We can all agree that puppies make the most adorable sounds—from their first little ‘awoo’ to those tiny excited barks. But they also seem to make a lot of whining sounds, which aren’t always as cute. All dogs whine for various reasons, but puppies seem to cry a lot more than adult dogs.
This is normal, as they are still learning the different sounds they can use to communicate. As the new caretaker of these little ones, it’s up to you to interpret the variety of whimpers and wails so you can meet your pup’s needs.
To help you understand why your puppy is whining so much, let’s take a look at what they may be trying to tell you.
- 1 Why do Puppies Whine So Much?
- 2 Final Thoughts on Understanding Your Puppy’s Whining
Why do Puppies Whine So Much?
1. Learning to Communicate
Like human babies, puppies are still learning to communicate with those around them. Whining is a simple way for them to say, ‘I have a need, please help me.’
Newborn puppies use whining to communicate with their mother from the day they are born. A simple whimper lets her know that they are cold, hungry, or have another need. The mother understands and quickly meets her pup’s needs.
Then, the puppy gets older and arrives at its new home with a human owner. The pup is used to communicating with its mother through whining, so it will continue to ‘speak’ to you in that manner. Unfortunately, we don’t speak dog, so we need to figure out what it is our puppy wants.
Learning to communicate takes time and work from both parties. As your puppy adapts to its new home, it’s important to be patient. Try not to become annoyed or angry at your pup’s crying, but react calmly as you work out what they are asking.
2. Feeling Lonely
One of the main reasons why puppies whine is because they’re feeling lonely. Dogs are social creatures, and your pup is still getting used to being away from its mother and siblings.
To help your puppy feel less isolated, try to keep them near you throughout the day. Have a crate in your home office or the family room so that your puppy can simply hang out with you as you go about your daily tasks.
Most puppies will cry a lot during the night. Remember that they slept next to their mother and were surrounded by their littermates every night up to this point in their lives. You can see why sleeping alone in their bed can make them feel lonely.
To soothe your puppy during the night, place their crate next to your bed and hang your arm down over the side. Your presence will comfort them and let them know they’re not alone.
Another trick you can try to soothe your pup at night is to give them a ticking clock wrapped in a blanket. There are also snuggle toys available that mimic the sound of another dog’s heartbeat.
3. They Need Something
As mentioned, puppies use whining to tell us that they need something—whether it’s water, food, a toy, or potty time. It is normal for your puppy to whine a bit as mealtime approaches, since they are starting to feel hungry. However, if your pup cries a lot and looks a bit thin, it might not be getting enough food.
This doesn’t make you a bad parent—different pups simply have different growth stages. The directions on the food package might not always be correct for your specific puppy. Consult your vet about increasing your puppy’s food intake, or switching to a different type of dog food for puppies.
Whining is also a normal part of good potty training behavior. Instead of making a mess inside, your pup is letting you know that it needs to go outside. As the puppy gets older, you can teach it to sit by the door or give one short bark instead of crying to go out.
Your puppy’s need could also be something more arbitrary, like a toy that’s stuck under the couch, or a cat that’s sleeping in its bed. When your puppy starts whining, pay attention to what it’s looking at or where it’s trying to go. This can give you an idea of the problem your pup wants you to help with.
4. Asking for Attention
There can be times when all your pup’s physical and emotional needs are met, but it keeps whining. This could be attention-seeking behavior and you should ignore this type of whining.
Puppies will sometimes whine when you are busy with another task or person and are not involving them. In these cases it is important to acknowledge them without encouraging negative behavior.
Don’t go to your puppy immediately when it’s crying, but rather wait until it falls silent. If you go to your pup while it is whining, you are rewarding their behavior. This will cause them to increase whining in future.
On the other hand, when you give them attention once they are quiet, you are rewarding good behavior. This trains your pup not to whine whenever they want something. The same applies to whining about food.
If your puppy whines after it has eaten or while you are eating, don’t give it more food. You don’t want to train your puppy to beg at the table or associate crying behavior with a food reward.
5. They’re Bored
If your pup is cooped up in its crate and whining, it may be feeling bored. Remember that puppies have a lot of energy and they’ll become bored if you don’t keep them stimulated.
During the day, keep your puppy busy with plenty of exercise and play. Let them run around outside or play some tug-of-war with you. These activities will also help to wear your puppy out so that it sleeps better at night.
If you need to do some tasks without your pup during the day, give it something to keep it occupied. There are some interesting food puzzles and fun toys to keep dogs busy that you can buy. Although not physically exhausting, this will stimulate your pup mentally and help keep boredom at bay.
The next time your puppy starts whining for your attention, divert it with an engaging toy or activity. This will train your pup to keep itself occupied and not always expect you to play with it.
6. Feeling Excited
Although you might not associate crying sounds with feelings of excitement, your pup may be communicating just that. When your puppy just can’t contain its excitement, it will verbalize these feelings through happy whining sounds.
Young pups tend to get excited over a lot of things—whether that’s seeing their food bowl at mealtime, spotting a favorite toy in your hand, or simply being happy to see you. This behavior is especially common when you arrive home after some time away and your pup is excited to greet you.
The whining sounds will often be accompanied by jumping around or running in circles. Puppies also act in this way when they are excited to greet other people or dogs. While it is fine for them to whine when they get excited, you will want to keep an eye on jumping behavior. Not everyone appreciates a dog jumping up against them, especially a larger breed.
7. Submissive Behavior
Whining is also part of submissive or appeasement behavior in dogs. If you come across your pup chewing on your shoes and start scolding them, they use this behavior to apologize. Your pup will usually lower its body, keep its eyes averted and tail tucked, while making whining sounds. This behavior is genetic and was passed down from wolf ancestors.
Just like wolves ‘apologize’ to be accepted back into their pack, your pup will act in this way to win back your favor after messing up. It is important to show your puppy that you accept its apology, but without making too much of a fuss.
Simply acknowledging the apology and walking away is enough. Their guilty look may be cute, but if you give them too much attention, you might unintentionally encourage your pup to keep destroying things around the house.
You might also see your puppy using this same behavior to show a submissive posture to older dogs. Whining, keeping their eyes lowered, and even rolling over is part of how they acknowledge an older dog’s authority.
8. Feeling Afraid
Your puppy is still learning about the world and it is normal for them to be scared when encountering certain things. Sometimes your pup may be curious about new objects and people. At other times, you’ll see them trembling and whining with their ears and tail pulled down.
All puppies have milestones called ‘fear periods’ that occur while they are developing. These happen around 8-12 weeks, 4-9 months, and 1.5-2 years of age. It is normal for them to experience this as they learn to survive in their new world.
Still, you don’t want to leave your puppy in a stressful situation. Whether your pup is backing away from your house guest or whining when the vacuum cleaner is running, remove them from the situation immediately.
Rather introduce the object or scenario later in a controlled way. For example, allow your pup to sniff the vacuum cleaner while it is switched off. This will build their confidence around things that they were previously afraid of.
Separation anxiety is another situation which may cause your puppy to whine. There are many training methods you can use to help your pup cope with this. For example, try giving your puppy a tasty treat every time you leave the house. It will start to associate your leaving with something positive rather than stressful.
9. They’re Sick or Injured
If all your puppy’s needs are met and they don’t seem to be whining for attention, it could be that they are sick. Along with whining, you can look for other signs to help indicate what is wrong with your pup.
Tummy pains and intestinal illnesses are common in puppies. Frequent whining along with lethargy, a loss of appetite and vomiting can be a sign of these types of sicknesses.
If your pup is licking or biting a certain area, it could be due to allergies. Take your dog to the vet to figure out what is causing this reaction. A puppy that is antisocial and doesn’t want you touching them could be suffering from a specific injury. You might notice your pup whining when it moves in a certain way, like climbing stairs.
Be gentle and take your fur baby to the vet for a professional examination. Remember that puppies are more vulnerable than older dogs, so don’t wait too long if you suspect they might be unwell. Rather take them to the vet as soon as possible.
Final Thoughts on Understanding Your Puppy’s Whining
Who knew that puppies had this much to say with a simple whine? Your pup is certainly eager to communicate with you—now it’s up to you to interpret their little sounds. Your puppy could be informing you of a physical need they have, or expressing an emotion they are feeling.
Take the time to understand the nuances of your pup’s communication. It will be worth the effort when it helps you build a good long-lasting relationship with your furry friend.
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