Dog whining, much like dog barking, howling and crying has a vital place in a dog’s communication both with each other and with us.
Right from birth a young pup will learn to whine when it’s hungry to attract their mother for milk. Whining is equally used at this stage as a distress call when a pup might be hurt or scared and needs attention.
Useful as it is, there is definitely something in the pitch of a whine that makes it hard to ignore, which is why it’s so much harder to tolerate in fully grown, healthy dogs.
Why Your Dog Whines at You
Most often, whining is used to get your attention, whether that is to tell you they want food, affection, play, their toy (put out of reach), or because they need to go outside to toilet.
Another big reason for whining is separation anxiety in dogs and some dogs will whine incessantly whenever left home alone, driving the neighbours mad.
Occasionally a dog will be whining because they are physically uncomfortable (like wet, cold, hungry or thirsty), in pain or hurt, so you’ll always need to make a judgement about how much attention you pay to their whining.
Obviously some whining is useful – like alerting you to a health problem or going outside to toilet – so we don’t want to aim to stop them whining altogether, just keep it to appropriate times.
Work Out Why Your Dog Whines
Most dogs whine because it works and our actions, often unintentionally reward them for it! Observe your dog whenever they whine and try and work out what is the trigger for it.
Does your dog only whine when you’re around, or just when they are left home alone, put in their crate or left alone at night? Does your dog save their whining for when your family sits down to eat? Or do they whine whenever they want some attention?
Notice how you react. Do you immediately speak to them, get up and stroke them to comfort them, or show some concern? Or do you try and ignore it, then yell when they don’t stop?
Draw up a list of all the times they use whining to communicate with you and decide which ones are acceptable or useful and what is not.
How to Stop Unnecessary Dog Whining
The best approach is to reward acceptable behaviour and completely ignore unacceptable behaviour. This means not looking at, touching or talking to your dog when they whine – because that is attention and the whining will have worked.
If your dog whines when you’re sitting at the table for food, never feed them scraps. It will encourage them to do it more. Instead, as soon as they whine put them in their crate while you eat or in a separate room so that they learn that whining means they lose access to the family altogether if they whine while you’re eating.
Use this approach whenever your dog is whining for attention. You are simply showing them that their whining will not get them what they want. So every time they do it, simply ignore the noise, and if it doesn’t stop, without looking at your dog or speaking to them, put them in their crate, or a separate room or even out in the garden for a short while on their own.
Even easier is to walk out of the room they are in and close the door behind you. As soon as the whining stop, open the door again, but don’t make a fuss of your dog, act as if nothing has happened.
Be consistent and patient and your dog should drop this behaviour fairly quickly, but you will need the co-operation of the whole of the family, so make sure they are all in on it.
Whining Caused by Separation Anxiety in Dogs
If your dog only whines when you leave them alone they may be suffering from dog separation anxiety. This is usually a much bigger problem to deal with and will need specific training to sort it out. You can read more about separation anxiety in dogs, its symptoms and solutions by clicking on the link or signing up for our free report on the right.
Dog Whining at Night
Dogs whining at night are obviously objecting to being left alone. If your dog is new to your house and you don’t want them sleeping upstairs with you, you can make their introduction easier by sleeping downstairs on the sofa with them for the first few nights. Have them on their own bed or in their crate and just murmer reassuringly if they whine.
This technique worked perfectly when I got my rescue dog and he was settled in within 3 nights and has never whined at night since.
Solutions to Dog Whining
Solving the problem of dog whining is a straightforward 2 step process. First, identify what triggers your dogs whining and then second, use the appropriate techniques to show them that their whining will not get them what they want. But remember, to be effective you must make sure all of the family reacts in the same way to your dogs whining. If you’re looking for an easy to use, effective dog training programme take a look at our Dog Anxiety eBook as you may find that is the answer you’re looking for to stop your dog whining.