Why Do German Shepherds Whine So Much?

german shepherd whining

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German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds right now and there’s a whole bunch of reasons as to why they make such great dogs.

From their intelligence to their trainability and athleticism, the German Shepherd is an ideal dog for first-time dog owners and experienced dog owners alike.

But with all of the good things about the breed, many people are surprised to learn that the German Shepherd has some downsides, too. One of which is how much German Shepherds whine and cry!

So why does this breed whine so much?

German Shepherds are considered a vocal dog breed, and they can whine excessively to indicate they want something, because they are excited or scared, or because they are feeling unwell. In most cases, the whining is just a normal and can be lessened with training.

Because German Shepherds rely on their vocalizations a lot to communicate, there could be a variety of reasons why your German Shepherd is whining so much.

Below we’ll look at a few of the most likely reasons as to why your German Shepherd is crying so much, as well as some solutions to help lessen the whining and discuss when the whining might be an indicator of something more serious.

Reason 1: Your GSD Could Want Something

If your German Shepherd is whining a lot, it’s likely they are using that as a way to communicate to you that they want something. Because dogs do not speak our language, they must use other ways to communicate their needs to us, and this includes whining excessively.

If you respond to your German Shepherd when he begins whining and you’ve determined that he is whining because he wants something that he could otherwise get without whining excessively for it, then you are further reinforcing the idea that whining will get him what he wants.

While it’s important to rule out a medical issue if your German Shepherd begins whining excessively, if you have determined that the whining is because she is wanting attention, to go for a walk, to play, or other normal activities, then you can work to begin training her to ask for those things in more polite ways than by whining.

Dogs can be taught to ask for things they want in a polite way, such as by sitting or giving some other visual signal that they need something, rather than rudely yelling for it. Similar to a human child who yells or cries for something, your German Shepherd may also whine, cry, and be “over dramatic” to get something they want.

Just as you wouldn’t give your child the thing they wanted if they were being rude about asking for it, so, too, should you encourage your German Shepherd to be polite when they are “asking” for something they want.

There are ways to teach your pup to say “please” and “thank you” in their own doggy way!

Reason 2: Your GSD Could Be Feeling Unwell

One of the ways a German Shepherd can signal that they are unwell is by whining or crying.

Depending on the severity of their illness, injury, or discomfort the whining could be quiet and slow, or it could be loud and frantic.

Oftentimes if your German Shepherd is whining a lot due to being unwell, it is accompanied by other signs and behaviors that indicate a sickness or injury, such as heavy panting, pacing, hiding, or attempting to vomit or go to the bathroom and being unable to.

If you suspect your German Shepherd’s excessive whining is due to an underlying medical issue and you cannot identify the immediate cause (such as a thorn stuck in their paw), you should get them to the vet immediately to be checked out.

The excessive whining could be one of the first indicators that something more serious is going on, and is your German Shepherd’s way of saying “something is wrong and I need some help”.

Reason 3: They Need To Go Outside

When your German Shepherd begins whining a lot, it could be an indicator that they need to go outside to use the bathroom.

This is especially true if your German Shepherd is a puppy who is still in the potty-training process, you have a senior German Shepherd who must go outside more frequently, or your German Shepherd is suffering from a digestive or bladder issue that is causing them to need to use the bathroom more frequently.

Because whining is a way in which a German Shepherd can signal their discomfort, this is one of the first ways they will alert you to their needs. Whining to go to the bathroom tends be softer in pitch at first, and you may also see your German Shepherd look towards the door or run back and forth between you and the door.

If that initial request goes ignored, the whining will probably increase in pitch and intensity, or your pup may opt to just go to the bathroom in the house.

If you hear your German Shepherd suddenly start whining and movement towards the door, then it’s probably best to let them outside quickly.

You can also see this whining behavior when your German Shepherd has an upset stomach and needs to vomit.

Reason 4: They Are Excited

Because German Shepherds are such a vocal breed, you’ll often hear them begin whining when they are in an excited state, such as just before going for a long hike or when arriving at their favorite dog park.

Dogs naturally start whining when in a high arousal state, similar to how you may bounce around in place or when kids start chatting nonstop when they are excited. German Shepherds in particular can be very affectionate with their owners, and their intense excitement about interacting with their owner can cause an increase in whining.

If your German Shepherd’s whining is due to excitement, and the whining is not accompanied by behaviors that could injure your dog (or others) and is not so loud as to cause an issue with the neighboring public, then the whining should generally be allowed as it’s just one way your German Shepherd is indicating he is happy and enjoying what he is doing.

If the whining is also accompanied by lunging, jumping, mouthing, or other high-energy or stressful behaviors, or you have neighbors who take issue with the noise, then you can work with a local trainer to help teach your dog to better manage his excitement and emotions.

Reason 5: They Are Scared

Dogs may also whine when they are scared or anxious, so if your German Shepherd is whining a lot, it could be because they are afraid of or anxious about something.

If your German Shepherd begins whining a lot and is showing other anxious or fearful behaviors such as heavy panting, tucked tail, hiding, or other avoidance behaviors, then it’s likely they are scared or anxious.

If you can identify what is making them afraid or anxious, you can either try to soothe your German Shepherd and show them there is no reason for them to be upset, or you can move them away from what is freaking them out.

There is a fine line between your German Shepherd having valid fears and anxiety about things, and your German Shepherd overreacting to certain situations that cause them no real harm (mentally or physically) and you accidentally confirming those fears by responding to your German Shepherd’s overreaction by acknowledging those fears or anxieties in the “wrong” way.

Training and behavior modification can help with German Shepherds who whine excessively in situations that do not call for such a high level of fear or anxiety and can help reduce your German Shepherd’s anxiety and improve their life overall.

Is It Normal For My German Shepherd To Cry So Much?

While all dogs will whine to an extent, many first-time dog owners may be unaware that the German Shepherd tends to be one of the more vocal breeds (though that doesn’t mean the German Shepherd is not a good fit for a first-time dog owner).

While some whining is normal depending on the situation, at other times the excessive whining could be a cause for concern.

If your German Shepherd suddenly begins whining excessively, it might be due to an underlying medical issue, and you should schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

If your German Shepherd’s whining occurs during specific situations, then a local dog trainer may be able to help you find a way to reduce the whining.

If your German Shepherd’s whining is also accompanied by excessive barking, you may also have to take into consideration your neighbors and any local noise ordinances and work towards quieting your German Shepherd down, which a local dog trainer can also help with.

Understanding what is causing your German Shepherd’s whining is the first step in figuring out if it’s normal or a cause for concern.

How Do I Stop My German Shepherd From Whining So Much?

In order to stop your German Shepherd from whining so much, you must first determine why she is whining in the first place. Once you’ve determined why your German Shepherd is whining, then you can approach the issue from the best route.

If your German Shepherd is whining due to wanting something like attention or a treat, work towards encouraging them to ask for what they want more politely, such as by sitting quietly in front of you or by laying down by their food bowl. German Shepherds have a reputation for being an easily trainable breed of dog, so provided you stick with a good training schedule it should be fairly easy to curb the excessive whining.

If you reward them with what they want while they are crying for it, it will further encourage them to continue whining (usually even louder and in more situations) to get what they want, similar to a child crying for candy in the store.

If you’ve determined the whining is due to your pup needing to go outside, sticking to a good potty-training schedule can help reduce or eliminate the whining, even with senior dogs who may need to go more frequently.

If the whining is due to fear, anxiety, or excitement, you can work with a local dog trainer to help your dog better manage his emotions. You can also make sure you are meeting all of your pup’s physical and mental needs, and that you are giving your German Shepherd plenty of opportunities for physical exercises, such as a hike, finding a canine playmate for your GSD, or just a long walk around the neighborhood.

If you are concerned the excessive crying is due to your German Shepherd having an underlying illness or injury, then speak with your vet as soon as possible to get your pup checked out.

Closing Thoughts

Due to German Shepherds being such a vocal breed, the whining from your German Shepherd is probably nothing to be concerned about.

Determining the root cause as to why your German Shepherd may be whining will help you when deciding how to approach it, especially if it’s related to a training issue.

If you suspect that the continuous whining and crying is related to an underlying medical or behavioral issue, reaching out to your veterinarian is probably the safest thing to do.

While the whining can be annoying, for the most part it’s usually just your German Shepherd’s way of talking to you!