Your Question:

Jim — My dog, Dolce, whines. He whines for attention, he whines for food and sometimes for no reason. We try to ignore it, but that never seems to work. The only other problem we have ever had with him is barking at guests, which we can usually get under control. So it’s really just the whining, day and night. How can we train him to stop?

– Julia

My Answer:

I don’t have to tell you, Julia, but whining has to be one of the most annoying bad dog behaviors. Luckily, we can narrow down the reasons for it to some common causes:

  • Pain – Dogs don’t have any way direct way to tell us if they are sick or suffering. Whining is the only way they have to express that they may be in pain. Take your dog for a check-up to rule out any illness, like arthritis, that may be causing your dog to whine for what seems like no reason.
  • Fear – A dog that is insecure will whine. But if your dog is whining out of fear, petting them can actually reinforce the whining.
  • Boredom – Dogs are intelligent creatures. Without a job to do, they will quickly become bored. Boredom causes all sorts of bad behaviors, like chewing, digging, barking and even whining. Give your dog something to do: walks and daily obedience training will do the trick.
  • Attention – Maybe your dog just wants some attention. If this is the case, I recommend ignoring the whining at first and when he stops whining, immediately praise him. This lets him know that quiet is what gets your attention and love.

One way to deal with whining is ignoring, and it can be very effective. But since you are still having trouble, try this. Keep a small squirt bottle handy and when your dog whines give him a short, gentle squirt in the face. Do not squirt his eyes, though. This merely annoys him, letting him know that you are annoyed. As soon as the whining stops, give him lots of praise.

Good luck and remember, be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are with the teacher of your children. Opportunity Barks!

(C) Jim Burwell 2010