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Australian Shepherd Whining: 6 Reasons & What To Do

If your Australian Shepherd is constantly whining it’s both concerning and eventually, quite frustrating!

This article outlines the potential cause of why your Aussie is whining so much, and provides advice on how to resolve the issue.

The typical causes of whining in Australian shepherds include needing something, being understimulated, bored, lonely, stressed, or anxious. Additional reasons can include canine dementia, nose phobia, or pain.

Resolving this issue mostly comes down to identifying and addressing the root cause, as well as a few other tips and tricks we discuss below.

australian shepherd whining

Excessive vs Normal Whining 📢

It’s important to first consider whether your Aussie’s whining is normal and justified, or excessive and problematic.

Whining comes down to communication. Your Aussie is trying to communicate and relay a message, and it’s either justified, or it’s signalling an issue.

➡️ Examples of “normal” whining:

  • Whining when they need to be let out
  • Whining when it’s their meal time
  • Whining in excitement when you wake up or return home from work
  • Whining when we’re causing them anticipation or playing with them

➡️ When the whining becomes excessive and problematic:

If your Australian shepherd is whining non-stop, consistently throughout the day or night. And it doesn’t seem to have an obvious cause or resolution. Then this is a problem. When owners can’t understand the whining, then it’s likely an issue that needs looking into.

Additionally if the whining happens along side other negative behaviors like digging, destructive behavior, or disobedience, then this is also considered an issue.

6 Reasons Why Your Australian Shepherd Whines So Much

Let’s run through the main reasons why your Australian shepherd is whining so much. To help you know which of the cause applies to your Aussie it will be necessary to consider their daily routine as well as any recent events out of the ordinary that may have happened.

Separation anxiety & being alone ⬇️

Unfortunately, separation anxiety is something that many Australian Shepherds can struggle with, which can manifest itself as excessive whining.

This condition is often caused by past traumas or from being left alone too often.

🎯 Signs of separation anxiety include:

● Anxious behavior when you are preparing to leave the house
● Destructive behavior when you are out
● Urination when alone, despite being previously let out
● High levels of nervousness and anxiety throughout the day
● Constantly following you around when you are at home
● Constantly whining when you leave the room or house

If you believe your Australian Shepherd has some level of separation anxiety, it is best to seek advice from your vet or canine behaviorist as separation anxiety can be quite difficult to overcome.

We have a related article which sheds like on stressful triggers for Australian shepherds.

In addition to separation anxiety, just being alone too much can be the cause of the whining. While being alone is a cause of separation anxiety, it doesn’t need to have developed into that before the whining will start. Aussies hate being alone, and this can negatively impact their mental well-being.

Boredom & understimulation ⬇️

Australian shepherds are true working dogs at heart and need plenty of stimulation to be content and happy.

We aren’t just talking about physical exercise either, mental stimulation is a huge part of keeping an Aussie calm, happy, whine-free.

➡️ Aussie mental stimulation guide

If your Australian shepherd is too bored and doesn’t have anything to do, they’re going to whine and whine until the message gets across.

Aussies need 60-90 minutes of physical exercise per day, ideally split up into two sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening. This is perfect for an Aussie and will completely satisfy their physical activity needs.

When it comes to mental stimulation, the more the better. And this comes in the form of training, socialization, meeting new people, dogs, having puzzle toys to solve, and brain training activities. And they need some form of this every single day.

This is what’s needed to properly stimulate and Australian shepherd and prevent them from being bored.

Accidental reinforcement ⬇️

It’s extremely common to accidentally reinforce the exact behavior you’re trying to stop. Yup, it happens all the time!

You may have inadvertently trained your Aussie to whine more than necessary, because they know they’ll receive a flood of attention and your focus if they whine.

If you recall the last time your Aussie whined, how did you respond? It’s likely you gave them some attention. If this process repeats just a few too many times, your Aussie makes the association easily, between whining, and gaining attention.

What once may have started due to another reason, can slowly morph into a bad habit in order to receive attention

Nose phobias ⬇️

Most Aussies aren’t too fond of loud noises! And this can certainly cause them enough stress, anxiety, and nerves to trigger persistent whining.

Anything from music, fireworks, to loud traffic and construction work, can be enough to create a hightened level of fear in your Aussie. This can affect Aussies of all ages.

Handling this issue of course involves limiting the exposure to these loud noises, but teaching your Aussie to remain calm whenever these noises happen can be challenging.

Chronic pain ⬇️

If your Aussie is suffering from some kind of pain whether it be recent or chronic, they may be whining as a result. While dogs are not always vocal about their pain, in some situations they can be.

If your Aussie is showing other symptoms like lethargy, food refusal, or an unwillingness to walk then there is a chance they might be dealing with a health issue or pain.

Canine Dementia ⬇️

Canine dementia can affect senior Australian shepherds. This cognitive decline comes on slowly and you’ll notice your once-quiet Aussie become surprisingly vocal, especially at night as they tend to get scared and nervous.

Although this is not treatable, there are many ways to help an Aussie with dementia. Here’s an article about caring for senior dogs with dementia.

Finding The Cause of Your Aussie’s Whining

In most cases you’ll have an idea of the cause depending on your Australian shepherd’s living situation, daily routine, and any recent events that might have occured.

However, if nothing sticks out to you and you can’t narrow it down to one of the reasons above, then it’s important to contact your veterinarian.

You could be dealing with an Aussie that has an underlying issue that needs veterinary or professional help.

  • To properly solve this issue owners must identify the cause. While we can try many things to distract or “stop” the whining, nothing will truly work other than directly addressing the root cause.

6 Ways To Stop Australian Shepherds Whining

Let’s run through some extra tips to help curb your Aussie’s whining. Assuming health issues are ruled out, these basic, yet fundamentally important tips will help reduce all unwanted behaviors.

✅ Ensure your Aussie’s exercise is sufficient

Exercise your Aussie for 30-45 minutes FIRST thing in the morning (yup, after waking up). And then another 30-45 minutes in the evening. This is by far the ultimate routine.

By exercising her first thing she’ll release a lot of pent up energy, stress and nerves. This will instantly set her up to be calm for the rest of the day and more relaxed in general.

✅ Provide enough mental stimulation

To prevent complete boredom and frustration your Aussie needs to have their minds put to work. Of course they don’t need this for the entire day, but be sure to incorporate 30 minutes of training, socialization while out on walks, and some nose work games.

Never just leave your Aussie with nothing to do for hours. If you’re going out be sure to set up a puzzle toy. Remember, A LOT of whining is simply down to being bored, frustrated, and alone.

✅ Be there for your Aussie

This can be hard to do if you have work schedules that can’t be changed. BUT, the more time you can be at home with your Aussie the better they will feel.

Aussies hate being alone, so anything you can do to reduce the time they have to be alone, it can have a big impact on their behavior and mental state. Hiring a pet sitter could be a necessary option. As mentioned above, being left alone for too long and too often is a big cause of excessive whining.

✅ Set clear rules and boundaries

It helps your Aussie to know their place in the home and family. Dog’s love this, and when it’s clear to them they are much more content and at ease.

This means deciding what you allow your Aussie to do and not do, and then sticking to this. For example, letting them up on the couch. If you allow this great, if you don’t never let it happen. Simple things like that can really help our dogs know what to do, and how to behave.

✅ Make their living environment calm

A calm environment can help your Aussie feel more at ease. You might be better relocating your Aussie to a different part of the house during the day or night depending on how noisy it is outside.

My dogs hate the recent construction work nearby, and I’ve already noticed a difference in their demeanour by moving them to the other side of the house throughout the day (and shutting the windows). They can’t hear the noise as much, and this keeps them calmer.

✅ Teach a quiet command

Australian shepherds love to follow commands if they’re used to regular training (which they should be!). When your Aussie whines, give them a quiet command. And if they remain silent after the command for at least several seconds, give a treat and plenty of praise.

With time, they’ll understand that “quiet” means to be silent. But it’s crucial you make them wait several seconds before giving them the treat.

To extend this training, you can gradually increase the time you wait before giving a treat. In the end, your Aussie will simply learn that quiet means to not whine. At this point you can use the command and treats will not be necessary.

When Will The Whining Stop?

This depends mostly on the root cause and how quickly you can address/resolve the cause.

It also depends on how long the whining has been a problem for.

Aussies that have been whining for many weeks or even months might have this behavior ingrained into them. And now they’re doing it without any real reason or motivation (a habit). This can take several weeks to train out of them.

If the whining is a recent thing that you’ve just noticed then it can be quick to resolve, should you find the cause, address, and then ensure their daily routine is on point. In this case, whining could stop in as little as a day or two.

Key Points Summarized:

➡️ Reasons why Australian shepherds whine include:

  • Separation anxiety and being alone
  • Boredom & understimulation
  • Accidental reinforcement
  • Noise phobia
  • Chronic pain
  • Canine dementia

➡️ Resolving the whining:

  • Find the root cause and address it

➡️ Extra tips to stop and prevent whining:

  • Improve their exercise routine
  • Provide sufficient mental stimulation
  • Don’t leave them alone so much
  • Set clear house rules and boundaries
  • Make their living environment calm
  • Teach them the “quiet” command

Helpful Video

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