How to stop your dog from whining
Dogs communicate with us in different ways, such as barking, growling or through body language - and some whine more than others. For some breeds of dog, whining it is the first thing they do in response to any situation – whether they have been left alone, they want a bit of your dinner or they would like to get on the sofa - whereas some dogs hardly whine at all. The important thing to note here is that when we say ‘stop your dog from whining’ we don’t mean how to silence your dog when they are whining – but rather how to solve this issue by going to the root of the cause and solve any issues they may have which are causing them to whine.
If you unintentionally encourage whining – for example by sharing your lunch or letting your dog get up on the furniture because they are whining, then it may turn it into a problem behaviour. Your dog may start to whine more frequently and you will need to take steps to calm your dog and train them to respond in different ways.
Why Do Dogs Whine?
Whining is more common in puppies because they cry for food from their mother in the same way that a baby cries for milk. They do this because – like babies - they have not learned any other form of communication at this stage.
Once your dog is a bit older they should only whine for specific reasons. It is usually obvious why they are whining, but if you can’t see the cause, check out their body language to see if you can work it out.
The chief causes of whining are:
- Asking for something – They’d really love a bite of your sandwich, or they need to go out for a pee.
- Attention – Maybe you are on the phone or talking to another person or pet – and not giving them your full focus.
- Excitement – They are happy to see you or go somewhere they like, such as pulling up in the car park area of their favourite walk
- Boredom – If you stop to talk or sit down on a walk and they want to keep moving!
- Pain or Discomfort – Most dogs whine if they are feeling ill or they are in pain. Sometimes this is to get your attention, or they may whine to calm themselves down too. If your dog is whining a lot and you can’t find an obvious cause then it may be worth taking them to the vet to get checked out in case there is something wrong with them that you can’t see.
- Stress – Your dog may whine if it is anxious – for example if there are fireworks going off outside. Stressed whining is generally accompanied by other activities including cowering, lip-licking, yawning or looking away. They may also whine and yawn at the same time. Dogs make these gestures in order to calm themselves down – and let others know that they are not a threat.
How to Stop Excessive Whining
One you have figured out why your dog is whining, then you can begin to address this behaviour. If they are whining a lot then it should be possible to train them to whine less frequently.
Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise and has toys and treats to stimulate them at home. Some dogs use whining in order to release energy so make sure that they don’t have any pent-up emotions, whining to get out!
Never punish your dog for whining as this can make the situation worse. The most important things is to make sure that you don’t unintentionally encourage whining by ‘giving in’ to your dog and rewarding their behaviour. If they are whining to go out for a pee then of course let them out – but if they are whining for food or attention then direct them to another behaviour before you reward them. Ask your dog to sit or lie down, then give them attention or a treat. Don’t immediately give in as this will inadvertently train them to whine for everything! Of course it can be hard to resist a whining puppy but if you keep on doing it, you may be training your dog to whine into adulthood.
Don’t respond to a whine unless it is important. Ignore them and once they become quiet, then give a treat or a cuddle. By making small changes to the way you respond to your dog, you should be able to reduce the frequency of their whining to a more manageable amount. If you find that your dog is seriously resistant to change and continues to whine excessively you may need to consult a specialist to help you bring it down to a manageable level.
Is your dog a whiner? Maybe you've got some tips for reducing whining that we haven't included here? As always, let us know in the comments section below!