If you are a new dog owner or especially sensitive then whining from your dog can be terrifying. What’s going on, anyways? If a dog yelps in pain for no apparent reason it is not necessarily a reason to be worried. In today’s article we are going to discuss a little about dog communication as well as what you can watch for in order to better understand what it really means when your dog is whining. The first step is going to be pausing and taking a deep breath.
First, relax a little. This might not be what you think
The first thing that we should let you know is that dogs have a habit that you might not expect. They tend to ‘suffer in silence’. Dogs with health conditions will often simply stay quiet and this makes understanding their body language all the more important. Yes, if you step on their tail or accidentally walk on a paw, you’ll get a quick howl or whine, but dogs generally only react this way out of surprise. Let’s talk about how dogs express pain and then we’ll continue with information to hep you to diagnose the cause of the whining.
How dogs communicate pain instead of whining
The first thing that you need to watch for is a change in your dogs eating and sleeping habits. A distressed dog may not eat so much. A sick dog might be dehydrated and suddenly start draining their water all in one go, even if you add another bowl right away. Yes, your dog may be more vocal, but it generally won’t be whining. A dog that is in pain may be a little more aggressive, for instance, jumping into a defense posture or even growling when touched. Heavy breathing can also be a warning sign. You know how they teach in ‘Lamaze’ breathing techniques to pregnant women for pain management? Your dog hates to trouble you when they are hurting and in a way they are doing the same thing that Lamaze is designed for, breathing heavily as a way of stabilizing and ‘absorbing’ the pain for management purposes. Lastly, a shaky dog is often a dog in need of attention (with the exception of thunderstorm shaking, of course, which simply indicate your little one is afraid). If you notice any of these behaviors then a trip to the veterinarian is a good idea as your dog may well be in pain that needs to be addressed. As far as the whining, let’s explore that aspect a little more. There are some factors you’ll need to keep in mind when determining the ‘root cause of whining’.
Age is a factor in determining what whining is meant as well
The age of your dog is going to affect things. Younger dogs can whine for a number of reasons. They might be scared, for instance. Most often, dogs simply whine when they are hungry. You can rule this out by trying out different food portions to see if this alleviates the issue but that doesn’t always work with some dogs (such as the ones that will spill a bag and eat until they are moaning. You know the ones!). Another prominent reason why dogs whine is because they know that it gets to you. If you come running every time that your dog whines then they will pick up on it and take advantage. So while your first instinct with a new puppy may be to come running every time that you hear a whine, hold off on that, this is not behavior that you want to encourage and it can take a long time to train them out of it. Older dogs, while they may whine for the same reasons, may also exhibit ‘whiny behavior’ as a direct result of the mental decline that comes with age. They can develop anxiety, for instance, or they might whine a bit with confusion as dementia begins to set in. Your vet will be able to let you know for sure if this is the case so don’t worry.
The time can be a factor, too
If you are noticing your dog whining, take a moment to halt that panic and note what time it is. Is this the time that you normally feed them or take them out for a walk? Is your dog whining at night (possibly because they can’t come into the bedroom or because they are inside and want to sleep on the bed with you!)? Taking note of the time when the dog is whining and putting the data together from a few days of the behavior can give you the bigger picture. The odds are that your dog is simply trying to get your attention in the way that they have deemed most effective.
What to do if you are still sure that the whine is caused from pain
While whining is typically not pain related, there are exceptions. If the whining is coming with a stiff walk or postural changes then is could be something sporadic that is developing which your veterinarian should be able to diagnose. In general, if you are worried, the vet is never a bad idea. Regular checkups,
“The best defense against the diseases which aging dogs can acquire”
for one thing, are the best defense against the diseases which aging dogs can acquire as well as keeping away issues that are inherent in certain breeds. If it’s nothing, you can stop worrying, and if it turns out that it was an issue, then it can be addressed. It’s a win-win policy that protects your furry best friend and your sanity!
Today we have discussed why yelps and whines are typically not the message that you think they are. Remember, as much as they display human traits, dogs have communication aspects which are all their own. Learn as much about them with the diligence that your dog strives to learn about you and the two of you are going to get along just fine for many years to come!