My Puppy Whines! What Should I Do?

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My Puppy Whines! What Should I Do? - Light colored puppy with mouth wide open.
My Puppy Whines! What Should I Do?

Most puppies whine sometimes. It’s distressing to hear a little puppy cry.

There are many reasons why a puppy whines. Some are behavioral and others are health-related.

My current Aussie mix puppy, Millie, had whining down as science. I had to figure out why she was whining and then fix the problem.

She whined when she wanted something like a bully stick. She’d look up where they’re kept and whine with a sad look on her face.

I worked on redirecting her to a toy or sometimes took a bully stick out when she wasn’t whining and make her perform a behavior like sit and quiet in order to earn it.

Millie learned that she wouldn’t get desired treats by whining. And she also learned impulse control because she had to be calm when she got the chewy.

Contents & Quick Navigation

Why Do Puppies Whine?

  1. They Want Attention. Puppies can seem very needy. When you’re busy, your sweet little puppy whines. It sometimes happens when you’re on the phone or the computer. Anytime you’re not giving the pup attention, he whines.
  2. They’re Excited. Some puppies whine when they’re excited, such as when you first arrive home and the pup squeals with delight. Or the puppy has a lot of energy and does the zoomies around the room, happily whining and squealing with each run.
  3. They Want Something. Puppies can convey that they want some food, a walk, or even a toy by whining. He may go over to where the leash is hung or look there and start whining. Or go over to the counter where his food dish is and let out a squeal.
  4. They’re Stressed or Fearful. A puppy who’s fearful or otherwise stressed can whine.  A stressed pup can offer appeasement gestures, such as lip licking, averted eyes, drooling, or yawning, which sometimes accompany the whining. Often, if the dog is also fearful, the whine is accompanied by certain body language such as, ears pulled back, tail tucked under the body, and averting their eyes.
  5. They’re in Pain or Discomfort. Puppies may whine when there’s something physically wrong. The whining may be to help soothe themselves too.  A whine may express that there’s a medical condition that requires veterinary attention.
  6. They Have To Potty. Some pups let you know that they have to go to the bathroom by whining. Signals may include sniffing the floor or circling.
  7. They’re Bored. A bored puppy may become destructive, chewing on furniture or otherwise engaging in undesirable behavior, and he may whine.
  8. They Have Separation Anxiety. Some puppies have never been left alone and develop a problem when left alone.
  9. They Haven’t Been Trained To Be in Their Crate. Dogs who haven’t been trained to accept being confined to a crate or exercise pen will sometimes whine in their crate.

What Should I Do To Stop My Puppy’s Whining?

In order to fix the whining problem, you have to determine why the puppy’s whining. When a puppy’s new to us, he may have never been left alone before. 

He may whine, pace, dig, and exhibit other stress behaviors when left alone–sometimes for the first time in his crate.

As you get to know your puppy, you’ll know his habits. Some puppies are relatively laid-back whereas others are naturally hyper.

1. Physical Exercise

Physical exercise is important for all healthy puppies. If a puppy is bored or over-excited, exercise can help solve the problem. It also can help dogs who are stressed or anxious release some of that stress. 

A walk, playing fetch, or running around with a friendly canine playmate may help solve the problem.

Physical exercise can also help relieve stress in some puppies, as it takes the edge off.

My golden rescue Riley who came to me at about six months old whined when he had too much energy.

It was a quick fix to give him more physical exercise. We walked for a few miles at a time and played fetch. A couple of days a week, I took him to a doggie daycare to play.

Of course, we also engaged in mental stimulation through obedience exercises and puzzle toys.

2. Mental Stimulation

Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise.

A puppy who’s bored or has too much energy which manifests in too much excitement can be helped by providing mental exercises. It can also help a nervous or anxious puppy build confidence.

Work On Obedience Training

Obedience exercises help provide mental stimulation. Have your pup sit on cue

If he doesn’t know it, have a small treat and put it just above his nose, slowly moving it back towards his tail. As soon as his butt touches the ground, calmly say “good sit” and give him the treat. 

I recommend that you train this separately so that he’ll perform it even when excited.

Another training exercise that can help some puppies is to learn the “touch” command. It teaches the puppy to gently touch his nose to your flat palm. 

Make sure that he’s had some physical exercise to set him up to succeed. You can teach it by having your puppy right in front of you. 

Place your palm, fingers facing down towards the floor, in front of your puppy’s face. Tell him to “ touch.

Immediately after his nose touches your palm, praise him (“good touch”) and give him a small treat from the other hand.

Obedience exercises also help give confidence that may help a scared or stressed pup relieve his anxiety.

Give Your Dog Puzzle Toys And Games

Toys and games help provide mental stimulation. Stuffed Kongs can make a dog refocus and relieve stress. 

I love the Extreme Kongs. I stuff it with a little moist food and freeze it overnight.

Puzzle toys where the puppy has to find a treat or a few pieces of his kibble can help build confidence or release energy.

A snuffle mat is a mat that has many pieces of cloth tied together. You can throw a few treats into the mat and the puppy has to scavenge for them in the mat. 

I don’t recommend this for some puppies as they may try to chew the mat itself. If you get one, just observe your puppy to ensure he’s not chewing the mat.

3. Give The Puppy Attention

Giving the puppy attention is sometimes the way to go. But you don’t want him to think that whining gets him attention. So how do you give him attention without breaking that rule? 

You can turn your back briefly for a few seconds and, if he stops whining, reward the calmer behavior with a toy. If you play fetch too, it will help redirect him to something other than whining.

Then, when he performs the exercise, reward and lavish attention on him. He’ll think that he’s being rewarded for the training exercise, not for whining.

Another time you can give your puppy attention is when he is not whining. Go over to him occasionally and tell him how good he is being calm. Reward him with a toy–even a stuffed Kong or other activity toy.

A lab puppy I worked with demanded attention. He wanted to be petted all the time. By ignoring him briefly and redirecting him to a game, he learned that he didn’t get attention when whining for it.

4. Take The Puppy Out To Potty

Taking the puppy out to potty can be the answer to resolve whining. If you think that the puppy has to go to the bathroom, take him out. 

Use your “go potty” phrase and praise and reward with a small pea-sized treat when he’s done.  

If it turns out that he didn’t have to go to the bathroom, just bring him back in and give him something to do like play or a safe chewy like a bully stick. Of course, have him perform a behavior like sit before he gets his treat.

5. Have A Puppy Feeding Schedule

Establishing a puppy feeding schedule can stave off hunger pains, so that the pup is less likely to beg and whine for food. 

It helps if a puppy is fed at the same times each day. Very young puppies under five months old or small breed puppies are often given three meals a day; older dogs are usually given two a day.

If you’re not sure what your puppy’s schedule should be, check with your veterinarian.

6. Behavior Modification

For fearful and very anxious or stressed dogs, you may have to do some behavior modification in addition to exercising his mind and body and otherwise building confidence through play and games.

First, attempt to identify what is causing the stress or fear. If, 

for example, the puppy gets stressed when the dishwasher is on, distance him from it before you run it–far enough that he doesn’t seem bothered by it. 

Then, you can try running it and giving him a yummy chewy or stuffed Kong.  

You want him to associate good things with a stressor. The stressor has to be far enough away that the dog isn’t stressed by it.

Other things that can help calm an anxious puppy is playing calming music or a television at a low volume. Even white noise machines can help sometimes.

There are also modalities like Adaptil, which mimics a dog’s mother’s pheromones, which can have a calming effect on a puppy. It comes in a diffuser which can be plugged in near a crate, for example, and a spray and a collar.

What if you’ve done the obedience exercises like touch, sit, and attention and tried exercise, activity toys, and play and your dog still displays very fearful or anxious behavior? 

You may have to consult with your vet or a behaviorist veterinarian to learn how to help alleviate the dog’s stress.

Constant, unmanageable stress can lead to emotional/behavioral problems as well as physical ones.

7. Crate Train Your Puppy

Crate train the puppy. It’s not unusual for a young puppy to whine in his crate. It may be the first time he’s away from his litter or prior placement.

So we want to do all we can to set the puppy up to succeed. Before he enters the crate, make sure he’s gone to the bathroom so he doesn’t cry to let you know he has to potty.

Make sure you’ve physically exercised him with a game of fetch or a short walk.

You can give him a stuffed Kong to occupy him and make the crate a welcoming place. 

For a very young puppy away from his litter for the first time, a device called the Snuggle Puppy can be placed in his crate. It has a heating pad in it and it simulates a heartbeat, both of which can help soothe the puppy.

You should also place the crate in your bedroom and in your sight in the beginning over-night so that he doesn’t feel scared or lonely.

Click on this link for a great article on how to get your puppy used to staying home alone in his crate.

8. Get Your Puppy Used To Being Alone

For dogs with separation anxiety, you need to get the puppy used to you leaving him home alone. Doing so can also help to prevent separation anxiety. 

Usually a puppy is confined to a crate or exercise pen when left home alone and so that he doesn’t become destructive of the house.

Assuming you’ve gotten him used to his crate, you have to try to ease him into being in it while alone in the room. 

First, you want the crate to be in the same room you’re in. He should also be able to see you.

To set him up to succeed, make sure he’s been physically and mentally exercised before he enters the crate. And make sure that he’s done his business.

Give him something safe to occupy him and to make the crate the place to be. A stuffed Kong is a good choice. Then close the crate door.

Wait a few seconds with him quiet, then open the door and don’t make any fuss. You want him to learn that being in the crate–not exiting it–is what you want.

Add more time as he’s able to handle it. Then, once he’s quiet and settled in the crate for a few minutes, leave the room for 10 seconds. Then return. Wait a few seconds before letting him out.

During this training exercise, add time to how long the puppy is in the crate and how long you’re out-of-sight.

It’s good to train all puppies to be accustomed to your being out-of-sight.

These are some quick instructions on how to introduce a crate to your puppy. We put together an extensive guide that slows the process down and shows you step-by-step how to crate train a puppy.

What Shouldn’t I Do To Stop My Puppy’s Whining?

In order to stop a puppy’s whining, it’s important to try to figure out why he’s whining, as described above.

But there are some things that shouldn’t be done to fix any puppy’s whining. 

Trying to correct it in certain ways won’t fix the whining problem. They may also make the problem worse or create new problems.

1. Ignoring Your Whining Puppy

Ignoring the problem generally won’t stop the whining problem. It can even lead to the puppy whining more because he’s distressed or even lead to destructive behavior like chewing on furniture.

2. Telling Your Puppy To “Be Quiet”

Telling the puppy to “be quiet.” The puppy may even whine more because he’s getting attention that way–even if it’s negative attention.

It may also make some puppies whine or bark more because he may think that you’re whining with him.

3. Using Objects To Quiet Your Puppy

Using objects to quiet the puppy. Sometimes people try using a “shake can,” rattling it to keep a puppy quiet. (A shake can is an empty soda can with about 10 pennies in it, and taped at the top so that the coins don’t fly out.) 

It may quiet some puppies–even temporarily–but it won’t solve the problem long-term. Even for puppies who are temporarily quieted, they’ll usually whine again.

This may even scare some puppies, leading to more whining or even fearful behaviors, such as urinating out of fear, or destructiveness.

It can also make the crate or wherever the puppy is whining a negative place, which can lead to other problems.

Another device some people have used to quiet a puppy is a spray bottle filled with water. Then, they spray the puppy for whining. 

This doesn’t solve the problem long-term and can lead to other unwanted behaviors as shake cans can.

4. Using The Crate As Punishment

Using the crate as punishment or for a time-out is not advisable. It won’t solve why the puppy is whining.

Doing so can also lead to the pup not liking his crate. So this is an undesirable method to try to solve whining.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why your puppy might be whining and for each reason there’s a possible solution.

As long time puppy raisers and trainers one thing we’ve noticed is every puppy is different and while some things might work with some puppies they don’t work with all puppies.

That being said you’ll want to go down the above list and try the different tactics to see if any one might help your pup’s whiny behavior.

Do you have a puppy that whines?

What did you do to get your puppy to stop whining?

Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.

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My Puppy Whines! What Should I Do? - Yellow puppy has mouth wide open getting ready to whine.
My Puppy Whines! What Should I Do?

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Debbie DeSantis
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My Puppy Whines! What Should I Do? was last modified: November 30th, 2020 by Debbie DeSantis

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