What is Whining?
Should your dog be whining, it is often a high-pitched and irritating sound. Many puppies learn that making this sound gets them the attention they desire and continue it into adulthood. There are a variety of reasons that your dog may be whining, to include:
- He is seeking your attention
- He is anxious or scared
- He is excited
- He may be trying to protect you; your dog may hear someone outside and be trying to alert you
- He may have an idea that he may be in a bit of trouble; your dog may know he did something he shouldn’t have, like urinate in the house or dig up flowers in your yard
In addition to the reasons mentioned above, your dog may whine when he is hurt and may offer an additional hint, like holding up his paw. Whining can also occur if your dog has excessive separation anxiety; perhaps he will whine at the sight of your picking up your keys. Should an older dog develop cognitive issues or become senile, he may whine due to feeling disoriented.
How serious your dog’s whining is will depend on other factors you may observe. Should he whine when it is close to dinner time, or when you are enjoying your dinner, his whining is likely nothing more than an annoyance. Should his whining occur every time you are about to leave your house, or is accompanied by what appears to be a physical issue, or is something new in an older dog, it may be more of a concern.
Why Whining Occurs in Dogs
The reason for your dog whining will depend upon its cause. For example:
Your Dog Wants Your Attention
- He is frustrated - This could be for any number of reasons and it can lead to a guessing game; they may not be able to access a favorite toy or want to go outside
- He is hungry - Your dog may be hungry, or just particularly interested in the food that you are eating
- He may be happy - Your dog may be whining when you arrive home, excited that you are there and ready for some attention
- He wants attention - Your dog is ready for a belly rub or to go out and play
- He needs the bathroom - Your dog knows that he needs to go outside and needs your help to get there
Your Dog is Scared or Anxious
Your dog may be afraid upon meeting a new dog, or having a new dog (or new person) in their home. A new baby or new visitors may also cause anxiety, along with loud noises like fireworks and thunder.
Your Dog is Excited
Often your dog is really happy to see you and this can lead to his whining. He also may see something outside that he feels desperate to get to…perhaps the neighborhood cat or a bird is visiting his yard. Your dog may also be excited about a game you are playing together.
Your Dog Wants to Protect You
Your dog wants to keep you safe. Should he or she hear someone outside, your dog may want to alert you to their presence.
Your Dog is Hurt
Your dog may be feeling pain, whether from an illness or an injury. Whining may be his way of letting you know that something is not right. Hopefully he will include another sign of what is going on with him to help you understand.
Your Dog Thinks He is in Trouble
Your dog has a good idea of when he has done something that he was not supposed to. Perhaps he dug up the plants you just put in, or ate the food you left on the coffee table. He or she may whine as if to say “I know. I did wrong”.
Your Dog has Separation Anxiety
Your dog hates the idea of you leaving and whines upon the actions that mean you are going somewhere; for example, putting on your shoes and/or picking up your keys.
Your Dog is Experiencing Cognitive Difficulties
Your dog may be experiencing confusion for any number of reasons and is trying to tell you this through whining.
What to do if your Dog is Whining
Should your dog’s whining appear to be connected to pain, discomfort or some sort of distress, you will want to contact your veterinarian. Through examining your dog, your veterinarian will be able to determine if your dog is experiencing a medical issue that is leading to his whining. Should there be a medical condition, your veterinarian will work with you on treating the issue. Once the medical issue is resolved and/or being properly treated, ideally, the whining will cease.
Should your veterinarian determine that there is not a physical issue leading to the whining, he may have some recommendations about behavior modification or treatments that may be helpful for anxiety or behavioral difficulties. If your dog is not experiencing anxiety, you may be unintentionally showing him that whining gets him what he wants by paying attention when the whining occurs.
Prevention of Whining
Maintaining the physical health of your dog is important; in order to protect your dog from viruses, for example, regular visits to your veterinarian for check-ups and recommended vaccinations are key. Regular examinations can also help your veterinarian catch any issues prior to their worsening. Ensuring that your dog gets plenty of exercise will help prevent anxiety.
Should your dog whine for your attention, it is important that you discourage the behavior. You can do this by ignoring your dog, not making eye contact with him or talking to him when he is whining. He can receive the reward of your attention, or a treat, when he is quiet and calm.
Cost of Whining
Treatment for whining in your dog will depend on the cause of his whining. Should it be due to a significant physical issue, like a broken leg, for example, treatment can be anywhere from $1200 to $3000 depending on the cost of living where you live (average cost is $2000). If your dog is whining as a result of your inadvertently rewarding the behavior, the cost of treatment will be minimal.
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