engage in appeasement whining for a variety of reasons, the most common being that they feel threatened or dominated by another dog or human. While appeasement whining isn’t typically troubling or a cause for concern, there are ways to combat it if it becomes an unwanted behavior.

One of the best ways to reduce appeasement whining with your pup is by increasing their confidence. In doing so, you will help your dog to feel less threatened by other dogs or people and allow them to socialize without feeling apprehensive or nervous.

Obedience classes that use reward-based training strategies are very effective in boosting your dog’s confidence. Engaging in fun games with your dog such as fetch and tug-of-war are also great ways to build confidence. Agility and trick training are also unique and exciting ways to help your dog feel more confident about themselves and reduce their appeasement whining.

When working with a dog who engages in appeasement whining, it’s important to remember not to punish them in harsh ways. Physical and verbal punishment should be avoided, as well as any form of intimidation. These experiences will only increase their appeasement whining.

dog laying on white towels

Managing Attention-Seeking Whining

Using whining to get attention, rewards, and desired objects is a very common strategy for dogs. The key to reducing attention-seeking whining is by teaching your dog that being quiet will get them these desired outcomes much more often than whining does.

Attention-seeking whining can be difficult to overcome. Any eye contact, talking, or touching your dog, even if it’s scolding, is a form of attention and reinforces to your dog that whining is an effective way to get your attention. When managing attention-seeking whining, try to turn away from your dog or avoid any eye contact at all to let them know that whining won’t get them what they want.

Rewarding your dog for being quiet should be done alongside ignoring their whining behavior. When your dog is being quiet, be sure to give them positive reinforcement such as pets, praise, and treats. Never give your dog any positive reinforcement unless they are being completely quiet and have stopped whining. All of these actions will help your dog to understand that being quiet is a good behavior that gets rewarded and that whining is not.

Managing Anxious Whining

Anxious whining can be very difficult to control. If your anxious dog is whining, try to eliminate the cause of their stress. Soothing them and normalizing their cause of stress is another great way to combat this condition. In severe cases, medication and supplements can be great ways to calm an anxious dog and reduce whining. Be sure to consult your vet if anxious whining becomes problematic for you or your dog.

Managing Whining and Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can be very troubling for a dog and their owner. No dog owner wants their pup to be unhappy when they leave, and combatting this condition is very important. Doing so will allow you and your dog to live the best life possible.

There are many ways to combat separation anxiety and minimize the whining that it may cause. One of the best ways to manage separation anxiety is through crate training. Crate training allows your dog to have a safe space to rest and relax when you are away. There are a variety of crates on the market that fit all needs and types of dogs. When you are crate training, be sure to make the crate a positive space. Place lots of treats and toys inside of the crate for your dog to enjoy. Leave the crate open throughout the day so your dog can go inside whenever they want, and reward them for going in on their own with a treat and praise. Overtime, your dog will begin to love their crate and enjoy the security it offers when you are away.

Mental stimulation is another great way to combat canine separation anxiety and whining that this condition can cause. There are a variety of ways to stimulate your dog. Puzzle toys are engaging toys that make your dog work for a treat or food that is inside of the toy. Leaving a freshly-filled puzzle toy for your dog when you are away can help keep them busy and from becoming bored until you get back.

Making sure that your dog has had a fun and busy day can help them cope with separation anxiety. Make sure that your dog is getting enough exercise every day, and that they are socializing regularly with other dogs and humans. Doing so can help prevent them from becoming bored while you are gone, which can lead to whining. If none of these separation anxiety tactics are working, consider talking to your vet about CBD. CBD is a naturally-occurring compound that will calm and soothe your dog when you must leave them home alone.

dog sitting on a couch looking at up at the camera

When To Talk To A Vet

Most whining can be managed at home with various strategies listed above, but unfortunately this may not always be the case. Sometimes, whining can be an indicator of pain or illness. Dogs who are experiencing gastrointestinal issues such as bloat, or joint health issues such as hip dysplasia, may whine because of the pain that these conditions are causing them.

If you notice changes in your dog’s behavior alongside excessive whining, be sure to get them to the vet. This may be their way of letting you know that something isn’t right. The sooner that you get your dog the medical care they need, the sooner they can recover and go back to living a normal, healthy life with you. Sudden and persistent whining that doesn’t seem to go away with various management techniques should be a cause for a trip to the vet.

Wrapping Up

Whining is a normal canine behavior that all dogs will exhibit at least once. Whining can be a way to communicate needs, seek attention, greet people, appease threats, show emotions, and much more. Finding the reason that your dog is whining is the best way to make sure that they are healthy and happy and prevent whining from becoming a problematic behavior.

Excessive whining can be troubling for any dog owner and needs to be managed in an appropriate manner. Make sure that you are understanding what your dog’s whining means so that you can address it in the best way possible. If you are struggling to handle your dog’s whining, or are worried that it may be a signal of a health concern, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet. They will be able to help you get to the bottom of your dog’s whining and find a way to help you combat this behavior. With proper management, you and your dog can live a great life together with minimal whining.

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