Getting a puppy is super fun and, simultaneously, super exhausting. After an energy-packed day, it's time for some sleep, so you put your new pup in his or her crate. But as you crawl into bed, you hear it: that heart-breaking whining. Why is your puppy whining? And what can you do about it? We detail that below.
Why Your Puppy Whines
Whining is a normal form of communication for puppies and is most often used to express anxiety. They whine from birth as a way to tell their mother that they need something. She responds to the whining to make things right, after which her baby calms down. Puppies will continue to use whining, even after going to their forever home, to keep indicating when something isn't quite right. But unlike their mothers, humans can't tell exactly why they're whining and have to guess what they need.
Whining At Night
Most puppies whine at night because that's when they are confined in their crate alone. Dogs are pack animals and don't like to be separated from their family. Furthermore, puppies aren't used to sleeping on their own without their litter mates or mom. This is why you may notice your puppy whines less when he or she knows you're in the room.
Pro Tip: Keep your new puppy's crate next to your bed, at least for the first few nights. This will allow them to smell and hear you, which helps calm their anxiety.
How To Resolve Night Whining
The first thing you can try to calm your whining pup is placing your hand near the crate so they can smell or lick you. If that fails, you can say "no" out loud, which will let the puppy know you're there. If you still can't get your puppy to stop whining, you can wrap a ticking alarm in a towel and place it in the crate for your pup to sleep with. This trick often works well because the ticking has a relieving effect on puppies and makes them feel less alone because it reminds them of another dog's heartbeat.
Pro Tip: If you don't have a ticking alarm clock (or don't want to buy one), you can get special toys that mimic the ticking and can even be warmed up.
Whining during the day is also normal. It just means your puppy is trying to communicate something to you. Reasons that puppies whine during the day include needing to go to the bathroom or having an accident in their crate or bed, being bored or wanting to play, feeling discomfort or pain (such as teething or upset stomach), being left alone for too long, feeling too cold or hot, and more.
Training Your Puppy Not To Whine
Continually responding to your puppy's whines will unintentionally reinforce the behavior because you're rewarding the whining. To avoid this, you may have to eventually just ignore the whining, since even the negative attention is seen as a reward. Begin by slowly increasing the time it takes you to respond to your puppy's whines. In addition, when your puppy is not whining, provide them with something they want or need. This will help disassociate whining with reward.
How To Prevent Whining
One way to prevent whining is to give your pup lots of exercise, mental stimulation and attention. Keeping your puppy occupied and helping him or her exert energy will decrease the whining. You can have fun with toys or play fetch, go on puppy walks, socialize with other pups (after the necessary vaccines) or do training sessions.
Pro Tip: Give your puppy a chew toy, bone or puzzle game when going to bed for mental stimulation and energy exertion before sleep.