Why Does My Dog Whine When Playing With Toys? Understanding Canine Communication

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Author: Jacob Kay

Playing with toys is an essential part of a dog’s life. Whether you have a small pup or a giant dog, toys will be special for them. Not only do they provide physical exercise but help with mental stimulation too.

dog whining while playing with ball

But when your dog whines while playing with them, you might have wondered, ‘Why does my dog whine when playing with toys?’ Even his favourite toy makes him cry. What might be the reason? Let’s explore!

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Importance of Toys for Dog

Getting a toy for your furry friend would be the most challenging task for you as a pet parent. Dogs are very energetic and have destructive habits. As a result, dogs need to play, have fun, and do other activities that will expend their energy. Just like humans, dogs benefit greatly from playtime and interactive engagement.

dog playing with stuffed toy

Providing toys for your furry companions is an essential aspect of their overall well-being and happiness. Toys play a crucial role in keeping dogs mentally stimulatedphysically active, and emotionally satisfied. Moreover, toys are available in a wide range of colours and varieties. This is beneficial for developing great skills as well as intellectual development.

As mentioned in an article by RSPCA, “Toys are more than just a bit of fun for your dog. Having suitable objects for your dog to chew and play with helps keep them stimulated, entertained, happy and healthy.

Toys should play a huge role in the raising, training and bonding process with your dog. Their behaviour towards these toys tells us about their emotions and what they feel about the toy!

Reasons Why a Dog Whines When Playing With Toys

Dogs use different gestures to communicate with their human friend.[1] They can actually speak if observed carefully. Through their behaviour, they tell you about their moods and feelings.

A dog might have his favourite toy. Just like human babies, they too adore their toys and love playing with them. It must be exciting and funny to watch your furry friend play with the toys! However, many times you must have noticed your dog whining while playing. This could have puzzled you. Why does the dog whine when playing with toys?

They Want Your Attention

One reason a dog might whine while playing is to grab his owner’s attention. You might be sitting in front of your pet, but still, he would cry for attention. This is because he enjoys playing with the toy and wants you to get involved with him.

Dogs love spending time with their human friend. When your dog gets his favourite toy, he gets excited and wants to include you in the play. Whining may be his way to ask for attention from their owners.

Possessiveness Towards the Toy

You might have noticed that your dog does not whine while playing with all his toys but only with a particular toy. This would be because dogs often get attached to their toys and have a fear of losing them.

dog chewing the toy

Whenever you will go closer to your dog he will start crying as a sign to stop you from taking away the toy. Toys are precious to them and they might get possessive for them.

They Get Excited

Generally, owners think that their dog hates the toy and that is why he is whining. But he does not hate the toy, he is excited to play with it. Yes, you read it right! It is their way of communication and expression.

You might be wondering why would a dog whine if he is excited. He should play with the toy or simply destroy it. But winning is something out of the blues. It is because just like humans dogs too have emotions.[2] And seeing their favourite toy, they cry for joy.

They Want to Bury the Toy

Dogs have a natural instinct for digging and burying. They usually bury things that are valuable to them to hide and protect them. You might find it funny, but this is the natural behaviour of a dog which is instinctual and hard to fix.

dog digging to bury his toy

When a dog gets a toy that is valuable to him and if he is running here and there with the toy, then he might be finding a place to hide it. Realizing he is in the house and cannot dig the floor, he starts whining. They might also scratch the carpet or the floor to satisfy their digging instincts.

Dental Problems

If your dog is whining while chewing the toys then he might be having dental issues. Generally, small puppies whine while chewing as they develop new teeth. This is a sign of teething in young puppies who have not developed their teeth completely.

However, if your adult dog whines when chewing the toys, observe your dog. Other signs of discomfort such as whining while chewing food or refusing to eat certain foods could mean that he is experiencing pain in his gums or jaw.

Gradually, there could be some build-up of plaque and tartar. This accumulation of plaque can become painful for dogs if it turns into a cavity or even a rotting tooth. It is better to consult a veterinarian if you are not sure about it.

Reasons Why a Female Dog Whines When Playing With Toys

Along with the above-mentioned reasons, there can be an add-on for your female dog to whine while playing. This could be false pregnancy. If your female dog has not been spayed, she might develop a sense of false pregnancy. This happens after she has gone through her heat without mating.

It is mainly because of hormonal fluctuation. One of them is ‘prolactin‘. An increased level of it is responsible for their maternal instinct. These hormones will tell her to take care of herself and her incoming babies.

Also, they prepare them for a possible pregnancy. But if their eggs aren’t fertilized, dogs may have a ‘phantom pregnancy‘. Usually, female dogs show behavioural change during this stage.[3]

According to Malcolm Weir and Ernest Ward at VCA, “Signs of false pregnancy usually begin four to nine weeks after the previous heat period and mimic the signs of true pregnancy.

Should I Ignore My Whining Dog?

Before ignoring your whining dog, it is important to know the underlying reason for such behaviour. If you know there is no real need, then it is best to ignore it. One such is when your dog whines to seek your attention. If you encourage this, it would be a bad nurturing habit.

dog whining

When you will play with your dog or give him attention when he is whining, then he will think of it as playtime. As a result of this, whenever your dog wishes to play, he will start whining. By withholding attention, you avoid reinforcing the behaviour, teaching the dog that whining will not result in the desired response.[4] Whenever you ignore such behaviour of your dog and he stops whining, reward him with a treat to show positive reinforcement. Study shows this will make it more likely for a dog to repeat a particular behaviour.

On the other hand, some whining may be a sign of distress or discomfort. Ignoring a dog that is whining due to pain, anxiety, or fear can be harmful to your dog. In such cases, it is crucial to understand the situation and provide appropriate support as well as treatment.

It is essential to identify the underlying cause of the whining behaviour. If the whining is accompanied by other concerning symptoms or signs of discomfort, consulting a veterinarian can provide effective guidance.


  1. Why does my dog cry when her toy squeaks?

    Squeaky toys make sounds similar to that a small prey animal, say a rabbit, squirrel, or gopher would make when caught. So, for this reason, when playing with a squeaky toy, your dog may become very excited. The dog may bark, whine, jump, and even take the toy and tear it open.

  2. Why is my dog whining and licking her toy?

    Whining may express a dog’s irritation at not being able to bury their new toy inside the home. And perhaps there is no reason aside from obsessive behaviour. If possession of the toy is causing true anguish or distress, it is a problem that needs professional attention.

  3. Can a dog get attached to a toy?

    However, you may have noticed that dogs have preferences for certain toys. In some cases, your dog may even have a favourite one that they’re very attached to. Although you shouldn’t worry about your dog favouring a certain toy, it can become an issue when the toy becomes due for replacement.

  4. Is it okay to ignore a puppy whining?

    If your dog whines for attention only, it’s best to ignore him completely. Then, when he is calm and does not make noises, reward him with the attention he deserves. Remember dogs are pack creatures and they see you as their pack leader. When his pack leader isn’t giving him attention he can feel neglected.


In a nutshell, various reasons contribute to the whining behaviour of your pet. It is a way for your pup to communicate how he is feeling. He may be excited, stressed, or want your attention. He could also simply be enjoying his toy.

It is important to observe your dog and understand why your dog whines when playing with toys. Is it just to seek your attention or he is showing some signs of discomfort or anxiety? Accordingly, you should treat your dog and decide whether to ignore it or not. However, if there are any signs of pain or discomfort, a visit to the vet’s clinic will help you get to the root of the problem.


  1. Zachos, E. (2021, May 3). Dogs use 19 referential signals to communicate with humans, from National Geographic
  2. X, S. (2021, September 3). Research shows dogs can relate human emotions to subsequent actions, from
  3. Root, A., Parkin, T. D. H., Hutchison, P. J., Warnes, C., & Yam, P. S. (2018). Canine pseudopregnancy: an evaluation of prevalence and current treatment protocols in the UK, from BMC Veterinary Research
  4. How to Stop Attention-Seeking Behavior (2020, April 16), from Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine 
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Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

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