5 Rea­sons Your Dog Is Whining— and How to Make Him Stop


From the At­ten­tion Whine to the Alert Whine, here are the most com­mon rea­sons dogs whine, along with dis­tinct ap­proaches for deal­ing with each whining prob­lem.

Abark­ing dog can cer­tainly be an­noy­ing. But whining? That’s enough to drive you crazy. Whine, whine, whine, whine… it can feel like it goes on for hours. Some dogs also hit a cer­tain pitch, driv­ing a men­tal spike right through your brain. The more your dog whines, the less pa­tience you have. What is up with the whining, any­way? Dogs whine for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, in­clud­ing ap­pease­ment, ex­cite­ment, and for at­ten­tion. How you stop it de­pends on why your dog is whining.

The At­ten­tion Whine

“Pay at­ten­tion to me! Whine, whine, WHINE!” This is one ag­gra­vat­ing dog. These dogs whine for you to hurry up and feed them meals, whine for you to throw the ball, whine for you to pet them, whine when they want wa­ter, whine to go out­side, whine to come in­side, and gen­er­ally whine for what­ever it is that they want at the time. This is a be­hav­iour that of­ten gets worse be­cause the pet par­ent re­in­forces it.

If you give in to the at­ten­tion-seek­ing whiner, you’re pay­ing that be­hav­iour. So your dog will keep whining, be­cause it works. In or­der to fix this, you have to stand strong. Don’t give in to the whining. Don’t re­ward the be­hav­iour, which in­cludes not look­ing at your dog and not talk­ing to your dog when he’s whining. Ig­nore your dog com­pletely un­til he qui­ets.

For ex­am­ple, your dog whines un­til you let her out of her crate. Don’t look at her; don’t move to­wards the crate un­til she is quiet. The sec­ond she is quiet, reach for the crate door. If she starts up again, then re­move your hand. Wait for quiet. Only when she is quiet do you open the crate door to let her out. The first few times you do this it will take a long time. But if you give in, the whining will only get worse. If you stick to your guns, it will take less and less time, and the whining should stop.

The Stress or Fear Whine

A dog that is fright­ened or stressed may whine. Is this your dog? Look for other signs your dog may be afraid, in­clud­ing cow­er­ing, lip lick­ing, yawn­ing, be­ing clingy, and gen­er­ally look­ing wor­ried. She may try to avoid or get away from what­ever is caus­ing her to be afraid. She may pace back and forth. Her tail may be tucked.

If your dog is ex­hibit­ing these symp­toms, yelling at her for whining will not fix the prob­lem be­cause it won’t ad­dress her fear. Imag­ine some­thing is ter­ri­fy­ing you and you cry out for help, only to have some­one yell at you to shut up. Does that sud­denly make you feel com­fort­able and happy? Of course not! If you have a stressed or fright­ened dog, try to find out what is caus­ing the stress. Is it a loud noise? Peo­ple? Other dogs? The vac­uum cleaner? Help your dog be less afraid of what is scar­ing her, and she will be less likely to whine in fear.

To start ad­dress­ing this, make sure you and your dog are far

enough from the scary per­son or ob­ject that your dog is not pan­ick­ing. Never force her to be close to a per­son or thing that fright­ens her. When you are at a good dis­tance away, ev­ery time she looks at what is fright­en­ing her, give her a treat. See the scary ob­ject, get a treat, over and over. If she will not take the treat, it means the scary per­son or ob­ject is greater than your re­ward. Move her far­ther away and in­crease the value of the treat. Work slowly, and don’t rush progress. It may take time to teach your dog that scary ob­jects are not so scary after all. If you need help, work with a pro­fes­sional, re­ward-based trainer. Ad­dress your pup’s fear, and you will find her whining de­creases.

If you have a dog that isn’t ex­actly ter­ri­fied, but just anx­ious in gen­eral, the same tech­niques will help. Also, con­sider in­creas­ing your dog’s ex­er­cise. Ex­er­cise is good for the body and mind. If your dog is tired, she has less en­ergy for whining. Re­al­ize that a typ­i­cal walk is not re­ally ad­e­quate ex­er­cise for your dog. You might be tired, but your dog won’t be. Aim for at least 20 min­utes of car­dio­vas­cu­lar ac­tiv­ity a day.

The Alert Whine

Some dogs are nat­u­ral watch­dogs. If they hear some­thing or see some­thing, they feel a need to in­form you about it. This can take the form of bark­ing or whining. It could be a po­ten­tial bur­glar. It could also be a lizard sun­ning him­self on a tree out­side a win­dow, or a piece of trash blow­ing by on the breeze. Some dogs are not picky about what they want to talk about!

If you have one of these dogs, get your treats handy. After one or two whines, call your dog to you and re­ward her with a treat. With prac­tice, you’ll find your dog whines a cou­ple times and then comes to you, rather than fix­at­ing on the whining.

The Ex­cite­ment Whine

This dog whines when you grab his leash, when he’s in the car, when you’re ap­proach­ing the dog park—ba­si­cally any­time he gets ex­cited, par­tic­u­larly if there’s a de­lay in grat­i­fi­ca­tion. There are two ways to ap­proach this—man­age­ment and train­ing. For man­age­ment, you want to re­move the dog from the sit­u­a­tion that is caus­ing him to whine. For ex­am­ple, if your dog whines when he sees some­thing out­side the win­dow, block his view of the win­dow. The more he prac­tices the whining, the bet­ter he gets at it and the more in­grained the be­hav­iour. So block­ing his view helps pre­vent him from start­ing whining in the first place. In­creas­ing this dog’s ex­er­cise will help, too. If his leash is the cue to whine, try tak­ing your dog out­side by the col­lar and only pre­sent­ing and at­tach­ing the leash­ing once you’re out­side.

For train­ing your dog not to whine, the ap­proach is very sim­i­lar to what you do with the Alert Whiner. After a cou­ple whines, call your dog to you and give him a treat. Give him other be­hav­iours to do ex­cept whining—sit, down, shake paw, any op­tion rather than whining. Chan­nel that en­ergy into some­thing else.

With car whining, this can be tricky be­cause you have to drive. It’s best to have a friend help you. Work in short ses­sions. For the first ses­sions, don’t even start the car. Get your dog to where she is quiet in the car with­out it even mov­ing. Give her treats for be­ing quiet. Then start a re­ally short drive down your drive­way. If she whines, pull over and ig­nore her. Give her treats when she is quiet. What also helps the Car Whiner is a food-stuffed in­ter­ac­tive toy. Stuff a rub­ber hol­low toy with peanut but­ter and her kib­ble to give her a paci­fier while you’re driv­ing.

The Hurt Dog

Dogs also whine when they are sick or in­jured. Is your dog act­ing strangely? How is her breath­ing? Is she eat­ing nor­mally and elim­i­nat­ing prop­erly? Is she old and per­haps arthritic? If you sus­pect your dog may be whining be­cause she is in pain, please con­sult your vet­eri­nar­ian.

While whining can be an­noy­ing, it’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Your dog is try­ing to tell you some­thing—you just need to fig­ure out what it is so you can best help your dog learn that si­lence is golden!

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