Ever wondered why your German shepherd whines a lot? We did our research and compile this amazing article for you.
One of my all-time saddest videos in the animal kingdom involves crying whimpering German Shepherds. I, like many others, view the German Shepherd as one of the strongest and emotionally mature dogs, but even German Shepherds whine, but why do they whine if they are considered as strong dogs.
While, German shepherds whine for many reasons, and most of the time they want to communicate something; either they are hungry, in pain, or feeling lonely that you’re leaving. Whatever reason, the German shepherd needs your attention.
Like most dogs, German Shepherds have the ability to communicate, but this is very different from how human beings communicate. Whining is one such way a German Shepherd communicates.
Understanding what the German Shepherd is trying to vocalize and ensuring that this is done appropriately is crucial as it allows you to prevent or minimize continuous whining that may not be necessary.
Hence, in this article, we will take you through the many reasons why German Shepherds whine and what techniques can be employed to understand what they are trying to vocalize or what can be done to stop such whining.
Let’s dive in.
Why do German Shepherd Whine a lot?
German Shepherds are highly intelligent, active, confident, and vocal dogs, they get along with other pets and dogs so well. As Puppy Leaks notes, these dogs can be very loud and vocal using groans, howls, cries, moans, barks, and whines as a way to communicate.
Like a baby crying, German Shepherd whine because something is amiss and it is your responsibility as a ‘parent’ to pay attention and understand what they are trying to express.
Mostly, the whining is accompanied by some form of expression; hence, a keen eye will easily identify what the German Shepherd is trying to say.
Reasons why German Shepherds Wine
There are several reasons why your German Shepherd may be whining. We discuss them as follows:
Whining for Food
A hungry German Shepherd is a whiny German Shepherd. You may notice that around dinnertime, your dog may start whining while seated or standing next to its eating bowl. The pup may go the extra mile by carrying the bowl and dropping it at your feet; this is the pup’s way of saying I am hungry, feed me.
In many cases, the continuous whining close to mealtimes may be an indication that the German Shepherd is excited about the food. To reduce the whining, consider reducing the excitement around mealtimes. For example, instead of announcing its dinnertime, just place the bowl in the usual spot, allowing the dog to find it and eat peacefully.
Whining when in pain
As a pet owner, ensure that you check for any signs of discomfort and distress in your German Shepherd. Sometimes, German Shepherds whine when they are in pain.
Usually, signs associated with discomfort include vomiting, diarrhea, and/or gas. For example, during mealtimes, you may notice your German Shepherd whine.
However, if this whining is accompanied by the above signs of distress then the whining acts as an indicator for the presence of an ulcer or other complication. At that point, a visit to the veterinarian would be appropriate.
Another example is the German Shepherd whines when peeing. This signifies that the dog is in pain and could have contracted a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
Whining when Sick
If you notice that your German Shepherd whines when lying down, has observable lethargic symptoms with reduced appetite, and lacks energy, then the dog is trying to communicate that there is something wrong with how they are feeling and need help.
If you are confident in what could be the problem, then comforting them until it passes is okay, otherwise, consult the vet.
Whining when injured
If you notice your German Shepherd whines while licking an area compulsively, refuses to move around or be petted and walks funny, limbs, or any other sign of bodily discomfort, then it is likely that your pet is injured.
Whining when you leave
Similar to children, German Shepherds may experience separation anxiety and let this out in the form of whining.
Due to their herding instinct, they often become stressed when a member of their ‘pack’ or family is leaving. These dogs can sense when you are about to leave and whine as part of releasing their anxiety. You may have noticed this behavior when leaving for work in the morning.
The German Shepherd whines because it has an overwhelming need to protect the pack member, but it cannot do so in their absence.
Whining for a reward
Your German Shepherd whines when it associates the behavior with a reward.
For many people, the only way to make your dog stop whining is by giving it what it wants. In the long run, the German Shepherd associates whining with getting what it wants. For example, if you are on your way out the door, the German Shepherd whines.
Instinctively you turn and cuddle him for comfort or, you offer a treat so that he can calm down. If you do this, you are rewarding the behavior. With time, the German Shepherd associates whining with treats or cuddles.
If you desire a change in the dog’s behavior, then train the German Shepherd to disassociate whining with something good.
German Shepherd whine when they cannot see you
German Shepherds have very strong guarding and herding instincts; this is why they are the official guard, guide, search and rescue, and military dog. While at home, German Shepherds are very territorial.
It will follow its owner around the house and when it is locked in a room, the German Shepherd whines until it is opened for.
This is because it has an overwhelming urge to protect its owners. Hence, another reason your German Shepherd whines is when they cannot see you.
You may have noticed this behavior in public. Your German Shepherd may turn and discover you are no longer in their line of sight; this may be very distressing for the dog as it cannot protect you. The dog may vocalize this distress by continuously whining.
How do I solve this?
If your German shepherd whines continuously in public when you are out of sight, consider following this process to minimize this behavior.
STEP 1: When taking your dog out for a walk, be accompanied by a friend, and allow them to hold the leash.
STEP 2: As you walk, place a little more distance between yourself and the German Shepherd. Continue to increase the distance watching the dogs’ reactions.
STEP 3: Change direction, if necessary, and increase the distance, monitoring the dog’s reaction to ensure it is not overwhelmed. With time, you will be able to move away until you are out of sight.
STEP 4: If the dog does not whine, allow your friend to reward this behavior by giving them a treat. You are slowly conditioning the German Shepherd to keep calm even when they cannot see you.
Note: You can also do this at home when your German Shepherd is too clingy. Lock the German Shepherd in a room and give them a few minutes alone. Increase the time limit each day. This slowly conditions your German Shepherd to be comfortable alone, and also that the fact that they cannot see you does not mean you are in any danger; thus, reducing anxiety over time.
German Shepherd Whine when they are Bored
German Shepherds are extremely active. They have a lot of energy to burn and often require their day to be filled with a lot of activities keeping them mentally stimulated. Mostly, they love roughhousing, and given the opportunity, they can play for hours on end. But, if you notice that your German Shepherd whines more when it is not doing anything, it may be boredom.
To reduce this behavior, ensure you provide several energy-intensive activities for the German Shepherd. Allow the pup to have at least one hour of exercise per day. When going on walks, fit the pup with a weighted vest so that it works out as it walks. Provide the dog with a lot of toys and other activities that would keep it busy the whole day.
Whining to Get Attention
In a scenario where the dog wants something, it may whine to get your attention. German Shepherds are very active and friendly dogs. With their owners, they crave a lot of love, care, and attention throughout the day.
If you have not been giving it any attention, you may find the German Shepherd whining more than usual. However, if the dog has associated whining with attention, then it may end up whining to get the attention that it wants.
Whining because of stress
Just like people, German Shepherds experience stress. If your dog is stressed, it may whine more than usual.
As a dog owner, identifying your dog’s patterns allows you to note any abrupt changes. For a German Shepherd, any change in pattern may be a significant indicator of something amiss. If, for instance, your German Shepherd whines more than usual, then something must have happened and the dog could be experiencing a lot of stress.
Some examples, as provided by the German Shepherds Owner, of possible causes of stress could be:
- You just moved to a new location or home
- A family member or dog has left
- The German Shepherd is being mistreated
Whining because of Fear
German Shepherd whine when they are afraid. It takes a lot to make a German Shepherd afraid, however, you will notice these signs by how loud it whines.
Some possible reasons why a German Shepherd whines out of fear could be:
- The presence of lightning
- Loud sirens
- The presence of someone who is mean to it
Whining because of Excitement
As we mentioned earlier, a German Shepherd whine as a way of communicating. When a German Shepherd is excited, it may also whine to express its joy and happiness.
Some instance where a German Shepherd whines from excitement include:
- When someone comes home
- When it is about to go for a walk
- When playing with you, or other dogs
- When it is being served food
Whining as a way of Apologizing
If your German Shepherd does something wrong and you scold it, most probably it will start whining as a way of apologizing for whatever wrong it did.
Whining is the German Shepherds’ way of showing submission and seeking forgiveness. Moreover, the German Shepherd may also employ other body languages to show just how sorry it is.
How do you stop German Shepherd Whining?
It can be difficult to determine whether a German Shepherd whines for a good reason or not. Pay attention to the specific situation to better understand why your dog may be whining. If the situation is addressed, the whining will likely stop immediately. However, if your German Shepherd is whining too much, learning how to stop the behavior is important.
There are several techniques available depending on the situation. Additionally, the Book Training your German Shepherd on Amazon provides added information on how you can train your German Shepherd to stop excessively whining.
Increase their daily activities and exercises
German Shepherds require a lot of mental stimulation throughout the day. This stimulation allows the dog to deplete all its pent up energy. By increasing the number of activities or exercise, the German Shepherd burns up its energy and whines less frequently. It also gives room for the dog to enjoy a myriad of activities that keep it busy and occupied.
This can be achieved by giving the dog multiple walks throughout the day. Also, you can dress the dog in a weighted vest when going out for walks so that it burns up energy faster, but seek prior consultation from a veterinarian.
If this does not work, consider taking some time out in the evening to play with the dog and give it the much-needed attention.
Use a Thunder Shirt
If your German Shepherd whines out of fear, then a Thunder Shirt can be of help. A thunder shirt is a shirt that you wrap tightly around the German Shepherd to make them feel safe. It is similar to the feeling of being swaddled in a blanket.
This is the same feeling German Shepherds experience when they are swaddled in a Thunder Shirt, blanket, or shirt. It will reduce their fear and hence their whining.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Rewarding a dog for good behavior has much better benefits than negative reinforcement.
Ensure that you constantly praise your dog for good behavior. This includes instances where it does not whine. For example, if you leave for work in the morning and the dog does not whine, encourage this behavior by rewarding and praising the dog.
Continuous positive reinforcement will allow the dog to associate calm and composed behavior with rewards.
Give them more toys
If your German Shepherd whines due to boredom, another solution can be to add the number of toys they currently possess. By adding toys, you provide additional entertainment. However, ensure the toys challenge and stimulate the dogs’ mental and physical capacities to maintain stimulation for longer periods.
Invest in a Training program
Some of the most common problems experienced with German Shepherds can be solved with proper training, including unnecessary whining. By training your dog, you teach it how to respond in different situations.
If your German Shepherd has been trained and still faces some behavioral problems, it is highly likely that the training was insufficient or inadequate. Getting a good training program can solve all these underlying issues. It develops your German Shepherds mentality and intelligence while sorting problematic behaviors.
Teaching Hand Targeting
For German Shepherds that have problems controlling their emotions, either get too excited, scared, or anxious, this technique can be very useful to help calm and control your dog’s reaction when meeting new people, facing new situations among others. To start this training, follow these steps:
STEP 1: Stand in front of your German Shepherd and hold out your hand. Do not speak while doing this. Continue holding out your hand until your German Shepherd touches your palm with their nose. Give them a treat every time they do this. If they do not move to it at first, rub a treat against your palm and allow the dog to come to it.
STEP 2: Once the dog attaches ‘touching the palm of your hand with their nose equals a treat’, it is time to progress. Start moving your hand from left to right of your dog pushing it a few inches back. Continue rewarding your dog with every nose touch. Do this 20-30 times.
STEP 3: Start saying a command each time you hold out your hand. For instance, ‘hello’, ‘sit’ or ‘calm down’. Allow the dog to come and touch your hand every time and give them a treat once they achieve this.
STEP 4: Once you have gotten your dog to understand this, bring new people in and allow them to do the same thing. Whenever the dog starts whining, let them stick out their hand and if the dog touches its nose to their palms, give a treat as a reward. This technique allows your dog to associate the touch of the palm with treats. Whenever the dog starts whining, doing this will motivate your dog to focus on the hand instead of whining for attention.
If your German Shepherd whines due to anxiety issues, providing medication can be one way of solving this issue. However, this should be a last resort after you have tried everything in your capacity to calm the dog. If nothing has worked, then consult your veterinarian on the best possible medication that can help reduce anxiety in German Shepherds.
It is clear that a German Shepherd whine as a way of communicating with their owners. Although German Shepherds do not just whine for no reason, learning what each whine is attached to, or, what the dog is trying to communicate, is crucial. German Shepherds whine for a myriad of reasons.
It can be that they are excited, sad, anxious, fearful, sorry, in pain, sickly, injured, stressed, bored, and attention or reward-seeking. Whichever the case, paying keen attention to the dog and understanding why it is whining allows you, as the owner, to better understand your German Shepherd.
If indeed you determine that the dog whines out of a behavioral issue, then finding training methods that help reduce this behavior can be of key benefit to your household.
Remember, German Shepherds, are highly intelligent and active dogs. They require a schedule so that they are mentally stimulated and challenged throughout the day. Where this is not provided, you may find your German Shepherd whines throughout the day for no apparent reason.
A training program would be beneficial, as it would challenge the dog mentally, physically, and emotionally. An adequate training program would allow the dog to grow both mentally and emotionally, getting rid of certain behaviors, such as whining, that may not be appropriate. Ensure that you give your German Shepherd such an opportunity, as this will not only make its life better but also yours.