Does your dog whine? That’s got to be very frustrating. But before you loose your cool, I’d recommend that you make an effort to figure out the reason your dog is whining. Since our dogs can’t talk, their only forms of vocal communication are barking and whining. Let’s take a look at just some of the reasons dogs whine.

Could be just plain boredom. Dog’s are intelligent creatures and their intellect must be properly stimulated with exercise and training. Dogs need a job to do. Their job can be doing sits and downs to earn their food, time on the couch with you, the toys they get to play with and earning your love and affection. Additionally plan in 3 – 2 minute training sessions each day to give your dog a sense of working for leadership instead of feeling responsible for it himself.

Could be Medical. He may be in some kind of pain. When a dog consistently whines, the very first thing to check is to see if your dog has any medical issues. If your dog is in some type of pain, his way to deal with it is to whine.  Especially if you have an older dog, arthritis can be very painful and your dog’s only way of telling you it’s in pain is to whine.

Could be an attention getter. He could be making demands for your attention. Many dogs whine just to see what it gets them. Who knows? It could score handouts or food from the table, get a door opened to go outside to play or potty, game of fetch with their favorite toy or a great belly rub! This only becomes a problem if you reinforce the whining by

giving your dog what it wants and when it wants it and yes, then whining is born!

Could be an urgently needed potty break. Sometimes nature calls and there’s no doggie door.

Could be fear. If your dog is in a situation (like a thunderstorm) that is causing him to be afraid, one way he can communicate this fear is to whine. If you placate those feelings by saying something like, “Its ok.”, and pet, pet, pet your dog – you may actually reinforcing your dog’s belief that he should be afraid.

Instead, happily redirect your dog to a sit, then down, then sit again and down again. Gleefully praise your dog for a great performance. There is documented evidence showing that there can be mood transferences  from people to dogs. Happy your dog up with your own Jolly Routine while you engage him in his favorite game of fetch or tug-of-war.

Teach your dog to use his nose and get him involved in tracking. If he likes to dig, give him an ok place to dig.   And of course taking him on a structured walk twice daily will give him novel sights, sounds and experiences to process during his down time.

Behavior problems – whining included – are usually stress related. Identify the stressors in your dog’s life and set aside time to work out a plan to rid your dog’s life of each and every stressor.

Avoid all behavior problems by immediately providing your new dog or puppy good leadership, structure, routines around feeding and walking the day he first comes home. Obedience training and a solid understanding what your dog needs to be balanced, is so much easier to incorporate from day one.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember, Opportunity Barks!

(C) Jim Burwell 2011