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A Pooch’s Point of View: Why Do Dogs Whine?

Written by Adaptil, published on 28 July 2021

My humans are very good at reading my body language and interpreting the noises I make!  They know I bark when there’s someone at the door - I bark just in case they don’t hear the doorbell! They know I put my ears back and lower my tail if I don’t like the look of a dog in the park - one of them nipped me the last time we met, so I’m trying to warn him off! And they know I drool if I know I’m going to get a tasty treat - I just can’t help it, they are so delicious!

We’re Communicating!

OK, we can’t actually talk in human language, but we do our best to let you know what we want and what we are thinking. And, like humans, some dogs are more vocal than others - we can bark, whine, whimper, howl, yelp, yip, and growl!  For example:

  • My friend Bertie the Basset Hound, three doors down, loves to howl especially when he’s on his own, and he does go on a bit, but that’s what Bassets do! Plus his human parents forgot to use an ADAPTIL refill so he’s not quite as calm as he was.
  • Bobby the Beagle, well he loves to howl too - but he does it when his owner plays a song - he thinks he is singing along!
  • Polly the Pomeranian - well, she doesn’t know when to be quiet. She’s a very smart dog, and quite cute - but she likes the sound of her own bark! She barks when she’s excited, she barks when she’s nervous...and sometimes she just barks because she can!
  • Cherry the Chihuahua - now she’s sassy, don’t let that bow in her hair fool you! She can be very vocal but that’s just because she is being protective and she barks at anything she is not sure of, just to warn her human mummy.
  • Then there’s Yoko, the Yorkie - I’m never quite sure what she is thinking as she seems to yip and bark at everything, so I’m not sure if she’s happy or not!

Although they’re pretty good at interpreting our bark, I’m not sure humans always understand what we mean when we whine! Let me explain:

Why do Dogs Whine?

Whining is another way that we dogs let our humans know how we are feeling, or what we are thinking.  

I’m excited!

cute dog with rope toy

Sometimes we whine when we get excited; for example, if my human goes to the cupboard to get my lead, I just know that it’s time for my walk and I really l-o-v-e going to that park - so I start to jump around and whine at the same time; I just can’t help myself!

I want attention!

Or, we whine if we are seeking attention: I used to whine to get my canine mummy’s attention when I was a puppy. Now I whine at my human mummy to get her attention - for example if I think it’s time for my dinner, I just need to make sure she hasn’t forgotten!

I’m frustrated

cute puppy with tartan toy

I really get frustrated if that little boy next door takes my favourite toy and teases me with it! I know he’s only playing and I know not to snatch it off him because that’s what I’ve been taught, so if I whine he knows that I really want it back and I keep a close eye on it till it’s mine again. It’s a bit of a warning too though, and he really shouldn’t be teasing me, so I’m glad when his parents take over and give it back to me.

I’m anxious

I do sometimes get anxious, particularly if I’m left home alone for a long period of time. I don’t like it too much, so sometimes I lie down low to the ground, tuck my tail under and keep my eyes on the door and whine. My humans do their best to keep me occupied while they are out at work, but sometimes I just get bored and lonely if they’ve been gone a long time.  

But my human has recently plugged a little bottle into the wall and now I feel much calmer! I heard her ordering a replacement recently because it’s been working well at keeping me more relaxed - it’s called an ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser - and she said the vet recommended it so it must be good!

I’m in pain

It’s like crying - but we’re not like humans and we don’t cry tears. But sometimes if we whine or whimper it can mean that we are in pain. I can remember when we were in my favourite park, there was a spotty Dalmatian chasing its favourite frisbee, and he jumped to catch it but fell and twisted his leg. I knew he had hurt himself as he was whining and limping at the same time. His owner took him to the vet as he was obviously in pain.

Learn the difference

cute dog with owner working on laptop

So you see, whining can mean different things and humans need to be able to assess the situation so they can respond to us pooches in the right way.  

For example, if we whine to get attention - and we’re successful - we may do it again...and again.  My human turned their back towards me and avoided eye contact when I didn’t stop whining for a treat, so now I’ve stopped as it didn’t get me anywhere!

If we get over excited and whine every time someone comes to the door, we may need to be trained to keep calm. It’s alright to welcome people; I used to get very excited, and would jump and whine a lot but my human has helped me to learn to settle on my bed and she gives me a chew toy when visitors are expected. I go and check them out a little later when they are all sat down.

We know you love us and after a while, you will learn to know what each and every bark and whine means!

How stressed is your dog when home alone, take the quiz

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