The Root of the Behavior
Aging dogs will also whine due to dementia, and this will be accompanied by a loss of interest in favorite activities, failure to recognize known people and places, as well as getting lost. Whining can also be a sign of glandular or metabolic irregularities or exposure to toxic substances. In those instances, typically when the substance is removed, the whining will stop. Spaniels are in the moderate to high category for becoming excited, so your pup may be whining because he is excited to see you or to greet a new friend. Body wiggles, tail wags, perhaps a bark, and some jumping too often accompany this whining. Along the same vein is a dog that whines as a part of appeasement during a new meeting. He may see the new friend as a threat and is whining to signify he does not wish to have any altercations. Your spaniel may also whine because you have trained him to do so. If you let him out and then did not let him in until he whined, he has learned that is how to get your attention. Similarly, if he has whined and you responded by either approaching him or even telling him to be quiet, you have reinforced the behavior. Often Spaniels are looking for ways to gain your attention and bond with you and if whining seems to work he will stick with it.
Encouraging the Behavior
If you find he whines when meeting new people or in unfamiliar situations, consider hiring a trainer to work with your dog on socializing him. It is important for dogs to be socialized so that both you and he can enjoy being out in the world. Finally, if your American Spaniel is whining to get your attention, you need to re-condition him to communicate with you in other ways. Do not respond to him when he whines, not even to push him aside or tell him to be quiet, as that will only reinforce his behavior. Rather, provide him a lot of attention, affection, and activity and reward him with treats when he is quiet. Identify situations in which he whines, such as when he wants to come in from being outside, and try to get to him before he exhibits the behavior. Meet him at the door, tell him to sit, and reward him for the behavior. Continue to meet him at the door, having him wait 30 seconds longer each time until he learns to wait patiently. If his whining is behavioral and continues despite your best effort, seek the help of a trainer to eliminate the unwanted behavior.