Dog Whining: Understand It Then Stop it

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.

Dog Whining: Understand It Then Stop it
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.

40 replies
  1. client care
    client care says:

    I would hire a positive reinforcement trainer. apdt.com The info Jim gave in the post is about as specific as he can get so everyone can get something from it.

  2. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Hello,

    We have a 8 month old Cockapoo. This whining has def also been an issue for us. We tried the whole crate training thing for him – it seriously gave him crazy anxiety. We have found that if we leave him out in the house he is so much calmer – no more whining and he just sits and waits for our return. In the car – omg – talk about whining and panting and not being able to sit still. This to say was a very stressful time. We had tried to keep him on our lap – take him out for short jaunts and increase the time etc. One day we decided to put his bed int he back seat – and now no more whining. I don’t think he felt grounded or safe – but whatever it was we now have a non whining dog in the car. The problem we still have is that when he’s at home he’s great. Someone is always with him and if we aren’t like i stated above – he stays out and just waits for us to get home. This past weekend we went to a cottage. The whining was non stop if he couldn’t see us. When he was inside or outside with 2 other dogs and no adults – he would whine. If he was outside wanting to come inside where we were he would whine. If he as inside and wanting to come outside to where we were he would whine. Sometimes we just wanted to let the dogs out for a bit – but he would just whine. We are supposed to be going for a week holiday to our friends same cottage – but i’m not sure how we will all survive if we can’t stop the whining. Sure it’s easy to just make sure someone is always with him – but that isn’t feasible 24/7. If

  3. Robert
    Robert says:

    Hello I have a 3 year old mix lab she is a great dog but she has a serious whinning issue. Like when I take her Fishing she whines most of the time or when we go hunting. I’ve been trying to take her more often it seems to help. But now even when I’m working on the boat her whining is ridiculous. Any suggestions?
    Thanks

  4. Jim
    Jim says:

    Melinda: In the article, everything you are asking about is discussed – have you tried the solutions I spoke of? Also pls. re-read the part where I talk about putting a bark, spary or shock collar on your dog to stop the whining. You say you are “looking at those methods”. There is also information in there I wrote about the relationship you have with your dog. My suggestion is to have a POSITIVE dog trainer come and help you understand what your dog needs and how to give it to her in a balanced way. I believe if you get a competent trainer there you will be able to work through this.

  5. Melinda
    Melinda says:

    My husband and I adopted a 12 yr old minature poodle from a pet adoption agency 2 weeks ago. She is healthy, but is deaf. She seems to have severe separation anxiety when my husband leaves the house or even the room. It doesn’t matter whether I am with her or not, she cries for him if he is not right next to her. We recorded her howling for hours while we are working during the day. We are usually gone at least 6 hrs at least during e day. Since she is deaf, I cannot use the methods I am reading about to stop the behavior. I don’t want to have to give her back to the adoption. She is a wonderful dog. I tried using sign languege, but she evidentially was not taught it. Should I try crate training or a bark/ whine collar?

  6. Jim
    Jim says:

    Oh wow! your puppy might not be ready to hold it all night and that’s puppy a ton of stress on him. Bring his crate into you room so you can hear when he starts to fidget around and if it’s been a # of hours since he pottied, get up and take him out. You need to check this out http://www.petiquettedog.com/products/nose-tail-puppy-training/ It’s better to start off right from the beginning than to try and go back to fix things you did not do correctly

  7. Jodi
    Jodi says:

    Our 14 week old puppy whines and cries in his kennel. The kennel is isolated in the other room, and when he hears us take the other dog out, he has a hissy fit: crying whining, barking. If he hasn’t been out yet, he also pees in his kennel at this time. But as soon as we get up in the morning, he starts whining. Would it be better to move the kennel into the room with us? We do not have the same schedule, and my SO does not get up until 3 hours after I do.

  8. Jim
    Jim says:

    Jen: “could” be because he’s out of his familiar element. Dogs are social creature and enjoy the company of other dogs AND humans. An outside life in not the best setting for a dog. If you can’t bring him in the more interaction and training with you will certainly help.

  9. Jen
    Jen says:

    Weve just removed a beautiful dog but he Willie living outside with our other big dog. This is hus 1st night and has been crying alot. Its last home was in a dog run so it now has the freedom of the garden and company. Will he settle over time. Is it just because it’s hus 1St night. He’s a lovely gentle temperament and seems to love our other dog. Jumping up on the back doors and yet he was in a dog run. Lol

  10. Jim
    Jim says:

    Sarah: not really enough info here, but @ 9 yrs of age you might take her to your vet and get a good check up for issues that might be age related.

  11. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I have a springer spaniel dog 9 years old. She has been used to being left alone at home when we go out etc and when I work part time. But Si have now started working full time and she wines and barks slot whilst at work. I have someone give her a good walk every morning and I get home at :3.30. Not sure what to do next.?

  12. Lucy Bunker
    Lucy Bunker says:

    Hi, I have a 12 week old Beagle puppy that we are training using rewards but we are having issues overnight. If he is left in our front room he is fine but as soon as we put him in the kitchen which is next to the front room and has a stair gate so he can see in he howls! We live in a semi detached house and have 2 small children so ignoring him is nit an option. I slept on the sofa for an hour or so out of his line of site and he was fine but as soon as I went upstairs he started again. It’s strange because when he’s in the front room with the front room door shut and we’re upstairs he doesn’t make a sound!

  13. Sabina
    Sabina says:

    Hi Jim,

    I really enjoyed your well-grounded, sensible and intelligent article. You’ve raised points in a simple, concise fashion that are often overlooked. I trained my GSD following Ed Frawleys guidance (although not as near-fascist as he does it lol) and have achieved great results. My GSD listens to a tiny sound or hand signal, and is an overall well adjusted happy dog who likes to please but has her own spirit, as well. I just acquired a rescue dog from Texas (I live in BC, Canada). He is an adult terrier, and I’m realizing that he needs more finesse in training, which I need to learn. Your article served me well, and I’ll be looking to your website for further advice. Thank you:)

  14. Jim
    Jim says:

    Don’t see a question here but I offer up a few suggestions. Your expectations of a 3 1/2 month old puppy are rather high. I would NOT use ANY type of electronic collar on him it will only increase his stress level. Glad you are starting training, hopefully with a positive reinforcement trainer that is coming to your home where the training needs to begin

  15. Susan
    Susan says:

    Jim, I have a 3 month 3 week old Vizsla. I live in a high-rise and have bell trained him to go to the bathroom. I feel like he now rings the bell for treats and attention. I worry that he will not learn how to hold it since his potty is so accessible. He also is a whiner and I found this looking for a bark collar. I can be on one side of a baby gate and he on the other and he just won’t stop whining. If I walk down the hall to take out the trash you would think he was being tortured. I work out of where I live so I am around most of the day. When I leave I worry that if I don’t correct the whining and barking the building will ask him to leave. We started puppy training last Monday.

  16. Jim
    Jim says:

    Well think of it from his point of view. He’s outside – not with any humans and all he had was your other dog. Now he has no one. Dogs are pack animals and he is totally isolated. I would re-think your expectations and give him some alternatives that would be helpful to him

  17. Kathy St. Clair
    Kathy St. Clair says:

    Hi I have a seven year old mixed breed dog who last month lost his 14 year old companion. He always was a whiny dog but now he is taking to the inth degree, yelping and whining. I bring him into the house and he whines. He’s happy when I take him out twice a day to feed the horses; it’s probably the only time he’s quiet. I’ve had him vet checked and he’s healthy. I’ve been trying to reward him for quiet times, but it is seldom. I know that he’s stressed because the other dog is gone, but I don’t want to get a second dog right now. Will this behavior taper off in time or is this the way it’s going to be with this guy? I don’t like feeling angry at him; that won’t help him. But I am almost at my whit’s end with him. Please help.

  18. Jim
    Jim says:

    Kim: Please go back and read the article. I gave many examples of whining and how to turn that around.

  19. Kim
    Kim says:

    Hi, I have a 7 month old shepard x spaniel. He is a whiner. we ignore him all other times he whines, apart from when he starts at 5 am. we leave him as long as we can but he never gives in. my partner will have to go sleep 9n the sofa. my dog stops crying immediately and settles down even though my boyfriend hasn’t made eye contact or interacted with him in anyway. Andy tips on how else to stop my dog crying so my boyfriend can sleep in bed until his alarm?

  20. Kitty
    Kitty says:

    Jim,
    Thank you very much for letting me know the type of trainer I need to seek. What I’ve been doing just hasn’t felt right from the start. It’s unquestionably not working. Although before when I was simply ignoring the behavior and only rewarding the good wasn’t working either. Eh…. Anyhow I will do what you said. I really appreciate your advice. Thank you.

  21. Jim
    Jim says:

    Kitty: Today if not sooner, get a POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT TRAINER to your home. Minimum, minimum experience doing this for a Living is 10 years. No physical corrections.

  22. Kitty
    Kitty says:

    Hi! I just got a new puppy, 6 month old beagle / jack Russell / chihuahua mix. From the car ride home picking him up I could tell he had never been given any boundaries or structure because he screamed for 20 mins and would bite my hand because I wouldn’t let him go into the back seat. I wouldn’t let him because it wasn’t safe for him to be walking around the car. He finally accepted it and settled down but it has been that way with absolutely everything. He has separation anxiety to a point I’ve never seen before. If we even walk out of his sight he barks a high, shrill, frantic bark for HOURS, non stop and pants. We get no sleep. I’ve consulted with a trainer that told me do not ignore this behavior as some trainers say, go tell him enough and give him a physical correction with two fingers on the neck if needed. When I tell him enough he just barks louder and faster. If I give him the physical correction he bites me. I’ve been trying to give him structure by sitting for meals and to go outside. By giving exercise and socializing with other dogs but nothing is working. I’ve tried my best to praise the behavior we like so he will begin to understand what is good and what is not but its like he is just so hard wired to this behavior from the previous owner. My BF doesn’t want to keep him because we have no peace in our home and our other dog is becoming very stressed. I already love this dog and I don’t know what to do. If there is any advice you could give I would greatly appreciate it.

  23. Leila Martin
    Leila Martin says:

    Rebecca: Not enough info here to truly help you. I would say that much crate time is a Lot of crate time. It’s a lot of isolation and non-activity even for an older dog, which can cause a lot of stress which can manifest itself in whining.

    I would take him to your vet for a checkup, mentioning the whining. i would also look at some holistic things like Bach remedies. If you want to do private video coaching we can do that.

  24. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    Hello,
    My dog will soon turn 14 years old. He’s been in a kennel while I’m at work since he was 6 weeks old.

    The only health issue that he has is blindness, which occurred when he was 8 years.

    Over the past few months he whines non stop at night while he’s in the kennel. This doesn’t happen every night, just once in a while, but when it does it can go on for hours, which is causing me a short night’s sleep. I talk to him when I place him in the kennel, and I try to reassure him that everything is ok and that its time to sleep.

    I’m at my wits end!
    Rebecca

  25. shans
    shans says:

    This information is so helpful. My dog whines more now since he turned 1 yr old than ever before. I am always with him except when its bed time. He whines when my husband goes to work. He whines if I’m in the restroom. He is very clingy all of a sudden. We are trying to ignore it to see if he stops. Sometimes he does sometimes he doesn’t. When he was younger I was over caring but he didn’t whine. I thought we made it pass that stage. This is my first pet ever and he is a Siberian husky as well.

  26. Jim
    Jim says:

    Rikki: I would say you could be looking at separation anxiety, that would be my first thought. But not enough information to say for sure. That’s a
    behavior issue directly related to your dog’s relationship with your husband.

  27. rikki
    rikki says:

    I ran across this post while actually looking for a bark collar. Our dog wines incessantly. Especially when my husband is not home, he will stand at the window and whine, bark, and growl. I let him outside and he jumps at the window and barks. He is fed and walked morning and night and let outside in between. He always has water. He is usually the reason my kids wake up from naps and are not well rested so they then whine all evening and I have had it. Any ideas what the root cause of this guy’s anxiety might be?

  28. christi
    christi says:

    I have 2 toy fox terriers, very intelligent baby’s . Our male let’s the female take his toys and chew bone . “After” he stands in front of me and whines untill resolved. This is very nerve racking but I have tried to (ignore) him while behaving this way. I am not sure if this is right . Can you help?

  29. camille
    camille says:

    I wanted to say this since my Siberian husky started whining at crate time. she has used crate since 3 months old. we only use at bedtime. the first night was horrible. i decided to be the one to put her in the crate also because hubby is away. i petted her and hugged and kissed her and once she was in the cage, i told her there will be none of the whining. i told her i would be back. the first night. quiet. last night she was quietly whining in crate. but stopped after 10 minutes. i think consistency helps as well as extra love for her anxiety. as husky’s need to feel part of the pack. i do have a anti bark collar coming today but i think i am going to return it because what i am doing works!

  30. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    Thanks for the advice. My dog’s needs seem to come from attention. When I come home from work, he pretty much expects my full attention. I sometimes get caught up in my own needs and forget that he needs attention and then he will be more satisfied.

  31. Lisa Stewart
    Lisa Stewart says:

    This is great. As long as needs are met with intention and consistency, we will have a better relationship with our family members. This is also terrific advice for cat owners! Thanks!

    @eclisastewart

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