• Home
  • Training
  • How to Train Your Dog to Not Whine When You Leave

How to Train Your Dog to Not Whine When You Leave

How to Train Your Dog to Not Whine When You Leave
Hard difficulty iconHard
Time icon2-8 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

If your dog whines when you leave, loiter outside the closed door and listen for a while. Or, if in doubt, ask the neighbors what happens after you're gone.

If the dog whines but soon quiets and settles down to sleep, then your work is done. He's already learned that crying isn't rewarded (you don't come back) and after a brief whinge, he stops. This is an acceptable state of affairs because interfering could backfire badly and make him cry more.

However, the alternative scenario is the whine is just the beginning, and after you are gone the whine gets louder and crescendos into a full-scale howl or bark. You wouldn't be the first pet parent who has a dog that suffers from anxiety in your absence and makes a noise in order to call you back to end the isolation.

This is a worry for the wellbeing of your best buddy, but it's also bothersome to those in adjoining apartments. To keep the peace, you need to know how to train your dog not to whine when you leave.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

You can teach a dog the "Quiet" command, but this may only quiet him while you leave and after you're gone he may resume barking. Instead, it's best to create a new way of being alone where the root cause of the whining is addressed by teaching the dog to be content when alone.

This can be difficult to do since the behavior may be deeply ingrained and, in some cases, prescription medication from the vet may be necessary. However, if the dog has merely gotten into bad habits, then there are steps that will quiet him.

Be aware that accidentally rewarding the whining will reinforce the behavior. Thus it's important to ignore the dog when he makes noise, so he learns it is of no benefit to him. The other side of the coin is to respond and praise the dog when he is being actively quiet, so he learns this is a good thing to do.

Some dogs learn to deal with separation better when crate trained. If your dog is otherwise calm then consider this. However, if your dog's whining spirals into chewing and destructive behavior when you're gone, he may become unduly distressed by being confined and it may make matters worse. If in doubt, consult a qualified animal behaviorist.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

Get set for success by equipping yourself with the following:

  • A crate: Crate training can provide a sense of security that comforts the dog when you aren't there.
  • A super-tasty, long-lasting treat or a puzzle feeder: This is to occupy the dog and distract him while you leave so he doesn't notice the moment of departure.
  • A TV or radio: The volume left on low can work wonders for some dogs.
  • A special toy: This is given to him when you leave and removed when you come home. This is the doggie equivalent of having a written note saying you will return.
arrow-up-icon

Top

The Desensitize Method

Most Recommended

2 Votes

Ribbon icon

Most Recommended

2 Votes

Ribbon icon
Desensitize method for How to Train Your Dog to Not Whine When You Leave
1

Shake things up

Before leaving, you tend to do things in the same order, such as putting on your shoes and coat, reaching for the car keys, and picking up your bag. These act as cues, which tell the dog it's time to start whining. Instead, throw him off the scent by doing things in a different order.

2

Desensitize him to leaving

Again, try wearing your shoes in the house (so he doesn't only link them to being left) or walk around holding the car keys. The idea is to break the link between the keys and leaving, so he take these things in his stride and ignores them.

3

Short abscences

Practice leaving him for ultra-short times - such as putting the rubbish out. Only come back in when he's quiet, so you reward the silence.

4

Don't make a fuss about leaving

Drop the habit of reassuring the dog you'll be back soon. The dog will all too easily read this as he's right to be concerned because you're about to go. Instead, be totally nonchalant and ignore the dog when you go...and return.

5

Low-key reunions

Don't make a big thing about coming back, In fact, don't immediately greet the dog but putter around while ignoring him, until he's calmed down. This reduces the significance of comings and goings, making him less likely to whine when you go.

The Set the Scene Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
Set the Scene method for How to Train Your Dog to Not Whine When You Leave
1

Quiet place

Set up the dog's bed or crate in a quiet part of the house. The idea is for him to have a safe place he feels secure and won't be disturbed by outside noises.

2

Pheromone therapy

Plug in a DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) diffuser beside his bed. This gives off soothing hormone messages that keep the dog chilled

3

Draw the curtains

A dark environment is calming. It also muffles noises from the outside world that make him reactive.

4

White noise

Leave a radio or TV on with the volume low. This provides a blanket of noise to quiet him.

5

Ultra-tasty treat

As you leave, give the dog a long lasting ultra tasty treat (One that is safe in your absence, such as a Kong stuffed with peanut butter). This distracts him so he's too busy licking to whine when you leave.

The Keep Busy Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
Keep Busy method for How to Train Your Dog to Not Whine When You Leave
1

A tired body

Some dogs whine when left because they have plenty of energy and would prefer to go with you, for a walk. Make sure the dog is pleasantly tired when left, by giving an appropriate amount of energetic exercise.

2

Exercise before you leave

In addition, consider walking the dog immediately before you leave. When he returns home tired he's more likely to snuggle down for a snooze than complain he's left behind.

3

Mental exercise

A bored dog may whine when left, after all, it's going to be pretty dull when you're gone. Instead, make sure he has plenty to keep his mind occupied during the day, so a break is a welcome relief. Training is a good mental workout, as is giving his meals in a puzzle feeders. Also be sure to play with him and give lots of one-to-one attention.

4

Daily training

Regular daily training sessions can work wonders, as they also makes him feel more secure and understand you are in control.

5

An "I will return" marker

Some dogs settle when they understand you're coming back. This can be achieved by giving him a toy that he only has when you're gone and you remove on your return. Since you always come back to retrieve it, the dog waits patiently in the knowledge your intention is to return.

6

Provide a distraction

Give the dog a Kong, or similar puzzle feeder, stuffed with wet food. This will distract him while you leave, so he doesn't whine. Then hopefully with food in his tummy, he'll settle down to sleep.

By Amy Caldwell

Published: 10/17/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Lucky

Dog breed icon

Labrador Retriever

Dog age icon

8 Weeks

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

User generated photo

Lucky continuously whines when being left alone, or if I’m out of his sight or ignoring him. I have tried to let him whine and reward him only if he is quiet however, he still continues to whine and he whines for a very long time, whining goes from whines to barking

June 17, 2022

Lucky's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kelly, Check out the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. Also, know that this generally takes a couple of weeks to train. Sprinkling the treats around the crate, in the crate, and to pup while they are quiet, in addition to giving dog food stuffed kongs for longer crate times can help pup adjust sooner than doing nothing, but expect this to take some time for pup to gain confidence being alone either way. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Some dogs enjoy a heartbeat bear near the crate for the noise. Just be sure pup can't chew off pieces and swallow them while unattended. At this age pup will need to go potty about every hour. If crating, during the day the maximum amount of time pup could hold it for would be 2-3 hours. If you exceed that time pup will be forced to have an accident, so keep in mind that any crying after too long will be related also to a genuine need to go potty. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 17, 2022

Dog nametag icon

Nova

Dog breed icon

Mutt

Dog age icon

6 Weeks

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

User generated photoUser generated photoUser generated photoUser generated photo

How do I make my 6 week old puppy comfortable when I have to leave for work :/ this is the second day of me having her so she’s very very new to are home.

June 9, 2022

Nova's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brittany, Check out the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. This method can also be followed with pup in an exercise pen, if pup is using that to have access to a pee pad or grass pad at this age. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate If you need to go straight into leaving pup, know that the first couple of weeks pup will probably cry and that's normal. Make sure someone is checking up on pup and pup either has access to a toilet or is being taken out every couple of hours while crated. You can give pup a dog food stuffed puppy chew toy, like the soft rubber blue or pink kongs, stuffed with kibble you have sat in water until it got mushy and mixed with a little liver paste or peanut butter (no xylitol - its toxic to dogs and in some sugar free peanut butters). Put a straw through the kong, stuff the mush loosely around it, then you can either remove the straw and give it like that or place in the freezer for a cold time released teether for pup. If you freeze, you can make several ahead of time and just grab from the freezer as needed from a large ziploc or container you store them in. When you give it, remove the straw, the straw just creates a hold that prevents too much suction. Even if pup needs to be left for longer right away, still practice the surprise method when you are home for part of the evening and on the weekend, with an hour break between each practice, to help pup learn to settle and self-sooth in the crate or pen. Before pup becomes a strong chewer, some people also find success by giving a heartbeat bear - something designed to bring human babies comfort. For chewers, I recommend placing these right outside the crate or pen, next to it, so pup can't chew it apart and swallow something dangerous. You can sleep with it to make it smell like you first though. This doesn't help all puppies, but very young puppies may like it. The Surprise method is what I would focus on the most though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 10, 2022


Training assistant
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.