What Causes Dogs to Howl, Whine, Whimper or Cry?

Dogs to Howl, Whine, Whimper or Cry

Most dog owners have had their dogs go through a phase of howling, whimpering, whining, or crying for what seems to be no apparent reason.

Believe it or not, this is something that occurs with dogs more often than you would think, and there are a number of reasons for a dog to develop this kind of behavior.

Why Dogs Cry?

Dogs, like people, have the capacity to show their emotions in order to make us humans understand what they are feeling, be it happiness or sadness.

What do we do when we are sad? We look for those around us that we can communicate this sadness to, those who will understand and try to make us feel better.

Dogs do the same thing and it is common for them to show sadness over the loss of a companion, whether it’s their owner, humans they love, or other animals they have created a bond with.

Some have asked the question of whether dogs actually shed tears. A dog’s eyes may well up and get a bit teary, but they don’t cry the way you and I do.

While they can shed tears, this isn’t generally down to an emotional response to a situation they are experiencing, as humans do. More often than not, tearing eyes in a dog can be down to a health condition they have developed.

What Causes Dogs to Appear to Be Crying?

As we just mentioned, dogs can shed tears and cry, but not due to an emotional response. There are some common medical conditions that can cause a dog’s eyes to water.


Yes, dogs can have allergies, just like you and me. When our allergies act up, say to pollen, our eyes will water incessantly. The same goes for dogs who are experiencing allergy symptoms.

Blocked Tear Ducts

Just like our eyes, the eyes of a dog will produce tears regularly. These tears dry up when they blink. In some cases, however, this function doesn’t work too well, and it looks like your dogs’ eyes are streaming. This is down to the tear ducts being blocked.

Other reasons for a dog’s eyes to become watery are an eye infection, having dirt or debris in the eye, or having a scratched cornea. All of these will cause the eye to try to flush out the debris by producing more tears to lubricate the eye.

A scratched cornea has an irritant effect and the eyes will try to soothe themselves by producing more moisture.

When to Be Concerned About Your Dog Crying?

If your dog seems to be shedding a lot of tears, there are a few symptoms that you need to look for in order to determine if they have a medical problem:

  • Your dog’s tears are a color other than clear or transparent white.
  • Your dog’s eyes seem to be frequently tearing up and are watery, not just every now and then.
  • There is swelling around your dog’s eyes.
  • The area around your dog’s eyes looks irritated.
  • You notice a yellow, bloody, or bad-smelling discharge coming from your dog’s eyes.

Should you notice any of these symptoms it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately in order to rule out any serious health conditions for your dog, as well as get the medical treatment they need for whatever the cause is.

What to Do If Your Dog Cries?

First, don’t panic! Here are some things to do and not do if your dog is crying.

What Not to Do?

  • Never try to clean your dog’s eyes using a tissue.
  • Avoid making any contact with your dog’s eyelashes, as the hairs can scratch the dog’s eye and make the situation worse.

What You Can Do?

  • Using a clean washcloth, gently wipe the tears away for your dog’s eyes and dry the area around it.
  • Make sure the area around the eye is clean in order to avoid dirt sticking to the area, which can cause an infection.
  • Remember to always be gentle while you are doing this because some dogs may panic during the cleaning process.
  • When you have finished, reassure your dog by rewarding them with a treat or something they like to show they have been good. This will teach your dog to not panic in the future when you have to clean their eyes.

Keep in mind that these steps are a temporary way to take care of your dog’s watery eyes and tears. It’s important to get to the actual cause of this tearing, which is usually down to a health or medical issue.

What Causes A Dog to Whine?

If you’re a dog owner, you have probably heard your dog whine once or twice. This is just another way dogs use to communicate with us.

Whining that becomes stronger tends to point to something serious that your dog is trying to tell you. Here are some common reasons for a dog to whine.


Like young children, dogs will whine when they want to get your attention.


Some dogs will whine when they are excited, which is usually accompanied by your dog jumping up or running in circles. This is one way your dog tries to release some of that excess energy.


When a dog feels stressed or anxious it may whine as a means of coping. This can commonly be seen in situations of separation from their owner, even if its brief separation.


Fear is another factor that can cause your dog to whine, such as hearing an unexpected loud noise that startles them like fireworks for example.


A dog may whine when they are interacting with other dogs or people in a situation where the dog is showing it is being accommodating to what the other animal or person wants.

Basically, they are giving up on whatever it is they themselves wanted and this causes a sense of despair, causing them to whine.

Sometimes whining is accompanied by body language, such as the dog having its head, ears, and tail down, or going into a low to the ground squatting position.


A lot of dogs will whine when they are greeting other dogs or people.


A common way for your dog to let you know they are in pain or unwell is by whining.

How to Get Your Dog to Stop Whining?

Some people think that it’s cute when a dog whines and will proceed to give them loads of attention, care, and love. However, this really isn’t the right thing to do.

All you are actually doing is teaching your dog a bad habit, which is to whine whenever they want attention, care, and love. It’s their way of manipulating you into spoiling them.

When this happens, your dog will just go on whining all the time. Whining for no reason is a behavior that you need to teach them is not acceptable and should only be used when something is truly wrong.

Here are some steps you can take:


If you are unable to get your dog to stop whining for no reason, it may be best to take them to an obedience class which is reward based.

This will help to modify your dog’s behavior and end the unnecessary whining, so they only use this form of communicating when it’s necessary.


Dogs need both mental and physical exercise. Keeping your dog busy throughout the day means they will be more tired at the end of it and will feel less inclined to whine for no reason.

Less Attention

Having a dog that whines for the sake of it just to get attention needs to know that this behavior won’t get them anywhere. To make this clear to them you need to not give them attention every time they whine.

You can do this by not making eye contact, talking or touching your dog until the whining has stopped. Doing any of the above is a means of giving them the attention they are after.

When your dog reverts back to normal behavior you can then reward them. This teaches them that good behavior gets them positive attention rather than the unnecessary whining.

Talk to Your Veterinarian

To rule out any medical condition that is causing your dog to whine, see your veterinarian. They will be able to treat any issues or will let you know if it’s a behavioral issue that needs modification.

Confidence Building

Sometimes it can be a case of low self-esteem that is causing your dog to whine. Enrolling your dog in a confidence-building class will go a long way in helping your dog to show submissive behavior that is unwanted while building up their own self-esteem.

Watch Your Tone

Do you greet your dog using a high-pitched tone and excited facial expressions? If you are, you are teaching your dog to get overly excited when they see you. What do overly excited dogs do? They whine!

What you need to do is change how you greet your dog. Stay calm and don’t get overly excited. Your dog will start to associate the calm behavior with seeing you and mimic this.

What Makes Your Dog Howl?

You’ve probably heard it before. It’s the middle of the night, dead quiet, and all of a sudden you hear this unearthly howling. This is a dog’s way expressing alertness. If this isn’t something you have experienced yet, just let your dog hear the sound of a siren.

When your dog first hears this sound, they immediately become alert. Your dog becomes more alert as the siren gets closer and gets louder. Your dog is just waiting for something to occur at this point.

So, when the siren reaches its peak your dog will start to howl. Hearing a siren isn’t the only thing that can cause your dog to belt out a wolf’s howl. First, let’s look at what is going on with your dog that causes this reaction. Dogs will howl for a number of reasons:

Wanting Attention

Just like whining, a dog who knows they will get your attention when they howl will continue to do this every time.


With some dogs, this is their way of communicating with other dogs.

Letting You Know They Are There

Do you know some individuals who have a funny little way of announcing their presence? Well, dogs do this too. They will howl just to let you know they are there or coming into a room.

High-Pitched Sounds

Some dogs will react to high-pitched sounds by howling.


When a dog is feeling lonely or is having some separation anxiety they may howl excessively whenever you leave them on their own for a period of time.

It’s your dog’s way of wanting you back and hoping that you will hear their howls and return. This is truer if your dog uses low-pitched sound when they howl. However, you can rule this reason out if they howl when you are there.


If a dog is feeling ill, injured, and in pain, they may communicate this to you by howling excessively.

Down To DNA

With some dogs, their howling is down to genetics. Dogs have DNA that is close to wolf’s DNA, so when they howl it’s more of a genetic instinct.

Boundary Issues

Like people, some dogs like their personal space and will howl as a means of communicating to people or other dogs that they are too close or trespassing on “their area/space”. It’s their way of telling them to stay away.


A dog that senses or sees something they believe could pose a threat to you or themselves may howl excessively. They are doing this to get you to come to them, so they can show you what has alerted them to danger.

How to Stop Your Dog from Howling?


One step to stop the excessive howling is by desensitizing your dog to what’s causing them to howl and then condition them to associate whatever it is to something positive, such as a reward.

This is something that is best handled by a certified dog trainer or certified animal behaviorist who has experience with howling behavior in dogs.


When you know that your dog’s howls are not down to anything being wrong, doing some reward-based training can help.

The same as with whining, when your dog howls for now reason, don’t make eye contact, give them attention, or anything else. Once your dog has stopped howling you can give them a reward.

This will teach them that they gain nothing from howling for no reason but not howling will gain then affection and the attention they want.

Quality Time

With one of the most common reasons for howling in dogs is down to loneliness, it’s important to spend some quality time with them.

They are social animals and need to be able to interact with people, other dogs, and the world around them.

So, make the time for play, exercise, going for walks or to the park and basically have fun with them. The end result will be a much happier dog that won’t whine, howl or whimper to get unnecessary attention.

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