Whining is a common and natural behavior for a dog, but in some cases, it can become excessive. This is not only irritating and/or upsetting for you as the owner but could also indicate that your dog is struggling with stress or anxiety. Many dogs whine a little when they are overexcited, seeking attention, need to go to the bathroom, or when begging for a toy or food, but it can also show that they are scared, uncomfortable, and/or stressed.
While it is unrealistic to expect a dog to stop whining altogether as it is part of their nature, here are 5 tips that might help you to reduce excessive whining.
- Look for the reasons behind the whining
You need to identify the cause of your dog’s whining, as this will inform how you go about managing the behavior. They might, for example, have different whines for different situations, e.g., a different whine when they are begging to when they are bored. When you learn to recognize their whines, you will be able to identify the cause and recognize when the whine could be more serious, e.g., they are in pain, scared, or anxious. If you can identify the cause of the whining, you can take steps to cure the discomfort or help the dog overcome their anxiety.
- Be careful around a whining dog
A dog’s stress or discomfort can quickly turn to aggression if it feels you or someone else may make their situation worse, so be careful when approaching a dog, which is whining excessively. Do not touch them or pick them up if they are very distressed as even the most docile dog may respond instinctively under duress. They may be frightened of something or someone, in pain, or a past trauma may have been triggered. If you suspect that your dog whines out of anxiety, e.g., when a family member leaves home, CBD dog treats or calming pheromone diffusers may help to soothe them.
- Try not to encourage whining
When a dog is whining for attention, food, or just to get their own way in general, try not to reinforce the behavior by doing what they want straight away. The dog will learn that whining ‘works’ and will do it more and more. Instead, ignore the whining if you can.
Over time, they will learn that whining is not an effective tactic. If you want to give them a treat or some attention, wait until they are quiet before getting the dog to do something for you, such as sit, paw, or lie down. When they do as they are told, you can reward them with the treat or attention they were seeking.
- Keep them busy
A dog who is alone, full of energy, and/or bored is more likely to whine. To enrich their day, try to give them plenty of exercise and playtime. Exercise reduces stress and anxiety in dogs in the same way it helps humans, i.e., by reducing stress hormones and boosting endorphins.
- Be consistent
The most crucial point to remember when training any dog is that consistency is critical. You need to ignore behavior you do not want and reward positive behavior. It will take time and will test your patience, but in the end, you will have a more content dog and a much more peaceful home.