Vocalisation is very common in puppies. It includes whining, crying, howling or barking. These are things that are generally behavioural in nature, and will usually settle down with time and careful management from their owners.

The life of a puppy

When you acquire a puppy, you probably don’t give much thought to its life beforehand. After all, often they will only be maybe eight or so weeks old, perhaps even less. Most of the time, we are too excited to bring them home and enjoy our new family member, to really think about what they are going through.

Obviously, each puppy’s experience will be different, depending on where you get them from. Perhaps a breeder, perhaps a rescue. Regardless of where they come from, this is a moment of great turmoil for your puppy. Often, the whole of the its existence has been with its mother and siblings, within a particular environment. Here it has begun to understand how things work, who is who, and it’s become accustomed to certain smells, tastes, sights and sounds. 

The big change

When the puppy is adopted or sold, it goes from a familiar environment where it feels safe, to an unfamiliar one where everything is new, and everyone is a stranger. Naturally, because of this assault on its senses, a puppy can feel stressed, confused and lonely without its mother or littermates.

Puppies normally interact with each other physically and vocally. Whining and crying noises are often used in play. This is a part of their repertoire of behaviours (in interactions with each other and their dam), and they are used to display distress, discomfort or pain. 

New home, new rules

As going to a new home is a turbulent time for your new puppy, it is very important to set out how you want your new bundle of joy to interact with you, your home and its occupants BEFORE it comes bounding through the door. It’s going to be a learning curve. But there are things that you can do to make your puppy’s transition easier. 

First, set up his space

Having somewhere safe to call his own will help him to adapt quicker, often a crate is a great choice. Provide water, a cozy bed and (in the beginning) somewhere to pee and poop. 

Next up, routine

Try and think about what your long-term routine will be with your puppy and start from the word go. For example, if he’s going to be walked in the early mornings and then be left alone at home, then make it clear that mornings will be for activity together (so perhaps make it playtime whilst he’s not yet able to go outside), but will be followed by down-time, so he knows to expect it in the future. Routine is really important in helping your puppy to settle. 

Set boundaries

This can be hard with a new puppy, they’re so adorable, we get it! However, if you’ve allocated your puppy some alone time, or you’re going to bed, try not to go pet him because he’s started whining and crying. This will actually reinforce the behaviour because he learns that you’ll come when he whines.

It can be a good idea to wind down early on. This could mean putting your puppy to bed in the living room or kitchen whilst you’re still relaxing or doing bits and bobs. Then maybe turning down the lights and TV volume, so he has gradually less stimulation. Rather than making an abrupt change from playtime with lots of noise and activity, to immediate darkness with no one about. 

You’ll probably notice that sometimes your puppy whines a bit for no reason, even if you’re with him. This is normal because he’s still adapting and probably missing the comfort of his littermates and mother. 

The poorly puppy

Be aware that whilst whining can be a normal, expected behaviour for your new puppy, it may have a more serious cause. A puppy who is whining from discomfort will often have other signs of being unwell. This might include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, inappetence, straining, or, perhaps a firm, rounded tummy.

Sometimes puppies can be affected by neurological problems that cause changes in behaviour. These can show up as abnormal whining or crying. If your puppy doesn’t respond to interaction from you, or appears to be in a world of its own, this could also be a cause for concern. Should a puppy have such signs of being poorly, or be crying in a manner that is concerning or out of the ordinary, then it’s best to get them checked out by a vet, just to be safe. 

Have patience with your puppy. With love, time and consistency they will soon adapt to their new home, and you’ll notice that whining becomes a thing of the past.

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