Why Do Dogs Whine?

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It’s not unusual for dogs to whine from time to time, but if you hear your dog howling more frequently, you may find yourself wondering: Why do dogs whine? Your dog may whine because they need something, whether that’s because their water bowl is empty or they need to go outside. Sometimes, dogs whine simply because they want attention and they’re not getting it. While there are many normal causes for whining, excessive whining can be a sign that there’s something bigger at play.

Occasionally, a dog may whine because they’re scared or in pain, so it’s important to check on your dog if they’re whining more often than normal. If your dog won’t stop whining no matter what you do, you might want to talk to a vet about signs of dog anxiety. Your vet can help you determine why your dog is whining and whether or not it’s a problem. In this article, we’ll answer important questions like “why is my dog whining?” and “how can I stop my dog from whining?”, so you can make sure your pup is as healthy and happy as possible. 

If you’ve got a dog that won’t stop whining, here’s what you need to know.

Reasons your dog may be whining

Your Dog Wants Or Needs Something

One of the most common reasons for a dog to whine is to get something they need. You might notice that your dog whines when something they want is out of reach, or when they want you to let them outside to go to the bathroom. This is generally considered normal behavior, and your dog should stop whining when you take care of their needs.

As a dog owner, it’s important to check on your dog when they’re whining to see if they need something. However, that doesn’t mean you should immediately give into your whining pup. If you immediately give your dog what they want, this may cause them to whine more frequently because they know they’ll be rewarded for it. Instead, make sure that they actually need what they’re whining for and aren’t just whining for attention.

If your dog doesn’t need something and they won’t stop whining, it might be time to talk to your vet about some of the other potential causes of whining. Whining can also be related to injuries and other medical conditions, so it’s never a bad idea to take your dog to the vet to rule out anything serious.

Your Dog Is Whining For Attention

A dog whining for no reason isn’t always a sign of a medical condition or injury; sometimes dogs will whine because they simply want attention. You might notice that your dog has a tendency to whine when you’re busy and not paying attention to them, such as when you’re cooking or talking on the phone. Dogs will sometimes also whine when they’re bored and want you to play with them.

While some pet owners find it cute or endearing when their pet wants attention, you shouldn’t encourage your dog to whine to get attention. You should also try your best to give your dog some attention when you can because dogs can become lonely, stressed, and sad, just like humans.

Some dogs may also whine as a way of saying sorry. If you came home to a destroyed living room and a bunch of chewed up sneakers, you may find your dog whining at you as their way of demonstrating fear. In this case, you don’t want to scold your dog as that can instill fear in them and cause them to whine more. Instead, just acknowledge their fear, walk away, and deal with the mess later.

It can be tough to figure out why your dog is whining, so excessive whining is a good reason to visit the vet to make sure your dog is healthy.

They’re Scared Or Stressed Out

Dogs whine for lots of different reasons, but sometimes a dog will whine in response to a stressful or scary situation. For many dogs, fireworks are one of the most common triggers for whining and barking. If your dog has a tendency to whine and get scared when fireworks go off, you should talk to your vet about making your dog feel safer and more comfortable during the 4th of July and New Years.

If your dog gets scared or stressed easily, you should also consider crate training your dog to give them a safe space to go when they’re scared. Crate training is especially helpful if you have to leave your dog at home alone from time to time. And while it might seem cruel to keep your dog in a crate, dogs who are crate trained tend to view their crate as a safe space where they enjoy spending time, especially if they’re scared or stressed out.

If you’re going to crate train your dog, make sure you talk to a vet or trainer for tips first.

Your Dog May Be In Pain

Your dog might be whining because they want attention, but sometimes dogs whine in response to pain or discomfort they may be feeling. It could be that your dog is dealing with heat rash, which is a common result of overexposure to heat and dehydration in dogs. If you notice your dog panting heavily or showing other signs of a medical problem, you should take them to the vet right away.

It could be that your dog is whining because of an injury they recently suffered, which could include anything from an injured paw to a cut in the mouth or a tooth problem. If you notice your dog whining and behaving as if they’re injured, take them to the vet to find out what’s wrong. You might notice your dog limping slightly, or your dog may be avoiding eating or drinking due to an injury in their mouth. In any case, your vet can help you figure out what’s wrong.

When dogs whine as a result of pain, they’ll generally stop whining when they get relief from that pain. If whining persists for several days, especially after an injury has healed, there could be something else going on. Additionally, other medical problems could be at play, like gastrointestinal upset. While a dog whining isn’t an emergency, persistent whining is worth a trip to the vet. 

How To Stop My Dog From Whining

Even if it doesn’t bother you when your dog whines, you shouldn’t encourage whining. Even more importantly, you shouldn’t ignore a dog whining because it can be a sign of a medical problem or injury. You may be wondering, why does my dog keep whining and what can I do to stop it?

First things first, you should take your dog to the vet if they’re whining an abnormal amount. There’s nothing wrong with your dog whining to go outside or to get food when they’re hungry, but a dog whining for no reason can indicate a medical problem. Your vet can check for injuries and run some simple tests to figure out what’s going on with your dog. If there is something going on, your vet will help you decide on the best treatment.

Your dog may also be whining because of something you’re doing. Some dogs may whine from excitement as they greet people. Try speaking calmly to your dog instead of speaking loudly and getting them excited. You can also teach your dog to repeat a certain behavior when greeting people, such as sitting.

You can also try leaving interior doors open so your dog can move freely throughout the house. It’s not unusual for dogs to whine when they get stuck in a room alone.

If you notice your dog whining an abnormal amount, you should also pay attention to the sound of their whines and if any other odd behaviors accompany it. For example, the sound of your dog’s whines may sound differently when they’re bored than if they’re in pain. Keeping track of the sound of your dog’s whines and their behaviors can help you understand if they’re whining because of something serious or not. 

Dog with anxiety staring out the window

Should I Leave My Dog To Cry At Night?

You might have heard that it’s best to let your dog “cry it out” if they’re whining at night. Stopping nighttime whining is important because it allows you to get a good night’s sleep, but that doesn’t mean you should simply let your dog cry at night.

If your dog is whining at night, they might need to go to the bathroom. If that’s the case, leaving your dog in their crate to whine can cause accidents and lead to bad habits. At the very least, you should make sure your dog doesn’t need to go outside when they’re whining at night.

When you’re just starting crate training, your dog may whine for the first few nights. While you may be tempted to immediately give in to their cries and let them out, try waiting for 10 minutes or so to see if they self-soothe. If whining persists, make sure you comfort them gently to help them relax and go back to sleep. You shouldn’t make a huge fuss or get your dog overly excited, but it’s better to comfort your dog than to let them whine all night.

If your dog is whining more than usual, take them to the vet because they could have an injury 

Final Notes

Whining is normal behavior for dogs to some degree, but excessive whining can be an issue. If your dog is whining more than usual, you should take them to the vet before you do anything else. Your dog could be suffering from a painful injury or medical condition that’s causing them to whine, in which case getting that treated is important. Your vet can offer more tips for how to stop a dog from whining.

Having access to a vet you can trust is important as a dog owner, whether you need medication or tips for how to bathe your dog. Dutch can help you connect with a vet in your area to get expert advice, treatment plans, and medication delivered to your doorstep. If you can’t get your dog to stop whining, Dutch can get you the help you need.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

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In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.