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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River

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Australian Shepherd

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8 Weeks

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Question

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Whining in crate, biting and potty training.

Nov. 24, 2021

River's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Cassandra, Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when he attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if she makes a good choice. If she disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told her not to. The order or all of this is very important - the yelp method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The pressure method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just roughhousing. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Another important part of this is puppy learning bite inhibition. Puppies have to learn while young how to control the pressure of their mouths - this is typically done through play with other puppies. See if there is a puppy class in your area that comes well recommended and has time for moderated off-leash puppy play. If you can't join a class, look for a free puppy play group, or recruit some friends with puppies to come over if you can and create your own group. You are looking for puppies under 6 months of age - since young puppies play differently than adult dogs. Moderate the puppies' play and whenever one pup seems overwhelmed or they are all getting too excited, interrupt their play, let everyone calm down, then let the most timid pup go first to see if they still want to play - if they do, then you can let the other puppies go too when they are waiting for permission. Finding a good puppy class - no class will be ideal but here's what to shoot for: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ When pup gets especially wound up, she probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help her calm down and rest. Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep working at it. For the potty training, check out the Crate Training method from the article linked below. You can also combine the Crate Training method with the Tethering method if you want pup to be with you more, once pup is doing well with crate training and potty training. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside At 8 weeks of age I am guessing that you recently brought pup home? If that's the case, then know that what you are experiencing is completely normal. Pup is getting used to sleeping alone and that's an adjustment. Usually the first five days are the worst. It typically takes about two weeks for most pups to adjust completely; however, you can help that adjustment be as smooth as possible by doing the following. 1. When pup cries but doesn't have to go potty (like after you return them to the crate when they just went potty outside) be consistent about ignoring the crying until they go back to sleep. The more consistent you are the quicker the overall process tends to take even if it's hard to do for the first couple weeks. 2. When pup does truly need to go potty (when it's been at least 2 hours since pup last peed), take pup to go potty outside on a leash to keep pup focused and things calmer. Don't give treats, food, play, or much attention during these trips - boring and sleepy is the goal, then right back to bed after. This helps pup learn to only wake when they truly need to go potty and be able to put themselves back to sleep - helping them start sleeping longer stretches sooner and not ask to go out unless they actually need to potty. Pup will generally need 1-2 potty trips at night even after trained for a couple months though due to a small bladder. 3. Wait until pup asks to go potty by crying in the crate at night before you take them - opposed to setting an alarm clock, unless pup is having accidents in the crate and not asking to go out. This gives pup the chance to learn to start falling back to sleep when they wake in light sleep if they don't really need to go potty, instead of being woken up all the way when they could have held it a bit longer. 4. Practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below to help pup get used to crate time during the day too - so that there is less crying at night due to pup adjusting to being alone. Surprise method - only give treats during daytime practice, not at night though: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Nov. 26, 2021

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GOOSE

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german shepherd/ lab mix

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1 Year

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He's generally a good dog but lately he has been whining a lot more even after I take him out for a walk/go to the bathroom. Also is rather annoying when people are eating. Doesn't try to take the food but lays his head on my lap every time I eat.

April 26, 2021

GOOSE's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Michael, For the food begging, I recommend teaching an Out and Place command, and working on pup going to their Place whenever someone eats. At the end of the person's meal, they can give pup a treat on the Place bed to help encourage pup to want to go there automatically eventually too. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ For the whining, I would teach Quiet for barking initially, then begin using it when pup is whining too, catching pup when they stop whining for a second and rewarding the quietness with a treat to help them generalize the Quiet command to whining also. If pup is whining while fixated on something, I would also work on Leave It to help pup disengage from what they are fixated on, and provide something else for them to do instead, like stuffing kongs with part of their dog food and feeding portions of their meals to them that way as an activity to help with boredom or nervous energy. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

April 27, 2021


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