We all know that our dogs experience emotions much like we do as humans. Any pet owner can attest to this fact, and it’s certainly a quality that makes dogs highly relatable to humans. Dogs express emotions such as excitement, anger, anxiety, sadness, and many others. These expressions are quite visible and discernible, and they’re most especially audible. Dogs actually use a variety of sounds in order to communicate with each other and with their human companions; and one of those sounds can definitely be defined as crying. As much as we associate crying with sadness or pain, it seems that dogs cry for different reasons compared to humans.
Interpreting a dog’s cry can be quite tricky, especially since dogs do not produce visible tears. Most dogs will have facial expressions that might be representative of sad emotions; however, those same expressions can also be mistaken or rightly assumed to be anxiety, worry, or even tiredness. It isn’t unusual for dogs to also be silent and/or distant whenever they’re feeling sad. Therefore, it isn’t logical to just assume that a dog is particularly experiencing sadness when it’s producing “crying” sounds because of two reasons: sadness can be expressed in different ways, and dog crying can mean an expression of something different.
As a matter of fact, the sound of dog crying can simply be described as whimpering or whining. These sounds can be attributed to other dog emotions such as excitement, anxiety, frustration, and pain. The whining and whimpering are also often attributed to the desire for attention or the need for assistance or resources. It’s a way for dogs to convey the need for basic necessities such as food and water. The whining and whimpering is actually an expression that most dogs learn to do when they’re only infants.
Dogs may have some instinctual ability to cry, but most of it is a learned trait. It’s not a difficult connection for dogs to make—whining will get them what they’d like. To most dogs, this can be an innocent scenario, where a pet owner simply heeds to whatever it may be that his or her pet wants. You can imagine how this scenario can become a problem in real life. Whining can become excessive. While it’s more tolerable than barking, whimpering or whining can become problem behavior when it gets completely out of control. You’ll know when your dog is using whimpering to its advantage—and doing so excessively at that.
In some older dogs, you may also notice that crying is a direct result of a dog’s age. In some cases, the older the dog gets, the whinier it becomes. Dogs that display crying behavior are simply showing their age-related cognitive decline. Dogs that have dementia or disorientation tend to cry much more than healthier dogs. The crying behavior can be a way for the dogs to express their confusion, or better yet, their anxiety. During certain times when a dog becomes unsure of itself, whining or whimpering can be its way of telling you just how scared it might be.
More importantly, remember that dogs that suffer chronic pain will NOT whimper or whine. They may wince or cry out if they were accidentally hurt when stepped on or after just having had surgery. However, it’s quite rare for dogs that are in constant pain to be whimpering or whining due to the said chronic pain. This is an important notation that pet owners should keep in mind so as not to mistake whimpering for asking for medication or what not. In addition, knowing this will allow pet owners to be able to figure out what may be the real reason for a dog’s crying behavior.
If the crying behavior has gone to excesses and has become a nuisance, don’t fret; there are ways to help the situation if the problem is behavioral. First, you’ll have to consult the vet in order to make sure that the crying is not due to a medical problem. If it’s a behavioral situation, there are trainers and veterinarian behaviorist that can employ techniques to help your dog end excessive crying behaviors. Make sure that you tell your veterinarian right away when your dog begins to exhibit excessive crying. The sooner it’s addressed, the easier it will be to eliminate.