How to Stop Your Pup's Whining
Most dogs use whining to communicate their wants and needs. Other dogs whine because they are either in pain, feel threatened, or are extremely excited. Regardless of the cause of their whining, this behavior can and will become quite nerve-wracking in the long run. For the sake of your mental health and your companion’s well-being, we have rounded up a list of the most probable causes of uncontrollable dog whining alongside the best tried-and-tested solutions.
Why Is My Dog Whining?
There's a laundry list of why a dog might be whining, but we have selected only the most common reasons.
- Your Dog Needs or Wants Something from You
You dog might whine because it needs or wants something from you, be it a walk, food or treats, a potty break, attention, or a belly rub. Yet, if you can’t quite put the finger on what the true reason of your pup’s whining might be, look for visual cues. For instance, a dog that wants to go for a walk will shift its eyes between its owner and the door.
Pups and young dogs usually whine excessively when they need your attention. They learn from the get-go that whining will bring attention from their mother or primary caregiver. As they grow old, many dogs turn this behavior into an ugly habit whenever they feel ignored. What’s more, many dog owners reinforce this behavior in their furry friends by repeatedly giving in to their whining. Unlearning this behavior may require a professional trainer later on.
- Your Dog Is (Overly) Excited
When greeting you, your family, friends, or one of their favorite 4 legged friends, a dog might start whining, barking, and wagging its tail uncontrollably in excitement.
Try not to reinforce their greeting behavior by getting overly excited yourself. Be aware that your dog is in an uncontrolled state so try not to feed the fire. A pro-active training session on self-control and calming techniques can work wonders.
- Your Dog May Lack Confidence
If your pup starts to whine and adopt another type of submissive behavior, like keeping their tail tucked, head down, and body lowered in the presence of new or strange people or dogs, it might be because it lacks confidence. A dog with a self-esteem problem will feel uncomfortable or even threatened by new people or other pets that they suspect might become aggressive toward them. Your furry pal might also engage in submissive behavior after you show your dominance.
Just like babies, who are 100% helpless and dependent on their caregivers, a dog will adopt a submissive behavior for survival purposes as well, but a dog that lacks confidence might see a threat even where there is none. So, it is important to help it build its confidence to help lower its anxiety and sometimes annoying behavior. A good routine and positive controlled reinforcement are a good start.
- Dogs Are Natural Empaths
In rare cases, a dog might whine to show its concern and affection toward an upset or injured pet or human. According to one study, most dogs will briefly ignore their owners if, in the same room, there is a stranger crying. Dogs will whine in tandem with a sobbing stranger to express comfort and support for the afflicted person. Since dogs are natural empaths they can sense when you are in emotional pain and will act to help erase that pain in the best way they can.
- Your Dog Might Be in Pain
Another reason your dog whines is acute pain. If a dog has injured itself or can’t move without being in pain, it might start whining, but bear in mind that most dogs will not adopt this behavior if the pain is chronic. Dogs tend to whine only when the pain is acute, such as post-surgery pain or a sprained muscle etc. Experts believe that dogs whine when in pain not to get your attention but to soothe and calm themselves. Older dogs will sometimes whine more than younger ones due to the physical and cognitive decline associated with old age.
See a veterinarian so that a professional can pinpoint the underlying medical conditions that might be causing the dog to whine before assuming that sudden whining is caused by a behavior problem.
- Your Dog Might Be Anxious or Stressed Out
A stressed-out or anxious dog will be prone to whining. Don’t punish an anxious dog for whining as it might become aggressive. Dogs can be affected by many fears or phobias, but the most common type of anxiety affecting dogs is separation anxiety. While some dogs might rip your stuff apart while you are away, other dogs might just cry, whine, howl and bark until they successfully manage to drive you and your neighbors to the brink of insanity. Click here for more on separation anxiety in dogs and what you can do about it.
How to Stop a Dog from Whining
“My dogs keep whining. They’re driving me crazy. What can I do to stop it?” This is a common problem for many dog owners, especially if they have unwittingly reinforced this behavior in their pups over the years. Getting rid of canine whining can be either difficult or rather simple, depending on what the underlying cause is.
In many cases, whining can be subdued with a little training, exercise, toys or activities that offer plenty of mental stimulation. In more severe cases, such as learned attention seeking behavior, appeasement whining, and anxious whining you might need help from a certified professional dog trainer or a behaviorist to help you properly acknowledge your dog’s needs and address its fears and stressors without encouraging its bad behavior.
Keep in mind that if you scold or punish your dog, when it whines, you send the (wrong) message. When your dog whines to get attention, or mental stimulation, don’t give in. Ignore those irresistible puppy eyes and do not acknowledge their behavior. When your pup stops, you can give it what it wants; rewarding them for staying calm and quiet.
With an anxious dog, things are more complicated, as anxious whining won’t stop unless you get rid of the factor that makes your dog anxious. There are many causes of anxiety in dogs, just like in humans (you can check out our full list here).
Desensitizing and counter-conditioning your pup by a certified professional is one course of action. Under no circumstances should you yell at or punish your dog for whining.
We do not recommend giving an anxious dog any medications without the strict supervision of a veterinarian.
We do recommend one natural remedy for anxiety that has been proven surprisingly effective in both people and pets and that is CBD extract from whole plant hemp.
You can spray our Paws Effect Whole Plant Hemp Extract with Natural Bacon Flavor directly into your dog’s mouth or apply it on to its food or treats. Hemp extract is a safe and all-natural remedy that does not only relieve anxiety and restlessness, but it also fights off the inflammation and pain that might be keeping your beloved pet on the edge.
Photo by Ryk Porras via Unsplash