Being a pet parent can be quite rewarding. However, it also means tons of responsibilities. For starters, you must understand dog behavior to figure out when they are anxious, excited, or just hungry.

Understanding dog behavior can help you keep your pets happy, and fun to be around. However, many dogs come with a lot of behavioral concerns. Some dogs scratch sheets, others bark when they come across strangers, and many others whine at the slightest change.

Whining is probably one of the most common behavioral issues that pet parents face. While a little whining might signify the need for food or water, constant whining could be signifying something that needs to be treated like a health or behavioral issue.

Upset Golden Retriever looking out a window and missing his owner

Common Causes of Whining in Dogs

Whining is one of the most common forms of communication in dogs. But since it is bound to leave pet parents concerned. Whining is not a cause of concern if it’s seldom. Dogs usually whine when they:

  • Are anxious
  • Need attention
  • Are experiencing discomfort
  • Want to communicate other needs

Although the reasons for dog whining don’t seem concerning, constant whining is a cause of concern. Firstly, because it could be an indication of something serious. Or it could be a learned behavior that will annoy you.

The issue that most dog parents face is identifying how much whining is normal and how much is excessive. Puppies usually whine a lot because they have more attention needs. Puppies also don’t know of any other way to communicate their needs; hence whining is more frequent.

However, if an adult dog whines quite often or displays other signs that don’t appear normal, it might be a cause for concern.

Since dogs communicate distress through whining, it could be linked to health-related concerns. Health-related dog whining means an indication of pain, discomfort, or chronic conditions like arthritis.

If your dog has suddenly started whining, you should seek veterinary consultation to diagnose any health-related concerns.

Behavioral Reasons for Whining


Dog anxiety and whining are the most common pairing. If you’ve started leaving your dog alone at home, separation anxiety could be causing the whining.

Under Stimulation or Boredom

Another behavioral reason that causes whining is under-stimulation. If a dog isn’t simulated enough throughout the day, the boredom leads to whining. However, boredom-related whining is often accompanied by other behavioral signs in dogs like chewing toys, scratching sheets, or destroying furniture.

Learned Behavior

In some cases, whining is just a learned behavior. If the dog feels that you listen to them only when they whine, they will be encouraged to whine for every need.

Dog sleeping

Tips on Identifying Behavioral Causes

Your dog’s vet can determine any possibilities of health-related whining and help with treatment. However, behavioral reasons for whining require you to make an effort. Here are some training tips for whining dogs that can help reduce and eliminate behavior-related whining in your dog:

1. Training and Behavior Modification

If your dog constantly whines to seek your attention, you might have to modify your behavior leading to a modification in your dog’s behavior. Here are two training methods to help reduce or manage excessive whining:

  • Dramatic Signals: Talking, touching, and even eye contact constitute attention. To de-link the connection between whining and attention, you need to send dramatic signals for your dog to understand like turning away, folding your arms, or completely ignoring their whining.
  • Positive Reinforcement: To reinforce silence, it is important to give attention to your dog, give them treats, or play with them when they are not whining. If they feel that they are getting attention without whining, they won’t need to whine.

Even with these two training methods, reducing excessive whining in dogs is not easy. You need to be patient to see results, especially if you’ve been reinforcing whining with your behavior.

2. Responding to Your Dog’s Whining

To manage learned whining, you will need to strike a balance between ignoring whining and giving attention when they’re not whining.

  • Completely ignoring constant whining is hard. You even need to avoid eye contact when this happens and stay patient rather than scold them because scolding also constitutes attention. If you find it hard to ignore their whining, move away from the room.
  • At times, ignoring the behavior won’t help because your dog could start wreaking havoc to gain your attention. If this happens, tell them to sit and be quiet before you respond to them or play with them.
  • Balance this behavior by giving them attention or calling out to them when they are not whining to avoid reinforcing.
red dog lies on a wooden bridge on the lake. Pet by the water.Marble Australian Shepherd in nature

3. Environmental and Lifestyle Factors

Changes like a new family member or a new home can instigate whining behavior. On the other hand, a lack of exercise or outdoor fun might also cause whining.

It is important to first identify what might be causing the whining. If there’s a change, consult your dog’s vet if they can take calming supplements. Side by side, help them adjust to the changes by giving them calming toys, comforting them when they seem anxious, or helping them adapt.

On the other hand, if your dog doesn’t get to explore the outdoors or get enough stimulation, consider integrating these elements into their lifestyle.

4. When to Seek Professional Help

If the tips above don’t reduce the whining or aggravate behavioral issues, it might be time to seek help from a veterinarian or a dog behaviorist. These tricks might not work if there is a serious underlying cause.

If you don’t address underlying issues that contribute to whining, it will only aggravate, leading to aggression, violence, and even biting.

5. Prevention and Long-term Solutions

You can control excessive whining by changing your dog’s routine or giving them attention when they’re not whining. However, short-term changes might give rise to whining again. A long-term solution to keep whining from developing is maintaining consistent routines and communication with your dog.

FAQs about Constant Dog Whining

Should You Ignore a Whining Dog?

While it may be tempting to ignore a whining dog, especially if you believe they are seeking attention or being demanding, it’s essential to consider the underlying cause of the whining. Dogs may whine to communicate a range of needs, including hunger, discomfort, anxiety, or the need to go outside. Ignoring your dog’s whining without addressing the underlying cause may lead to frustration or exacerbate the behavior. Instead, take the time to assess why your dog is whining and respond accordingly.

When Should I Be Worried About My Dog Whining?

While occasional whining is normal behavior for dogs, persistent or excessive whining may indicate an underlying issue that requires attention. If your dog suddenly starts whining excessively or if their whining is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or changes in behavior, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian. These could be signs of pain, illness, or distress that require prompt medical attention.

Is My Dog in Pain or Just Whining?

Differentiating between whining due to pain and whining for other reasons can be challenging for dog owners. Signs that your dog may be in pain include vocalizing during specific movements or activities, reluctance to move or play, changes in posture, and increased sensitivity to touch. If you suspect that your dog may be in pain, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care for a thorough evaluation and appropriate treatment.

Do Dogs Whine More When They Get Older?

While some dogs may exhibit an increase in whining as they age, especially if they experience age-related health issues or cognitive decline, there is no universal pattern for whining behavior in older dogs. Changes in behavior should always be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, taking into account factors such as the dog’s overall health, environment, and individual temperament. If you notice a significant increase in your older dog’s whining, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues.

How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Whining at Night?

Addressing nighttime whining requires a combination of patience, consistency, and understanding of your dog’s needs. Begin by ensuring that your dog’s basic needs, such as food, water, and bathroom breaks, are met before bedtime. Create a comfortable sleeping environment for your dog, including a cozy bed in a quiet, dimly lit area. Additionally, establish a bedtime routine that signals to your dog that it’s time to settle down for the night.

If your dog continues to whine at night, avoid responding with attention or punishment, as this may reinforce the behavior. Instead, try using positive reinforcement techniques, such as rewarding quiet behavior with treats or praise. Gradually extend the periods of quiet before offering rewards, encouraging your dog to learn to settle down and relax on their own.


Whining is a common issue in dogs which might indicate underlying issues like anxiety, health concerns, or understimulation. Whining could even be a learned behavior that can be controlled through effective training long-term lifestyle changes and consistent communication.

On the other hand, health concerns and anxiety are best managed by a vet or a dog behaviorist. If the whining isn’t learned, seek help from a professional without further delay because it may cause physical or mental health concerns to aggravate.

Don’t forget to check our article if your dog whines in the car.

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