Why Dogs Whine

I’m a dog.  I understand these things.  I whine.  In fact, I whine a LOT.  Why do I whine a lot?  Because it’s effective!

Whining is a multi-functional tool in a dog’s attention toolbox.  There a whine for when my humans aren’t doing something fast enough.  This could be anything from putting on their boots to driving to the dog park.

I whine when I want them to park the car quickly and let me out.  Note:  Humans can be very slow when it comes to important things.  I must control myself when my humans open the tailgate and tell me to SIT while they fiddle to connect a lead to my harness.  I’m better at self-control than Tilly.  She tends to jump out anyway.

Tilly doesn’t whine as much as I do…except when we are going on a walk or arriving at the dog park. Her whine is combined with high-pitched squeals and yelps.  If I combine my whines with anything it’s a deep bark.

We both whine when we are on the lead and we see other dogs!  We don’t stop whining until our humans let us off so that we can have a play!

why dogs whine - photo at racecourse
Running to play with other dogs.

Then there’s the morning whine.  This whine is accompanied by the intermittent paw tap on the baby gate.  I find this combination quite effective.  Tilly accompanies me by tapping back and forth on the tile floor and adding an occasional shake and yawn.  We make a good team.

I also whine when I want breakfast.  I employ this whine a LOT.  My humans have been known to fix themselves a cup of coffee and watch the news before they fill my bowl with kibbles.  Whining has helped to prevent this oversight.

Please note:  Never put a whining dog on the spot. 

Then there’s the whine at the back door to let me in when I’m finished being outside and I want to flop on my warm sofa.  Tilly doesn’t join me.  She lets me do all the whining because she needs to stay focused on the possibility of people walking past our gate.  She’s lightning fast with her barking frenzies.

Dog's whine back door
Whining at the back door. Tilly lets me do all the whining here.

The Unhappy Whine

Of course, I whine when I visit the vet.  It’s disappointing.  I get all excited and I whine because I know I am going somewhere.  I whine during the ride because I figure I’m going to the woods, the racecourse or the dog park, but then I end up in the vet’s office!  Of course, the whining continues in the waiting room but this time I use the ‘get me out of here’ whine!  It’s very persistent, at a much higher volume and I combine it with a constant stretch towards the entrance.

Dog Whine vet
If there’s one place that makes me whine, it’s the Vet!


There Isn’t a Better Method

I’ve tried other methods to get attention.  I find that the Vulcan mind meld stare can gain attention, but only when you can be up close and personal, this requires an unflinching stare about 4 inches from your human’s face.  I use this when they are watching the television.  However, I generally find it is less effective than a persistent whine when my humans are deeply focused on other things.

Dog's whine mind meld
The Pointer Mind Meld

How to Whine – Pointers from a Pointer

There’s an art to whining.  I’m told that mine sounds like a hamster wheel, whatever that is!  I have perfected my whine over many years.

I begin slow with occasional whimpers, change this over to a high frequency whine, increase the frequency and finally the volume.

Click on my picture to hear me whine.
Click on my picture to hear me whine.

To sum it up, humans simply cannot ignore a good whine, which is the reason dogs whine.


Be careful that you do not overdo it! A good whine should irritate your humans just enough to get what you want.  However, if you take it too far, it can aggravate your humans and that can be counterproductive. They may reach for a type of ‘whine’ that comes in a bottle. After a glass of human ‘whine’, they become able to ignore even my most persistent whining. 

If you study your human properly, you’ll learn to use just the right amount of whining to be successful every time.

Happy whining!

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Why Dogs Whine: Oscar tells all

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