There aren’t many things that are cuter than puppy dog eyes. That sweet stare, begging and pleading you for a taste of your food or a belly rub, is enough to make many pet owners melt and give in to their demands. It’s hard to resist, and our dogs know it.
What isn’t quite so adorable is the noise that often comes with those eyes. No matter how much we love and adore our pups (which, for most of us, is a lot!), dog whining can be like nails on a chalkboard. But why do dogs whine in the first place, and what can we do to stop it? The crew at WINPRO Pet wanted to know more, and this is what we found!
#1) Dogs Whine To Get Something
Dogs aren’t masterminds; they’re the product of hundreds of years of learning and domestication. While their original ancestors were not as pampered as the pup laying next to you on the couch is, they still needed to develop ways to get what they wanted.
When it comes to our furry friends, dog whining is explicitly directed at getting something physical from you. An excellent way to tell if this is the case with your dog is to watch their eyes, especially if you’re eating. If they’re whining and their eyes are moving from making eye contact with you to looking at what you’re eating, that’s most likely what they want.
From your dog’s point of view, they’re not whining because they think it will make you give them a bite. Your dog is probably whining due to frustration and not getting what they want.
Some dogs also whine out of boredom. These whines and sighs are pretty recognizable and very similar to what humans do when we’re feeling that way! It’s a way for them to vent and maybe even get a little attention from you.
For some dogs, whining is just how they express themselves. Dogs like this are difficult to train out of that behavior, so it’s often best to just embrace that you have a vocal dog. If you pay close attention, you may notice that they have different whines for different emotions! This is especially true if you have certain breeds, like huskies or beagles.
#2) Dogs Whine Due To Stress
Similar to how dog whining can come from frustration, it can also originate from feelings of stress. Often, this stress can increase and even turn into fear.
Whining is an “acoustic” communication method, which means noises come from different vibrations (growls also fall into this category). While it can sometimes be directed at you, especially if you and your dog have a close, trusting relationship, whining is more of a way for them to calm themselves down.
If your dog is whining due to stress, you’ll also see them doing different appeasement behaviors. Appeasement behaviors, like lip licking, yawning, and avoiding eye contact, help your dog tell whoever is around that they are not a threat. These are strong signs your dog is anxious about something.
If your dog has their ears back, its tail tucked, and you can see the whites of their eyes while they’re whining, they’re likely terrified of something. Even if your dog is your best buddy, don’t approach them when they’re like this. Scared dogs can bite, even though they don’t mean it.
#3) Dogs Whine Because They’re In Pain
There is one more common cause of dog whining that we want to touch on. Not every reason that a dog whines is due to an emotional stressor or issue. For some dogs, their whining may indicate that they’re in pain or sick.
In these situations, your dog may be whining for one of two reasons. One, they want to tell you that they’re hurting somewhere because they trust you. Two, they’re trying to calm themselves down and make themselves feel better the only way they can. Unfortunately, what dogs can’t do is just to tell us what is going on.
If you’ve ruled out all of the behavioral causes for your dog whining, look for signs that they may be in pain. Symptoms of pain in dogs include a reduced appetite, a reluctance to move (or limping when they do move), a rapid heart rate, and depression. If you notice any of those symptoms, make an appointment with your dog’s veterinarian right away, and don’t try to figure it out yourself.
What Can You Do About Dog Whining?
The first and most crucial step in addressing your dog’s whining is to pay attention to what’s going on around them when it happens. Is your dog whining every time you leave the house? Do they only whine at dinner? Does it seem to happen when they change positions or jump off of the bed or couch? Those factors are a great place to start and guide you toward what you need to do next.
First of all, although it may be tempting at times, be aware that you can not punish a dog for whining. It can also lead to a lack of trust in your relationship, so they’ll be less likely to come to you in the future if they have something wrong. Focus on finding the cause of the behavior and fixing it instead of doing something that can negatively affect your pet’s relationship with you.
For instance, something that you can do if your dog is whining for behavioral reasons, especially if they want something, is to use that to your advantage with training. Does your dog constantly whine when you have hot dogs? Don’t give in right away, but use hot dogs to train them to learn a new trick! That makes hot dogs a “high value” treat, so you’ll probably get a great response.
If you’ve figured out that your dog is likely whining because they’re frequently bored, try to provide them with new and different toys! You can also ensure that they’re getting enough exercise and maybe even train them to do a new trick or two!
As we briefly touched on already, always approach a dog that may be whining out of fear or pain very carefully (or not at all). Dogs experiencing serious emotional upheaval or unexpected pain can become aggressive, even if they don’t “mean it.” Avoid a situation where you get bitten by your dog by taking the time to evaluate the situation before just going in. Humans may want to be soothed and comforted when we’re going through something, but dogs do not.
To Sum Everything Up
Dog whining may be annoying, but it is usually full of clues to what and how your dog feels. If you can take your own emotions out of it, this specific type of vocalizing has the potential to help you learn more about what makes your dog tick. It can even clue you into pain or a health condition before it shows up on the outside!
When you live a long, healthy life side by side with your furry best friend, you’ll go through the whole spectrum of emotions. None of us want our pups to be frustrated, scared, or in pain, but all of that will happen at some point. However, with the help of WINPRO Pet, you can keep your dog around for as long as possible. We’re here for you and your dog and wish you many happy years to come!