How to Train Your Dog to Not Whine

How to Train Your Dog to Not Whine
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-2 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

If your dog's whining is driving you crazy, there are several ways to train your dog not to whine. But first, why is your dog whining? Is it because he has a legitimate need that has to be met? If your dog is hungry, needs outside for a bathroom break more often, or needs exercise and play, addressing these needs should come before initiating training to discourage whining behavior.  If all of your dog's needs are met and whining persists, it could be a learned behavior to get attention, or you could have a very anxious or submissive dog that whines as part of his method of social interaction  In both cases, training your dog to stop whining will involve discouraging whining behavior and providing your dog with an alternate behavior to communicate.

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Defining Tasks

Whining is especially common in puppies, rescue and shelter dogs, or dogs that are unsure of their situation. Separation anxiety is a common cause of whining--if your dog whines when separated from you and other caregivers, you may need to address this issue separately, to provide your dog with confidence and a feeling of comfort and security. Some medical conditions can precipitate whining as well. If your dog is experiencing pain, cognitive, or nervous disorder, whining may be a symptom. If a dog that did not previously whine starts this behavior, it may be advisable to take the dog to a veterinarian to rule out an underlying medical condition.  

Because anxiety is often an underlying cause of whining, training methods to alleviate whining behavior should avoid punishment, which, while it may inhibit the behavior, can make the underlying anxiety condition worse and result in alternate negative anxiety behaviors, such as destructiveness or breaking house training, that will make you wish your dog was just whining again!  Many dogs also whine when excited, as a sign they are trying to appease their owners by acting submissive, or as a way of vocalizing greetings. In these cases, finding an alternate behavior for your dog during training will give him a more constructive way, to communicate with you.

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Getting Started

Stopping your dog's whining will involve a time commitment on your part to develop confidence and social skills, especially if you have an anxious dog. You will also have to ensure all your dog's needs for food, sleep, play, and exercise are met, which may involve other members of the household, friends, neighbors, or dog sitters if you are not available for extended periods of time, for instance, if you are at work long hours or have a young dog that needs more attention. Activities to keep your dog occupied like Kongs, toys and puzzle feeder are also useful. Ensure you have treats to reward appropriate behaviors and patience to ignore inappropriate whining.  These tools and the  following training strategies should help end your dog's whining habit.

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The Extinguish Whining Method

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1

Meet needs

Ensure all your dog's basic needs are met so he has no legitimate reason to whine.

2

Provide distractions

Make sure your dog is not bored, but has toys, a puzzle feeder, a chew bone, a Kong filled with treats, and a quiet, safe retreat such as a crate.

3

Ignore whining

If you dog whines or cries for attention, ignore the dog's demands. You can do this comfortably knowing that his needs, including needs for attention and exercise, have or are going to be met. You can walk away or turn away when your dog whines. Avoid yelling at your dog, as this is a form of attention in itself.

4

Reinforce quiet

When your dog is being quiet and not demanding attention, reward him by providing affection, a treat, or play.

5

Establish

Continue to meet your dog's needs and reward quiet behavior over a period of several days or weeks as necessary, so your dog learns that his needs will be met on your schedule and that quiet calm behavior is rewarded, whining is not. You may need to engage all members of the household, and include friends or neighbors, if you have a young dog and need to be away from him for several hours, so that a reasonable schedule to meet your dog's needs is maintained.

The Desensitize Method

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Build confidence

Make some time to spend with your dog, training and socializing him, so he develops confidence and is less apt to whine from nervousness, appeasement, or excessively submissive behavior.

2

Create new experiences

Take your dog out into lots of situations with friendly people, dogs, and even cats. Encourage play and exercise. Make sure you are in a safe situation and avoid public dog parks at busy times if your dog might have a negative experience with other people or dogs.

3

Train obedience

Teach your dog basic obedience commands like 'sit', 'lie down', 'heel', and 'come', to enhance your relationship with your dog and develop basic calm control. Avoid yelling at or punishing your dog when they make a mistake, calmly correct your dog.

4

Teach tricks

Teach your dog tricks like 'roll over', 'beg', and 'fetch', to build confidence and provide fun and entertainment.

5

Create routine

Giving your dog lots of social development with training and socializing will build confidence. Also, ensure a calm routine at home, with clear expectations your dog can meet behavior wise. Ensure all his physical and emotional needs are met. As your dog develops confidence, he will be less anxious and submissive and whining behavior will diminish and stop.

The Alternative Behavior Method

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Present treat

Teach your dog to ask for your attention with an alternate behavior to whining, by replacing whining with 'look at me', 'sit-stay' or 'down-stay' behaviors. Start by holding a treat in your hand.

2

Wait for desired behavior

Wait for your dog to do the desired behavior, such as sitting and look at you.

3

Reward alternative

Provide the treat when your dog performs the desired behavior.

4

Expand location and time required

Gradually expand this exercise to include other locations and sitting or lying quietly for longer periods of time in order to gain your attention.

5

Substitute for whining

When your dog sits and looks at you or lays quietly, give him lots of attention and rewards, such as treats, to establish that being quiet and sitting or lying still gets your attention, not whining. Provide the 'sit-stay' or 'look at me' command when you come home, or any other time your dog gets excited and starts whining. This alternate behavior will distract your dog from whining and provide him with another, more constructive way of getting your attention.

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Jäger

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German Shepherd

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8 Months

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Question

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We have an 8 month old male german shepherd who we’ve been training, he does well with “sit”, we’re currently working on “stay”, and he’s excellent on “go home”, as we’ve seen those as the most important commands to teach first. Our goal is to train him as my service dog, but we have two issues we haven’t been able to tackle. 1) He’s incredibly stubborn. Out of plenty of other breeds I’ve had, as well as out of german shepherds I’ve had, and while he started out as super submissive, willing to learn and very shy when we first got him, he has changed a lot to be the complete opposite. And 2) Heeling. This is a big one that we need him to master as a command due to many reasons we need him to comply with. Instead, he pulls, walks right in front of you with no warning and trips you, and will sometimes fight going in specific directions for no reason - he doesn’t avoid or is scared of anything in the direction we’re going, he just simply wants to walk in his own direction. We’ve tried regular leashes, harnesses, head halter gentle leads, and an abundance of heel training suggestions, but nothing seems to work. With my condition, I cannot have him dragging or tripping me, what do I do ? He doesn’t take to eating treats, either.

July 6, 2022

Jäger's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lynnox, Check out this video series https://www.youtube.com/user/AmericasCanineED/search?query=ecollar%20heel If pup has been protesting any of your training with aggression, I recommend hiring a professional trainer to work in person with pup and to take safety measures while working with pup, like desensitizing pup to wearing a basket muzzle so that can be used during times when you anticipate more reactivity. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 6, 2022

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SullE

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Mini Australian ShepherD

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20 Months

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I am a truck driver. Every time I stop, SullE begins to whine, Yelp (very loudly) bark, and jump from passenger seat to floor and back. Doesn't matter if he has just been outside.I have know idea how to break him of this behavior

May 26, 2022

SullE's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Robert, I would start by teaching pup the Quiet command. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark I would also teach a Place command for the seat or area pup normally rides in - pup can be taught to stay on that spot while still being allowed to sit, lie down, or stand, as long as they don't get off. That's a good command to enforce and be able to discipline pup for getting off the seat and pup understand what command they broke. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s I would practice place on something like a beach towel first, then once pup has learned that a bit, transfer the towel to your truck where pup normally rides and practice the command in there with the truck off. Once pup has learned Quiet and Place. I would reward pup for any calm behavior and obedience to those commands whenever you stop. When pup disobeys, I would consider the use of an interrupter, which is generally a vibration collar, stimulated based remote training collar on pup's working level, of unscented air pet convincer, puffed at pup's side to surprise a bit without hurting. Any corrections should be combined with rewards for obedience and teaching the obedience ahead of time so pup understands what's expected and has the skills to be able to obey and stay calmer. Examples of interruptions - in this case during a walk, but notice the calmness, consistency, and structured obedience. Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Reactive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY8s_MlqDNE Severely aggressive dog – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfiDe0GNnLQ&t=259s If pup has a history of aggression, I would hire a professional trainer to oversee training and tailor the training to pup more, since they will be able to get a better history, take safety measures, and make decide what methods to use and make adjustments based on how pup is responding to the training and pup's history in real time. Look for someone who specializes in behavior issues like aggression. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

May 26, 2022


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