Why Does My Dog Yelp When Touched

It can be a bit frustrating when you touch your dog, and they yelp for no apparent reason. Pain isn’t always easy to see, and yet it often indicates that something is not right. If you’re asking yourself “why does my dog yelp when touched?” you need to determine the cause using their reactions and body language.  

Why Does My Dog Yelp When Touched?

There are several possible reasons why your dog yelps when touched or cry out after being touched. It’s possible that your dog is suffering from some form of physical pain or stress. Meanwhile, it’s also likely that your dog is too excited or is seeking attention. 

Two dogs yelping happily

Whatever the reason is, you may not notice it immediately, especially if the only thing you did was touch your pet. Hence, the first thing to do is to understand the potential causes. 

Neck or Back Pain

If your dog keeps his head bent down and tries only to move his eyes to look at you, there’s a chance that your pet is suffering from back or neck pain. 

The dog may experience muscle tension in their abdomen. When you can examine your pet, he probably won’t cry out on your first touch, not until you touch the part where he experiences the pain.

Joint or Muscle Problems

Senior dogs are prone to joint or muscle problems. When you touch them, or they try to move their body, they might yelp and feel the pain getting worse. Even young dogs are susceptible to muscle spasms and cramps that may result in limping or twitching of the legs. 

If you notice they are showing reluctance to run or they are having difficulty lying down, such conditions may call for the immediate assistance of veterinarians. 


If you feel like there’s no problem with the muscles or joints, an infection might be making your dog yelp in pain. The most common is an inner or middle ear infection that causes your dog to cry when you touch his ears. 

Aside from that, they may show infection symptoms like vomiting, change in stool appearance, sluggish movements, and diarrhea. 


Yelping doesn’t necessarily mean dogs are in pain; sometimes it’s their own way of expressing happiness when they see you coming home from work. 

Excited looking dog

You know that dogs get over-excited whenever they see someone or something they love. At times, they may even yelp because they know you are going to their favorite park or beach. 


If your dog has recently undergone a traumatic experience, yelping may translate into fear of experiencing it again. For example, shelter dogs maltreated by their previous or fighting dogs may still remember the pain. Even after the bruises heal, the emotional trauma may still be there. 

Anxiety or Stress

Dogs can also feel anxiety and stress due to several factors in the environment. Your pet may yelp if they’re uncomfortable with the presence of a stranger petting him. 

Another possible reason is that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. If you’ve been out for a vacation, the dog’s reaction may be a combination of excitement and stress because they haven’t seen you for a long time. Once you start to pet them, their yelps are a mixture of joy and anxiety.

How to Deal With Dog Yelping

The most crucial thing to do is to collect all possible information. Try to determine the following:

  • The source of pain
  • How long has your dog been yelping when being touched?
  • How do you think the dog got hurt?  

All these clues can help you and the veterinarian apply the appropriate treatment. Remember, you must not give pain medication right away, especially if you are unsure of what’s happening. In each case, the solution depends on the situation: 

Pain-Induced Yelping

To prevent your dog from feeling joint and muscle problems, make sure they have access to plenty of drinking water throughout their play or exercise session. If you can’t go to the veterinarian for proper diagnosing, limit your dog’s movement and avoid strenuous physical activities. 

Aside from general consultation, vets might need to make physical and neurological exams on your dog. Only then can a vet identify the problem and decide the best solution. 

White dog smiling and looking at the camera

When it comes to medication, a veterinarian might give anti-inflammatories and opiates for pain control. Cage or bed rest is another usual treatment. If there’s a more severe problem, like nerve damage, that’s when a veterinarian might suggest surgery and physical therapy.

Anxious Yelping

If your dog is yelping due to anxiety, stopping this can be a bit difficult unless you eliminate the source of concern. At times, dogs may not even control their pacing, excessive licking, chewing, or breaking things. 

Some dogs are at risk of separation anxiety, so make an effort to not be with them for short periods. While you would love you to spend every single moment with your pet, this can have negative consequences if you need to go out for long periods. 

Instead, develop a routine. Set a time where your dog plays alone and a different period of the day where you two can bond. Likewise, set a time for exercise, food, and sleep.

Attention-Seeking Yelping

There are dogs who constantly seek attention. Some even know that the only way to call your attention or get a treat is by yelping. While you might not notice it, you may have been encouraging this behavior by providing attention whenever they whimper for it. 

The good news is that there’s still time for you to change this behavior. Teach your dog to remain calm and ignore the attention-seeking yelping. 

After that, start giving them treats for being quiet. Once your pet understands that they only get treats or attention when they are quiet, they would stop yelping or whining for no reason.


If only dogs can talk, then they will be able to tell humans how they feel. Since they have different ways of communicating with us, it’s our responsibility to understand their body language and verbal cues. When you hear your dog yelping, know that there’s a reason, and they are just trying to tell you what they feel.  Call today to schedule an appointment to see our Veterinarian by calling (951) 676-4690.

Categories Dog

Doctor Joe Alcorn received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University in 1981, and founded Care Animal Hospital in 1991 in Temecula, California. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.