The German Shepherd breed is known for a number of desirable characteristics. Because of this, they…
German Shepherd whining is hardly ever the first trait that comes up when talking about German Shepherds but they are actually one of the most vocal dog breeds.
Everyone talks about how intelligent, protective, and playful they can be but ask any GSD owner and they’re likely to have much to say about that high-pitched German Shepherd whining.
Thankfully, by understanding the reasons why dogs whine, it becomes easier to address this noise and keep it to a minimum.
Why Dogs Whine and How to Address It
Dogs whine for a variety of reasons and, like barking, is simply a form of canine communication. Commonly, dogs whine when they feel anxious or excited. They will also whine when they’re feeling empathetic towards their family or even other animals.
Dogs tend to be communicative and it’s often easy to understand them if you take the time and make an effort to listen. This becomes especially true over time after you and your pup have been able to form a bond.
Here are some of the most common reasons why dogs whine and how to address each one:
1) They need or want something.
Typically, if dogs whine because they want or need something, they’ll make an effort to let you know exactly what that is.
For example, if they need to go out to potty, they might take their leash, stand by your front door, and whine until you let them out. If their toy is stuck somewhere and they can’t get it out themselves, they could take you there and keep whining until you realize the problem and help them out.
Cases like this are normal dog behavior. It is simply a means for your dog to communicate with you. Nothing is wrong with this behavior, but you can also teach your dog alternative behaviors if you prefer.
For example, you can teach your dog to use a potty bell instead of whining whenever they want to be taken out.
2) They’re anxious.
Dogs often whine when they’re stressed or scared. If your dog’s whining is accompanied by peeled-back eyes (showing whites), pinned-back ears, pacing, or even trembling, it might be due to anxiety.
The only way to address anxiety in dogs is to identify the cause, something that isn’t always easy to do. Sometimes, it could be due to a temporary situation such as having unfamiliar people at the perimeter of the house or a family member talking loudly on the phone.
Pay attention to changes that occur that could cause your dog to behave this way. Once you’ve been able to identify it, you could try to keep them from similar situations.
Otherwise, you can comfort them by simply keeping them company and letting them feel that they’re safe. You might also find that giving them a toy to chew on might help manage their anxiety.
3) They’re bored.
Most dogs love attention and can get really bored without it. In these cases, they might whine or pester you until they get the attention they want.
For example, if they want to go out to play catch, they might follow you around with a ball and nag you with their constant whining. The trick is to never give in.
Whenever you give in to your dog’s nagging, you’re essentially teaching them that’s the best way to get what they want. Instead, what you can do is have a dedicated time for playing or exercising so your dog knows when to expect it.
Any other time before and after that, your dog should be resting or keeping himself entertained. Regular and ample play or exercise will also keep your dog from getting bored, seeking extra attention, and whining excessively.
If you make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and activity before you try and focus on something for you, they will normally be content.
4) They’re empathizing.
Dogs are generally very empathetic and not just towards other animals but people as well. If they perceive that you are in pain or are emotional, it is common for them to whine as they try to comfort you.
There’s nothing terribly wrong with this behavior. In fact, it is one of the sweetest traits of dogs.
One thing that will help calm this behavior is to acknowledge them and their effort to comfort you during these times. Show them that you’re alright and they’ll be alright as well.
5) They’re sorry.
Dogs are smart and they usually know when they’ve done something wrong. This is especially true when you’re angry and they can recognize it in your tone and body language.
Whining to say they’re sorry is usually accompanied by submissive behavior like tucking their ears back, tucking their tail, and avoiding eye contact.
Whining as part of showing they’re sorry is a normal part of dog behavior and does not need correction. It’s important to show your dog that you’re angry once in a while when they’ve actually done something wrong. However, try not to prolong their agony.
Once you feel you’ve gotten the message across, show them that you’ve forgiven them. You can do this by giving them a scratch or maybe even getting them to perform a trick to show them that everything’s back to normal
6) They’re not feeling well.
Dogs don’t usually complain a lot when they don’t feel well but you’ll notice it in their behavior.
They might lose their appetite and display a lack of energy. In bad cases, they might lay and whine to communicate that they’re in pain or there’s something wrong with how they’re feeling.
In cases when you can confidently determine the cause of their discomfort (ex. when they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have), you may simply try to comfort them until it passes. However, in any other case, it’s always safest to get them checked by a vet to rule out any serious medical condition.
Why German Shepherds Whine
German Shepherd whining is brought about by most of the same reasons any other dog whines. However, there are also other reasons that are more common in GSDs than in other dogs and most of them stem from separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety in German Shepherds is fairly common specifically because they are descended from pack animals and because it is in their nature to herd and protect.
1) Being Alone
Sometimes when German Shepherds are hyper-attached to their humans, they won’t feel confident about being alone. They can sense when you’re about to leave and will tend to whine and show some signs of anxiety. They could even whimper and cry out as if begging to go with you.
2) Incomplete Pack
Because herding is in their nature, some GSDs become stressed when their “pack” is incomplete and will whine as part of their anxiety. Much of this anxiety is caused by their inability to protect a family member that’s not around.
3) Inability to Guard
Sometimes, GSDs perceive threats from faraway sounds and they’ll want to check it out or drive it away. However, if they’re stuck indoors and can’t get out, they may whine as a sign of their frustration. This could alternate between being absolutely still and alert and then whining and pacing.
Try This To Solve #1 – #3
For German Shepherds that have these three issues, it’s really a matter of getting them used to be alone.
Try to isolate them for short periods of time, even if it’s just in a separate room. Do this for longer and longer periods until your dog becomes more comfortable with separation.
This exercise will help them realize that they’re okay in isolation and that you and other family members always come back in one piece. It also helps in making them feel safe at home and confident enough to let their guard down and rest easy.
4) Extreme Excitement
German Shepherds also tend to whine when they get very excited and can’t contain their emotions. This could happen for a lot of reasons including looking forward to an activity or being curious about something new.
However, this is especially common when you come home from a long period of being separated – and “a long period” doesn’t even need to be weeks or even days but just a few hours.
Although they could really just be happy to see you, this could also still stem from a degree of separation anxiety. Their extreme relief from being reunited with you may come out in their whining as well as demanding attention.
If it’s not in excess, let your GSD whine. This type of whining is pretty normal so there’s really no need to try and correct it.
Try This to Solve #4
If you’re concerned that your dog’s whining is excessive and that their extreme emotions could be harmful, you could try developing a structured routine to help contain their excitement.
For example, you could teach your dog to sit at a specific spot to greet you when you come home and that being there will get them treated to plenty of scratching and attention. By having a structure, they’ll know exactly what to do when you arrive and so won’t panic with too much excitement.
Does your German Shepherd whine too much?
When your dog starts to whine, pay attention to the specific situation as well as their body language. In most cases, it’s easy to guess why they’re whining and once addressed, the whining should cease immediately.
If that’s not the case with your dog and the whining doesn’t seem to stop, you can address it through some of the above training techniques.
Additionally, if the excessive whining is sudden and uncharacteristic, make sure to get them checked out by a vet to rule out any medical causes of pain or discomfort.
Are German Shepherds more vocal than other breeds?
Although there are dog breeds that are generally considered more vocal than others, it still depends on the individual dog’s temperament as well as its training and socialization.
The most vocal dog breeds are typically toy dogs and terriers that bark and yap. These include Yorkshire Terriers, Mini Schnauzers, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Mini Pinschers. Bloodhounds, Beagles, and Basset Hounds are also pretty vocal dogs.
German Shepherd Dog Whining Videos
GSDs are definitely more vocal than other breeds and will tend to bark, whine, and whimper. Here’s a good example of a typical German Shepherd, whining to get pampered with non-stop scratching:
The below video is an example of a German Shepherd whining out of excitement for a car ride. I know my girl does this whine every day when its time for her walk.
Other Dog Breeds Whining Videos
Other larger vocal dog breeds include the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky. Generally, they don’t bark too much but they definitely try to communicate in other ways, including howling and whining.
Here’s a Malamute showing his excitement to play in a new place but also his frustration of being stuck in the car. The owner does it right by letting him settle down before letting him out. Otherwise, she would be enabling the habit of whining to get his way.
Here’s another of a Husky throwing a tantrum because he wants to play under the spray of the shower. The owner doesn’t give in, which is the best thing to do to discourage excessive whining.
Here’s another of a Husky that simply looks bored out of its wits. This is the kind of situation that would probably require longer or more rigorous exercise — unless, of course, it’s really just that Husky’s personality that’s to blame for this screaming.
When you first bring home your German Shepherd puppy, the whining could be the cutest thing you’ve ever heard. It’ll probably mollify you and draw you into petting, cuddling, and giving more attention to your little pup.
That may all be fine as you help them settle into their new home but be careful that you don’t end up enabling or even encouraging that behavior.
Because German Shepherds are one of the most vocal dog breeds and it’s simply in their nature, there’s really not much you can do to avoid German Shepherd whining.
What you can do, though, is keep the whining closer to what’s cute (or at least tolerable) and train them to keep from whining excessively and unnecessarily.