How To Stop Your Dog From Whining

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Dog whining in sunglasses on the streetIf dogs could talk, oh the tales they would tell. The truth is, dogs communicate in many ways, and one of the more vocal ways they communicate, both with humans and other animals, is through whining.

Article Overview

Why Do Dogs Whine?

Dogs whine for many reasons, but the main ones are appeasement, greeting, attention, anxiety and injury.

Appeasement

Appeasement whining is often a response to submissive behavior toward humans or other dogs. So when your pup is looking to please or show you — or the dog next door — that he’s submissive to your Alpha dog status, he may let out a whimper or two. This is also often accompanied by the submissive physical reactions of tucking the tail or showing the belly.

Greeting

Greeting whining is motivated by excitement and can be directed both toward you or other dogs. If your pup whines when you come home from work or at other dogs he sees on his daily walk, then he’s likely saying how excited he is to see everyone. You can expect some tail-wagging and smiling here, too.

Attention

Just as it sounds, your dog may whine to get your attention. If you’re enthralled in your favorite show or working steadily on your computer, your dog may use whining to gently remind you that he’s here, he wants to be played with, needs to use the bathroom or wants to go for a walk (like the boxer in the video below). In our experience, this type of whining is often accompanied by pacing or an intent stare, both of which are tough to ignore.

Anxiety

Sometimes dogs whine when they’re anxious. They may be anxious about their surroundings, with other animals or with a certain situation. Being in-tune with your pup will help you discern the difference in this type of whining and others. More specifically, separation anxiety whining is caused by your dog’s distress when left alone for long periods or even concern when they sense you are about to leave. This type of whining is often characterized by drooling, pacing, panting or destruction of indoor objects.

Injury

A little less common (at least we hope) is injury or medical whining in which your dog whines in response to pain or a painful action. If you notice your pup is frequently whiny, displays general discomfort while doing so or just doesn’t seem to be whining for all the more common reasons listed above, it might be time to take your pet to the vet for further examination.

How To Stop A Dog From Whining

All whining is not created equal, which is why before you even think of deterring your pup from vocalizing his emotions, you should be sure that he’s not being mouthy for a medical reason.

Once you’ve ruled out any injurious reasons for his whiny behavior, you can set about figuring out what emotion is causing the whining — does he just whine a little when he’s excited to see you after a long day or does he whine incessantly to get your attention? — and decide from there how to handle it.

Appeasement & Anxiety

We’re tackling these two types together because in both instances there’s some common ground: confidence. Often, when your pup whines to please and is in a submissive state, or when he whines to show anxiety, it comes back to your dog’s lack of confidence. Increase their confidence with reward (read: treat) based obedience classes or one-on-one play time (here are the best dog toys), all the while showing affection and rewarding confident, focused behavior.

Do not use physical or verbal punishment as it will counteract the positive effects you’ve worked — or played — so hard for. As his confidence grows individually, and in you as his Alpha, you should notice less whining in these situations.

Attention

This might be the toughest type of whining to discern: Is your dog whining to let you know he needs to go out, or simply because he’s demanding your attention? Either way, it’s important that while your dog is in the act of attention whining that you do not acknowledge his behavior. Don’t get up to let him out, don’t pet him, don’t even look in your dog’s direction while he’s in the act of whining; even scolding him is attention and will be perceived as a positive response to their actions.

Once your dog has stopped whining, take them out immediately, or reward them with attention, so they learn to associate being quiet with the attention they desire. We know ignoring is hard, so we suggest making sure your pup gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation — play time or food-filled Kongs work wonders — to keep them from being so needy.

Greeting

Maybe it’s just us, but if our pup lets out a few cute whimpers to welcome us home, then we’re OK with that. He’s excited, we’re excited, and his whining isn’t a terrible thing when it’s so darn cute, right?

If, however, his “hellos” are getting a little out of hand, try greeting your pup with a calmer tone and demeanor — your pup will likely mirror your actions and will be a lot less likely to get rowdy (and subsequently whiny) if you don’t. Distracting them with an action or command as you enter — calmly of course — will also help keep your pup focused on a task rather than his excitement.

Need Training Help?

If you need some help training your dog we’ve got multiple options for you. First, get some overall training advice. If reward based training isn’t working for you, try training your dog without treats. And if you’re still struggling, consider Doggy Dan’s online training courses.

Do you have any tips to keep your pup from whining?

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She has been writing about dogs since 2014, covering subjects such as dog insurance, training, health, accessories, and more. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post.

Kimberly's natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing, and personally testing canine products and services. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs. Kimberly grew up in a family that loved Labrador Retrievers and remembers running and playing in the yard with them as a child.

In 2017, she and her husband adopted their Coonhound mix, Sally, from a local shelter. Kimberly’s research was put to good use since Sally faced some aggression issues with other dogs and needed some training to be an inside dog. She worked daily with Sally and sought help from professionals to help Sally become the happy pup she is today. One of Kimberly’s favorite pastimes is spoiling Sally with new toys, comfy beds, and yummy treats (she even makes homemade goodies for her). She tries to purchase the safest products for Sally and knows that each canine has their own specific likes and dislikes. Kimberly is passionate about dogs and knows the bond between humans and canines is like no other.

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