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Why Do Puppies Whine: Uncovering the Reasons Behind It - PawSafe

Why Do Puppies Whine: Uncovering the Reasons Behind It

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

why do puppies whine

Understanding why puppies whine can help create a stronger bond with our pups and provide them the comfort they need. With their oftentimes inconvenient solo performances of canine vocalization, puppies sure have a lot to say sometimes.

As a dog behaviorist, I’ve noticed both dogs and puppies whining for various reasons. When puppies cry, it usually indicates they’re upset or trying to communicate something. They may yap when they want attention, to say hello, when scared, hurt, or even when trying to get along with other dogs.

Andrew Anikin observes that humans can correctly tell a puppy’s distress levels by listening to their cries in their study nonlinear vocal phenomena in whines. Here, we’ll decipher the meaning behind those whimpers because, as Andrew observes, you can tell that something is wrong from these sounds.

New puppies often make high-pitched screams that last about a second. And since puppies sleep a lot, they’ll turn around and nap for the rest of the day as if none of that screaming happened. With age, the pitch of their whimpers changes, and the duration can become shorter.

My own puppy, Arthur, used to cry a lot when he felt left out. This was especially true if he thought he wouldn’t be joining the rest of us for a walk. I managed this behavior by helping Arthur become less overly attached and keeping him busy in his crate.

My friend’s German Shepherd puppy, Xena, is also quite the whiner. For Xena, griping is a means to express her excitement or to indicate that she is friendly and wants to play. Her vocalization can have various meanings, such as a request to play, a plea for food, seeking attention, or simply because she’s super excited.

To help Xena, I suggested that people should not pay too much attention to her when visiting. This way, she would learn that their arrival isn’t something to get overly worked up about.

Additionally, when Xena cries for play or attention, ignoring her helps her understand that this behavior won’t get her what she desires. Rewarding her calm behavior with treats and attention is a much more effective approach. Teaching Xena to relax on a mat can also make her feel more secure and less anxious when alone.

Puppy Whining: What Does It Mean?

In my experience, dogs crying is a way for them to express their emotions and needs. Puppies might moan for various reasons, such as hunger, fear, discomfort, or attention-seeking behavior. Research from Oxford Academic observes that Humans commonly perceive canine whines as sad calls.

When I first brought my puppy home, I noticed he would scream when hungry or thirsty. To help with this, I established a consistent feeding schedule, which seemed to minimize his vocalizing due to hunger.

Discomfort can also cause this sad vocalization. Dogs are known for their stoic nature, often hiding signs of pain or discomfort. However, yelping can be a subtle yet crucial indicator that something might be amiss.

Additionally, puppies might make these sounds when they feel frightened or anxious. Remember, they’ve just been separated from their littermates and are getting used to a new environment.

While it’s important not to reinforce this behavior so they don’t continue, I found that spending quality time with your puppy and providing positive interactions would satisfy their need for attention.

Exploring the Main Reasons Puppies Whine

Understanding the reason behind your puppy’s crying and addressing it appropriately can help create a happy and well-adjusted pet.

Even as we explore the reason behind these puppy sounds,  It’s important to remember that each puppy is different. The case with one may not necessarily apply to another pup. Let’s look at 9 common reasons for this behavior:

1. Overexcitement

Sometimes, I notice my pup yelps out of sheer excitement. It’s their way of expressing enthusiasm when they see me, their favorite toy, or even when it’s time for a fun activity.

Overexcitement crying is often accompanied by other signs of excitement, such as wagging tail, jumping, and hyperactive behavior. In these moments, your dog may struggle to contain their eagerness, and vocalizing becomes an outlet for their excitement.

2. Eliciting Play

Pups often whine to initiate playtime, especially if they’re feeling energetic. Puppies will usually paw at you or bring you their favorite toy when they want to engage in some play.

3. Need for Attention

Dogs often vocalize to grab your attention or seek companionship. If, in the past, you’ve responded to these cues with attention or affection, your dog learns that vocalizing is an effective way to garner the interaction they desire. They may repeat this behavior to replicate the positive response they’ve received before.

4. Physical Discomfort

If a puppy is in pain or discomfort, they might yelp to inform you about it. There are various reasons why a dog might be experiencing pain, ranging from injuries and joint problems to dental issues or internal ailments.

5. Being Left Alone (or Crated for the First Time)

Separation anxiety may cause puppies to cry aloud when left alone or confined to a crate for the first time. Creating a comfortable space, using comforting scents like Dog appeasing pheromone (DAP), and gradually increasing the duration of alone time can help address separation-related whining.

6. Begging for Food or Toys

Puppies can sometimes become insistent when they want a treat, to drink water or toys, resorting to crying to get their way. Pay attention to the context of your dog’s crying.

If their basic needs, such as bathroom breaks, exercise, and meals, have been addressed, excessive whining may be a way of expressing a desire for extra food or play rather than a necessity.

7. Anxiety or Fear

When puppies feel anxious or fearful, they may produce wailing sounds as a response to the situation. Your puppy can be like this during thunderstorms, fireworks, and being in new environments. It’s important to reassure them and help them feel safe during these times.

8. When the Crying is Rewarded

Dogs are quick learners, and if they’ve been rewarded for vocalizing in the past, they may continue this behavior to get what they want. Whether it’s attention, treats, or access to a preferred space, if crying has been positively reinforced, it becomes a learned behavior.

9. Breeds More Prone to Whining

Some dog breeds are known to be more vocal than others and may whimper more frequently. Breeds like Chihuahuas, Beagles, and Dachshunds tend to be more vocal than others. However, every puppy is different, so getting to know your specific pup and their unique needs is essential.

10. Reproductive Behavior (Female Dogs)

Unspayed female dogs may cry when they are in heat, signaling their readiness to mate. This can happen in female puppies around 6 months old that have reached sexual maturity. They are technically adolescents at this age. If your female dog is intact and exhibiting yowling along with other mating behaviors, it may be related to their reproductive cycle. Spaying can prevent these behaviors and improve your dog’s overall well-being.

Steps to Manage Puppy Whining

Consistent Training

In my experience, consistency is vital when training a puppy. Ensure you stick to regular commands like “quiet” and routines to help your puppy understand what is expected of them. By remaining consistent, your puppy eventually learns to make a lot less noise and communicate more appropriately.

Do not reward The Behavior

One of the most important aspects of dealing with these noises is to avoid rewarding them. Never give your puppy attention or treats when they whimper and cry, which only reinforces the behavior. Instead,  wait for them to calm down before giving them the desired attention.

No Fuss Over Puppies When Entering the House

Avoid making a fuss when you come home and your puppy greets you. This helps to prevent over-excitement. By keeping your emotions in check and acting calm, your puppy understands that crying out loud isn’t an acceptable way to greet me.

Rewarding Calm & Quiet Communication

Reward your puppy when they communicate calmly and quietly. This can be as simple as praising them, giving them a treat when they sit quietly, or calmly asking for attention. By rewarding these behaviors, I reinforce that staying calm and quiet is the best way to get what they want from me.

Meeting Their Needs

Meeting your puppy’s needs is crucial to minimizing begging sounds. This means providing them with appropriate exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction. By addressing their needs, you help to reduce their anxiety, which may contribute to vocalization.

Ignoring Whining

Sometimes, ignoring your pups when they fuss is the best solution. This teaching technique allows your puppy to understand that their crying won’t get your attention, and eventually, they will stop. Make sure to use positive reinforcement when they use a better behavior to get your attention.

Seeking Professional Help

If your puppy continues to have issues with excessive moaning despite your best efforts, consider seeking professional help. This could involve working with a dog behaviorist or trainer who can provide guidance and specialized training techniques to help manage the behavior.

Remember that patience is key when dealing with a whimpering puppy. By following these steps consistently, you can help your puppy communicate more effectively and improve your relationship.

Common Mistakes While Handling Whining Puppies

Understanding these common mistakes can help you nurture a strong bond with your puppy and reinforce healthy behaviors as a responsible puppy owner.

Ignoring Constant Whining

As a puppy owner, ignoring constant whining can be a mistake. This may sound counter-intuitive because we stated above that ignoring your dog’s crying can help reduce it. However, when puppies cry incessantly, it may be signaling intense distress or discomfort.

By disregarding their cries, you could inadvertently worsen the situation or miss out on important cues for their needs. It’s crucial to identify the cause of the vocalizing to address it best – whether it is due to hunger, anxiety, or illness – and ensure your puppy’s well-being.

Inadvertently Encouraging Whining

At times, you might inadvertently encourage your puppy’s noisy behavior. Offering attention or rewards when they yowl can reinforce this behavior, leading them to associate their cries with positive outcomes. You must stay consistent in your actions and responses to avoid this. For example, when your puppy cries for attention:

  • Don’t give in to their demands but rather wait for moments of silence before offering praise.
  • Optionally,  redirect their energy into a more suitable activity, like playing with a chew toy.

Knowing When to Seek Veterinary Help

It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your puppy’s health and well-being. By being attentive to their behaviors and knowing when to seek veterinary help, you can ensure that your puppy stays happy, healthy, and ready to bring joy and companionship into your lives.

Unusual Behavior Patterns

From time to time, you may notice your puppy exhibiting some unusual behavior patterns. These could include continuous crying, signs of pain, or even being extremely lethargic. In such situations, consider seeking veterinary help for your pup.

A veterinarian will be able to examine the puppy and determine if any underlying health issues or concerns need to be addressed.

Persistent Whining Despite Efforts

Crying is a natural form of communication for puppies, and at times, they might just need a little attention. However, if the puppy continues to cry persistently despite efforts to soothe them, it could indicate a deeper issue.

If you’ve tried everything from offering comfort to providing a sense of security, and your puppy is still whimpering and crying excessively, it’s time to consult a veterinarian.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why do puppies whine for attention?

Puppies sound for attention to communicate with their mother and littermates. They generally do this when they seek their owners’ comfort, care, or companionship. As a puppy owner, I’ve learned it’s essential to respond to their moaning noises promptly and ensure I’m not reinforcing them with too much attention.

Do puppies whine when they’re teething?

Yes, puppies do cry when they’re teething, as I’ve experienced with my own puppy. This is because teething can be quite uncomfortable for them, causing pain and irritation in their gums. To help ease their discomfort, I’ve found that providing appropriate chew toys and applying gentle pressure on their gums can help alleviate this behavior.

How can I stop my puppy from whining at night?

Stopping a puppy from crying at night can be challenging. Some strategies I’ve found helpful include:1. Establishing a consistent bedtime routine;
2. Providing a comfortable and secure sleeping environment; and
3. Gradually teaching them to self-soothe and sleep on their own.Remember, it’s important to be patient and consistent when addressing your puppy’s nighttime vocalization.

Is it normal for puppies to whine frequently?

Yes, it’s perfectly normal for puppies to whimper and cry frequently, especially during their first few months of life. Whimpering is simply their way of communicating a variety of needs or emotions, such as hunger, thirst, discomfort, or fear. With time and proper training, your puppy’s cries should decrease.

What causes a sudden increase in a dog’s whining?

A sudden increase in a dog’s mewing can be caused by various factors, such as pain, stress, anxiety, or a change in their environment. When a puppy suddenly starts whimpering excessively, take him to the veterinarian for a check-up to rule out any medical issues. Then, work on addressing any potential stressors in his environment.

How to ease whining in a puppy’s crate?

Easing excessive yowling in a puppy’s crate involves making them feel comfortable and secure in it. Here’s what I’ve done for my own puppy:1. Gradually introduce them to the crate using positive reinforcement, like treats and praise;
2. Ensure the crate is comfortable by adding blankets or bedding;
3. Place familiar items, such as toys, in the crate; and
4. Offer puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys to keep them occupied.Remember to be patient, as acclimating a puppy to their crate can take time. With consistent practice and positive reinforcement, your puppy should come to accept their crate as a safe and comfortable space.


In my experience, puppies whine for a variety of reasons. It could be due to hunger, thirst, or a feeling of discomfort. Taking the time to understand their needs has made a significant difference in managing their behavior.

Consistency and patience are key factors when addressing puppy crying noises. I always establish a routine for feeding and sleeping times, as well as regular bathroom breaks. It’s important to remember that puppies are still learning, so a gentle but firm approach is often necessary.

In some cases, I observed that puppies yowl to seek attention. This is where understanding their needs and establishing a routine helps them feel secure and cared for. Using positive reinforcement techniques, like praise and treats, has been an effective way to address this issue, too.

Socialization and exposure to new experiences should also be considered when managing a whimpering puppy. By exposing them to various situations, they will be more comfortable and less prone to cry out of fear or anxiety.

Throughout the process, remain patient and understanding. Learning to address your puppy’s vocalization will greatly contribute to forming a strong bond and keeping both of you happy. Remember that each puppy is unique, and discovering what works best for your specific pup will be the key to success.

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.