Whimpering dogs can really get annoying, and at the same time, it kills you inside because you just feel so bad for your dog when he cries. Sometimes there are reasons that he is crying such as physical pain and the like. However, there are other times when there is seemingly no reason or some silly reason why they whimper. Often, they whimper is due to fear and anxiety, though there can be a variety of issues causing it. There are many things you can do to figure out what is causing this behavior, and what you can do about it.
The Root of the Behavior
Well, to understand why they are crying, we need to understand what is causing them to feel like crying. Did this crying come up recently and quickly, or has it persisted for some time? Do they cry only when you go to leave or when you are not giving them your full attention? Perhaps your dog is crying when he does not have a full food dish. Chances are if they whimper only when they do not have a full food dish, then this is a learned behavior. Meaning that at some point he learned that if you whine, you get food.
Same principles often apply if they cry only when they are not receiving attention. Then, at some point, they learned if you cry, then you will get attention. These are easy to correct in theory if you simply make it a point to only give them what they seek when they are not whimpering. It will train them that they will not get what they want from whimpering. If, however, it has come out of nowhere, you need to start with a health check. Make sure they have no injuries, that they are not favoring any particular joints or avoiding placing equal weight on their feet.
Do they feel weak and fatigued? Often, illnesses that cause them to feel bad make them whimper. If they are in pain, that is how they often let you know and it is important to find and address the root cause of the problem. If they have already whimpered constantly from a young age, then it was incentivized at birth or a young age, and may require a professional trainer to address it properly. Any symptoms of separation anxiety are often displayed through acts of whimpering and crying. Again, this is because they are trying to communicate to you that they want you to stay. There are often underlying problems, but separation anxiety in and of itself has many ways to treat, including just things to keep them more entertained and busy throughout the day!
Encouraging the Behavior
Depending on the cause of this behavior, there are likely many ways you can help reduce it. Obviously, if they are not well, consult your vet as they can work on the underlying issues. However, if your dog is perfectly healthy, then it is more than likely a behavioral issue. In this case, you would want to remove the incentive to whimper. If they typically whimper to get petted or for you to fill their food bowl, then quite simply do not fill their bowl if they are whimpering for you to do so. When you fill the bowl because they whimper, they are taught to whimper to get what they want, and this is reinforced consistently. Reinforce different behaviors. If you only pet them when they are sitting quietly next to you, then they will learn to come sit quietly next to you to get petted and both of your lives could get much easier!
Symptoms of separation anxiety can be a more diverse in treatment. Start by simply trying to give them things to do. Provide your dog with toys and things they enjoy and plenty of space to entertain themselves, and you may find simply having things to do will reduce their whining a great deal. Making sure they have a safe and removed environment like a kennel they can retreat into if they are stressed or scared can really help increase their comfort and reduce their whining as well.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Instead of feeding them when they whine, try and set a specific time each night to bring them their food. That way it is irrelevant to the behavior they have before it is brought and they will not see a correlation between whining and getting their food. This type of training mechanic is very common and highly effective. If the annoying behavior or trait is not reacted to, they will eventually learn it does not work. The key is building a redundancy of these good behaviors. Contact a trainer to evaluate exactly what the issue is and the best way to approach correction if these solutions do not fix your problem!
No one wants a dog that whines every time you are on the phone, sits at your feet and whines whenever you eat, or whines every time you leave the house. Chances are, these are learned behaviors and can be corrected by simply having no reaction to their whimpers. In this sense, any reaction is a negative reaction.