Whining or the long high pitched cry is a common form of communication among dogs. However, continuous whining can irritate and become a bad habit if left uncorrected.
We often have pet parents asking us, “how to stop my dog from whining?” There are definitely ways to address the problem. To help you, we have provided below a detailed explanation of the reasons for this behavior and tips on how to change this annoying habit.
Why do dogs whine?
Whining is seen more in puppies because they are unsure how to tell us what they need or want.
Puppies whine to get attention or food, just like human babies.
Most of the time, it is pretty clear why the dog is whining. For example, your dog wants a bite from your plate or wants to go out.
There may also be occasions where the reason may not be easy to figure out.
When you are unsure why your dog is whining, you will have to look at the body language to understand what he is trying to say.
To answer the question, “how to stop my dog from whining?” we need to first look at the reasons for this behavior:
Your dog may whine because of excitement or pent-up energy. The whining may be accompanied by running and jumping. This type of whining can also be a way to get attention.
Your dog may whine because he is bored. However, it can also be an attempt to get your attention.
Dogs also whine if they are in pain or ill.
If your dog is sick, whining may be his way of getting your attention to let you know that he is not feeling well.
Your dog may whine in an attempt to calm himself down when sick or in pain.
Stressed or fearful
Your dog may also whine due to fear or anxiety.
Your dog will also show appeasement gestures when the whining is due to fear or anxiety.
Your dog’s body language should give you an indication of what is going through his mind at that moment.
What are appeasement gestures in dogs?
Appeasement gestures are body postures to indicate that the dog is not looking for a confrontation but a friendly interaction.
The following are examples of appeasement gestures:
- Lip licking outside of mealtime
- Sniffing the ground
- Averting gaze
- Submissive grinning
If your dog is whining and yawning simultaneously, you should know that he is stressed or afraid.
When your dog shows appeasement gestures while whining, he is attempting to calm down. He is also trying to say that he is not a threat.
If the whining is due to stress, you can also see other signs of fear, such as ears flat against his head, crouching down (cowering), and tail tucked between legs. For more information on interpreting dog body language, check out this article: Dog Body Language – 12 Amazing Clues
Your dog may whine because he wants food, treats, a toy or wants to go out.
If your dog shifts his eyes between you and the toy or door while whining, it should be evident why he is restless.
Your dog may also whine as a way to get attention. It can be while you are having a conversation with someone or trying to finish urgent work.
If your dog starts whining just before you leave for work or while you are out of the house, the reason may be separation anxiety.
If the whining is due to separation anxiety, your dog will also display other signs such as:
- Urinating or defecating inside the house
- Excessive drooling
- Chewing on household objects, door frames, or window sills
- Digging at doors and doorways
What to do about excessive whining?
Before looking at ways to control this behavior, it is important to know that it doesn’t help to punish or scream at your dog for whining.
Yelling or punishing your dog will not solve the issue because you are not addressing why your dog is whining.
Below are tips on how to handle whining caused by some of the reasons listed above:
Handling whining due to stress or fear
If the whining is due to fear, stress, or anxiety, yelling at your dog will only contribute to more stress.
Suppose you are afraid of something and start crying; how would you feel if people yelled at you instead of helping.
If stress or fear is the reason for your dog whining, you must find out the source of the anxiety. Perhaps it is a loud noise, strange people, or other dogs that are causing the fear.
If your dog is whining about something that makes her anxious, such as a bath, you need to encourage her with calm and positive words. Provide a treat when she gets in the bath and another one when she gets out.
If the whining is due to the anxiety of visiting the vet, try to make the trip exciting and provide a treat when she walks into the vet’s office.
Handling whining due to fear of a person or object
Ensure that you maintain sufficient distance between your dog and the object or person causing the fear. Don’t force your dog to go close to anything that is causing anxiety.
When you are at a safe distance from whatever is making your dog fearful, please give him a treat whenever he looks in the direction of the person or object.
Every time he looks in the direction of the scary person or object, he should get a treat.
If he refuses to take the treat, increase the distance from the scary person or thing and try offering it again.
Over time your dog will learn to connect the person or object with the positive experience of getting a treat. You can get the services of a professional trainer to help you with the training.
Once the fear is addressed, you will notice that your dog whines less.
Handling whining when visitors come over
If your dog whines when people visit your home, you can divert her attention using a toy that she likes. Just instructing your dog to keep quiet will not work unless you have taught her the meaning of the word.
A dog whining when guests arrive is already in an over-excited state, and she may not be able to follow your verbal instructions.
Also, don’t show excitement when guests come over. Keeping greetings and welcome short and calm will prevent your dog from getting over-aroused.
Keep your dog engaged
Getting your dog engaged in activities will also help to control whining.
When your dog starts whining, you should redirect his attention to another fun activity, such as finding hidden food or chewing on a favorite toy.
Giving your dog adequate exercise will tire him out, and there will be less energy for whining.
Try to give your dog at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day.
Walking on its own will not be sufficient to tire your dog. You can combine a daily 30-minute walk with other activities such as running, jumping, swimming, stair running, etc.
However, exercise requirements will vary depending on the breed of the dog and age. Therefore, it is best to consult your veterinarian to decide on the proper exercise for your dog. Check out this article on exercises for dogs for more information.
Handling whining due to separation anxiety
To control whining due to separation anxiety, you must avoid showing any excitement when you leave the house or return from work.
When you get back home, ignore the dog for a few minutes initially and then pet her without any excitement.
To reduce whining when you are gone, you can leave your clothes near your dog to reassure him of your smell.
You can use a specific word every time you step out of the house to let your dog know that you will be coming back.
You can also get a non-prescription medicine to help your dog calm down or reduce fear.
Handling whining for attention
Dogs often whine for attention or because of impatience about something that they are expecting. For example, your dog starts whining when it’s mealtime because you are not serving it fast enough.
Similarly, the dog starts whining because he wants to play fetch or wants you to pet him. Perhaps he wants to go out or come in, and he signals his eagerness by whining.
Generally, a dog whines for anything that they want from you. Your dog learns that whining is the easiest way to get needs met, and the behavior is reinforced every time you give him whatever he is seeking.
To fix this whining for attention, you need to take a tough stand.
Don’t give your dog what he wants just because he is whining. Don’t encourage the behavior.
Please don’t give your dog attention or talk to him when he starts whining. Instead, it would help if you ignored him entirely till he becomes quiet.
If your dog is whining to come out of the crate, you shouldn’t look at her or approach the crate until he becomes quiet. The moment he is calm, you can go towards the crate.
However, if he starts whining, you should back off from the crate. You should open the crate door only if he is quiet.
It will require effort and time to achieve results, but you need to be strong and consistent. Eventually, your dog will be calm and quiet, and the whining will also go away.
Handling whining of a watchdog
If your dog is a watchdog, he will feel the need to alert you if he hears or sees something. He may choose to bark or whine to raise the alarm.
It can be a burglar, a bird, a cat, or something moving in the wind. It doesn’t matter what catches his attention, a watchdog will end up alerting you.
To correct this behavior, have your dog come to you after he whines a few times. Once he comes near, please give him a treat. The idea is for your dog to learn that it’s okay to be alert, but he should come to you afterwards instead of staying focused on whining.
Handling whining due to excitement
Some dogs whine because of the excitement of the activity that is about to start.
However, it can also be due to a delay in receiving what they are expecting. For example, your dog starts whining when you pick up the leash, when your dog is about to enter the car or when you are getting close to the dog park.
One way to handle this behavior is to keep your dog away from the thing causing excitement. For example, if your dog starts whining because of something that he sees through the window, you can close the blinds.
If the dog whines as soon as you pick up the leash, you should take your dog outside and attach the leash only when you are out of the house.
If your dog begins to whine inside the car because she can’t wait for the vehicle to move, follow the below steps:
- Get her into the car, and don’t turn on the ignition for a few minutes.
- Wait for your dog to stop whining before moving the vehicle.
- Give her treats if she stops whining.
- Once she is quiet, you can start the car and take a short drive.
- If your dog starts whining, you should stop and ignore her.
- You can give her treats when she becomes quiet.
- It would also help if you gave your dog a food stuffed toy to calm her down during the drive.
Handling whining due to pain or sickness
The first thing to check when your dog is whining is whether she is sick or injured.
Below are a few things to check:
- Can your dog walk properly?
- Is the breathing normal?
- Is your dog eating correctly?
- Is your dog pooping properly?
If your dog is old, he may be whining due to arthritic pain.
If you feel that the whining is due to pain or sickness, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.
If you have a dog who whines for everything, you should invest time and effort to change this behavior. It is essential first to understand the reason for this behavior before taking corrective action.
No matter how irritating, don’t punish or yell at your dog for whining. Instead, use reward-based training to bring your dog out of the habit of whining. Address whatever is causing the stress or fear and work on changing the behavior. Once the root cause of the anxiety is addressed, you will notice fewer whining episodes.