Why is my female dog whining all of a sudden: Labrador under a blanket

Why is my female dog whining all of a sudden? It could be due to changes in your home.

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Why is my female dog whining all of a sudden?

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

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

Is your female dog exhibiting sudden whining behaviour? If so, you may be wondering about the reasons behind this unexpected change. 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. Dogs, like humans, communicate through various behaviours and understanding the nuances of your dog’s actions can be crucial for their well-being.

Whining can be an indicator of excitement, stress, anxiety or pain. It can also be a way for your dog to get attention or to make you aware that they want something, such as food or their favourite toy. While this article explores the possible causes for your dog’s whining and potential ways to address this behaviour, you should also book your pet in for a health check with a vet in case there’s an underlying cause contributing to this sudden change in behaviour.

Why has my dog started crying and whining at night?

If your female dog suddenly starts whining at night, it could be due to a recent change that’s unsettled them. Consider whether you’ve altered their environment or routine at all. Do they still sleep in the same room? Do you have the light on or off? Do they have a new bed? Perhaps you’ve welcomed a new pet baby into the family recently. It could also be due to loneliness, anxiety, or simply a need for a toilet break. Try adjusting your dog’s sleeping arrangements, giving her comforting items to sleep with or taking her out for one last toilet before bedtime. If the problem persists, speaking to a vet about where to get the best behavioural advice is a good idea.

Why is my old female dog whining for no clear reason?

If you have an older female dog who whines with no apparent cause, this might indicate Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD). This is like the dog version of Alzheimer’s and occurs when changes occur in the brain due to 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 to pain. Conditions such as CCD and arthritis can be managed with veterinary advice and a multi-faceted approach, including appropriate diet, supplements and exercise.

Older female dogs can also experience hormonal changes or discomfort related to their reproductive system, even if spayed. Assessing your dog’s environment, providing comforting items and making small changes to her living space can help address the whining behaviour. Older dogs can also become more sensitive and prone to anxiety, particularly when separated from their owners. Introducing gentle training techniques, providing a cosy crate and leaving out familiar toys can help alleviate some of this anxiety and create a comfortable and secure space for your ageing pup.

Why does my dog whine on walks?

If your dog often whines during their walks, it can stem from a variety of reasons. They could be excited about going on a walk. After all, there’ll be lots of smells, sights and sounds that will stimulate their interest. However, it could also be because of discomfort, anxiety or a need for attention. Consider whether any environmental factors could be affecting your pup, for example, extreme temperatures, unfamiliar surroundings or encountering other dogs which could be causing them stress. Training can help address behavioural issues and teach your dog to walk calmly on their lead.

Be attentive to signs of distress and ensure your pup is comfortable with the chosen route and pace. Positive reinforcements can also help; for example, bringing their favourite toys and taking short breaks during the walk can make it more enjoyable for both of you. Understanding your dog’s unique needs, including breed-specific traits, will enable you to tailor walks to suit their preferences better, making the outing a positive and stress-free experience for both the pet and the owner.

Why does my dog whine in the car?

If your dog whines in the car, they might be excited or anxious about travelling. Some dogs may dislike the unfamiliar sensation of movement, while others might associate car rides with visits to the vet or grooming sessions. Assess your dog’s health to rule out any medical issues contributing to discomfort during car travel. Some pets can experience motion sickness during car journeys. Alternatively, they could be trying to get your attention. If this is happening often and affecting their well-being, seeking advice from an animal behaviourist is a good idea.

Adequate training can also assist with desensitising them to the car, making the experience more enjoyable. Consider creating a positive association by rewarding calm behaviour and gradually increasing the duration of car rides. Providing a comfortable and secure crate and familiar toys and ensuring a quiet environment can alleviate anxiety.

Why does my dog whine when meeting people?

If your canine companion tends to whine when meeting people, redirecting their attention to a favourite toy can be a helpful way to address the behaviour. Simply instructing your dog to be quiet may not be effective unless you’ve previously taught them the meaning of this command. It can be common for dogs to whine when greeting people due to excitement, and in this highly aroused state, they might lack control. 

Preventing this excessive excitement by keeping greetings quiet and low-key, avoiding loud voices and maintaining calm movements can make a big difference. Delay any interaction with your dog until they settle down. Teaching sitting or hand targeting during greetings can replace these vocalisations with more polite actions.

How do I get my dog to stop whining?

If your dog seems to be whining all the time and you can't get them to stop, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet, who can check that no underlying health concerns are causing them to whine. If your dog gets the all-clear from the vet, your next step is to consider the context in which their whines occur. Whether during car rides, at night, or in certain environments, identifying potential triggers will enable you to know how best to deal with them. 

Training can be key in reinforcing calm behaviour with positive reinforcement and systematically addressing whining. Provide mental and physical stimulation through interactive toys and regular exercise to alleviate excess energy. 

For nighttime whining, ensure your dog has a comfortable sleeping space and follow a consistent routine. Introducing a comfortable crate as a safe space can benefit dogs with separation anxiety. If your dog’s whines persist, consider consulting with a behaviourist who can work with your dog to identify their triggers and the best approach to reduce or eliminate its impact on your dog.

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

Should you ignore a whining dog?

Whether or not to ignore a whining dog depends on the underlying reasons for the behaviour. While some dogs may whine out of habit or because they want your attention, others may be uncomfortable or anxious. Ignoring a dog’s whining can be appropriate in certain situations, particularly if you’ve ruled out health issues and are confident that the behaviour is attention-seeking. However, understanding the context is crucial; if the whining is due to stress, fear, or other emotional reasons, ignoring it may exacerbate the problem. 

Owners should be attentive to signs of distress, assess the dog’s health, and consider factors like environmental stressors or changes in routine. Addressing the root cause rather than just ignoring the behaviour ensures a happy and healthy relationship between the dog and its owner.

It's not always easy to tell why a dog whines, but if you're concerned that it may be a medical issue, be sure to get them checked out by a vet as soon as possible.

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Frequently asked questions

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