How to Stop Dog Whining

By Lisa McQuerrey

Dogs may whine because they’re hurt, depressed, lonely, anxious, hungry or bored. Finding out what’s causing the whining can help you stop the unwanted behavior. Start by getting a full checkup from your vet to make sure your pup doesn’t have any painful health conditions prompting his whines.

Boredom and Inactivity

When dogs don’t have anything to occupy their time, they get bored. This can result in damaging digging and chewing or irritating barking and whining for attention when you are around. Exercise your dog regularly so he expends excess energy and give him interactive toys to play with when you’re gone. For example, balls that dispense kibble as they roll can entertain your dog for hours. If your pup spends a lot of time alone, consider hiring a dog walker to check in on him during the day to help reduce boredom. Also consider dog training or puppy play classes to help him build confidence and reduce appeasement whining.

Separation Anxiety

Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety in which they become fearful, anxious and upset when their owners leave. While some severe cases must be treated with anti-anxiety medications, behavioral training typically can help to reduce the problem. For example, leave your dog for short periods of time to get him used to the concept that even though you leave, you will come back. Gradually build up the length of time you’re gone. Never give your dog attention when he wines, as it only reinforces the behavior.

Attention Seeking

Your dog may whine to get your attention, either for petting, playing, feeding or going outside. While whines for bathroom breaks must be heeded, ignoring the behavior in other instances is the only way to curb it. Don’t touch or make eye contact with your dog when he whines, but reward him enthusiastically when he sits quietly and is well-behaved. Train your dog to respond to commands like, “No whine.” When he whines, you ignore; when he’s sitting quietly he’s rewarded.

Excited Whining

Some dogs whine when they’re excited. Help curb this behavior by downplaying the excitement of guests arriving or redirecting your pup to toys or a bed in high-energy situations. Resist the urge to give positive attention to an excited whine and urge others in the home to employ the same behaviors.

Crate Whining

Crate training can be challenging for both dogs and their owners, especially when your pup whines to get out to be with you. Help alleviate this problem by using your dog’s crate only for positive things, such as sleeping, feeding or playing with special toys. Make sure the crate is a comfortable size for your dog and cover it with a blanket to create a den. Don’t leave a pup in a crate all day.