Why do dogs whine? How can I understand what my dog wants?
Dog owners may ask themselves "Why is my dog whining?" especially if they don't see anything wrong. The language barrier between you and your dog can lead to some pretty serious cases of miscommunication. Like when you tell your dog, "be a good boy!" but he thinks you mean, "go chew on my shoe." But your dog isn't the only one misreading signals.
Your dog's whining is one of the few ways he has to let you know what's on his mind, but understanding what he's trying to say can be tricky. Here are a few of the most common reasons why your dog is whining.
You may think a dog's life is all about games of fetch and long naps, but adult dogs react to stress much like humans do. New environments, unfamiliar people or dogs, and generally uncomfortable situations may stress your dog out.
Whining is one of the most effective form of communication he has to clue you in to his feelings. Panting, the inability to respond to cues, and pacing may also accompany whining when your pooch is feeling stressed or experiencing separation anxiety.
If your dog is whimpering every day when he is left alone, he may be experiencing separation anxiety. Giving him his favorite toy with you leave, giving him extra playtime when you're home, and crate training him with a kennel are all ways to help with separation anxiety.
A bored dog is an unhappy dog, and they'll do anything they can to get your attention. A bored dog will chew on your furniture, pace, and also whine. It's a whine that says, "Won't you play with me?"
It can be tempting to give in to that pitiful sound, and you're really in trouble if they combine whining with puppy dog eyes, but it's important not to encourage that attention-seeking behavior. Appeasement will not improve your dog's behavior in the long run. If you give in, you're teaching your pup that whining will solve all of his problems.
Dogs can be stubborn and determined, and that whining can literally go on for hours if he thinks it will eventually pay off. Make sure your dog receives adequate amounts of mental stimulation to keep him busy, and work with a dog trainer or attend training classes if you think your dog needs some extra help.
On the other side of that spectrum, whining may also indicate your dog is extra excited about something. It's usually easy to tell the difference between a bored whine and an excited one. An excited dog jumps, wiggles, wags its tale, and may behave in a way you consider to be out of control. And you'd be right.
Some dogs, especially puppies, simply can't control their emotions enough to calm down. A whine usually accompanies all of those other actions. You can help your dog learn impulse control by teaching him the "calm down" or "go to your mat" commands.
Humans moan, groan, and cry when they're in pain, and dogs are no different. If you notice that your dog whines every time he walks upstairs or stands up, that's a good indication that he's in pain. Arthritis is as common in older dogs as it is in older humans, and it's just as painful. Watch your dog carefully to see if he is limping.
Younger dogs may also be whining in pain due to some kind of injury. Your dog can't verbally tell you when something's wrong, so it's important to take this kind of whining seriously by seeing a vet.
5. Needing Something
Your dog can't use words to tell you when he needs a potty break or when his water dish is empty, so he whines instead. It may take a few guesses, but it shouldn't be hard to interpret his meaning.
Pay attention to his basic needs like food and water, and if that's not it, branch out to other things your dog frequently needs. Sometimes it's as simple as putting his favorite blanket back on the couch or retrieving a toy from under the recliner.
The better you and your dog communicate, the stronger your bond will be. You may think it's frustrating when your dog doesn't understand what you're saying, but your misinterpretations of his actions can be just as trying.
The next time you hear your dog whining, know he's trying to tell you something. Pay attention to his body language and what else is going on in order to translate his needs.
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This post was originally published on Jun 19, 2016.