When dogs whine, it can be one of those incessant noises that grates on even the most devoted of owners. There are ways to stop your pooch from ever whining again, however, which we look at here in this article. That being said, first, it is also good to know why dogs whine at all. Furthering our understanding of what influences a dog’s behavior means that we can better our training techniques too, so it pays to spend a little more time fully learning why exactly it is that a dog makes this annoying sound.
Why Is My Dog Whining?
- Food and Drink
In fairness to dogs, there can be a number of reasons why they bark that are actually legitimate and reasonable. Even the most dedicated of owners can sometimes lose track of their dog’s needs so a pup may whine for food or water if they haven’t had their bowl filled up for a while.
- Toilet Break
Dogs may also whine to go outside to the bathroom and so it is a good idea to lead them to the back door or wherever else they go to for a toilet break. Certainly, if a dog is whining by the back door, you can be sure that they are doing so because they need the toilet. Behavior like that should actually be encouraged because it helps with continued housebreaking and ensures that your pup will not go to the toilet inside your home.
Dogs may actually also whine out of concern for you and other family members if they believe something is wrong. It is not unheard of for pet dogs to whine when they hear a baby cry who is from their household in their eyes. This is due to the pack mentality of canines that instinctively tells them to protect their own.
- Medical Issues
One last key, legitimate reason that a dog may whine is through illness or other medical issues like an injury. This is important to rule out before any of the following techniques are employed as your dog may need a trip to the vet to take a look at what is wrong. You will be able to tell if your pup is unwell, even if they don’t have any clear physical symptoms, by the rest of their behavior. If they are acting very differently to how they usually behave, then it could be an internal problem that a medical professional should be consulted about. In episodes like this, you can never be too cautious with your dog’s health.
- Play Time
Dogs may also whine because they want to play with you. This is a tricky whine to placate because by playing with them to stop the whining, you are actively enforcing their behavior. Yet, playing with them will stop the whining too. It is this reason for whining, amongst other attention seeking whining, that we will look at dealing with in further depth. We would obviously all love to spend all day playing with our dogs, but unfortunately, it just is not possible so we need to find other ways to stop them from whining as opposed to pandering to their every whim.
The Basics Of Dog Training
The basics of dog training should be employed when trying to reduce your dog’s whining to nothing. Just because it isn’t a skill like “sit” or “stay” does not mean that the same rules should not apply.
- Positive Reinforcement
In this way, the majority of dog trainers and dog behaviorists will now advocate the use of positive reinforcement when trying to teach your dog new tricks. This is never truer than when trying to get your dog to stop whining forevermore. By praising them when they are behaving well and therefore not making their annoying whining noise, they will start to learn that whining will not let them get their own way.
Praise can take the form of food and treats, which is especially beneficial if your dog is food led. Labs are a particularly good breed to train with food and tasty titbits. Some dogs will respond better to treats in the form of toys and play. If your dog loves something with a squeak that they can get their teeth into, then give them this every time they are calm and quiet. Some breeds just love a really long cuddle and stroke. Again, do this when your dog is behaving nicely and as you would like all the time. Soon they will begin to realize that it is when they act like this, that they get the attention they crave.
- Ignoring Negative Behavior
In the same vein, ignoring negative behavior is widely believed to be the only way forward. It is perhaps the most difficult notion to remember when your dog has been whining at your feet or the bottom of the stairs for almost an hour. However, by ignoring their whines, they will start to be able to remember that by whining, they will not garner attention or get any praise from you.
To quicken the pace of this method of training it can be a good idea to try ignoring a dog’s negative behavior in an emphatic manner. This means that owners should turn away with an almost melodramatic swivel when their dog starts to whine to garner attention. Staying turned away from them while they continue to whine, and with your arms folded, is another good tactic.
What is another great notion to be aware of is that reprimanding your dog during a spat of negative behavior like whining is actually a way that your dog receives the attention he or she may crave. It is therefore vitally important simply to continue to ignore such bad behavior immediately and never give your dog attention – either by pandering to them or telling them off – as this is the reaction that they want. The result is that they actually view any attention as positive reinforcement of what they are doing, in this case whining, so they will continue to do so.
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Dogs that whine due to separation anxiety are exhibiting a very common source of behavior. Dogs that are often very nervous or sometimes simply very close to their owner are often reduced to whining until their owner returns again. This type of anxiety can be quite heartbreaking to see but it can be diminished just like any other whining can be.
Owners have to follow the same rules as stipulated above, which can be harder to do as most of us will simply want to comfort our pets and tell them everything will be ok. So while it may be easier to shower them with praise when they are quiet, it can be harder to ignore their pleading eyes when they are obviously distraught when you close the front door behind you, leaving them in the house.
In times like this, owners simply have to remember to play the long game and ignore their whining. What can also help is if you give your dog a toy if they are not whining, and you are just about to leave the house. Not only will this distract them but they will also have had their positive behavior reinforced, ie not whining, by the introduction of a toy. In these cases, like in all training, it does not necessarily have to be a toy that is used for a distraction – just an aid that they see as the optimal form of praise.
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Be Aware Of Situations That Cause Your Dog To Whine
Finally, be aware of the situations that can cause your dog to whine. In doing so, you can either help manipulate the situation to be as stress-free for them as possible, or you can implement positive reinforcement for their calm behavior before the stressful situation for them begins. Common situations that cause dogs to whine, other than your leaving them, can be when other guests come into your house or sometimes during a phone call. In the instance of the house guest, give your dog a toy or treat 20-30 minutes beforehand to both distract them but also tire them out mentally. A good tip for if your dog whines, while you are on the phone, is to ask them to sit down by you and only start stroking them when they are quiet.
Getting a dog to stop whining is a long and hard process, but it is infinitely possible. It just needs a lot of patience and some time to train and reassure your dog that everything is going to be ok. Whining for a dog is an instinctive reaction so, as owners, we are up against it from the outset. The owners that have the best results, however, are the ones that follow the above steps with sensitivity towards their loving pet’s wants and needs.