5 Main Reasons Why Dogs Whine

5 Main Reasons Why Dogs Whine

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: Jun 09 2023


Dogs communicate with their owners and other dogs in many ways. They have their own body language and a whole bunch of sounds they can produce to let you know how they are feeling. One of the most common ways dogs will try to communicate is by whining. However, there are different types of dog whining, and if you know what signs to look for, it is pretty easy spotting what your dog wants or needs.

All dog owners will notice their dog whine. Most of us have the same question in our minds, “Why is my dog whining?” You should keep a close eye and notice all other signs your dog is exhibiting alongside whining to successfully determine what is going on with them. Here are some of the most common reasons why dogs whine.

1. Attention

A common reason dogs whine is for attention. Like children, dogs will act up when they aren’t receiving as much attention as they want. They will start whining and doing anything they can to capture their owner’s attention. Bored dogs are prone to becoming destructive. A good way to avoid that is to make sure your dog has plenty of daily activities that will tire them and make them feel satisfied.

black dog whining

Many problematic cases of bad behavior can be solved by exercise. If you notice your dog whining for attention, you can give them a toy, or better yet, a toy that will occupy their mind. Treat-dispensing toys are a good way to keep your dog entertained for hours.

If you want to keep your dog occupied with toys, here are some suggestions - Best dog toys.

2. They want something

The most common reason dogs whine is that they want something. Dogs will use whining as a way to communicate their wishes. They will whine if they want food, walks, treats, or just some attention. The answer to the question, “Why do dogs whine?” can be - their toy is stuck under the bed or couch. Maybe your other pet usurped their bed. Whatever the reason behind your dog's whining is, you can be sure something is bothering your dog.

However, whining for additional food or more walks after you just returned home can indicate health issues. If your dog ate, and they are still whining for more food, they might be overeating. Maybe someone in the family is feeding them table scraps. You mustn’t indulge in that type of behavior because it will only get worse. If the dog is whining after a walk, it can be experiencing bladder issues.

You can read more about urinary tract infections here - UTI in dogs.

3. Pain

Unfortunately, dogs cannot let us know they are in pain. They can only communicate and let us know they are hurting through whining. You must know how to differentiate different types of dog whinings. Some whinings might mean they are demanding attention, but some can mean they are in pain.

bulldog whining

The best way to determine that is to closely monitor them. Look for a time when whines happen. If your dog starts whining while they are walking up or down the stairs, lying down, or jumping on the bed, that can mean they are experiencing joint or bone issues. If the dog is in pain, they will whine when a specific body part comes under distress.

Suppose whining is constant, and no other symptoms could indicate a particular body part is hurting them. In that case, you should take your dog to the vet and get them thoroughly checked out. The injuries could be internal, and if not treated, they could become dangerous.

4. Fear, anxiety, and stress

One of the most apparent signs of fear is whining. If you notice your dog whining while there is a thunderstorm raging or there are some fireworks in the park, that means your dog is scared of unfamiliar, loud noises. That is not something unheard of in the dog world. You can resolve that by distracting them or increasing the TV or radio volume. They will hear familiar sounds and will relax. That should take care of the scared whining.

Anxious dog whining will happen when something they are not comfortable with is happening. One of the most common reasons dogs whine is separation anxiety. They are becoming anxious about their owners leaving the house. That is an issue you should start resolving as soon as possible. Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety will have behavioral problems.

dog eating a treat

Often, the owners come home to a devasted house or apartment. One of the symptoms of separation anxiety is whining. If you think your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, check out this article on how to resolve it - Separation anxiety in dogs.

5. They are apologizing

Submissive or “apologetic” whining is an evolutionary trait that has stayed with our dogs since they were wild canids. It is your dog’s way of showing you they know you are the boss. This usually happens when owners catch their dogs doing something they aren’t supposed to. If you catch your dog chewing your slippers or furniture, tipping the trash over, or jumping on the bed when they know they shouldn’t, they can start whining.

Modern-day wolves share this behavior with dogs. They can get “expelled” from the pack if they constantly break and bend pack rules. The same goes for dogs. They need to show they are submissive and willing to follow “family” rules. That is their way of ensuring they stay in your good grace. They will also stick their ears close to their head, tuck their tail between their legs, and whine softly. It is what most of us call the “guilty look.”

World Dog Finder team

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