Why do dogs whine?

Updated November 21, 2016

Understanding why dogs whine can be one of the biggest challenges for pet owners. There are many reasons for this behavioural issue. Your dog can be in pain or may feel lonely. Sometimes, it may whine to let you know that it is feeling distressed or afraid. Be empathetic towards your pet. Do not punish it for whining. Instead, try to see what is causing the whining, as you will be better equipped to handle this behavioural problem. It also helps to train your dog not to whine when it is young. Spend some quality time everyday with your faithful companion and it will help your dog feel loved and safe. If whining becomes a problem and occurs for no reason, resort to obedience training.

New Environment

If you bring a new dog or puppy home, it will whine and whimper. This is because the dog feels insecure in a new environment. Allow the dog to get used to its new home by giving it sufficient attention. Crate training is a good method to make pups and new dogs feel secure and get over anxiety. Whining can also occur when you relocate to a new city or home. Allow the dog to get used to the place. Ensure that you keep its favourite toys or treats handy. Stay close till you feel your dog feels comfortable enough to explore the place on its own.

Seeks Attention

Whining also occurs as an attention-seeking tactic. This usually happens when the dog is left alone for extended periods of time or wants to play with you. If you notice your dog whining to gain your attention, set a routine that allows you to spend some time with it everyday. Go out for walks or give the dog some exercise by tossing a ball or fetching a stick. Your dog will soon figure out the pattern and stop whining. In case this does not work, do not hesitate to give a firm "No" or spray some water on its face each time it whines.

Separation Anxiety

Your dog may miss you when you leave it at home and go out. Train your dog to stay alone while you go out shopping or to work. Decide on an area in the house where you would like to keep the dog. Start by leaving it alone for short durations in the designated room. Avoid entering the room even if it whines. Increase the duration gradually. It helps if you place a piece of clothing that belongs to you where your dog sits or sleeps. Once your dog gets used to the idea of staying alone, the whining will stop.

Pain or Feeling Unwell

If your dog never whines and then suddenly one day it begins to whine, it could be experiencing pain or feeling unwell. Check your dog for external injuries or cuts. If there are no visible signs of injury, a visit to a vet may be necessary. Your dog may be feeling unwell or in pain.

Hunger, Thirst or Toilet Urge

If a dog looks at its feeding bowl and whines, it is hungry. It is using the only way to inform you that it may be time for its meal. A trained dog if thirsty or needing to go out to release itself might whine to communicate the same to you. Set fixed timings to feed and take the dog out to relieve itself. You can even install a dog door that leads to a designated area in the backyard for your dog to relieve itself. This will prevent accidents in the house. Always keep a bowl of fresh water for your dog within accessible distance.


Inactive dogs tend to whine more than active ones. This is a sign of boredom. Take the dog out for a long walk. Allow the dog to run free in a park. Alternatively, spend time playing with the dog. This will also keep the dog's destructive tendencies under check and you may be able to prevent it from chewing up things in the house, which many bored dogs tend to do.

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