Why Do Dogs Whine?

A whining dog can be frustrating and confusing to even the most enthusiastic canine lover. The whine vocalization can indicate a number of different emotions and needs; it can signify a medical problem and it can be pure manipulation. Use context to figure out what might be the source of your dog's communication to you. Make sure the dog's well, and don't give in to coercion.

barking dogs
Dog whining while standing beside larger dog outside.
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Sign of Pain or Discomfort

A whine can signify pain. If something on your dog hurts, he might respond by whining persistently. Look for other indications that something might be amiss. Limping, slouching, fast breathing and licking are some signs a dog is in pain or discomfort. If you believe an injury or illness could be the cause of your dog's whining, contact your veterinarian for assistance immediately. If a dog all of the sudden begins to whine more than normal, that often signals a medical issue.

Desire for Acknowledgement

Dogs whine as a means of getting attention from the people in their lives. Perhaps he wants you to pet him or play with him. He might want a treat. If your dog whines as he watches you enjoy your lunch, bet that it means he wants a taste. It isn't uncommon for dogs to whine when they need their owners to take them outside for potty breaks.

If your dog has learned that whining is an effective technique for getting the attention he so desires, he might use it as a manipulation device. If you run over to him and cuddle him any time he beckons with a whine, he'll employ the behavior to further his purposes. If you're worried that this might be the situation with your dog, contact a professional pet behavioral expert or trainer for assistance in solving the issue. Ultimately, you have to patiently ignore manipulative whining until the dog gets the picture that you're not giving in anymore.

A Simple Hello

If you just walked into your home after a long day at the office, you might be welcomed by a whine. Some dogs, when they're exhilarated by the sudden presence of a beloved human or pet, whine. In such a case, it's often the dog's way of offering an enthusiastic "Hello, best friend!" Hopefully your pooch doesn't piddle, too. Get over there and give him some love before he tackles you.

Exasperation and Frustration

Many dogs whine when they're in the midst of situations that are highly exasperating and frustrating to them. If your dog can't access his favorite toy or chicken treat because he accidentally pushed it under a closed bedroom door, he might express his feelings of dissatisfaction by whining loudly and incessantly. Dogs frustrated because of separation anxiety from their masters also sometimes deal with their emotions by whining. If your dog starts to whine loudly every time he hears you pick up your car keys, then a case of separation anxiety could be the culprit.

Overwhelmed Young Puppies

If your dog is a sprightly young puppy you just brought home, his whining could be a sign that he's overwhelmed and unhappy about being split up from the things and individuals that are familiar and "safe" to him -- in essence, his former setting, his mother and all of his siblings. Young pups also whine frequently when they feel cold.

Apprehension and Anxiety

Some dogs whine out of pure apprehension or anxiety. If thunder rolls and lightning cracks, or if everyone in the household starts behaving unusually, a dog might cope with his fear and uncertainty by whining. The veterinary clinic elicits whining, and it's obvious why. Some dogs whine when they feel they're in dangerous circumstances, such as when a stranger approaches or another animal encroaches.

Whining and Submission

Some dogs whine when they're in the company of humans or animals they perceive to be of higher social status. They whine as a way of indicating reverence and humility -- of submission. If you hear your dog whining in front of a larger neighborhood German shepherd, for example, it could be his way of communicating that he's not a threat to the bigger guy.