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If dogs could talk, oh, the tales they would tell. The truth is that dogs communicate in many ways, and one of the more vocal ways they communicate, both with humans and other animals, is through whining.
Dogs whine for many reasons, but most commonly, they are because of appeasement, greeting, attention, anxiety, and injury.
Appeasement whining is often a response to submissive behavior toward humans or other dogs. So when your pup is looking to please or show you (or the dog next door) that he’s submissive to your Alpha dog status, he may let out a whimper or two. This is also often accompanied by submissive physical reactions like tucking his tail or showing his belly.
Sometimes dogs whine when they’re anxious. They may be anxious about their surroundings, other animals, or a certain situation. Being in tune with your pup will help you discern the differences between this type of whining and others.
More specifically, separation anxiety whining is caused by your dog’s distress when left alone for long periods or even concerned when they sense you are about to leave. This type of whining is often characterized by drooling, pacing, panting, or destruction of indoor objects.
Just as it sounds, your dog may whine to get your attention. If you’re enthralled in your favorite show or working steadily on your computer, your dog may use whining to gently remind you that he’s here, wants to be played with, needs to use the bathroom, or is ready to go for a walk. In our experience, this type of whining is often accompanied by pacing or an intent stare, both of which are tough to ignore.
Greeting whining is motivated by excitement and can be directed both toward you and other dogs. If your pup whines when you come home from work or at other dogs he sees on his daily walk, then he’s likely saying how excited he is to see everyone. You can expect some tail-wagging too.
A little less common (at least we hope) is injury or medical whining in which your dog whines in response to pain or a painful action.
If you notice your pup is frequently whiny, displays general discomfort, or limping while doing so, it might be time to take your pet to the vet for further examination.
All whining is not created equal. This is why before you even think of deterring your pup from vocalizing his emotions, you should be sure that he’s not being mouthy for a medical reason. Should you ignore a whining dog? Not in the case of injury. The whining needs to be addressed and resolved as he’s clearly trying to communicate something. Plus, it’s no fun for anyone to have a dog whining.
Once you’ve ruled out any injurious reasons for his whiny behavior, you can set about figuring out what emotion is causing the whining. Does he just whine a little when he’s excited to see you after a long day, or does he whine incessantly to get your attention? Then you can decide from there how to handle it.
Stopping Appeasement & Anxiety Whining
We’re tackling these two types together because there’s some common ground in both instances: confidence. Often, when your pup whines to please and is in a submissive state, or when he whines about showing anxiety, it comes back to your dog’s lack of confidence. Increase their confidence with reward treats while showing affection and rewarding confident, focused behavior.
Do not use physical or verbal punishment, as it will counteract the positive effects you’ve worked so hard for. As his confidence grows individually and in you as his Alpha, you should notice less whining in these situations.
How To Stop Attention Whining
This might be the toughest type of whining to fix. Is your dog whining to let you know he needs to go out or simply because he’s demanding your attention? Either way, it’s important that while your dog is in the act of attention whining, you do not acknowledge his behavior. Don’t get up to let him out, don’t pet him, and don’t even look in your dog’s direction while he’s in the act of whining for attention. Even scolding him is attention and will be perceived as a positive response to their actions.
Once your dog has stopped whining, take them out immediately, or reward them with attention, so they learn to associate being quiet with the attention they desire.
We know ignoring is hard, so we suggest making sure your pup gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Playtime or food-filled Kongs work wonders to keep them from being so needy (trust us, we know from experience).
How To Quit Greeting Whining
Maybe it’s just us, but if our pup lets out a few cute whimpers to welcome us home, then we’re okay with that. He’s excited, we’re excited, and his whining isn’t terrible when it’s so darn cute, right?
If, however, his “hellos” are getting a little out of hand, try greeting your pup with a calmer tone and demeanor. Your pup will likely mirror your actions and will be a lot less likely to get rowdy (and subsequently whiny). Distracting calmly with a command (like “sit”) as you enter will also help keep your pup focused on a task (and treat reward) rather than his excitement for you coming home.
If you need some help training your dog, we’ve got multiple options for you. If reward-based training isn’t working for you, try training your dog without treats. And if you’re still struggling, consider Doggy Dan’s online training courses.Tagged With: Anxiety