Understanding Canine Anxiety: Why is my Dog Whining?

Dog with anxiety looking out of window

Puppy with anxiety looking out window

Introduction: Why is my Dog Whining?

People become accustomed to thinking of dogs as happy, joyous beings of energy and fun, with no other desires than to make their people happy too. And this last part is true! But like people, the minds of dogs are complicated things, and no matter how outgoing and happy the dog, there are still situations that can cause your dog to be not in their best mental state. Why is my dog whining? Why is he barking, or unhappy going outside, or getting destructive? When we expect our dogs to be the perfect dogs, it's easy to get upset when they are not. But have no fear. Your dog is probably suffering from canine anxiety, and just needs some help getting back into his best mental state.

So why is my dog whining? He is probably suffering from canine anxiety, and the root causes will need to be addressed. A lot of factors can go into what causes canine anxiety, and some of these are easier to deal with than others, but knowing what's going on in the mind of your best friend will make helping him cope with canine anxiety all that much easier.

What Causes Canine Anxiety: Really, why is my dog whining?

Your best pal might not know exactly what is wrong himself, but typically when you ask the question, "Why is my dog whining?" the answer is one of these causes of Canine Anxiety. It's possible that there's more than one factor at play here but nailing down exactly what it is that has your favorite lad all worked up is the first step to solving the problem.


Fear-related canine anxiety can be caused by a lot of different things but typically it means there is some outside factor (such as loud noises, strangers, strange animals, or specific situations) causing stress. This can be something as simple as a new cat in the neighborhood, or it can be a little harder to pin down, like a new hat or umbrella you like to wear being a color that your dog's senses just can't handle. It's like if your mom decided to only wear a giant venomous spider as a hat: it would probably cause you to get pretty anxious yourself, and defecating on the floor might seem like a more reasonable outcome.

Separation Anxiety

Maybe you work long hours. Maybe your dog has been abandoned or lost at some earlier point in his life. Maybe he got left outside too long a few times. Whatever the reason, separation anxiety is all too common in creatures that form very strong emotional bonds with their people. Helping your favorite canine come to terms with how he feels is the key to solving this particular brand of canine anxiety.

Environmental Anxiety

"Why is my dog whining," you ask, and if the cause is a fireworks display going on nearby that's a pretty obvious answer. But sometimes the cause of canine anxiety is environmental and this can be harder to notice. It is typically caused by a change in scenery. Maybe you just brought your favorite friend home, or maybe you just bought a new home. These changes in your dog's living situation can cause canine anxiety. Fortunately, this is probably a temporary issue and easier to fix than some forms of anxiety.

Social Anxiety

Why is my dog whining? You might ask your mother, who came to live with you for a few months while recovering from being bitten on the head by her spider hat. But having new people or animals come live with you can cause another kind of canine anxiety in your best friend: Social Anxiety. This form of canine anxiety might be caused by past trauma, such as a fight with another dog or being passed around between owners a lot. It could also be caused by simply not being taught to properly socialized, a problem which will need to be fixed through training.

Generalized Anxiety

This is the hardest kind of canine anxiety to treat. "Why is my dog whining" you ask. In this particular case, dogs can get canine anxiety and we don't really know why. It might appear out of nowhere over time, it might even appear in dogs who are well trained or otherwise have never seemed anxious before. But don't jump to any conclusions: there are still things to be done, and this form of canine anxiety is very rare. Whatever caused you to ask, "Why is my dog whining," it was probably something else.


As dogs get longer in years they can be affected with cognitive dysfunction syndrome, or CDS, which is similar in many ways to Alzheimer's in humans. CDS causes declines in memory, perception, and awareness. This can lead to canine anxiety in older dogs. This form of canine anxiety will require patience and love, and understanding that giving your best friend the best life possible in his senior years will be a process.

Dog showing signs of anxiety

What Happens if Canine Anxiety is not dealt with?

If you don't seek out the causes of canine anxiety and treat them, the best case scenario is that the canine anxiety will go away on its own. The worst case scenario is that it doesn't, and the problems get worse and more pronounced. Your dog will not properly adapt to his situation and environment and his behavior might become worse as his mental health declines. In the worst cases, this might cause dog and owner to have to go their separate ways.

But do not fear. Even by reading this far, you are proving your willingness to seek out and confront the source of your dogs mental trauma. Canine anxiety can be beaten, and the steps to doing so aren't all that difficult. First you need to know for sure that your dog does, in fact, have canine anxiety.

How To Tell if Your Dog has Canine Anxiety

Why is my dog whining a sign they are suffering from canine anxiety? It is entirely possible, and whining is one of several possible early warning signs of canine anxiety to look out for.

Your Dog Gets Aggressive

If your dog is growling, barking, or biting often, these aggressive tendencies can be caused by canine anxiety. This is one of the most dangerous symptoms for obvious reasons, and with some practice and training things will hopefully get better. This is also a symptom which, if it becomes too much of a problem, you should consult a veterinarian about before things get out of hand.

Your Dog Is Defecating in the House

Sometimes a dog just has to go and needs to be let outside, and other times dogs just can't control their bowels. But if your dog has canine anxiety you might come home to a nasty mess on the floor or furniture or somewhere you really don't want to be coming home and finding nasty messes. So if it becomes a common problem that your dog keeps doing their doggy business inside the house, often when you aren't home, it might be time to address what is probably separation anxiety.

Your Dog is Drooling

Dogs drool. They do. In fact, dogs drool quite a lot. Certain breeds drool more than others, and it is entirely possible your dog is just the special sort that loves bathing you in mouth moisture. But if you think your dog has been drooling more often than usual, and this combines with another one of the listed symptoms, then it is a possible side effect of canine anxiety. This might not be the easiest symptom to spot, and it probably isn't the first one to look for, but it can definitely be something you notice that leads you to continue looking for signs of canine anxiety.

Your Dog is Panting

Why is my dog whining? Wait, no, that's panting! Dogs pant, too! Who wouldn't? Especially after a long walk, or at the approach of a human prone to dishing out copious amounts of pets and treats. But if your dog shouldn't be out of breath, or is out of breath noticeably more often, this can be a sign of canine anxiety.

Your Dog is Destroying Everything

Why is my dog whining? Yes, whining! I think that's whining? Why is my dog whining? Oh, no, that's not whining, that's just the ringing headache that occurs when an item of furniture I own is being demolished. My dog isn't whining, he is destroying.

Dogs have teeth! Claws too! And they know how to use them. Yes, your fine furry friend might not strike you as the Godzilla sort, but if they aren't in the right mental state those teeth and claws can come out swinging in the direction of your furniture and carpet. What pet owner hasn't come home at one point or another to find an upturned garbage can, a ravaged couch cushion, or a chewed on bit of upholstery? This is often a sign of separation anxiety, a specific type of canine anxiety. Fun fact: most doggy destruction takes place in the first 45 minutes after you leave the house. If your favorite pet is fed a treat or a given a toy shortly before leaving, or taken for a walk to tire them out, this might reduce instances of canine catastrophe occurring in your living room.

Your Dog is Depressed

It isn't just a fancy word for being bummed out! Why is my dog whining? Could it be because it's winter, and life isn't going so great, and he might actually be depressed? Yes, that could definitely be the case. Dogs are smart creatures, and their brains can suffer from depression. If you notice your best boy being mopey, sitting around staring at you, not wanting to eat or go on walks or do anything, canine anxiety might be the cause.

Your Dog is Barking Constantly

Why is my dog whining? Wait, that's barking! What mailman doesn't know and love the sound of dog barking? Yet if your dog is going off the hook like a crazy woofing alarm clock every few minutes, they might be stressed out. Canine anxiety is no joke, and your dog might know that and just want to let you know how he is feeling.

Your Dog is Pacing Back and Forth

As you sit on the couch after a long day watching an episode of your favorite tv show and reading an article about canine anxiety on your laptop, you might notice the couch being circled by a shark-like predator. No, it isn't an actual shark, merely your favorite boy pacing like a nervous nelly who wants to tell you something. And he does want to tell you something, he wants to tell you that he is suffering from canine anxiety and pacing is one of the symptoms. "Why is my dog whining," you ask, while your dog is asking why is my human not listening?

How to help your Dog overcome Canine Anxiety

So you've come to the conclusion that the answer to the question, "Why is my dog whining," is probably canine anxiety. That's step one. Step two is figuring out what exactly you need to do about it.


Socializing your best bud is a great way to help them get over fear or strangers and separation anxiety. Why is my dog whining any time a stranger is over? Why is my dog whining when I take him to meet new dogs? With some practice you can socialize your dog to overcome some of these behaviors. Physical touch is a simple way to help socialize your dog, as is audio stimulation, such as playing light music throughout the day. Training with treats to help him when meeting new people is a good step to take.


Speaking of, training in general can help your dog to see their triggers as good rather than bad is a great way to help your dog overcome their anxiety. This is called counter conditioning. For example, if your dog is scared of loud noises like a car going by, give your dog a treat and a pet on the head whenever it happens. This way, your dog will associate loud noises with treats and pets. They might even start paying drivers to loudly honk outside your house at all hours of the night to ensure a constant supply of treats. This probably will not happen, but you never know.

Dog with leach in mouth

Exercise: Take a Walk!

Why is my dog whining at the door like he wants to take a walk? Does he maybe need to go for a walk? Should I maybe take him for a walk? The answer to all of these questions is yes, you goober. Your best pal is always down for a little bro time waltzing through the neighborhood, chasing squirrels and meeting new bushes. This activity should become a regular one with you and your best friend, both as a way to socialize your buddy and a way to exercise both of you.

Anxiety Products and Aid

A variety of anti-anxiety products are available at Calming Dog to help your best bud cope. There are Calming Zen Chews, which can be given to help train your dog and are specially made for dogs suffering from anxiety. There are also Calming Cuddle Beds, which are so soft and comfortable it's hard not to want to sleep in them yourself. Please don't. They are for your dog.

Avoid Anxiety Triggering Situations

This might seem an obvious solution to countering canine anxiety, and certainly not all anxiety triggering situations can be avoided. But if your pal has a particular dislike of cats, you should not get a cat. If your buddy doesn't want to spend time around loud noises that he doesn't need too, you shouldn't expose him to those loud noises if you can help it. This is a particularly important point for older dogs, who might suffer from CDS.

Talk to a Veterinarian

Finally, while the points in this article are all excellent ways to help your canine comrade deal with anxiety of many kinds, there are going to be situations where everything you do just isn't enough. If this is the case, you need to take your pal to the Veterinarian and get their opinion. This is okay, it's not a failure, it's just that some dogs have anxiety caused by things that are more complicated than just being alone for a while or loud noises.


With the tips presented here, you should now know how to identify anxiety in your dog, help your dog overcome that anxiety, and even understand better the root causes of this anxiety. Maybe you even learned something about yourself, and the world we live in. That might be a bit much, but at the very least you and your best dog can have a happier, more anxiety free life!

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