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Why Does My German Shepherd Whine A Lot? 17 Reasons

Why Does My German Shepherd Whine A Lot? 17 Reasons

You love your dog and he loves you. You’ve become best friends! BFFs, buddies, pals, chums, besties… But, there is one thing that bothers you.

Why does my German Shepherd whine a lot? If you’ve asked this question more than once, welcome to the group. Owning a German Shepherd brings a lot of wonderful things into our life.

One of them is the gorgeous-looking GSD with its cool and confident stance. Then, there is the loyalty, affection, protectiveness, and so many more brilliant traits this dog breed possesses.

However, for every yin, there is a yang.

One of those yins (or yangs, depending on how you look at it) is that German Shepherds can be quite vocal sometimes. They can bark, growl, or whine.

But, it’s one thing when a dog barks, and a completely other thing when it whines. Or… is it?

It sure does seem much more serious when a dog whines a lot. But, don’t worry! We’ve got the possible reasons why a GSD might whine so much.

So, let’s dive into 17 reasons why your GSD whines a lot.

Some of them will surprise you — in a positive way.

Why Does My German Shepherd Whine A Lot?

German Shepherd owners are very proud of their dogs, and it is for a reason. This incredible working dog was originally bred as a shepherd dog, but it has been helping people around the world in all kinds of jobs for a long time.

Its brilliance does not end there. This is a very loyal and loving family member as well. So, you can say a German Shepherd dog is an all-around dog that can be both a cuddling pooch and a serious guard dog.

But, wait a minute. It’s all fun and games until you hear the whining. Why does my German Shepherd whine a lot?

First of all, don’t worry right away! In most cases, and we’ve got 17 of them, your GSD is simply expressing its thoughts through vocalization.

This doesn’t mean it is always something serious. But, yes… it can be more than just a bored dog, so that’s why we’ve got you covered!

From emotions to health issues, let’s see what could be behind such excessive whining.

1. Feeling Afraid

a German Shepherd puppy whines
Photo from: @shepherdsbone

We will start with the emotions right away. Some dog owners won’t admit it, but it could be possible that your dog is scared. A German Shepherd does look intimidating, but deep inside, it’s still just a living being that can get scared.

Whether you believe that dogs have a soul or not, you cannot reject the idea that they do feel emotions. We will never truly understand how a doggo feels in a specific situation, but we can guess.

Think about the New Year’s fireworks and all the excitement that happens in every part of the world. People are overwhelmed by the sight and sound, but so is your dog.

The problem is, a dog usually does not react to loud sounds in a happy way, but the opposite — it gets scared. A dog that whines often feels afraid either because of something he saw, smelled, heard, or all of these mixed up together.

If you ask yourself: why does my German Shepherd whine a lot? — pay attention to the surroundings. Are you vacuuming, is someone at the door, or are you playing the latest Nickelback album?

One of these things might scare your German Shepherd…

2. In Pain

This can be a common reason, especially if you notice that your dog whines throughout the day. Dogs can’t communicate the same way as we do. They can’t talk the way we talk, but they can use some form of vocal communication — barking, whining, crying, growling, etc.

The German Shepherd is considered to be a vocal dog breednot as vocal as a Siberian Husky, but vocal nonetheless.

So, they will whine in order to tell you they are in pain. Sometimes, they can even do a specific thing, such as carry a toy while crying, but in most cases — GSDs whine when they have a pain issue.

Pain can be located anywhere, so in the first place, you will have to examine your dog from head to toe. You are looking for anything that might cause pain — a wound, a scratch, a foreign object, redness of the skin… whatever seems off.

If you are unable to find a reason or are unsure, take your dog to the local vet and get him professionally examined.

3. Excited

Now, a happy reason!

Why does my German Shepherd whine a lot? Maybe he’s excited! Have you checked his tail position? You can tell a lot about a dog by its tail. There’s even a chart (follow this wagging link) that explains all the positions of a dog’s tail, and what they mean.

Besides tail-wagging, whining is another way a dog shows excitement. They just can’t help themselves – they have to let out a whimper or a whine!

There are other body language signs that tell us a dog is excited:

  • Tongue is out
  • Shoulders are relaxed
  • They can’t stand still

Once again, if a dog starts to whine, check out the other signs to be sure it’s excitement and not some other reason.

4. Wants To Eat

the german shepherd lies on the bed and whimpers

This might be an obvious reason if you notice it happens around mealtime. Maybe you are a bit late with the food, or maybe you have a longer work-related call and your German Shepherd is standing or sitting in front of you or next to its bowl and is whining.

It wants food.

Cats meow, cows moo, but what does a dog do? They bark or whine. This is a German Shepherd’s way of telling you it wants food. If you had a Basenji, you would hear something like a yodel.

So, the next time your German Shepherd starts to whine — check its food bowl. Maybe it needs a refill. Also, while you are there, take a look at the water bowl. All dogs need fresh and clean water at all times.

If you want to be sure you are feeding your GSD properly, you can see the German Shepherd feeding chart and find out all about the amount of food and types of food appropriate for GSD dogs.

5. Injury

Now, a more serious reason. We’re on a roller coaster with these reasons.

The German Shepherd is an active dog breed. It needs a lot of exercise, and not just a walk in a dog park and back.

Unfortunately, with all the running, jumping, sniffing, and exploring comes an occasional injury. In most cases, it is nothing too alarming. They might have stepped on something sharp (a rock, broken glass) and their pads start to peel causing discomfort.

Maybe another dog bit your dog a bit too hard during playtime. There can be a variety of reasons why your dog got injured, but one thing is the same — a dog usually whines when it’s injured.

A dog doesn’t have to feel pain to whine. An injury can lead to a change in a dog’s behavior, disrupt its day-to-day life, and leave the dog with no other solution but to whine.

Just like when the reason is pain, take a good look at your dog. Check its ears, eyes, nose, mouth — everything. And, if you can’t find the reason, take it to the vet.

6. Illness

We’re still hanging upside down on our roller coaster… it’s time to talk about illness as a possible answer to the question: Why does my German Shepherd whine a lot?

No matter how smart our pooches are, they still can’t tell us when they start to feel unwell. There are behavioral changes we can notice that imply our dog might be sick.

These behavioral changes can either be sudden and weird, or they can be mild and barely noticeable. Some German Shepherds whine less, some whine more when they are sick. It is all individual, and it depends on your dog’s temperamental traits and the type of illness.

However, numerous illnesses can be reasons for your dog’s whining. It can be a problem with any part of the dog’s body, and the symptoms can either be visible or not. Sometimes, we can notice other signs; for example:

And… many more signs that can suggest a dog is having health problems. The best solution is, once again, to take your dog to the vet.

7. Wants Attention

You survived the upside-down part… you can relax now — for a while. The reason why your German Shepherd whines a lot might be that it simply wants your attention.

If your dog went through dog training, and he has learned when to go potty, he won’t just poop in the house whenever he feels the need. German Shepherds are one of the smartest dogs in the world, and when they learn something, they stick to it.

It happens to all of us — we forget to take the dog outside to do its business. We’re just here to tell you that your whining GSD might want to tell you — I need to go.

8. Happy To See You

a man strokes a German shepherd

A dog is truly man’s best friend. Some even say dogs are way better than cats. We are not here to debate who’s the better pet (dogs…), but to give you another reason.

Why does my German Shepherd whine a lot? Your amazing GSD is happy to see you!

We’ve talked about excitement, but this is a special kind of excitement (and whining). Dogs are pack animals, and they think of you as a member of their pack. It’s more than that — you are their world!

When dogs love someone, they whine as a way of expressing their happiness and excitement. You might hear an occasional bark, too. It’s all part of their normal behavior, and there’s nothing to worry about.

Of course, if your dog continues to whine after you two have greeted each other, then it can be something else. If it’s not one of the reasons we already mentioned, it could be some sort of behavioral issue.

9. Separation Anxiety

According to the AKC (American Kennel Club), the German Shepherd is considered to be a very affectionate dog that loves to feel like a part of the family. They want to be with you all the time.

However, this can become a problem. A dog can get overly attached and start feeling sad or anxious when they get left behind.

This usually happens when a first-time owner doesn’t make a puppy schedule for their new dog. They spend all their time with the new puppy, yet the puppy doesn’t have a fixed time for when to go to the potty, when to eat, or when to be left alone.

So, when you have to leave for a longer period because of a job or any other situation, your dog gets anxious. A dog that feels alone and anxious can develop all kinds of behavior, from being sad and whining to being destructive.

You’ll need a lot of positive reinforcement and appropriate training to teach your dog that it is alright to stay alone for a while.

You can use some interactive dog toys while you are away to keep your dog entertained. You can also follow this link and learn about some useful tips on the issue: 19 Tips And Tricks To Keep Your Dog Entertained While At Work

10. Stress

Feeling stressed can be connected to the attachment issue, but it doesn’t have to be the main cause. Stress can develop as the body’s reaction to various external factors.

You might notice that your dog won’t leave your side — they follow you everywhere. Sometimes, a dog under stress can start peeing more often than usual, or they will refuse to go on a walk or some other kind of odd behavior.

And, on top of that, you ask yourself — Why does my German Shepherd whine a lot as well? All of these behavioral signs can point to your dog being stressed.

The reasons can be numerous. Think about a recent change in your life. Did you get another dog or another pet? Do you have a new family member or have there been a lot of people going through your home lately?

If you can’t seem to find a reason why your dog is stressed, you can take your dog to the vet.

11. Feels Your Emotions

We have mentioned that dogs are our best friends. But, there are some dogs that are just more in tune with our emotions than other dogs.

There is a reason why certain dog breeds are trained as therapy dogs… to help people with anxiety, stress, depression, or any other health issue they might have. One of the dog breeds that proved they are excellent at feeling their owner’s emotions are German Shepherd dogs.

If you feel sad — for whatever reason, and your dog starts to whine next to you, tries to sit on you (no matter how big it might be), or sits in front of you you have a very sensitive dog.

Let’s just say you have an empathetic dog.

It is a sweet thing, and it further proves what wonderful creatures dogs are. So, the next time this happens, just remember that you have a dog that feels your pain. That means you’ve built a strong bond with your dog.

12. Wants A Treat

german shepherd leans on laptop while woman works

A German Shepherd dog is a calm and confident-looking dog that seems to be focused on work all the time. Yes, you can have a black GSD that looks even more intimidating, but when it comes to treats — they can’t say no, especially if it’s their favorite treat, and they know they did something right and what was asked of them.

For example, you told your dog to sit and not engage with a stranger who was calling your dog from the other side of the street.

They did a good job, but… where’s the treat? It’s time to start whining until they get their reward.

This scenario can be different. It doesn’t have to be a command they acted upon; it can be you coming home with bags in your hands. They know you have something for them.

So, the next time you ask: Why does my German Shepherd whine a lot?, maybe they have gotten used to getting treats.

Just remember that a dog can start avoiding dog food and only eat treats. This can be a problem because a treat-only diet is not good for your dog’s health. And, it costs!

13. Bored

We saw that the German Shepherd can start whining when it gets excited, happy, or too scared. But, what about when a dog gets bored?

Absolutely, yes.

The German Shepherd is a smart dog, and it needs enough exercise (every day) and a lot of mental stimulation as well.

These brilliant dogs thrive when they have something to do. They can get easily bored if they have nothing to do all day long.

This is not a dog breed for lounging on the couch and going outside for a quick pee or poo. This is a high-energy, smart dog that needs to be mentally and physically stimulated.

Play tug of war with your GSD, go on a hike, take him to the dog park… whatever you can do to keep your dog healthy and happy.

If it gets bored, your lovely German Shepherd dog might start to whine — a lot.

14. Looking For You

This reason is different from the whining caused by separation anxiety. In this case, you are either at home or you suddenly went out or left the room, and the dog stays baffled — where are you?

Your GSD will start looking for you, and if they are a bit too attached, they will start to whine. There is a difference between separation anxiety and “where are you?”

This is a sudden whine that can get quite intense. They can get really loud looking for you until you come back. Then, they can whine because they are happy to see you.

In general, German Shepherds are amazing dogs that truly love you. They even get worried when you suddenly “disappear”.

15. Jealous

Ah, yes… the dogs and their jealousy. They might be pack animals, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get jelly from time to time.

Have you ever experienced a side eye from your dog when you pet or say nice things to another dog? Especially, if that other dog is a stranger. How dare you tell him he is a good boy?

Overly-attached dogs can get more jealous than dogs that are not as attached. How will you know your dog is too attached? For starters, it follows you wherever you go — even to the bathroom.

A jealous dog can whine (a lot), and even get aggressive toward the other dog. But, it doesn’t have to be a dog. It can be any other pet.

What to do? Well, you will have to show love equally, especially if you get a new puppy. And, if your GSD starts acting aggressively — stop that behavior right away. You have to show who the alpha is, and that there are no fights between the “pack members”.

If you are wondering how to show who is alpha, here’s a detailed step-by-step explanation: How To Show Dominance To A Dog

16. Feeling Guilty

a sad dog is lying on the couch

We talked about dogs feeling our emotions, dogs feeling stressed and anxious, and also jealousy. Now, it’s time to talk about another emotion.

Why does my German Shepherd whine a lot? It can be feeling guilty.

That’s right. Dogs can feel guilty, too. And, when they do — they whine. Well, they exhibit other signs that they are guilty. For example, they can freeze, avoid eye contact, or hide.

German Shepherds can start whining. They are good doggos, and they know they did something that they shouldn’t have done, so they want to say “sorry”.

This is a type of behavior typical of puppies. They are still learning what to do (or not do), and when they do a wrong thing, they can feel bad. How do they show they are feeling bad and guilty? They whine.

If your dog poops inside the house, you can’t just let it go. You have to show them it’s bad behavior. It doesn’t matter if they whine and look all cute.

Potty training your dog should start while they are puppies.

See next: How To Punish Dogs For Pooping In The House

17. Just A Vocal Doggy

If you’ve read through all of these reasons, and you just can’t seem to find the right one for you and your German Shepherd, then the reason might be as simple as this — you have a vocal dog.

We said GSDs are vocal, but even among them, there are those that are more vocal than others.

If there is nothing wrong with your dog, and the vet has confirmed this, then there is not a lot you can do. Buy some earplugs or get used to it.

Joke aside… the important thing is to thoroughly check your dog to be sure it doesn’t have a health issue that makes it whine so much.

The Conclusion

As the final thought, and the answer to the question: Why does my German Shepherd whine a lot?, we can say that in most cases, the reason is benign and not alarming.

There could be a number of reasons… 17 of them, to be precise; however, most of them are related to the behavior issues in your German Shepherd.

Some of them can be easily treated through proper training, but others are more complex. The important thing is that you examine your dog.

If you can’t find anything wrong or different when you, yourself, examine your dog, then take him to the vet. That is the best solution if you notice your dog starts to whine a lot all of a sudden.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to our furry friends.

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Wednesday 25th of January 2023

[…] are some signs your GSD suffers when you are away? He will probably whine a lot, wait for you at the front door while barking, or even show some destructive behavior to make you […]