How to Stop Your Dog from Whining
Most dogs aren’t shy about telling you how they feel, whether this is by barking, howling or whining. Unfortunately, we are yet to develop a successful translation app which lets you know exactly what is going on inside their head! So, we have to try and determine what they are saying based on other behavior or environmental triggers around them. In this blog post, we are going to put special focus on whining to try and give you a better idea why your pooch is making this noise.
A range of different causes could be behind your dog’s whining such as asking for what they want or a feeling of pain or distress. The main reason can be split into three main categories: physical needs, mental states, and emotional states. It is important that you try your best to understand the cause behind your dog’s whining as you don’t want to inadvertently encourage the behavior, leading it to becoming a recurring issue in your household – especially if you have a dog whining at night.
Whining is especially common in puppies who have not yet fully realized how to express their needs and desires. It is the same as babies who cry to their mothers to have their needs met. Sometimes, it is very obvious why a dog is whining. For example, they want to be let out of the house or see you eating and want a bit of it! In other cases, you may have to work a bit harder to find out what is wrong.
You are never going to be able to stop your dog from whining unless you can determine why they are doing it in the first place. So, let’s take a closer look at a few of the possibilities which could explain why your dog is whining, as well as a few of the ways that you can take action.
Why is My Dog Whining?
There is no single action which can accurately answer the question of why your dog is whining. However, there are a few common possibilities, and these are what we are going to focus on in the next section.
- Expressing a Desire
The first reason why your dog could be whining is also the most obvious to work out. For example, if you are sitting down to enjoy dinner and your dog is looking up at you with pleading eyes and making a whining noise. Perhaps they are sitting by the door anxiously wanting to go out and this is the reason for their whimpering. While there is no immediate need to worry if your dog is whining to express a desire, this is behavior which you need to be wary not to encourage too strongly. Otherwise, you could find that your furry friend bothers you every time they want something.
- Attention Seeking
Closely related to the reason above, it could be that your dog is trying to get your attention by whining. And just as above, this is behavior that you don’t want to encourage, unless you are particularly fond of that high-pitched noise! Often, dogs make this noise when they feel like they are being ignored. So, you may notice it when you are trying to focus on something important, or you are giving your attention to another member of the household. Just like human beings, dogs can become jealous too! If you notice that your puppy whining for no reason is becoming a recurring problem, you may just need to give your pooch a little more love and attention. Try to set aside at least a few minutes a day to enjoy some quality time together. Also, keep them engaged and entertained by introducing them to some new games or teaching them a new trick.
- Showing Excitement
While you may associate barking with excitement rather than whining, some dogs communicate their enthusiasm with whining as well. You can tell that your dog is excited as they will usually display some other signs as well such as running around or jumping up and down. Again, this could fall under the category of attention seeking too. Try to encourage calmer behavior in your dog by only giving them what they want when they are in a more peaceful state. For example, if you are about to go for a walk, only clip the leash on your dog when they are sitting down calmly. If you show too much excitement as well, your dog is going to think that this is the desirable behavior that you want them to repeat.
- Expressing Boredom
Remember that dogs get bored as well. If your pooch has simply run out of stuff to do, they may whine to let you know. Dogs need regular physical and mental stimulation to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. If you don’t have the time to play with your dog so often, try investing in some toys which they can enjoy on their own. If you spend a lot of time out of the house, you could pay for a dog sitter to come in and give your pooch some much-needed entertainment, which is one way of how to stop a dog from whining when you leave.
- Indicating Stress
Stress caused by fear or anxiety are other possibilities which could explain why your dog is making a whining noise. There are other signs which could indicate that stress is the problem such as avoiding your gaze, licking their lips, or yawning. Strangely, it often a whine and a yawn which come together. These gestures are known as appeasement gestures as they are used when your pooch is trying to calm themselves down, as well as displaying to other creatures that they are not a threat. Other examples of this kind of behavior include flattened ears, a tucked in tail, and getting their body as close to the ground as possible.
- Showing Pain or Discomfort
The most concerning reason why your dog could be whining is that they are expressing feelings of pain or discomfort. In some cases, this is a way of getting your attention. In others, it could be that your pooch is trying to calm themselves down and deal with the pain in the best way that they know how. If you have discounted all the other possible reasons above, now may be the time to visit the vet to see whether anything is wrong. The injury may be obvious, or it could be something going on beneath the surface. Either way, you will want to do something about it at the earliest possible opportunity.
Ways to Stop Whining
Whining behavior in dogs is something that you will want to stop if possible, but before taking action against it, you need to try and put your finger on what is causing it in the first place. Otherwise, you could accidentally have the opposite effect to the one you were intending. So, let’s look take a step by step approach to different ways that you can stop whining.
- Observe Your Dog Closely
When your dog is whining, look for triggers which may be causing it. Also, see if there is any other behavior which can be identified as going alongside it. The pitch and volume of the whine may be different at different times. Sometimes, your pooch may be complaining that they are bored, while other times, they may be showing that they want something. When you start to tune yourself into the different whines of your dog, you may be able to tell instantly what is going on.
- Try to Be Objective
Try to take emotion out of the equation and stay objective in listing the potential reasons why your dog may be whining. While it may be frustrating when your dog is making a lot of noise, you should never yell or punish your pooch for it – this is only likely to cause the situation to get worse. If your dog is feeling scared or anxious, you could accidentally push them towards aggressive behaviour. Dogs who are suffering from a fear or phobia can be desensitized to it, but you have to be sure of the reason first before you can get to work.
- Be Gentle with Your Dog
If you think that the reason for your dog’s whining may be down to stress or pain, you need to be gentle with your pooch. Handle them with care as you don’t want to risk aggravating the injury. Dogs who are in pain are usually more sustained in their whining, so if this seems to be a problem that won’t go away, you will probably need to enlist of the help of a professional veterinarian.
- Decide When to Give Your Dog What They Want
There are certain situations when you may want to give in to your dog’s desires. Say your dog is whining at the table. While you don’t want to normalize eating in this location, from time to time, you could give your dog an extra treat in their bowl. However, you should avoid giving in immediately to your dog’s desire. Otherwise, you could find yourself reinforcing the problem behavior. Of course, we know how hard it is to ignore a crying puppy, but if you encourage whining early in life, it is much more likely to continue later on. A situation when you certainly should give your dog what they want is if they are whining to go out to the bathroom. Otherwise, you are likely to find yourself with a very unpleasant surprise somewhere in the house!
- Be Careful of Accidental Encouragement
All the way through this article, we have talked about how important it is that you don’t encourage your dog to whine. If you are certain that the cause of the whining is obvious such as food or attention, you should try to redirect them and get your pooch to focus on something different. For example, you could get them to perform a trick and then reward this with the food or attention that they are looking for. By rewarding your dog at the right times, you help to positively reinforce the good behavior that you want them to repeat.
- Respond Accordingly
If your dog appears to be in pain or distress and there is no obvious reason for it, this is the time when you need to take action. However, if not, your first action can be to try and ignore the whining. Once they stop, you can then reward this quietness with a treat or simply some love and attention. Also, this presents a good opportunity for you to work on the ‘quiet’ command.
Dealing with the Whining Problem
In the vast majority of cases, puppy whining sounds aren’t a major problem for dog owners. The most common ways of dealing with it include basic training, providing mental stimulation, and allowing your pooch to get some more physical exercise. In training, you need to provide consistency to ensure that your dog gets the message. You also need to be very patient in what can be a frustrating process. But the long-term rewards are always going to be worth it. However, if the behavior just won’t seem to let up, you may need to enlist the help of a professional behaviorist or trainer. Be warned that the whining may not disappear completely, but you should at least be able to manage and reduce the problem somewhat.
However, if you suspect that your pet is in pain or sick, you should get in touch with your vet straight away. Health-related problems are always best dealt with by the professionals. Let them know about the whining, how often it has happened, and any other symptoms that you can think of. It is always better to deal with these problems early as you have the best chance of dealing with them in this way.
Hopefully, this blog post has gone some way towards answering your most common queries regarding dog whining, so you can address the problem and enjoy a more peaceful household with your pooch!