Dog Training Solutions When Whining Isnt Cute

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Dog Training Solutions When Whining Isnt Cute

by Martin Olliver

I have to admit it. I think it?s cute when my dog whines. Even adorable. That?s because she whines for only two reasons: 1) When she sees a dog friend she really likes and she wants to be allowed to greet them and play; and 2) when she sees a human friend she really likes and she wants to be allowed to greet them and play. This prelude to play is music to my ears, since I know it?s a short - and by all measures, sweet - song that she sings. Of course, not all dog owners have reason to feel the same.

Dogs can whine for many reasons, and dealing with this habit is almost always a matter of reading the signs right.


This cause is the least common but also the most important one to rule out first. A dog whose whining comes on suddenly and is fairly steady afterward is possibly reacting to pain. Even puppies can have severe growing pains or genetic conditions that cause great discomfort, so you should not rule out this reason for puppies.

Usually, you can palpate areas of the dog?s body, paying close attention to legs and the tail. To check for arthritis, which often develops first in the rear hips, you can try this:

1. stand over your dog with your legs on either side of they?re torso, with the head facing behind you.

2. Gently lift their hindquarters up with one arm, and then lift each leg up and out behind them with the other.

3. You should then be able to release the hand that is supporting their body, and in effect, suspend them by one extended leg at a time. A pain free dog will be able to flex this leg comfortably, even with all their back weight on it. Any hip pain, they will jerk away and you?ll hear it from them.

Check their ears (a painful ear infection will also bring lots of scratching or head shakes, and a discoloration and / or odor of the ear membrane). Check their mouth. Tooth problems can not only cause pain, but an over-dry mouth can be an indication of extreme discomfort or even fear. In all cases, if you think your dog is whining from pain, but can?t find the source, take a trip to the vet.


Fear can itself be another cause for whining. Often this behavior is short-lived and the stimulus is likely to be fairly easy to recognize. One tip is simply not to encourage the fearful behavior but emphatically comforting your dog when the fear is not warranted. In other words, if you comfort and soothe them in response to a thunderstorm, this will send the message that the thunder is in fact putting them in some danger and they SHOULD be afraid of. Instead, you should act like it?s no big deal, perhaps even distract your dog with play. Of course, if you happen to be afraid of thunderstorms as well, then you?re out of luck on this one.

Boredom or Loneliness

Two further common causes of whining are boredom and loneliness. They are treated separately simply because boredom whining is what a dog does when you?re there and loneliness whining is what they do when you?re away. The first means that you probably are not giving your dog as much exercise as they really need, even though you think it gets out as much as a dog should or as much as you can possibly let it. Enough said.

With lonely whining dogs, you?ll have to do your best to spend more quality time with them, get them more tired out when you do, and consider the possibility that you may have a full-blown case of separation anxiety on your hands. This will require extra patience and training, and there are plenty of detailed training programs available to address this.

Until then, enjoy the music.

Martin Olliver has over 12 years experience in dog training and is a proud member of the Kingdom of Pets team ( For more great articles on problems with whining and barking dogs, visit:

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