Perhaps not what you would expect. Your dog whines as they chew their toy. It’s a little worrying, in fact. So why may he be doing this, and what should you do about it? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know and consider.
So, why does my dog whine while chewing his toy? Dogs typically whine while chewing their toy either because they want to play or be noticed or because they are very excited. Other times your dog may be teething or have dental problems.
Interestingly, it could be a sign of something positive or negative. Or benign even.
Hence, it’s important that you remain observant – looking out for any other signs or symptoms that something is up.
So with this in mind, let’s delve into the reasons in greater detail to help you try to identify what could be going on here.
Then we will be looking at the appropriate responses!
Reasons Why A Dog May Whine While Chewing Their Toy
Your dog may whine while chewing his toy either because he’s teething (if he’s a puppy), he’s following his wild instincts, or he wants to play. Sometimes whining while chewing can indicate dental health problems that require immediate attention.
Your Dog Is Teething
If you have a young puppy who whines while he chews, chances are he’s teething.
Puppies from 3 weeks to about 6 months old can experience pain and discomfort in their gums during teething, so they seek relief from chewing.
Puppies go through a teething cycle twice: once when their baby teeth are coming in and once when the adult teeth pop through.
Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can give to a teething puppy to help him find relief (see below).
Your Dog Is Following His Wild Instincts
Wild dogs will carry their prey back to their lair for safe eating, and many domestic dogs mimic this behavior.
Squeaky toys, in particular, can be quite satisfying to some dogs, especially if they have a strong prey drive.
The noises a squeaky toy makes can sound similar to those produced by small prey, so your dog may get a thrill out of having ‘caught’ something.
Some dogs will whine while chewing because they are overly excited – they think they’ve caught something and they want you to know about it!
Your Dog Wants To Play
Some dogs will whine while munching on a sock or another soft object, which can be your dog’s way of saying he wants to play with you.
Your Dog Has Dental or Other Health Problems
It could be your dog is having trouble with his teeth or is experiencing another medical problem that is causing him distress.
A broken tooth can quite easily become infected and cause your dog a lot of pain. Check his mouth to see that his teeth are healthy – go to the vet if you suspect anything is amiss.
It can be difficult to spot dental problems, but they can cause a lot of distress and are best caught early.
Examples of such problems are:
- Tooth eruption and exfoliation (normal in teething puppies).
- Sudden loss of a tooth.
- Tooth dislocation.
- A fractured tooth.
- A tooth root abscess.
- Periodontal disease.
- Mouth or tongue cancer.
Your Dog Is Excited
Sometimes a dog will whine while chewing a toy because he’s very excited.
Some dogs will whine when given treats like bully sticks simply because they are anticipating the delicious taste.
What To Do About Your Dog Whining While Chewing Their Toy
What to do about your dog whining while chewing his toy depends on the reasons for his behavior. Make sure he isn’t in pain or experiencing severe anxiety, boredom, or stress.
If Your Puppy Is Teething
If you have a teething puppy, here are some things you can offer your puppy to help soothe his discomfort:
- A frozen washcloth. This is an easy solution – pop a washcloth in the freezer and then offer it to your puppy. This solution does carry its risk, though, because some puppies may continue to chew on towels and dish rags as adults out of habit.
- A frozen Kong toy. Fill a Kong toy with your puppy’s favorite treat (like peanut butter) and put it in the freezer. Once it’s chilled, it will distract your puppy for ages as he tries to extract the frozen treat. The cold will help soothe his gums, too.
- Frozen produce. Peel a banana, or pop a whole carrot or a few strawberries in the freezer. Offer them to your pup occasionally – in moderation, as these foods are high in sugars.
- Teething gel for dogs. You can pick up an over-the-counter teething gel made specifically for dogs to apply to their gums. Be sure to choose a gel that is chemical-free and organic, if possible.
Note: Don’t give your puppy ice cubes, as they are a choking hazard (older dogs are fine with ice cubes). Clove oil is also not recommended for puppies, although it’s an ingredient in some teething gels.
If you suspect your puppy is in extreme pain, call your vet for assistance.
If Your Dog Is Wanting Attention Or Wanting To Play
If you suspect your dog is whining while chewing his toy because he wants attention, the solution is a simple one: give him what he’s asking for.
Dogs are social creatures who thrive on interactions with their people as well as with other animals, so your dog requires daily attention and stimulation.
Here are some ways that you can keep your dog happily occupied:
- Make sure you play games with him daily. Different dogs have their preferences, but interactive games like fetch and tug-of-war will please most dogs.
- Give your dog plenty of physical exercise. Dogs need daily walks, runs, and in some cases, more strenuous exercise such as swimming. Check your dog’s requirements, as some breeds are happy with an hour a day, whereas other dogs need hours of vigorous exercise.
- Be sure your dog is socializing every day with people as well as with other animals. Some dogs need the company of other animals more than others, but every dog appreciates quality time with his people. If you work away during the day, see if you can get a friend, neighbor, or family member to come and spend some time with your dog. Alternatively, consider taking your dog to doggy daycare, which is an excellent way for him to make friends and tire himself out happily.
- Don’t forget to stimulate his mind. Dogs are intelligent animals and they appreciate challenges and puzzles. Try hiding small piles of his kibble around the house for him to find. If your dog is scent-driven, consider taking him on new walks every day so that he has different trails to explore.
If Your Dog Is In Pain
Of course, if you suspect your dog is in pain, the thing to do is to get him to the vet.
You may not know the cause of his distress, but it’s better to get him checked out if you have any doubts about his health.
Oral problems in dogs can be potentially very serious or even lethal. Here’s what’s required for the most common oral issues:
- Periodontal disease. Your vet will need to clean your dog’s teeth and may have to extract some. If problematic tooth eruption is the issue, some baby teeth may need to be surgically removed. In case of a tooth root abscess, your vet may ask you to apply a compress to the wound, massage your dog’s teeth with gauze, brush his teeth, and clean his mouth with salt water.
- A fractured, lost, or dislocated tooth. Your vet (or a veterinary dentist) will treat this for your dog. If your dog’s tooth has come out, rinse away any debris but don’t touch the root. Put it in a bit of milk to keep it from drying out in case it’s an adult tooth that needs to be reinserted surgically.
- Mouth or tongue cancers. These cancers require immediate surgical treatment, possibly including radiation therapy. A tumor can be removed if detected early enough – however, it might come back so you’ll need to keep an eye out for any recurring problems for the remainder of your dog’s life.
If Your Dog Is Whining Out Of Excitement
If your dog is whining while chewing because he’s very excited, you can try the following:
- Taking the toy away and waiting until your dog calms down before returning it to him.
- Giving your dog a different toy.
Puzzle toys like Kong toys are excellent to keep dogs occupied because your dog will have to work for the treat that’s buried inside.
If your dog is happily occupied, he’ll be less likely to whine while chewing.
Should You Take A Toy Away From A Dog That’s Whining?
As long as your dog isn’t in pain or distress, there’s no reason for you to take the toy away, unless the toy is showing signs of becoming degraded or your dog becomes aggressive. Never punish a dog for whining because usually your dog is trying to tell you something.
If Your Dog’s Toy is Showing Signs of Degradation
Many dogs will chew on a toy (and whine while they do it) until the toy has completely broken down.
If your dog’s toy is showing signs of becoming frayed, or you suspect bits are breaking off, take it away from him.
If a toy has become small enough for your dog to potentially swallow it, take it off of him. You don’t want a toy to block his digestive tract or even stop him from being able to breathe.
If Your Dog Becomes Aggressive Over His Toy
If your dog shows signs of aggression around his toy, it’s time to take it away from him.
Some dogs will become so possessive of their toys that they start to show signs of aggression.
The last thing you want is a dog who starts biting or snapping if anyone comes near his toy.
Keep an eye out for the following signs:
- Whale eyes.
- A guarded stance with head lowered.
How To Take A Toy Away From A Dog
The best way to take a toy away from your dog is to initiate a fair trade (fair in your dog’s eyes).
Here are some tips to bear in mind to safely take a toy away from a dog:
- Get your dog used to giving up a toy from puppyhood (teach him the ‘leave it’ or ‘give’ commands).
- Don’t ever try to forcibly take a toy away – this will reinforce his resource guarding behavior.
- Offer your dog something that has a higher value than the toy you’re taking away. Tasty treats or new toys can mean more to your dog than old, familiar toys.
- If your dog shows signs of aggression (see above), consult a professional.
How To Prevent Future Problems
Sometimes the easiest thing to do is try to prevent this behavior from occurring in the first place.
By getting to know your dog’s habits, routines, and personality, you’ll be able to know what’s normal for your dog.
The more you know what your dog is usually like, the quicker you’ll be able to spot any abnormalities.
Here are some things you can do to prevent future whining while chewing:
- Have your dog’s teeth cleaned professionally on a regular basis. A dog’s teeth should be cleaned once a year – and most dogs develop some kind of periodontal disease by age 3.
- Brush your dog’s teeth regularly.
- Don’t let your dog chew objects that could harm his teeth, such as rocks, sticks, or other hard objects.
- Give your dog high-quality, dog-friendly chew toys. If a toy shows signs of breaking or (worse) splintering, throw it away.
- Inspect your dog’s mouth regularly to make sure it’s healthy.
It’s certainly a weird one.
And not the kind of reaction you may expect when you give your dog their new toy!
But try not to worry.
Do not assume the worst.
But if you are concerned, or see signs that something is up, then it’s that age-old advice; ask a vet!
Other related guides you may want to check out:
- Why Does My Dog Hold A Toy In His Mouth?
- Dog Carries Toy Everywhere [Why & What To Do]
- Why Does My Dog Drop His Toys Off The Bed? [7 Reasons!]
- Why Does My Dog Drop His Toys On Me? [5 Reasons Explained]
- My Dog Is Bored But Won’t Play With Toys [Here’s What To Do]
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.