Your Dog's Whining Decoded

Dogs that whine to get attention or items they want, such as food, a treat or a toy, require different management and training strategies. If your dog gets especially worked up during meal times, putting him in a different room while you are preparing his meal (or eating your own) can decrease his excitement or anxiety.

If your dog whines in nervous apprehension, you will need to increase his confidence in anxiety-provoking situations. For example, if your dog is anxious at the vet, plan happy visits to the vet’s office to play or get a treat from the receptionist; these fun outings will help ease his anxiety and lessen the whining. When the dog’s emotional state is changed, whining naturally decreases.

Reinforce the Positive — and Ignore the Whining

Be mindful that following up a desired behavior with something your dog enjoys makes him more likely to repeat that behavior. If you speak to your dog when he whines, you are rewarding the whining, which makes it likely that your dog will keep doing it. Even a negative response, like yelling at your dog for whining, can inadvertently reward the behavior (after all, negative attention is still attention). On the other hand, yelling at your dog when he whines may increase his anxiety, which can result in more whining.

When your dog whines, it’s best to ignore him, which can be done simply by looking away and ending all interactions with your dog. Keep in mind that whining should never be given attention, even negative attention, by any member of the family. Instead, make a point of rewarding your dog when he is quiet. This increases the chance that your dog will respond to exciting or stressful situations without whining.

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