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You’re at the dinner table having a family meal. You’re 5 mouthfuls in and an argument hasn’t erupted yet so the meal is already off to a surprisingly good start. But when you get up to fetch a glass of water you notice a pool of liquid trailing across your kitchen floor. Your poor dog has wet himself. You sigh and clear it up, but you just wish he’d let you know when his weak bladder needed the loo. The older he’s got the more unpredictable his toilet habits have been. What you really need is for him to be able to signal to you at these crucial moments.
Training him to whine can come in handy in a variety of situations. From letting you know when he needs the toilet, to telling you he wants to leave the room. Not to mention it makes for an entertaining party trick.
Training your dog to whine is surprisingly straightforward. The hardest part is initially conveying to him what you want him to do. Once he makes the connection though, you just need to use tasty treats to reinforce the behavior. If your dog is a puppy and a quick learner he could be whining on command in just a few days. If he’s older and not quite as receptive as he once was then you may need 10 days to get consistent results.
Training him to whine on command makes for a neat party trick that is guaranteed to see him featuring in Snapchat stories all over the state. Especially if you’ve got a baby crying on the left and your big strong German shepherd whining on the right. Once he knows how to whine he may also use it to get your attention in a whole range of other useful situations.
Before your work can begin you’ll need to make sure you have a few things. The most important component will be food. Break his favorite food into small pieces, or stock up on some doggie treats.
You’ll also need a quiet room to practice in where you won’t be distracted by noisy children tearing through the house. For swift results, set aside 10 minutes a day for the next week or so.
The only other things you need are patience and an optimistic attitude. With all of that, you’re ready to get to work!
The Induction Method
For the first couple of days, play close attention to your dog. Look for situations that naturally cause him to whine. Training will be much smoother if you can simply capitalize on these moments. Waiting for meals or to go out for walks are likely to trigger the whine you want.
Once you’ve found a whine-inducing situation, put him in it. When he starts to whine, issue a ‘whine’ command. Give it in a clear but playful voice. If he think it’s a big game he’ll learn quickly. You can use any word or phrase you like for the command.
Once you’ve given the command, hand him a treat as he carries on whining. To start with he might be surprised but he’ll quickly draw a connection between the command, his whining, and the tasty food. Do this for a few minutes each day for the first few days.
Change it up
Once he starts to get the hang of it, issue the command when he isn’t in a situation that normally triggers a whine. Keep it playful and remember to reward him with a treat each time.
Lose the treats
After a week or so he’ll probably be whining on command with ease. At this point, gradually cut out the treats. Whining doesn’t burn that many calories, unfortunately. Then just make sure you practice every now and then so the command sticks.
The Signal Method
This method will help you train him to whine in specific situations. If you can train him to whine when he needs the toilet, wants to go outside, or leave the room then he’ll be able to effectively communicate with you. Plus, it will save your floors from wee.
The waiting game
If you suspect he needs the toilet, wait at the door but don’t take him out. This may seem cruel, but you need to wait until he whines in a plea to go out. Simply ignore him until you hear anything that sounds like a whine.
As soon as he makes any sound that could be the start of a whine, give him a treat. At this point, you want to encourage any effort on his part to whine. Now do this every time you go out for the toilet. Wait until he whines, then reward him and take him out. He’ll soon realize all he needs to do if he wants the toilet is to whine.
Shut the door
Now it’s time to teach him to whine if he needs to leave the room. So shut the door with you both inside while you watch TV. Then wait for him to whine in a plea to get out. To speed up the process, you could place some irresistible food outside the door that he’ll be able to smell. As soon as he whines, reward him with a treat and verbal praise. Now practice this each day for a few days.
Apply to any situation
If there are any other situations that you want him to whine in, follow exactly the same technique. With each new situation he learns to whine in, the quicker he will learn next time. Before you know it you’ll have an efficient means of communication.
The Cold Shoulder Method
This may seem like a peculiar technique, but to train him to whine you firstly need to cause him to whine. Simply not giving him attention when he wants it is likely to trigger the response you want.
As soon as he starts whining, give him a tasty treat and rush over to give him some verbal praise. You need to really show him that the whining action is what you want to see. The better the reward, the more likely he is to repeat the behavior. Do this repeatedly for the first few days.
Now it’s time to introduce a verbal cue. He now knows the whining gets him treats, you just need to trigger it with a word or phrase. Issue your command as soon as he starts whining then give him the treat. Do this for 5 minutes each day. He’ll soon start associating the command with the action.
Only ask once
It’s important you don’t keep giving the command. You want him to whine as soon as you instruct him to, but if you say it 5 times without response then you’re teaching him he can just wait until you’ve pestered enough. So if he doesn’t whine, give him the cold shoulder for a couple of minutes then try again.
Cut out the treats
He will slowly respond to training and he’ll be whining with one quick command before you know it. When this happens you can stop giving him treats. The verbal command alone will be enough.
By James Barra
Published: 11/09/2017, edited: 01/08/2021