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Do Dogs Cry: 8 Essential Reasons Why Your Pup Might Be Whining

Dogs are incredibly dynamic and empathetic creatures that communicate through their eyes and movements, and by barking, crying, and whimpering - break through your understanding of your pup by uncovering what they're trying to tell you when they cry. 

From the moment we take them home our pups become deeply entwined with us. They love us so profoundly that they hurt when we hurt. 

And they come to us, their biggest supporters, at their most vulnerable times when they need some comfort. 

Real tears?

We've all heard dogs whine to communicate sadness, but can dogs cry real tears? We're revealing more below about how and why dogs cry so we can better help and support our canine companions. 

Why Do Dogs Cry

Dogs can't speak as we do, so they turn to various finely-tuned noises and body language to communicate with us and each other.

Dogs cry and whine for many different reasons with one common thread - they need something from us. 

By listening closely to the sounds they make, we can learn common patterns that can clue us into what's going on inside their heads, so we can better help them. 

Can Dogs Cry Tears?

Emotional Tears

Physically dogs can produce tears, but emotionally, dogs cannot cry actual tears. 

Dogs are incredibly empathetic to us - they're even more likely to approach a sad, crying person than one that's presenting a neutral behavior, like humming or talking.

While we're unsure if dogs can genuinely understand our feelings, something inside them feels drawn to helping people in need over those that are not. 

Your dog won't cry actual tears when they're upset, but they do take on a physically submissive stance, almost appearing to cower in front of you.

Physical Tears

Dogs cry tears on occasion to maintain their eye health. Your dog has a mammalian eye structure, complete with tear ducts that fulfill a biological purpose - they keep your puppy's eyes from drying out and help to wash away any dirt or debris that gets into them. 

If your dog's eyes are watery, it's a sign that they may have an underlying eye condition. 

Reasons Why a Dog Cries or Whines

So, you're a first-time dog owner, and your dog is looking at you with those sweet puppy eyes and whining. 

What does it mean? Pay attention to the specific stimuli happening, your dog's tone, and body language. 

Here are a few of the main reasons your pup might be crying. Deciphering the reason behind the whine is simple.


Dogs are emotionally-sensitive creatures that live to please us, even when they don't understand quite how to do that. 

Pups also have a strong instinct for self-preservation, and the modern world presents many confusing situations for our fur friends. 

Understandably, then, our pups are often whining because they're stressed. A dog can withstand some stress, but eventually, they reach their stress limit, become visibly upset, and begin to whine.


Dogs commonly cry out and whimper when they're in physical pain.  

Have you accidentally stepped on your puppy's foot yet? It's practically a certainty because they're always underfoot, and you'll never forget the heart-wrenching yelp they let out immediately afterward.

While stepping on our pup's toes are a minor pain, any acute or intense injury will make your pup whine, too. For severe injuries, the whining can last for a long time - if your dog has suddenly started whining and is favoring a specific body part, take them to the vet to get things checked out. 

Dogs that have chronic pain don't whine constantly, but they may whine when struggling to stand up after rest. 

Separation Anxiety

Puppies can be easily prone to developing anxious attachments to their owner. They act out by destroying your belongings or crying and whining all day - a real treat for any lucky neighbors within earshot. 

Dogs live their best and most emotionally-healthy lives with a specific routine, structure, and a firm yet loving owner. 

You can train anxious attachment out of your dog by slowly introducing clear boundaries with your pup. They may push against this at first but will quickly adjust as you show them who's boss. 

Start leaving your dog alone for short times, and begin to slowly extend the length of time you're away from them. 

Comfort and Safety

When you and your dog are outside of the safe confines of your home, they look to you for safety and comfort. 

If your dog whines and cowers when you happen upon other pups, they lack self-confidence and are looking for your reassurance.

You can train this whiny behavior out of your dog by slowly introducing them to structured socialization. 

Try puppy-training classes to gain the necessary tools, then head out to a dog park to practice and sharpen your dog's social skills. 


Most dog owners are loving and doting on their sweet pups. 

Our pets can sense our instinct to please them, as they learn that we'll bend and respond to any perceived need they have. And they can use this against us!

A puppy that gets attention every time it whines learns that whining = getting attention. They start to whine more often because they know that this is one trick that always works. 

Lead your dog away from attention-seeking whining by ignoring them until they calm down. If their behavior no longer gets the results they need, they'll slowly learn to change and better their behavior. 


As they age, dogs’ bodies and brains degenerate. One of the most challenging reasons for excessive whining is age-related dementia or other degenerative brain diseases. 

It is incredibly upsetting to watch your dog become confused, upset, and anxious under the influence of dementia.

While there is no cure for dogs with dementia, you can head to the vet to put your pup on medication that may manage symptoms to keep them calm and happy. 

Excessive Excitement

Nothing is sweeter than watching a pup shake with total glee and excitement. There are, however, many things sweeter than the loud barking and whining that come along with that excitement. 

Dogs that lack emotional control struggle to manage big feelings, even the good ones! 

You can train an overly-excitable pup using techniques for self-soothing, like heading to their crate to calm down when familiar stimuli, like the mailman, come along in their daily life. 

Noise Triggers

Some loud and unusual noises can trigger something within a pup's instincts to make them whine or howl.

Some music and singing voices seem to make pups want to join in on the performance, likely because they hear tones that remind them of another dog's howling sounds. 

Final Verdict: Do Dogs Cry When Sad

While dogs absolutely don't cry real, physical tears when they're sad, they whine and emote in other ways to tell us how they're feeling. 

Your pup may whine out of stress, pain, fear, separation anxiety, excitement, attention-seeking, or from specific noise triggers. 

Use your instincts and pay attention to your pup's whiny behaviors to break down and understand why they're whining and what they're trying to communicate.

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