Why Does My Dog Whine All the Time?

If your pup has been whining a lot, it could be a health issue, boredom or anxiety. Learn more about why dogs whine and what you should do.

Published February 4, 2023
Sad dog lying on the couch next to woman

For the most part, dogs are pretty straightforward if you watch their body language. When they're happy, they have a relaxed or playful expression. When they're sad, they look at you with big eyes and droopy ears. Whining is harder to deal with, especially if your dog is whining for no obvious reason. But don't worry! There's likely a simple explanation behind all that crying, and we're here to help you find out what it is so you can help your poor pup feel better as quickly as possible.

Whining Due to Pain

Dogs are sensitive to pain in a similar way to humans. Pain is a complex experience that can be described as both physical and emotional. Dogs don't have the ability to verbalize their pain, but they do show signs of pain through body language, behavior, and physiology.

Pain is an important signal that something is wrong and needs attention. It will take close observation on your part as dogs will hide pain for as long as possible. You likely won't notice your dog is in pain until the pain becomes severe.

The brain has two systems for processing painful sensations: a fast system and a slow system. The fast system responds quickly to intense stimuli such as burns or cuts and delivers fast relief from pain. The slow system responds more slowly but has longer-lasting effects, such as after surgery or injuries that require tissue repair.

Illness in Dogs

Dogs can suffer from a number of illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Diseases in dogs are usually caused by genetic factors or environmental factors. Dogs can also get sick from viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

Symptoms may include whining, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, fever, and loss of appetite. Some illnesses have no symptoms at all until it is too late for treatment. There are many different types of illnesses that your dog could get. The most common illnesses for dogs are:

  • Parvovirus: This is a highly contagious virus that attacks the lining of the small intestine and causes vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. It can be fatal if not treated quickly.
  • Distemper: A viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Symptoms include coughing and sneezing, red eyes, and a discharge from the eyes and nose.
  • Leptospirosis: This bacterial disease causes fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and jaundice in dogs. It's transmitted through water or soil contaminated by rodent urine containing the bacteria.
  • Campylobacteriosis: This bacterial infection causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting in dogs.
  • Hepatitis A: A viral liver disease that causes fever, loss of appetite, and jaundice in dogs.

Fear and Anxiety

When your dog is whining, it may be a sign of fear or anxiety. If something loud and unexpected startled them, they may continue to whine as they try to feel safe again. If they are anxious in new situations, they may whine while you walk through an unfamiliar area or around strangers. Typically, if you remove the source of their fear, they should calm down and stop whinning.

Boredom in Dogs

Boredom can affect both humans and dogs. Boredom in dogs is a common problem, especially for those who are left alone for long periods of time. Many dog owners work long hours outside the home and leave their pets at home alone all day. This can lead to excessive whining as well as other behavioral problems, such as separation anxiety.

A bored dog will find ways to entertain themselves, usually by destroying things in your home or yard. The best way to keep this from happening is by giving them something constructive and safe so they can burn off energy without doing any damage. Try taking your dog outside on long walks, playing fetch with them in the backyard, or simply letting them run around the house while chasing their favorite toy, like a squeaky toy.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a condition where your dog becomes distressed when separated from you. They will often show signs of extreme stress, such as excessive barking, whining, chewing, urinating or defecating in the house, digging excessively and sometimes even causing physical harm to themselves by biting their paws or tail during periods of separation distress.

It's important to understand that not every anxious dog is suffering from separation anxiety. If your dog exhibits any of these signs when left alone with someone else or in another room of the house, then they may be suffering from social anxiety instead of separation anxiety.

In many cases, separation anxiety begins as a puppy. If you work long hours, it helps if your dog is accustomed to being left alone from the time they are young. If you have children, they should also learn how to handle the dog so they do not become anxious when they leave them alone.

Look into a Pet Sitter

If your dog needs extra attention, you may also want to look into hiring a pet sitter for your dog from a service like Rover or Care. If you choose to go this route, ask the pet sitter the following questions:

Pet sitter with three pet dogs outdoors in city
  • When do you work?
  • How many dogs do you currently have in your care?
  • Do you have experience taking care of dogs with medical conditions?
  • Can I meet the dogs who will be staying with my dog?
  • Where are you located? Can I see where the dogs will be staying before hiring you?
  • What kind of training have you had with dogs?

Never Punish Your Dog for Whining

In most cases, whining is a sign that something is wrong with your dog. Whining should never be punished or ignored because it could mean that your dog needs medical attention or help from you in some way, even if it's just that they're bored. However, if your pup whines for more than five minutes, it's time for an emergency veterinarian visit.

Why Does My Dog Whine All the Time?