Jump to section
Are you infamous on your road for the unmistakable sound of barking and whining that your dog emits consistently through out the day? Do you try and sit down to enjoy your episode of Judge Judy, only for him to feel the need to bark at everyone that walks past the house? He may also whine whenever he wants food, to go outside, or even just some attention. It may have been cute and endearing to start with, but now it’s nothing short of irritating and it’s also giving you a bad reputation among your neighbors.
It probably makes having friends and family over a challenge too. Nobody wants to enter a house where they are barked at for the first 10 minutes. But dogs are often misunderstood and their barking is usually a defensive or protective sign and the whining is often a case of attention seeking behavior. Tackling barking and whining will bring you some much-deserved peace and quiet!
Getting a handle on barking and whining involves first addressing the underlying cause. That may mean making some changes to your dog's environment and changing your behavior around him too. It will also require obedience commands, enabling you to instruct him to be quiet. Consistency and patience will be key if you want to overcome this rather noisy hurdle.
Due to the multitude of reasons behind barking and whining, fully rectifying the behavior may take several weeks. It will be quicker to tackle the problem in puppies who are more receptive than their elder counterparts, who have had years to cement their bad habits. But while it may be challenging, it is important to manage if you want a peaceful home and a comfortable environment for friends and family to visit.
Before you get to work, you will need to get together a number of things. First, you will need food or treats to incentivize and reward him. You will also need a quiet environment, free from distractions.
If it is your puppy whining, you will need a secure crate to house him in to begin with. You may also want a radio or TV that you can use to help distract the dog from passersby.
An optimistic, proactive attitude will also be required for fast, effective results. Once you have gathered all the necessities, you can get going on the task at hand.
The Puppy Whining Method
Meet his needs
First, ensure his physical needs are met. It is mostly puppies that whine, but teaching all dogs not to whine is relatively straightforward. When he first whines, make sure it is not because he needs the toilet or because he is too hot or cold. Address these questions first, so you understand your dogs routine and can provide him with these things before he needs to whine.
When he starts whining, gently ask him to ‘stop’. Look at him while you say it, eye contact will help reinforce the point.
If he doesn’t stop whining (he probably won’t to start with), say much louder and firmer ‘STOP’. Said firmly enough, this will probably silence him. If it doesn’t, say it again louder. Repeat this process whenever he whines. He will quickly learn to stop whining when you say it gently the first time, as he won’t want to see you get to the shouting stage.
Never reward him for whining. If he whines, ensure you never reward him with a treat or attention. You would then be teaching him that if he whines, he will get exactly want he wants.
Tire him out
He will have less energy to whine and seek attention if he is already tired. So if you can’t walk him more, throw things for him to fetch during the walk, this will quickly tire him out. Also, play with him when he isn’t whining so the attention box is ticked already. A combination of all of these steps will slowly reduce the frequency he whines until you achieve blissful silence in your home.
The Defensive Barking Method
Understand why he barks
Most dogs bark as a protective sign of their territory. That is why many dogs will bark when people enter their home or walk past it. So look for signs this is the case. Does he run to the window or door to bark when people walk by? Does he go rigid? Does his tail drop between his legs? These are all signs of fear and will explain the barking.
Remove the motivation
A quick and easy way to prevent him barking at neighbours or people passing the house is to distract him. Leave the radio on near his bed, or leave a TV on. If he can’t hear people approaching, he simply won’t bark.
Always stand in front of him when people enter the house. If he is ahead of you, he will feel like he is the pack leader and that it’s his job to defend you. So keep him way back when new people enter the house, by acting as physical barrier you will negate his need to defend the home.
Reward him when people do enter the home without him barking. Be sure to go over and praise him after people enter peacefully, plus give him a well-deserved treat. Repeat this reward system whenever he doesn’t bark.
If he does bark, ignore him. It is important you don’t give him attention when he does bark. He needs to see that barking won’t have an impact, so also advise guests to ignore him if he acts up. This combined with the rewarding for not barking will slowly drill into him why barking isn’t worth it.
The Obedience Commands Method
Get a treat and take him into a quiet room, away from distractions. This technique is for dogs that bark and whine for attention. You are going to teach him to roll over. This may seem bizarre, but the logic is simple; when he barks or whines, you will get him to perform a trick instead to distract him. Soon, instead of barking and whining, he will realize that performing a trick is the quickest and most effective way to get attention.
Instruct him to lie down and then hold the treat in front of his nose. Ensure he is fully aware there is a delicious treat just centimeters from his mouth. Then firmly say "roll over".
Slowly rotate your hand over his head, leading him by their nose as you go. He will follow your hand until he falls over onto his side. You can also gently help him roll over with your hand. As soon as he rolls over, quickly give him a treat and shower him with praise. Practice this trick for 10-15 minutes every day for a week, then slowly reduce the frequency of the treats until he rolls over just from the command.
Put into practice
Now as soon as he bark, stand in front of him, instruct him to 'lie down' and then ‘roll over’. Block him from whatever it is he was barking at and have him perform the trick. Then quickly give him a treat and praise him. This promise of food will quickly distract him from whatever it is he was barking at.
Be consistent. You need to keep a careful eye on him and have him roll over whenever he starts to bark or whine. By simply distracting him every time he gets vocal, he will slowly break the habit.
By James Barra
Published: 11/05/2017, edited: 01/08/2021