A dog that whines can be very hard to deal with. The exact causes of the whining are often hard to pinpoint as it is not quite barking, nor is it quite an anxious act. It is simply whining, and it can be related to excess energy, separation anxiety or a desire to reach something they cannot get to. Because the source of whining is hard to pinpoint, it can be hard to stop the behavior, but with these tips, it should be easier to narrow down what you need to do and react to it.

Why Do Dogs Whine?

A dog’s whine is very different than a bark, and oftentimes can be harder to stop. It generally means they are in pain or scared, but in many cases, it can relate to their being upset about something, usually the result of anxiety.

In domesticated dogs, which are rarely in pain because they are safe indoors, a whine is often a symptom of feeling abandoned by his pack or upset about something in his home. This whine is his way of alarming you to his condition so that you can come and rescue him. Your goal, however, should be to train him to avoid that anxiety.

As a side note, if your dog never whines or starts whining when nothing apparent is wrong, it very well might be a symptom of pain or illness. If this happens, you should see a vet immediately to have your dog checked out.

Anxiety-Related Whining

When a dog whines because of separation, it is important to teach your dog how to accept your absence. If not, that simple whining can advance to damaging and noisy anxiety-driven behaviors.

In extreme cases, an anxious dog can destroy your furniture or make messes on the floor when you leave the house. Here are some tips to reduce whining before it becomes full-blown separation anxiety:

  1. Choose Your Dog’s Den – Many people will give the dog the whole house as his territory. This is fine if your dog is well-behaved and doesn’t have any problems when you leave. But, if anxiety is an issue, you’ll want to consider relegating a single room or a crate for your dog to inhabit when you leave. By having his own space that he can go to as his “safe spot,” he will feel more comfortable when you leave.
  2. Learning to Ignore the Dog at Key Times – Another issue that can create whining in a dog is giving him too much attention before leaving and when returning. There are two things at play here. When leaving, if you give too much attention, he will feel that separation immediately. When returning home, you will be rewarding whatever anxious behaviors he exhibited when you were gone, teaching him that whining worked to bring you back.
  3. Teaching Him to Be Comfortable – To teach your dog how to be comfortable when you leave, you need to practice doing it while still in the house. With crate training, this can be done simply by putting the dog in a crate and leaving the room.

If you place your dog in a separate room, the same applies. In many cases, you will need to listen to him whine for a while, but it is important that you don’t return to the room before he stops whining. It will only reinforce the behavior.

Not all whining is anxiety-related unfortunately. In some cases, it may be just to get attention when you’re in the house already. In some cases, this can be a side effect of dogs having too much nervous energy and not getting enough exercise.

In other cases, it may be the result of dogs trying to get additional attention. In such cases, it is always best to ignore them than to react. If the behavior continues, it could be a sign that you don’t have full control of the household and need to do some additional training to assert alpha leadership.