Labrador dog under a blanket

Whining may be due to changes in a dog's home.

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Why is my dog whining all of a sudden?

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

Your dog has suddenly started whining, but is it because it's seeking attention, in pain... or something else?

Why is my dog whining all of a sudden? Has there been a sudden change in your dog’s behaviour, such as whining out of nowhere? Although humans and dogs have co-existed together for thousands of years, we still have a lot to learn about dog behaviour and what it means.

Whining can be an indicator excitement, anxiety or pain. It can also be a way for your dog to get attention or to make you aware that they want something. This article is here to act as a guide, but you should also book your pet in in for a vet health check, as there could be an underlying cause.

Why has my dog started crying and whining at night?

If your dog whines at night all of a sudden, this suggests that a recent change might have unsettled them. Consider whether you have altered their environment or routine at all. Do they still sleep in the same room? Do you leave the light on or off? Is their bed new? Have you welcomed a new pet or baby to the family? Speak to a vet about where to seek the best behavioural advice.

Why is my old dog whining for no clear reason?

If you have an older dog who is whining at any time of day or night, this might be an indicator of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD). This is like the dog version of Alzheimer’s and occurs when changes take place in the brain as a result of ageing. Often you will see signs such as disorientation, confusion, anxiety and decreased owner-pet interaction. CCD is also linked to increased vocalisation in dogs, including barking and whining. Older dogs are also prone to arthritis and other diseases that are linked with pain. Conditions such as CCD and arthritis can be managed with veterinary advice and a multi-faceted approach including appropriate diet, supplements and exercise.

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Why does my dog whine on walks?

Your dog may be excited about being on the walk or in a new environment. There will be lots of smells, sights and sounds that are stimulating their interest. Yet if your dog has recently started whining, this could be an indicator of an underlying pain or anxiety.

Why does my dog whine in the car?

Your dog could be excited or anxious about travelling. Some pets can experience motion sickness during car journeys. Equally, they could be trying to get your attention. If this is happening often and affecting your pet’s wellbeing, it is best to seek advice from a canine behaviourist.

How do I get my dog to stop whining?

If your dog’s whining has become a problem, it is a good idea to seek veterinary advice to check for any underlying health concerns. If your pet is deemed to be fit and well, it would then be useful to speak to a canine behaviourist to help identify any causes or triggers of the whining, and what the best approach is to reduce its occurrence.

Although dog whining deterrents are available, these are not always effective and can actually cause more distress to your pet. This can lead to other behavioural problems, because they are unable to express themselves naturally through vocalising.

Should you ignore a whining dog?

This really depends on the situation. If a dog is whining because they are in pain, then this should be addressed as soon as possible. If a dog is whining for attention or due to anxiety, a behaviourist may advise calmly ignoring this behaviour. It is best to seek veterinary or behavioural advice for your individual pet.

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