Why Do Dogs Whine When You Give Them a Bone?

Adrienne Farricelli

So you decided to stop by the pet store and get your dog a bone, but as soon as you give it to him, he starts whining as he carries the bone in his mouth, what gives? Isn't your dog supposed to be a happy camper and just lie down and enjoy chomping on it like any normal dog would?

Why do dogs whine when you give them a bone? So you decided to stop by the pet store and get your dog a bone, but as soon as you give it to him, he starts whining as he carries the bone in his mouth, what gives? Isn't your dog supposed to be a happy camper and just lie down and enjoy chomping on it like any normal dog would?

Well, actually turns out that your dog may be just acting like.... well, a normal dog. As with many other doggy behaviors that at times seem incomprehensible to us, if we start looking at them through our dog's eyes we will suddenly notice that they actually make sense. So here are a few possible explanations as to why dogs whine when you give them a bone.

A Form of Thanks

If you give your dog a bone and your dog starts crying, don't just jump to the conclusion that he isn't appreciating it. It may look that way though if we interpret it from a human standpoint.

Imagine buying your girlfriend a box of chocolates and instead of eating them, she starts crying. You may therefore assume that perhaps she was expecting something else, ehmm.. perhaps an engagement ring?

However, rest assured that from your dog's perspective, he isn't whining to ask you to take it back or exchange it for something else. Dogs don't think that way! The fact your dog is whining is likely a sign that he's very happy about it; indeed, there's no bones about it, he's so happy he doesn't know what to do with it!

No Hiding Spot

Dogs have an instinct of burying items they care about and this stems from their past as hunters. Before being fed store-brought kibble and eating from shiny bowls, dogs knew for a fact that food was sometimes scarce and not readily available. When they had an abundance of food, they would therefore instinctively hide the surplus in a safe spot for later retrieval. Think of it as conserving it for those lean times ahead.

Burying the food prevented it from spoilage and access to other scavengers. If your dog is therefore whining and pacing with a bone in his mouth, he's likely a bit frustrated or confused about what to do with it. He may want to bury it some place, but then he can't find a good place, so he ends up whining aimlessly just because he can't figure out what to do.

Seeking Out Peace

When dogs have a high-value item, like a long-lasting bone, they seek out places where they can eat in total comfort. If your household has other dogs, children or other pets, your dog may feel frustrated because he can't find a peaceful spot to consume his bone in peace.

Some dogs may be particularly protective of their bones or they may fear another person or animal may take it away from them, so instead of lying down and eating it, they wander around whining while carrying it, waiting for the right opportunity to eat it.

Tackling the Problem

Whining around with a bone in the mouth is generally an innocent behavior, but it can be annoying at times. There are several ways to tackle the problem. Sometimes giving bones that are less valuable and that can be consumed rather quickly in one session are a better option for these fellows. If there are other pets around, keeping them in separated areas may be a good idea, but remember that you always want to monitor your dogs when giving bones.

Comments (5)
No. 1-4

This could also result from dental pain.


Our schnauzer-poodle mix loves these treats we give her, but the larger version of it (which she used to eat regularly) she has now started hiding, or looking for a place to stash it for some reason. She does the pacing around the house, whining looking for a spot, then comes over to her bed, scratches at it with her paw and nose (trying to dig a hole I'm assuming) and then leaves it there. She has hidden these in other places in the living room before as well, like behind the couch. It's so odd.

Adrienne Farricelli
Adrienne Farricelli


Interesting theory! It makes sense considering that dogs like to stick nearby their families and this includes during their meals. Our dogs won't eat their snacks when left alone, nor will they drink, however, once back home they would go to quickly grab their goodies and readily eat them. They would then drink finally.


Could it be that they have an instinct to share bit treats with their family?

It sort of seems like that to me. When we give our dog a big treat, like a raw chicken leg, he firstly runs into the backyard, knowing that he's not allowed to eat messy things inside (yes, he actually seems to know this!). Inevitably he comes back a couple of minutes later making little whining noises, wagging his tail, ears back, begging eyes and as soon as we walk towards him, he turns, walks away and then stops and looks back - just like he wants us to follow him. When we follow him into the yard, he stops somewhere and continues the whining. When I sit down and put out I my hand he walks to me and almost puts the bone in my hand, but then circles around - he can't seem to quite get himself to do it. Shortly after he seems to be able to eat it. If we don't follow him he'll often keep whining for a long time (over 15 minutes) before he eventually settles down and eats it. This behaviour seems consistent with wanting to share the treat.

Just another hypothesis.