Chris Sherwood is a project manager by day and avid home and garden scholar by night who loves to share his trials and success with others.
Your dog stands out as not only your most loved pet, but also as a major part of your family. What do you do when this member of the family picks up a new habit like whining seemingly without purpose or reason? While it may quickly wear on your nerves, understanding the underlying potential causes of dog whining can help you take the necessary steps to correct the behavior.
Before getting into some of the main reasons why dogs develop whining habits, it's important to first address any potential injuries. Whining is often a dog's only way to communicate pain or discomfort. If whining is associated with a lack of movement, wincing, or other signs of pain, take your pet to the vet as soon as possible for a checkup. In some cases, you may be able to quickly identify the problem, such as a hurt paw. However, internal problems or problems with joints are less noticeable and much more painful, and potentially dangerous.
If there seems to be no pain associated with your dog's whining, keep reading on.
If dog whining is accompanied by a submissive posture, crouching down, or a lowered head, ears, and tail, it may be your dog's way of showing you that you are the dominant person in the household. You can either chose to ignore this behavior or quickly acknowledge to the dog that you see that they're in a submissive state by a quick pat and by walking away from them.
Dog whining often occurs with excitement, and this is easy to tell due to your dog's body language. Excited whining is typically accompanied by excited behavior such as running around you, spinning in circles, or trying to jump on you. Correct these behaviors as needed if they are not allowed in your house, and withhold attention until your dog has reached a calm state.
A common reason dogs whine is to notify their humans of something. The most common of these notifications is the need to relieve themselves, especially if they are kennel trained, and the need to go is overpowering their natural instinct not to potty in their den. This is also common if whining is accompanied by standing by or scratching the door you typically let them out of to go to the bathroom. In many cases, you may not want to stop this whining behavior, especially if it is immediately relieved by letting them outside.
Whining can be especially difficult to correct when it's connected with loneliness or insecurity. Insecurity is one of the easier emotions to recognize in your dog as they will often have a hunched posture, ears down, and tail tucked between the legs. They may also pace nervously around their space or even shake. A lonely dog will whine any time that you're not in the same room with them, such as when you put them in their crate for the night if crate trained or when you leave the house in the morning for work.
The best way to approach these forms of whining is to tackle the cause. For an insecure dog, change their posture by petting underneath the chin versus on the head to force the head up while rewarding them at the same time. Ignore them when they show signs of insecurity and reward them with praise or a treat when they show a more confident posture.
For lonely dogs, set aside more time to do active activities with them instead of just sitting around the house or cuddling. Take them for a longer walk or play catch to help wear out nervous energy and reassure your dog that they are still part of your family even when you're away. Consider other helpers as well, such as leaving safe puzzle toys when you leave the house, turning on the radio or TV softly, and leaving something that smells like you on their bed or in their crate.
In many cases, dogs develop the habit of whining when they realize it causes a response in their owner. Dogs are fast learners, especially when a repetitive behavior gets the result they want. If every time your dog whines you quickly respond by talking to them or petting them, they make the connection that whining equals attention. Unless your dog is alerting you to a specific need and has no other learned way to alert you to it, it's important to correct the dog early on to prevent whining from evolving into barking.
To stop the whining behavior, use Caesar's "no touch, no eye contact" method. By ignoring your dog during this unwanted behavior, you teach them that it will not get the result they want. Instead, wait until they are in a submissive posture and silent, then reward them with what they're whining for, whether that's your attention, food, or other items.
Hopefully, these tips help bring some peace and quiet into your home. However, remember that in many cases, a short amount of whining may actually benefit your relationship with your dog, such as when they need to go to the bathroom or are communicating an injury. So, be sure to balance your training to remove unwanted whining while maintaining their way of cueing you to actual needs.
© 2017 Chris Sherwood
As our dogs age, they sometimes get confused and develop signs of cognitive dysfunction. This can also be referred to as doggy dementia or canine senility. Some dogs, as they transition through adulthood, may experience a decrease in sensory perception. Their hearing may not be as sharp, and they may start to develop eye issues that impact their acuity. One response to these changes is to become anxious or stressed. If you think your adult dog’s whining is the result of anxiety due to the normal aging process, be sure to bring your concerns to your veterinarian. He or she will be able to put together an individual plan for your specific situation and help your dog maintain his dignity through the entire aging process.
Discourage attention seeking. Dogs with excessive whining habits often do so out of a desire for attention, whether it's an extra treat, gentle back strokes courtesy of you or even access to favorite toys. Train your dog to never associate whining with a positive result by ignoring the whining behavior. To get your point across even better, physically turn away from your dog whenever he starts whining. Perhaps even leave the room he is in temporarily. Do not give in to your dog's whining, as that will encourage him to keep up the pesky noisiness.
All whining is not created equal, which is why before you even think of deterring your pup from vocalizing his emotions, you should be sure that he’s not being mouthy for a medical reason.
Once you’ve ruled out any injurious reasons for his whiny behavior, you can set about figuring out what emotion is causing the whining — does he just whine a little when he’s excited to see you after a long day or does he whine incessantly to get your attention? — and decide from there how to handle it.
We’re tackling these two types together because in both instances there’s some common ground: confidence. Often, when your pup whines to please and is in a submissive state, or when he whines to show anxiety, it comes back to your dog’s lack of confidence. Increase their confidence with reward (read: treat) based obedience classes or one-on-one play time (here are the best dog toys), all the while showing affection and rewarding confident, focused behavior.
Do not use physical or verbal punishment as it will counteract the positive effects you’ve worked — or played — so hard for. As his confidence grows individually, and in you as his Alpha, you should notice less whining in these situations.
This might be the toughest type of whining to discern: Is your dog whining to let you know he needs to go out, or simply because he’s demanding your attention? Either way, it’s important that while your dog is in the act of attention whining that you do not acknowledge his behavior. Don’t get up to let him out, don’t pet him, don’t even look in your dog’s direction while he’s in the act of whining even scolding him is attention and will be perceived as a positive response to their actions.
Once your dog has stopped whining, take them out immediately, or reward them with attention, so they learn to associate being quiet with the attention they desire. We know ignoring is hard, so we suggest making sure your pup gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation — play time or food-filled Kongs work wonders — to keep them from being so needy.
Maybe it’s just us, but if our pup lets out a few cute whimpers to welcome us home, then we’re OK with that. He’s excited, we’re excited, and his whining isn’t a terrible thing when it’s so darn cute, right?
If, however, his “hellos” are getting a little out of hand, try greeting your pup with a calmer tone and demeanor — your pup will likely mirror your actions and will be a lot less likely to get rowdy (and subsequently whiny) if you don’t. Distracting them with an action or command as you enter — calmly of course — will also help keep your pup focused on a task rather than his excitement.
Hearing a dog cry at night usually feels as if our heart is going to break with each sound. It’s gut-wrenching to have to ignore it, not to mention avoid soothing the dog personally. However, in order to learn how to stop dog whining at night, some sacrifices have to be made.
Luckily, in the guide below, you’ll find techniques that won’t further traumatize the dog. In fact, they’ll help you finally get a good night’s sleep” href=”https://www.happyfitdog.com/my-dog-sleeps-on-his-back-what-is-the-reason/”>sleep and make the dog a bit more independent. But first, let’s see why the whining even occurs.