How to Train Your Dog to Not Whine When You Leave

Hard
2-8 Weeks
Behavior

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.

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.

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.

The Desensitize Method

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Desensitize method for Not Whine When You Leave
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Set the Scene Method

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Set the Scene method for Not Whine When You Leave
Step
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.
Step
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
Step
3
Draw the curtains
A dark environment is calming. It also muffles noises from the outside world that make him reactive.
Step
4
White noise
Leave a radio or TV on with the volume low. This provides a blanket of noise to quiet him.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Keep Busy Method

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Keep Busy method for Not Whine When You Leave
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
4
Daily training
Regular daily training sessions can work wonders, as they also makes him feel more secure and understand you are in control.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Bailey
German Wirehaired Pointer
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bailey
German Wirehaired Pointer
6 Months

Hi, I bought Bailey last week and had her in my bedroom for the first two nights. I've since moved her to a crate (which she happily stays in when I'm present) but she barks and howls at night. What can I do to stop this?

Thank you

James

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
91 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is some information on night time crate training. Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again.

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Question
Oli
French Bulldog
9 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
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Oli
French Bulldog
9 Weeks

Hello, We have only had Oli for 5 days now, she is doing well at her nighttime crate, cries for a little bit but then settles, she sleeps in our room. During the day, if we leave the room, she is left in a large exercise pen with her bed, toys, food/water (this is where we feed her), we play with her in there. She will cry if she is in there, even when she can still see us, we dont plan on leaving her all day long but stil need to get to the shops or even take a shower. She cries, howls, tries to escape her pen, had peed a couple of times. We have left the tv on, given an old shirt with our smell, tried giving her a treat when she goes in and we go upstairs in hopes she will associate us leaving with a treat, and given her a kong, but only keeps her quiet for about 2 minutes and then cries. Any suggestions? Thanks

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
91 Dog owners recommended

Hello. Have you tried leaving her in the crate when you have to leave? Dogs are denning animals and they actually prefer smaller spaces. When left in larger areas, some dogs become highly anxious. I would try crating her while you are gone and see how she responds to that. You can put toys in the crate and do everything you are doing with the exercise pen. She still may cry the first few times, but she should settle down fairly quickly.

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Question
Hero
Rottweiler
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Hero
Rottweiler
4 Years

Hi there

Hero is a rescue, we've had him for almost 2 weeks. He cries(not consistently) during the day when we are away at work. He is incredibly well behaved. He doesn't ruin property or defecate anywhere. He only cries, this however is disturbing the neighbours.

We keep the radio on, have tried a kong filled with treats, a large bone to gnaw on during the day and even a large pillow with a t-shirt on that has our smell. He goes for a 3km walk in the mornings, and still...

We think only time will help, but we wanted to now if there is anything else we can do to ease his crying and let him know that we're coming home?

Many thanks and licks from Hero

Daniel & Shane

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
671 Dog owners recommended

Hello Shane, First, pup needs to be crate trained to help build independence. Check out the Surprise method from the article linked below and work on that method to get her used to you being out of the room while he is crated. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate There are a couple of routes you can take with the separation anxiety. He also needs to build his independence and his confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into his routine. Things such as making him work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching him to remain inside a crate when the door is open as well as closed. Continue to give him something to do in the crate or on Place during the day while you are out of the room (such as a dog food stuffed Kong to chew on). Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work much quicker for many dogs. If you go this route, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using both positive reinforcement and fair correction to help you implement the training. Building his independence and structure in his life will still be an important part of this protocol too. Purchase a Pet convincer. DO NOT use a citronella collar, buy the additional unscented air canister if the collar comes with the citronella and make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh and the smell lingers a long time so the dog continues to be corrected even after they stop the behavior). Next, set up a camera to spy on him. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with your pup’s end on mute, so that you can see and hear him but he will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Set up your camera to spy on him while he is in the crate, and leave. Spy on him from outside or another room. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear him crying or see him start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, quietly return, spray a small puff of air from the pet convincer at his side through the crate wires, without opening the door, then leave again. Every time he barks or tries to get out of the crate, correct, then leave again. After five minutes to ten minutes of practice, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back into the room where he is and sprinkle several treats into the crate without saying anything, then leave again. Practice correcting when he barks or tries to escape, going back inside and sprinkling treats when he stays quiet, for up to 30 minutes a session at first. After 30 minutes -1 hour of practicing this, while he is quiet, go back into the room and sprinkle more treats. This time stay in the room. Do not speak to him or pay attention to him for ten minutes while you walk around and get stuff done inside. When he is being calm, then you can let him out of the crate. When you let him out, do it the way Sean does is in this video below. Opening and closing the door until your dog is not rushing out. You want him to be calm when he comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore him when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Also, for longer alone times give him a food stuffed Kong into the crate/room with him. Once he is less anxious he will likely enjoy it even if he didn't pay any attention to it in the past, and that will help him to enjoy alone time more. First, he may need his anxious state of mind interrupted so that he is open to learning other ways to behave. Once it's interrupted, give him a food stuffed Kong in the crate for him to relieve his boredom instead of barking, since he will need something other than barking to do at that point. Regularly practice him staying on Place and in the open crate while you are home and leave the room as well. Finally, teach pup the Quiet command to make communication with him clearer. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Electra
pitbull
7 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Electra
pitbull
7 Years

So in less than a year i will be moving from my parents home to an apartment, and bringing her with. The challenge is that she cries everytime i leave the room, to go to the bathroom etc.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
671 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tori, First, pup needs to be crate trained to help build independence. Check out the Surprise method from the article linked below and work on that method to get her used to you being out of the room while she is crated. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate There are a couple of routes you can take with the separation anxiety. She also needs to build her independence and her confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into her routine. Things such as making her work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching her to remain inside a crate when the door is open as well as closed. Give her something to do in the crate or on Place during the day while you are out of the room (such as a dog food stuffed Kong to chew on). Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work much quicker for many dogs. If you go this route, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using both positive reinforcement and fair correction to help you implement the training. Building her independence and structure in her life will still be an important part of this protocol too. First, check out this video from SolidK9Training on treating anxiety. It will give a brief over-view of treating separation anxiety more firmly. This trainer can be a bit abrupt with his teaching style with people but is very experienced working with highly aggressive, anxious, and reactive dogs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Make sure you are implementing what he teaches there in other areas of pup's life too. Second, purchase a Pet convincer. DO NOT use a citronella collar, buy the additional unscented air canister if the collar comes with the citronella and make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh and the smell lingers a long time so the dog continues to be corrected even after they stop the behavior). Next, set up a camera to spy on her. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with your pup’s end on mute, so that you can see and hear her but she will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Set up your camera to spy on her while she is in the crate and leave. Spy on her from outside or another room. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear her crying or see her start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, quietly return, spray a small puff of air from the pet convincer at her side through the crate wires, without opening the door, then leave again. Every time she barks or tries to get out of the crate, correct, then leave again. After five minutes to ten minutes of practice, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back into the room where she is and sprinkle several treats into the crate without saying anything, then leave again. Practice correcting when she barks or tries to escape, going back inside and sprinkling treats when she stays quiet, for up to 30 minutes a session at first. After 30 minutes -1 hour of practicing this, while she is quiet, go back into the room and sprinkle more treats. This time stay in the room. Do not speak to her or pay attention to her for ten minutes while you walk around and get stuff done inside. When she is being calm, then you can let her out of the crate. When you let her out, do it the way Jeff does is in this video below. Opening and closing the door until your dog is not rushing out. You want her to be calm when she comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore her when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Also, for longer alone times give her a food stuffed Kong into the crate/room with her. Once she is less anxious she will likely enjoy it even if she didn't pay any attention to it in the past, and that will help her to enjoy alone time more. First, she may need her anxious state of mind interrupted so that she is open to learning other ways to behave. Once it's interrupted, give her a food stuffed Kong in the crate for her to relieve her boredom instead of barking, since she will need something other than barking to do at that point. Regularly practice her staying on Place and in the open crate while you are home and leave the room as well. Finally, teach pup the Quiet command to make communication with her clearer. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Colden
Dachshund
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Colden
Dachshund
9 Months

My husband wants my dog to be outside the yard without a leach but don’t run away what advice can I get to teach him to stay near and come when I ask him

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
671 Dog owners recommended

Hello Leame, First, start working on a reliable Come. Check out the Reel In method from the article linked below. Reel In method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall More Come - pay attention to the PreMack Principle and long leash training sections especially once pup has learned what Come initially means. These need to be practiced around all types of distractions like dogs and kids at the park to ensure pup is reliable before attempting true off leash. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Another activity you can practice is walking around places like your yard or a field with pup on the long training leash and changing directions frequently without saying anything. Whenever he takes notice (at first because the leash finally tugs, but later just because you moved), then toss a treat at him for looking your way or coming over to you - without calling him; this encourages him to choose to pay attention to where you are and associate your presence with good things on his own, so he will want to be with you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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