Dog whining is a very common complaint. Barring any medical issues with your dog, whining is usually something that is brought on by stress. If you are one of the dog owners that would simply want to treat the symptom and not the cause, you may get more than you bargained for. What do I mean by that?
Treating the symptom – not the cause
Think about this. If your dog is whining and you’ve just “had enough,” many dog owners would simply put a bark collar on their dog and call it a day – not even thinking what they are doing. If whining/barking is your dog’s way of handling a deeper issue (whining/barking relieves anxiety and tension,) it becomes a release for this stress caused by the real problem.
By putting a bark collar on your dog you have just cut off your dog’s natural way of relieving his stress. Now he will look for another way to relieve his stress. Some dogs with leader type personalities may do overt “alternative” behaviors like chewing or digging. Softer dogs may chew on themselves or become depressed.
Regardless of how your dog chooses to release his tensions and frustrations, one thing is certain, you have not addressed the root cause of his whining or barking. And, it is equally important to look at how you attend to your dog’s needs when he is whining because how you address his needs could be making your dog’s behavior worse. Let’s take a look at three likely categories’ and see if you can see the one that fits you the best.
How do you react to your dogs whining/barking?
When it comes to responding to your dogs whining/barking do you categorize yourself as uncaring, caring or over-caring? If you aren’t sure exactly what where you fit, maybe a better definition of each category will help.
The uncaring dog owner totally ignores their dogs whining and doesn’t attend to it at all when their dog may be hungry or needs his water bowl filled. When owners totally ignore their dogs, the dog learns whining doesn’t work and no longer whines. On the surface, this would seem to fix the whining problem; however, these dogs don’t bond well with their owners and can become overly needy.
The caring dog owner will check on their dog to make sure everything is okay taking care of what is necessary. These owners make sure their dog’s needs are taken care of but not to the point that the dog is running the show or training his owner. Adding obedience training (requiring sits to earn things) teaches the dog to work for the owner rather than the owner following the dog’s lead. Providing structure with an earn-to-learn program creates better balance in the owner/dog relationship.
The over-caring dog owner sets no rules or expectations for their dog and caters to its every whim. Dogs with over-caring owners are over-nurtured to a fault. They often become spoiled, pushy dogs. They have figured out that whining gets them everything they want. If that doesn’t work, they whine more or bark.
As you can see, taking the middle ground as a caring dog owner creates a balanced dog with the best relationship and avoids the pit-falls of most dog problems. The other two extremes don’t work well with most dogs.
Stop the whining
Prevention really is the best medicine. If, from the get-go, you meet all of your dog’s needs everyday and provide him with the guidelines by which to live, you will have prevented most all dog problems – whining included. No stress = no problems.
If on the other hand, you’re admitting to a more relaxed start, thinking you will have an ideal relationship with not much effort – and you now discover you don’t – you’ve got a whiner, it’s not too late. It will take time and consistency but you can achieve normalcy. Here are some general tips:
Try and discover the root cause of your dog’s problem. Don’t be tempted to just address the symptom. Here’s an example. If your dog is barking in the back yard because you’ve put him there (maybe he’s been peeing in the house), resolve the house soiling issue and bring your dog back inside. Barking problem solved. Your dog is now reunited with the family so he’s less stressed.
Click/praise and treat the quiet behavior you prefer and ignore the whining/barking. Most owners don’t think of recognizing good “quiet time” and bringing it to your dog’s attention by clicking/praising and treating.
Exercise your dog, feed a well-balanced diet and regularly train your dog. Training 3 times a day for 2 minutes a session will give him a sense of working for you rather than you following his lead. Surely you have 6 minutes daily for training.
Remember this, if you let a dog age with no purpose – no structure – no reason for being except for your own personal needs, dog behavior problems will develop that you won’t like. He will resent being asked to go to work and have a purpose.
Now you must do what’s best for your dog, not for you.
We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from.
I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this. I’m here to help, so tell me below in the comments section.
“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.