Why is my dog whining?
6 reasons & meanings of howling

by Ditte Young

Updated on November 29, 2023
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes 

The most common reasons why dogs whine are typically:

I have listed the six main reasons below for my dog whining.

Table of Contents

Why is my dog whining?

Many dog owners wish they could understand their dog’s whining. If you are doubting yourself and your own feelings about what your dog is trying to communicate, here are the main 6 reasons for a dog’s appeasement whining.

Seeking attention

Dogs are known as humans’ best friends. When we take them into our care, they connect with us as a family and pack, and that’s also why they need your attention. You know that because your dog will be lip-licking you all day as a sign of affection if you let it.

You can have a dog whining if you do not stimulate your dog well enough throughout the day or miss your attention. In the beginning, this might seem cute to you. Your best friend is calling for you. However, if you don’t get it to stop, your dog can develop a more excessive whining that can become frustrating for you in the future.

Perceived threat

Dogs react to things you can’t see, smell, hear, or sense. They sense each other far away and perceive what they find threatening to them.

Many dogs I help in my work with behavioral issues have outbursting behavior in the meeting with other dogs. The dog whines or starts to bark at other dogs while trying to run toward them. In 99 % of these cases, these dogs have experienced being assaulted by other dogs as puppies or in the past.

When a dog experiences a shock or a trauma in their nervous system, they seem never to forget it. They perceive situations like the prior attack, even though it is not the same dog. You may have heard that some dogs are afraid when they meet other dogs of one color or of all men.

Even though they haven’t met the men before, it only takes one bad experience for your dog to perceive that a similar situation will be dangerous forever. It takes a lot of hard work and training to undo this again, creating balance in the nervous system again.

Indicating stress

Dogs, like you or I, experience healthy stress and distress too. They can get stressed by being overstimulated. You can recognize this behavior if it is difficult for your dog to calm down again when you get home.

Your dog can also experience the stress of being under-stimulated. Some dog owners forget to investigate what their future dog is bred for. Many families choose their dog by its looks instead of searching for what it is motivated by doing and what is in its nature.

Naturally, behavioral issues or other behaviors occur if you buy a Samoyed or a Siberian Husky and think it will be balanced and mentally stimulated by going for one walk during a day. Many families think they are good-looking and cute.

They misinterpret it as a family dog and think they can seek their food in the backyard twice a day, which will cut it for the dog. Letting their dog seek food is suitable for mental stimulation but also requires hours of walking and running freely.

Many of these dogs start whining as an indicator of stress or distress. If you experience this with your dog, I highly recommend looking at the physical and mental stimulation planned for your dog in your everyday life.

Additional reading: Why is my dog shaking and why is my dog limping?

Separation anxiety

Some dogs whine because they suffer from separation anxiety. Many dog owners don’t think the dog understands our spoken language, so we forget to explain what is happening to the dogs.

Often, we never think that when we buy a dog, we also take it away from its comfort zone and family (dog mom and siblings). We are carried away with receiving our new family member, and in this situation, I often see the dog’s anxiety starts.

The Pup’s fear is often that they are afraid of being left alone with no one to protect them. Initially, we are around the puppies all the time, and at one point, we think the dog can stay home alone.

Well, it can’t – if you didn’t train it to. Anxious dogs communicate with the intent to communicate with us.
They hope we will hear them when they can’t see us behind a closed door anymore.

If you are interested in my techniques for training separation anxiety or calming down your dog, I recommend you to check out the guide for dog separation anxiety

Joint pain

If your dog doesn’t usually whine and suddenly starts having excessive whining, it can be caused by experiencing joint pain somewhere in its body. Dogs suffer too, and they can’t call for help. Instead, they whine.

You should be able to tell the difference between your dog whining because of attention or if it’s a matter of pain whining. If your dog is whining excessively, I recommend seeing a veterinarian immediately. Medical condition dogs should get all the help or treatments we can give them to help them to prevent unnecessary pain.

Submissive posture

It is natural for a puppy to have attention-seeking whining to get attention from other dogs or family members. It is clear to see the body language of the whining puppy and how it moves forward for you to pay attention to it. But when an adult dog starts whining and at the same time makes a submissive posture, it is not because it is seeking attention.

It will try to avoid eye contact and submit itself to another dog that it sees as a perceived threat or dominance. When the dog has a submissive posture, it will also stop whining to avoid provoking the other animal.

Should you ignore a whining dog?

To stop the behavior, you mustn’t pet your dog when it starts whining. It is important not to respond to the behavior. When it stops whining, then you can pet it. Through this technique, your dog understands that it gets your attention when it doesn’t whine.

If your dog has excessive whining, I recommend you see the veterinarian or a behavioral expert differentiate between what causes the whining, and the whining should not be ignored.

How to stop a dog from excessive whining?

The training begins when you get your new dog home with you. Your dog will understand everything you do as signals. Your dog will have an appeasement behavior for you to connect with and like.

When your dog feels you like it, it feels safe and part of a pack and your family. I see many dogs’ appeasement whining, but it often has to do with they are seeking attention from their owners, and the owner starts to yell: “No” or “Stop doing that,” which the dog doesn’t understand.

The appeasement behavior continues as an immense frustration for both of you. If you want more of my training advice, you are welcome to read my guides for how to stop a dog from barking and how to calm a dog down.

Identify the cause

It is essential to identify the cause when you hear a dog whine. I have listed a few common reasons, but it is your dog, and you know best.

Your dog needs you to show what to do instead of what’s not to do. That is called positive reinforcement, and it works! Trust your gut feeling instead of becoming insecure since that is the last thing your dog needs from you as the pack leader and dog parent.

Many dogs whine for a reason. Some dogs start to complain, and if they are not being heard in case of attention or perceive a threat, they begin to make loud noises. That’s why I always recommend that any pet parent begin training the fur babies immediately after entering your house.

If a dog feels threatened, the best way to defend itself is by attacking first. You can see the dramatic body language when your dog’s hackles rise before a threatening sound emerges. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you already know this, and you can hear your dog whining the minute you close the door.

Then you’ll know there is plenty of room for training this. If your dog experienced an attack from another dog or an injury, of course, there is an apparent reason for the dog whining in the attempt to almost cry for help.

Implement the appropriate procedures

Whether the whiny adult dog or small furry puppy starts to whine it is your job to help your dog with the appropriate procedures, whether it is any medical issues, anxiety, or distress. Your dog can’t act on its surroundings. Your dog is under your caretaking.

Additional reading: How to stop a dog from humping?

Seek professional help

If you find it difficult to differentiate between the common reasons for your dog to whine, you can always seek professional help. I recommend a dog behavioral therapist, a dog whisperer specializing in behavioral issues, and a veterinarian.

Even though dog whispering and behavioral therapists are alternative solutions, professional practitioners can help you quickly pinpoint precisely which procedures should be implemented immediately.

Most professional practitioners also know how to manage excessive whining.

Animal Telepathy Mastery

I have worked as an Animal Communicator for 25 years now. Many of the behavioral issues I help with are a matter of getting the owners to understand their dogs even better.

The marvelous tool of animal communication is practicing telepathy, in which the telepath gets the proper tools from the animal the first time and on the first attempt.

If you want to learn behavior techniques to manage when dogs whine, and if you want to learn from the most recognized animal communicator and dog whisperer in Europe, now here is your chance. You can now participate in Animal Telepathy Mastery from anywhere in the world.

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