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Why Does My Dog Whine and How Can I Make it Stop?

Although barking is usually the most common complaint owners (or neighbors) have, a whining dog can be just as trying on one’s patience. But, just like with barking, before you can work on getting your dog to stop whining, you have to understand why he is making the noise. Then, you can work on ways to make it stop.

Things to ask yourself about your dog’s whining is:

  • Does he do it all the time?
  • Is this the first time he has whined when he is usually a non-vocal dog?
  • How long is the whining last?
  • What are the circumstance that led up to the whining?
  • Is there a common thread that ties each instance of whining together?
Does your dog whine to go outside when it needs to go potty? It might be a good thing. @EricLewis via Flickr
Does your dog whine to go outside when it needs to go potty? It might be a good thing. @EricLewis via Flickr

Common Reasons Dogs Whine

Like barking, there are many reasons why dog’s whine. If you try to get your dog to quit making the noise without finding out the cause, not only will you not be successful, but in some cases you may make it worse. After answering the above questions, see if you can’t determine why your dog is whining.

Here are a few of the most common reasons a dog may whine:

  • Pain. Dogs will whine and whimper if they are in pain. If your dog is suddenly whining and acting strangely, or whines only when you touch her, it might be pain related.
  • Environmental Stress. Dogs will whine when stressed as well. If something has changed in his environment, new people, new places, change of routine, thunderstorm, etc., it can cause a dog to whine.
  • Separation Anxiety. Does your dog only whine when you try and leave it? Does it get worse the longer you are gone? If so, your dog may have separation anxiety.
  • Behavioral Stress. This is what I call those dogs that whine when their owners stop giving them cues during a training session. These dogs do not know what is expected of them, and so they have stress related to behavior. They will whine almost constantly and many will also pace until they are told to do something.
  • Need something. Hungry? Thirsty? Needs out? all of these are GOOD reasons for your dog to be whining.

How to Stop the Whine

Once you have figured out why your dog is whining, you can work on stopping it by changing the situation and/or training.

For dogs who are in pain, obviously you need to take them to vet immediately. Once the pain has been relieved, the whining should stop.

For the other 3 reasons, you are going to need a certified dog trainer and/or behaviorist to help you train your dog to cope with their environment. Once the stress or anxiety is gone, the whining should stop. For example, with behavioral stress, once your dog has learned their job and understands what is expected of them, they will stop being stressed and making noise. I worked with a lady who had a young, high energy Australian shepherd that whined through the entire first lesson whenever we stopped paying attention to her or giving her cues. However, after a few more lessons, the dog started to understand what her role was (walking nicely on leash, giving eye contact to her owner, responding to cues), and the whining disappeared altogether.

The last reason is really a good thing and probably does not need to be solved. Just take care of your dogs need – food, water, bathroom break – and the whining should stop. If not, then your dog is whining for a different reason and you need to revisit the answers to your questions to determine the cause.

About the Author

Based in Wilsonville, Ore., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles.

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Written by Kristina Lotz
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