We have all heard our dog whine at some point. Whining is a form of communication for your dog. Although dogs primarily communicate through body language and sometimes barking, whining can illustrate greater excitement or anxiety on your dog’s part.
Although not a preferred means of communication, some dogs pick up on their humans talking all the time to communicate and use their whining as their means to communicate.
One of the most common instances of dogs whining is when they are left alone. The sadness or anxiety that your dog is feeling when you leave could be the cause of his whining. This form of whining in an anxious dog is involuntary. Whining when being left alone is often associated with separation anxiety in dogs.
In this article, we will help you learn the reasons why your dog whines when you leave and help you figure out if this behavior is a sign of separation anxiety or something else.
We will also cover some of the commonly followed methods to teach your dog to overcome his whining habit, allowing you to leave home peacefully and without any guilt of leaving your dog alone.
Why Your Dog is Whining When You Leave
Before you can address your dog’s whining habit it is important that you understand why he is whining in the first place. Learning the reasons for his whining can help you understand him better and help improve the bond between the two of you.
Some of the most common reasons that have been identified for dogs whining are:
- For your attention
- To appease you
- While they are excited or feeling anxious
- If they are injured or in pain.
With so many possibilities it can be difficult to identify what is causing your dog’s whining. However, if your dog only whines when you attempt to leave him, the most likely cause for it would be separation anxiety.
This is when he is feeling unhappy, anxious, or abandoned at being left on his own. The loss of his protector, this is you, has resulted in panic, anxiety, and distress. Your dog’s whining is his means of communicating to you his concern and discomfort at not being able to be by your side.
Does Your Dog Have Separation Anxiety?
The first step to stopping your dog from whining is to identify whether your dog’s whining is caused by anxiety and unhappiness at your leaving. To be able to establish this, you must look for other signs of anxiety exhibited by him.
Look for anxiety indicators like pacing and panting, excessive drooling, scratching and destructive chewing of exit points like doors and windows. If you see your dog exhibiting some or all of these behaviors along with his whining, it is possible he is suffering from anxiety that has arisen from his fear of separation from you.
Whining at your leaving is your dog’s means of communicating panic and anxiety. Though anxious whining is often an involuntary behavior, it is possible to successfully reduce and even totally eliminate his whining and crying behavior when left alone.
It is important to note that punishing your dog for whining is not a solution to this problem. In fact, although punishment may reduce the vocalization to communicate anxiety, it will not be able to address the underlying issue.
Without treating the original cause, suppression of this harmless means of communication can result in your dog taking to other more destructive or dangerous methods.
Addressing Your Dog’s Whining When You Leave
One of the simplest and most effective means of addressing your dog’s excessive whining while you attempt to leave is with regular training sessions. You can try this at home or ask a certified animal behaviorist to help you.
The goal is to improve your dog’s confidence and to teach him to overcome his fear of separating from you and being on his own when you leave.
Ensuring that your dog is calm, well exercised, and occupied while you leave will make the transition process easier for him, allowing him to adapt to your absence more easily and making him less prone to whining while you attempt to leave.
A regular routine for your dog makes it easy for him to remain relaxed and comfortable and takes the edge off for him.
In order to successfully eliminate a whining habit, you can begin with the following steps.
- Establish a regular routine – Dogs are creatures of habit. They have an internal clock and find it more relaxing and calming if they have a familiar routine to follow. Make sure your dog has a consistent routine every day, even on the weekends, and ensure that you follow it for a while to allow him to learn the routine and to adjust to it.
- Provide daily exercise – Regular intense exercise is essential for all dogs. It could be in the form of aggressive play sessions, long walks, jogs, or any other exercise that he enjoys. It is important to ensure that your dog’s energy is safely exerted daily, so in your absence, he is tired and less likely to have excess energy to constantly whine. It has also been found that exercise releases the chemical serotonin in a dog’s brain. Serotonin has a calming and relaxing effect, thus resulting in a happy and peaceful your dog when you leave.
- Downplay your leaving or returning home – If you do not emphasize your exit or entry at home, it is less likely the dog will feel it is a big deal. When leaving, try not to say any goodbyes or give parting kisses to your dog. Similarly, after returning, ensure that you do not make a big deal about your dog’s excitement and attention seeking behavior. Take a few minutes to allow him to calm down before showing him any form of love or attention. This way, your dog will slowly disassociate from these behaviors and slowly learn to remain calm when you leave or return home.
- De-sensitize your dog to your leaving – This is one of the most important stages of teaching your dog not to whine when you leave. In order to ensure he does not become anxious at your exiting the house, fake the process a number of times. Go through the steps you take before leaving home and stop at various stages. You can also leave the home and return a number of times after short spans like two to five minutes. This way, when you actually leave, your dog is more likely to quietly expect your return than whine while you leave. Repeatedly doing this will ensure that he realizes that each time you leave, you will return, leading to less or even no whining over a period of time.
In case consistent following of these methods are unable to give you desired results, you can consider taking on the services of a dog sitter or walker or leaving your dog at a dog daycare too to allow him to interact and play with other dogs, allowing him the opportunity to remain occupied while you are away and reduce the stress he feels from your absence.
Some other options that are advised in such cases are the use of :
- Homeopathic medicines like Bach’s Rescue Remedy. This is a combination of flower remedies that address various anxiety-related symptoms in dogs. This product will help your dog remain calm and stress-free while you attempt to leave home.
- Anti-anxiety vests like the AKC Anti-Anxiety and Stress Relief Calming Coat and Thundershirts are tight vests that wrap around your dog’s torso, providing a mild pressure on the upper body. The effect is that of a gentle hug. These products can help calm a dog down and allow him to feel a constant presence that is reassuring to them. Or you can learn how to wrap a dog for anxiety yourself.
These methods and products are designed to teach your dog to remain calm and not react to stressors like when you leave home. For further support or if you are considering medication for your dog, it is best to take the help of a professional. Professional dog trainers can teach you the right ways to train your dog and to follow consistent methods to help him remain calm when you leave him.
There are also a number of more complex desensitizing training methods that a professional can effectively teach you to apply for your dog’s condition. If you believe that your dog’s condition is more serious, you can consult a veterinarian and ask for possible medication that can help manage your dog’s anxiety at home.
Whining when being left alone is a commonly seen issue among dogs. Since every dog is different and their needs and responses to situations vary, it is possible that a combination of a number of these methods or products would work best for your dog and his condition.
Patience, consistency, and continued efforts from you can help manage your dog’s whining issues and allow you to leave home with both of you calm and relaxed.