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They may not be able to talk, but dogs can use many other methods of communication to interact with us. Sometimes, whining is one of those methods. Whining can be cute, but if it goes on for long periods, or becomes a regular habit, it can get aggravating.

If you want to stop your dog from whining, you first have to understand why they are whining. Let’s take a look at some of the possible reasons.

1. Your Dog Needs or Wants Something

The most obvious reason your dog may be whining is that they need or want something from you, like food, water, or a walk. Maybe their favorite toy is stuck underneath the couch, or the cat is sleeping in their bed. The whining should stop once you identify the problem and fix it.

However, if your dog is whining for more food after you just fed them, this is a problem that needs to be corrected. Make sure no one in the family is giving your furry companion extra helpings; never feed your dog from the table. If you give your dog more food in response to their whining, the behavior will only get worse.

Additionally, if your dog is whining for another walk after you just took them out, this could indicate a bladder problem or a digestive problem. If your dog has to go again as soon as you come back inside, you should take them to the vet.

2. Whining for Attention

Sometimes dogs whine just because no one is paying attention to them. This is similar to how little kids whine when they’re bored with the grown-up talk at the dinner table. Your dog wants someone to play with or something to occupy them.

Make sure you’re giving your dog enough exercise and mental stimulation each day. Boredom doesn’t just lead to whining; it can also lead to destructive behaviors, such as chewing on the furniture and digging up the flower beds.

Pug laying down indoors looking sad.
claudiodoenitzperez/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

3. Your Dog Is Scared or Stressed

Whining can be your dog’s way of saying that they are scared or anxious. If your dog is also pacing, trembling, or panting while whining, they are likely fearful or anxious about something. Perhaps there is a new guest or resident in the house making your dog nervous, or perhaps they are worried because someone is missing.

If your dog is whining anxiously right before you leave the house, this could indicate separation anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety often engage in destructive behaviors while you are gone. You can treat your dog’s separation anxiety by using these desensitization and counterconditioning techniques. There are many calming treats and calming tools for dogs available.

4. Pain

Whining could be an indication that your dog is in some kind of physical distress. If they whine every time they try to go up the stairs or jump on the couch, your dog may have joint pain because of arthritis.

If there is no obvious reason why your dog is whining (all their needs are met and there is nothing to make them anxious). you should take your dog to the vet to get them checked out.

5. Saying “Sorry”

Whining can be a submissive behavior — a way of saying “You’re the boss.” When you scold your dog for chewing your shoes or tipping over the trash can, they might whine as part of their apology.

This behavior comes from dogs’ ancestors, wolves. Wolves can be shunned from the pack when they break the pack rules, like biting too hard during play. To be accepted back in, a wolf will bow their head and put their tail between their legs. This is the same posture our dogs display when they look guilty.

If your dog is whining to apologize to you, simply acknowledge their apology, and walk away. This sends a signal to your dog that they have been welcomed back.

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