Why Do Dogs Whimper?

You already planned to take your furry friend for a stroll in the evening. However, while sitting with a bag of popcorn enjoying your favorite TV show, you suddenly heard your canine whimper endlessly with a disturbing look. What could be wrong, and why do dogs whimper?

Dogs whimper to communicate their emotional and physical needs to their parents. Depending on how intimate you are with your pup, you can always decode the most probable reason for this unusual behavior. Your dog may be excited, in pain, anxious, afraid, or need more food. It’s going to be your puzzle to unravel.

There is undoubtedly more to know about dogs’ whimpering and its reasons. But a more comprehensive way to go about this subject would be to define what whimpering is. So, how does a dog’s whimper sound? Continue reading to find the meaning of whimpering.

What Does A Dog Whimpering Mean?

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Whimpering is a unique vocalization by dogs that helps them communicate their urgent needs to their owners. It is usually a low, intermittent, and feeble sound that signals fear, anxiety, or need for attention.

While human babies and young adults cry when sad or in need of attention, pups choose to communicate this by whimpering or whining. To a large extent, whimpering is a learned behavior, although most dogs acquire it instinctively.

Many people, especially first-time dog parents, think that dogs often whimper for no reason. But is this actually true? Let’s dig deeper.

Why Does My Dog Whimper For No Reason?

Dogs do not whimper for no reason. Every time they make that sad, silent sound, there is something they want to communicate. And unless you understand and meet their needs, they may not stop whimpering and may even become frustrated.

Some of the common reasons dogs whimper include:

  • They are feeling lonely and need your attention
  • They need more food, water, or toys.
  • Your dog is stressed or afraid of something. Sometimes, dogs see what humans can’t see.
  • You’ve just scolded your dog, and he’s showing remorse.
  • Your canine is injured and in pain.
  • Sometimes, whimpering is your dog’s way of showing excitement.
  • Your dog is getting old and displaying cognitive decline such as dementia.

Suppose you cannot identify why your dog whimpers; you may have to see a vet and rule out any serious health condition. That’s because dogs’ whimpering is often a sign of distress or sadness.

Whining and whimpering are often used interchangeably by many people. But is there any difference between the two? Find out as you read on.

What Does It Mean When A Dog Whimpers And Whines?

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Both whimpering and whining are communication means used by dogs. However, it is usually a high pitch, long-drawn, intermittent vocalization when your pup whines. On the other hand, whimpering is soft, feeble, and with a low pitch.

Dogs can whine or whimper for the same reason. At first, it may not be delightful, especially for a first-time parent. However, as noted above, many canines don’t whine for fun; they only do so when something isn’t right, and they need your attention to fix it.

But what if your dog appears to be whining for fun? Should you ignore a whining dog?

Should You Ignore A Whining Dog?

Sometimes, ignoring your whining dog can be the best option. But that would mean that you perfectly understand why your furry friend is whining. If it is just for attention, it’s alright to ignore or retrain, so you don’t encourage it to do so every time.

That said, most whinings are not resolved by simply ignoring them. Instead, you would have to find out why and meet your dog’s needs.

For example, if they need more food, it would be best to give it on time. If it is because of fear, a few hours of training and mental stimulation can help to allay such fears.

Most dog parents’ challenge is deciphering between whining for attention and whining for more serious concern. So, how do you know if your dog is merely whining for attention? That’s the focus of the heading below.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Whining For Attention?

You know that your dog is whining for attention when it stops doing so after playing with it. Try taking your canine out on a walk or playing around the house with it when it whines. If this contains this unwanted noise, then your pup was only trying to get your attention.

Since whining or whimpering is not a pleasant sound for most people, you wouldn’t want to encourage your furry friend in the act. So, after establishing that your pooch whines for attention, you should retrain it to do so in another way.

It begins with you not giving attention in response to the sound. Instead, wait for your pup to stop whining before playing with it. In fact, you may reward or give your pooch a treat after it stops whining about driving home your point.

That way, your four-legged companion does not see whining as a way to manipulate you.

What Dog Breeds Whine The Most?

German Shepherd and Alaskan Malamute are among dog breeds that whine a lot. While these two are famous for their size, strong will, and functions, they also excel in vocalizations.

Nevertheless, other dog breeds whine a lot, too. These include:

The above list is not exhaustive but only represents a few breeds that cherish whining.

Is A Dog Whimpering The Same As Crying?

Yes, to a large extent, whimpering is a dog’s way of crying. However, canines don’t shed tears or wail as humans do, making understanding them tricky.

The whimpering sound is usually soft, low-pitched, and intermittent. Nonetheless, it cannot be mistaken for a dog’s normal vocalization because of its strangeness.

Only a few breeds whimper for a positive reason, such as excitement. The majority of other dog breeds whimper when things are not alright, and they need you to take immediate action. So, what are some of those reasons dogs cry or whimper? Find out below.

Why Do Dogs Cry Or Whimper?

Dogs cry or whimper primarily to get their parent’s attention. The need for attention can either be positive or negative. For instance, a critically ill canine can whimper as an expression of pain and a way to alert you, the parent.

Some other reasons dogs cry or whimper include:


Dogs, too, like humans, get anxious. Their anxiety can be because of a change in environment, an unusual traveling route or means, or a strange climatic change such as a thunderstorm.

Unknown to your pup, the anxiety metamorphoses into stress, and they cannot interpret the reason for their discomfort. Under this condition, most dogs would whimper, hoping to get some relief.


Some dog breeds are naturally susceptible to whimpering. And to such, a slight environmental or body change must result in whimpering or crying. Examples of these breeds include Beagle and German Shepherd.

Their susceptibility means that you can hardly do anything to stop this unwanted sound. The best you can do is to reduce it.

Pain From Injury

Joint and belly pains can make a dog whimper. These pains can arise due to old age or an intensive workout. However, since most dogs have layers of furs, you may be unable to sense this by mere casual inspection.


Just like some humans cry when they are overwhelmed with joy, some dogs also whimper not because they are sad, ill, or in need of anything but because they are happy.

You can always know if excitement is the reason for your dog’s whimpering because, in addition to the vocalization, they will most likely wag their tail furiously, jump or play around.

They Need Something

Sometimes, the only way some pups think they can get you to serve them is by whimpering. So, if your canine loves toys or needs extra food, and it does not seem to it that you notice this need, the cute puppy can resort to whimpering.

You will do well to attend to it immediately and correct the trend. That’s because once your pooch notices that it gets his way when it whines, you may end up with a whining pet.


Dogs experience cognitive failure as they age. Unfortunately, this experience often makes them whimper for no specific reason. What is happening is that the dog cannot connect with the environment as before and often feels isolated.

As with whining, if you find it challenging to nail the exact reason for your dog’s vocalization, you should not hesitate to call on a vet. At least, you can rule out any serious illness if you have a professional inspect your pooch.

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Are Dogs Actually Sad When They Whimper?

Yes, in most cases, dogs are sad when they whimper.

It can be heart-wrenching to witness your beloved pup groan or express sounds of sadness. As such, It is understandable if you give in quickly and try to find a solution to the noise.

According to Parsons et al. (2019), dog owners feel as sad when their dog whines or whimpers as they feel when their babies cry. Some respondents even claimed they felt sadder listening to their dog’s distress vocalizations than they would feel seeing their babies cry.

So, it’s apparent that a dog’s whimpering is a two-way loss. The owner feels sad while the dog also is most likely in distress. No wonder dog parents don’t take this vocalization for granted. You shouldn’t either.

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Pete Decker