Why Is My Dog Complaining?

It's safe to say there have probably been countless times when your dog was incessantly whining or barking at you for some unknown reason. "What is your complaint? What do you want?" you've asked. The most common reason is that your dog simply wants your attention. But before you throw your hands up in exasperation, there are some valid reasons why your dog might want to be noticed.

Whimpering and Whining

If your dog is whimpering or whining, you'll want to make sure there is no medical reason behind it. Taking your dog to the veterinarian for a physical exam is a good idea. For example, it's possible that your dog injured a leg playing at home, has a sore abdomen from a medical condition like pancreatitis, or has eaten a foreign object of some kind, such as a chew toy.

Some dogs will whine if they are hungry or thirsty. If your dog is fed at 5 p.m. every day, it wouldn't be unusual to hear a whine right at the moment when regular feeding time is about to occur, or a complaint if you're running a little behind the dinner schedule. In addition, some dogs need to go potty and will whine or whimper to be let out.

Frequent Barking

If your dog is continuously barking, this could be due to the following:

  • In some cases, older dogs bark incessantly for no reason at all. This is thought to be a behavioral change associated with senility.
  • If your dog is barking while lying down, this may be due to an inability to get up because of medical/orthopedic reasons, in which case, a veterinary exam is needed.
  • Consider that your dog might be trying to alert you to something going on in your home, i.e., there's a fire or a human/pet family member needs help of some kind.
  • Is your dog's favorite toy stuck under the couch and you're being asked to retrieve it?

If you've ruled out all of the above, the whining/barking/pawing is presumably just attention-seeking behavior. The best course of action when this happens is to provide your dog with an alternative source of stimulation:

  • Give your dog a favorite toy to play with
  • Take your dog for a walk
  • Find a new park to check out
  • Play a game of fetch
  • Take your dog for a ride in the car

While some whining is normal, a dog’s complaints might signal something more serious. If your dog shows unusual behavior, consult your Banfield veterinarian << http://www.banfield.com/our-hospitals/hospital-locations>> to discuss potential injury or illness

For more information on dog behavior, visit our pet behavior center or browse through our library of behavior articles

Updated October 20, 2015