Dogs display a number of unusual behaviors and as a dog owner you have probably experienced some at one point. One of these behaviors is dog barking and whimpering.
It is quite concerning to hear your dog barking and whimpering and particularly distressing if you’re not sure what’s causing the behavior.
We’ll go over the various reasons why dogs bark and whimper, tips for addressing this behavior, and when to seek help.
Dog barking and whimpering happens due to due to pain, stress, hunger or thirst, attention seeking behavior, boredom, separation anxiety, fear and excitement. To determine the cause of your dog’s barking and tail-wagging, it’s important to pay attention to their body language and the surrounding environment to help you understand your their behavior.
Is it normal for dogs to bark and whimper?
Barking and whimpering are normal dog behaviors for dogs because they are ways that dogs communicate with both humans and other animals. However, the behavior can an indication of an underlying medical condition or behavioural problem that needs to be addressed.
Excessive barking and whimpering problem if it is disrupting your household or bothering your neighbors.
It is important to keep in mind that each dog is an individual, and what one dog may deem excessive barking and whimpering may be completely normal for another.
Reasons for dog barking and whimpering
Pain or discomfort
Pain can cause a dog to whimper or cry due to discomfort. whimpering is a way they vocalize how they are feeling and this can indicate to you that they are unwell and need help.
Pain and discomfort can be due to a number of conditions, including infections, diseases, arthritis, dental issues, post surgery and injuries.
In addition to barking and whimpering, other symptoms that indicate a dog is in pain or discomfort include restlessness, panting, loss of appetite, reluctance to move or play, licking or biting the affected area, and changes in behavior or attitude.
Another common cause of barking and whimpering in dogs is stress and anxiety. Dogs can experience anxiety or fear in response to many different triggers, such as loud noises, strange people or animals, and routine changes.
Stress can come from different triggers including moving to a new home, being confined in a crate, a change of routine, introduction of a new pet, or loud noise.
Stress or anxiety can also lead to compulsive obsessive behaviors in a dog, which include digging, chewing, and eating everything, which act as a stress-relieving outlets.
Hunger and thirst
If a dog is barking and whimpering they can indicate hunger or thirst, and the behavior is a way for them communicating their needs.
A dog may bark to signal that they are hungry or thirsty, especially if they have already developed a routine or have learned that barking and whimpering will result in food or water being provided
Signs to look out for a hungry dog include sniffing or licking around food bowls, restlessness, following you around in the kitchen or pantry and begging at the table during meal times.
The signs of a thirsty dog include excessive panting, drooling, sunken eyes, dry nose, tacky gums and producing thick saliva.
Therefore it is important to observe and identify if this is what they are asking for.
Attention seeking behavior
One of the causes of barking and whimpering in dogs is attention seeking. Barking and whimpering is also also a way for dogs to communicate their needs and wants. For example, a dog may bark or whimper to let you know that they want to go outside, or that they want to play.
They may also do this if they feel neglected or sense that you are not paying much attention to them, therefore they may start to bark and/or whimper to get your attention, to bring your focus to them.
To understand what your dog is trying to communicate, it’s important to pay attention to their body language and behavior.
Separation anxiety is a common cause of barking and whimpering in dogs. It happens when a dog becomes anxious or distressed when separated from their human family or left alone. It can also be caused by a lack of training.
Some dog breeds are more susceptible to separation anxiety than others and tend to suffer more from separation anxiety.
The anxiety can show up in a number of behaviors, including barking and whimpering, which is also accompanied by other behaviors including pacing, whimpering and destructive behavior such as digging, chewing or defecation in the house.
Another common reason why dogs bark and whimper is boredom. Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy and engaged.
If they’re not getting enough of this they will resort to barking and whimpering, including other activities to entertain themselves or pass time.
They will also bark and whimper due to boredom to get your attention so that they can play with you or engage with you.
Fear is normal response in dogs due to a variety of triggers. These triggers include loud noises, unfamiliar people or animals, and changes in their environment
Fear and anxiety can be caused by poor socialization, dementia due to aging, traumatic experiences, other perceived dangers, and illnesses that contribute to phobia and fears.
A fearful and anxious dog will show behaviors that indicate that they are distressed such as pacing, trembling, whimpering, drooling, excessive barking, whimpering, growling, snapping, incontinence, excessive grooming, and chewing on objects.
Barking and whimpering is also a way of showing excitement especially when your dog sees you after a period of separation. This can include jumping on you and also vocalizing it with a whimper due to excitement.
If your dog is excited, barking and whimpering is a way of showing this and may be accompanied by jumping up and down, open mouth with tongue out, panting and running around.
How to stop dog barking and whimpering
Dogs may bark and whimper for various reasons, and most of the time it is normal. However, it can become concerning, wondering what could be wrong or irritating for some dog parents.
You can stop dog barking and whimpering by understanding the reason behind it. Here are a few ways you can help a dog that is barking and whimpering:
Provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation
Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to be healthy and also work off pent up energy. Therefore provide toys for them to play with, activities, or exercise appropriate for their age.
This will help reduce boredom and attention-seeking behaviors.
Provide them with what they need
A dog barking and whimpering can be an indication that they need something from you such as food, water or simply to go out for a walk. The best way to communicate or express this need is to bark and/or whimper.
Therefore if this is the case provide them with what they need at the moment.
If the whimpering or whining is due to fear that might have been caused by a particular trigger, remove your dog from the situation and comfort them.
This includes moving them away from the noise and also minimizing exposure to situations that may frighten them.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
If your dog is barking and whimpering for attention, ignoring the behavior and waiting until they’re quiet before rewarding them can be an effective way to reduce the behavior.
When your dog is behaving well, make sure to give them plenty of praise and rewards. This will help reinforce good behavior and encourage your dog to continue behaving well.
Receive their excitement
Your dog can be very happy when they see you come back home or if you have been separated from you for a long period.
Barking and whimpering are simply a way that they vocalize their excitement. Therefore return the affection by hugging them or petting them to show them affection.
Engage a dog trainer or an animal behaviorist when you need further help to adjust your dog’s behavior. A certified trainer can help you minimize and stop your dog’s behavior.
When to seek help for dog barking and whimpering
If you are unable to identify the potential cause of your dog’s barking and whimpering or if the behavior persists, consult with your veterinarian. This is because the behavior can be due to an underlying health condition.
The veterinarian will conduct a full examination, determine the underlying cause and develop a more comprehensive plan to address your dog’s behavior.
If it is a behavioral problem, they will also guide you on ways to stop the behavior and may also recommend an animal behaviorist for training needs.
A veterinarian should be also be consulted regarding your dog’s barking and tail whimpering when:
The behavior is new or sudden: If your dog’s barking and whimpering is sudden or out of character, it could be a sign that there’s an underlying medical issue.
The behavior is accompanied by other signs of illness: If your dog is exhibiting other signs of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or changes in bowel or bladder habits, it’s a good idea to see a veterinarian.
The behavior is disturbing: Consult with your veterinarian for your dog if the barking and whimpering is excessive and disrupting your household.
The behavior is persistent: Also talk to your veterinarian if your dog’s barking and whimpering continues despite your efforts to address the behavior.
What not to do for dog barking and whimpering
Avoid the following when you see your dog barking and whimpering:
Yelling or punishing them: Avoid yelling or punishing your dog when they bark and whimpers. This form of discipline will only increase their stress and anxiety, leading to even more barking and whimpering.
Instead, keep calm and use positive reinforcement methods for good behavior to encourage them to stop.
Ignoring the behavior: It might seem like an easy fix to ignore your dog’s barking and whimpering, but doing so only reinforces the behavior.
One of the reasons dogs bark and whimper is to get their owners’ attention and they are more likely to persist if they are not successful. It is important to address the behavior by implementing an appropriate solution.
Encouraging the behavior: Resist encouraging the behavior by not giving in to their demands by use of barking and whimpering to get attention.
In the long run, this can reinforce the behavior and make it more challenging to stop. Instead, use or get training for your dog to better teach them the appropriate behavior.
Key Takeaway: Dog barking and whimpering
Barking and whimpering are common dog behaviors, but they can be due to an underlying medical or behavioral problem.
When your dog barks and whimpers, try to assess the situation to identify the possible cause to respond appropriately to the situation and help them.
Seek medical care if they present signs of sickness, discomfort, or when you might not be sure what would be causing the behavior.