4 min read


Why Do Dogs Moan



4 min read


Why Do Dogs Moan




Why do dogs moan? Have they really got anything to moan about? 

It's surprising that they do moan when considering the way they live. From a human's point of view, they really don't seem to have much to moan about. They get the best bed in the place, personal attention the second they demand it, food on tap and are loved unconditionally by everyone in the household. It doesn't get any better than that. 

But if you know your dog well, you’ll know there’s a moany moment coming, when he looks you directly in the eyes and utters a series of incomprehensible sounds. He’s certainly got something to say and is having a good go at imparting a vital piece of information. But what?

Yes, you know your dog is moaner. The problem is you'd need to be an expert in cryptanalysis to decode what he was saying. Frustrating, isn't it?

The Root of the Behavior

If your dog suddenly starts to give you a bad dose of verbal abuse, do you abruptly stop whatever you are doing to listen? You might even have talked back to him, asking him what all the fuss was about. You did, didn't you? Well, as soon as you acknowledged your dog's moaning, he would have realized just what a great way imitation talking was of getting your attention. Guess what he's going to do next? Yes, you're right. He's going to moan even more.

When your dog vocalizes, he's expressing himself the only way he knows how. A canine's voice and speech capacity certainly isn't as developed as a human, but he's more than capable of making enough different noises to get his message across. Have you noticed how he'll change the tone of his moan on occasion? It can alternate from a sort of excited anticipatory warble one minute which could mean he wants to go for a walk or thinks it’s time he had a treat to a gruff grumpy, but non-aggressive growl of disappointment when you haven't understood or complied with his request.  

Dogs use specific tones of voice to communicate, not just with their owners, but with other dogs too. They have different sounds for different situations. A moany whimper could be an invitation to play or might even mean your dog is afraid. It all depends on the pitch. A dog expresses its emotions through various noises and will soon let you or any other dog know. He'll have his own way of saying he's angry or not completely happy about something if he's suffering from any pain and even one for warning you of any impending danger you might not have noticed, but he, with his super senses has. So all you can do is listen hard and try to pick up a bit of doggy speak so you understand a bit better just what it is he's moaning about.

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Encouraging the Behavior

It's part of a dog's natural make-up to vocalize their thoughts with moans. It's the way intercommunication was carried out when they were still pack animals and nothing much has changed. Those and many other old genetic traits are still apparent in the modern dog and come to light quite often. So by having a few moans, your dog is basically just doing what comes naturally. Though if you own a Huskie, you'll need some extra sympathy, because that is, for sure, one breed which excels in moaning.

Dogs have memories too, just like humans and like nothing more than moaning in their sleep while re-living them. On occasion, your dog's nocturnal groaning can be so loud they'll even disturb your sleep, which doesn't make for good pet and owner relationships.

Everybody likes to have their say and that includes your dog. Though sometimes, especially if you have a dog which belongs to a big breed, their innocent moans can be misinterpreted as aggressive by someone who doesn't know them well. If your dog takes to sitting by the gate and letting off a canine verbal stream at every opportunity he gets, the delivery guy bringing that parcel you've been waiting for may just decide to leave it with the neighbors.

Other Solutions and Considerations

If your dog doesn't usually moan, but has recently started then he may be trying to let you know all is not well. Older dogs, who may be beginning to suffer the discomfort of arthritis or rheumatism in their joints, may moan as they lay down, get up or if they've been exercising. If your dog does this, the you might need to consider getting him checked over at the vets to find the root of the cause.

If your dog's moaning is really getting on your nerves or he does it at very inconvenient moments, a qualified dog trainer would be able to show you some good distraction techniques which will take his mind of talking.


Most dogs like to moan and to be honest, just like some humans, they can be pretty good at it. Though can you honestly say, he's not been watching reruns of Scooby Doo in secret and has decided to emulate the talking cartoon mutt? You're quite safe as long as he doesn't take a shine to Family Guy, because that Brian Griffin has to be the world's most opinionated talking dog.

Written by a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 02/06/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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