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How to Curb Whining in Dogs

Attention-Seeking Whining

If your dog uses whining behavior to seek attention, rewards or desired objects, you need to teach her that remaining quiet is a better strategy. Sometimes reducing attention-seeking whining may be difficult because owners may unwittingly reinforce the behavior. Realize that any eye contact, touching or talking to your dog—even if you’re scolding her—all constitute attention. Use dramatic body language such as turning away from your dog or folding your arms across your chest and completely ignore her to indicate to your dog that her attention-seeking whining won’t work.

In addition to not reinforcing whining behavior, you need to reward your dog for being quiet. Teach your dog that she must always be quiet before receiving your attention, play or treats. Regularly seek out your dog to give her attention and rewards when she’s not whining. When your dog understands that silence works well to get your attention, she won’t feel as motivated to whine.

Don’t hesitate to contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) in your area. Many CPDTs offer group or private classes that can give you and your dog lots of great skills to learn and games to play that will reduce her appeasement whining, whining during greetings and attention-seeking whining. Please see our article, Finding Professional Help, to locate a CPDT in your area.

Anxious Whining

Whining as a result of anxiety is difficult to eliminate unless the cause of anxiety is removed. Anxious whining is usually accompanied by other nervous behaviors, such as pacing, circling and licking. Many anxious dogs do not seem able to control their whining when under extreme stress.

Some medications may help reduce your dog’s anxiety. Consult a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) to learn more about anti-anxiety medications. Finding Professional Help, for information about locating one of these professionals.) Do not give your dog any kind of medication for a behavior problem unless directed to do so by a veterinarian.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

The ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist specializes in the resolution and management of pet behavior problems only. Please do not submit questions about medical problems here. Only licensed veterinarians can diagnose medical conditions. If you think that your pet is sick, injured or experiencing any kind of physical distress, please contact his veterinarian immediately. A delay in seeking proper veterinary care may worsen your pet's condition and put his life at risk. If you are concerned about the cost of veterinary care, please read our resources on finding financial help.
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