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Turn the clock back several years and Milo was a totally different dog. You’d find him tearing around the house, chasing the kids and scaring the cat. In fact, Milo seemed to have endless energy. However, today Milo isn’t quite the same. It’s not his fault, age is just finally catching up with him. Now he spends more of his days lying in doorways napping. He has also developed a new and rather annoying habit. He keeps whining whenever he wants something.
Training your older dog to not whine will save you from considerable earache. It also comes with other benefits. It means you can teach them a new and more effective way to communicate with you when they have a problem. This type of training will also make it easier to stamp out other bad habits too.
Training an older to not whine isn’t necessarily going to be a walk in the park. Unfortunately, they could be whining for any number of reasons. Part of the training will involve identifying what that problem is. Once you know that, you can set about effectively tackling the issue. You will then need to reinforce training with a range of tasty treats and toys.
Because your dog is older, training them not to whine could take a while. If they are particularly stubborn and unresponsive then it could be several weeks before silence descends on your house. However, if you can tackle the issue early and they are still eager to please, then you could see results in just a couple of weeks. Get training right and you can get back to appreciating your older dog and falling asleep on the sofa without being woken up by their whiney alarm clock.
Before you can get to work, you will need to make sure you have a few bits. A water spray bottle and a deterrence collar will be needed. You will also need to stock up on treats or break the dog's favorite food into small pieces. A couple of toys will also be required.
Set aside as much time as possible for training. The more frequently you can address the issue, the sooner you will see results.
Apart from that, just bring patience and some earplugs, then work can begin!
The Underlying Issue Method
Your dog's body may not be as strong and firm as it once was. As a result, they may need the toilet more often. Therefore, they may be whining to let you know they need to go. So take them out to the toilet more frequently.
Make sure you feed your older dog their meals at the same time each day. You need to get them in a consistent routine. If they’re whining to let you know they’re hungry, then this simple step could help prevent the problem.
They may also be whining to let you know they want some more exercise. To remedy this, take them out for short but frequent walks. Now they are older you don’t want to exercise them too much. They may no longer be able to handle hour-long hikes.
Have you recently moved house or has someone moved out? If so, the whining could be because the dog is struggling to adjust. Simply spending a few minutes each day stroking them and giving them love could help stop the whining.
Head for the vet
Your older dog may also be whining because of a more serious, underlying problem. Therefore, you may want to consider going to the vet. Ailments and illnesses are increasingly common as your dog gets older. A vet may be able to relieve the pain or fix the problem.
The Cold Shoulder Method
Don’t give in
With medical issues addressed, the first thing to note is that every time you give in to the dog's whining and give them what they want, you are teaching them that whining is effective. So no longer should you give them food or attention simply because they start whining.
Sit everyone in the house down. There is no use in you ignoring the dog if everyone else in the house gives in whenever they whine. It has to be group effort if you want swift results. Otherwise you will only confuse your older dog.
When the dog does start whining, turn your back to them. Don’t look at them or speak to them until they have stopped whining. This will teach them that whining is ineffective.
You may also want to consider giving Milo a quick spray of water near their face whenever they whine. This will get them associating whining with negative consequences.
If the whining persists, then you may want to consider a deterrence collar. The collar will emit an unpleasant spray of citronella whenever they whine. This will quickly make them think twice before whining next time.
The ‘Quiet’ Method
The first thing to do is put the dog in a situation that you know is likely to trigger a whine. Then issue a ‘speak’ command. Note you can use any word or phrase you like for the instruction. Before you can teach them to be quiet on command, you need to train them to whine when instructed.
As soon as the dog does indeed whine, be sure to go over and give a tasty reward or play with a toy for a minute. Make sure they get the reward within a few seconds, however, otherwise they may not associate the action with the reward.
Practice the ‘speak’ instruction for a few days. Then once they have the hang of it, you can teach them to be ‘quiet’. Simply wait for them to stop whining and then issue a ‘quiet’ instruction straightaway.
Once you’ve given the command and if they are still quiet, swiftly give them a reward. The greater the reward, the more likely it is the dog will repeat the behavior again. Now practice for a few minutes each day. However, gradually bring forward the ‘quiet’ command so you give it while Milo is still whining.
If you practice several times a day, the dog will soon start associating the ‘quiet’ command with falling silent. Now you just need to use it whenever they whine and you will steadily break the habit. At that point, you can phase out the treats.
By James Barra
Published: 03/29/2018, edited: 01/08/2021