Dogs may bring great joy to your life, but they can also bring a great deal of stress. Dogs whimper and cry for numerous reasons, including illness, injury and anxiety. Careful training and positive reinforcement can transform even the noisiest dog into a calm, quiet companion.
Ask your veterinarian to rule out medical concerns. Dogs often vocalize when they are sick or hurt, and your vet will thoroughly examine your dog to make sure he is healthy. He may take x-rays and draw blood to check for painful issues such as hip dysplasia and arthritis.
Observe your dog to determine what triggers her whining behavior. Dogs may whine in an effort to appease dominant family members, when they get excited or when they are nervous, so document each incident carefully. Is the dog whining when you come back after an absence? Is it thundering or stormy outside? Look over your notes for a pattern of whining behavior to determine the best course of action.
Build your dog’s confidence to reduce whining and crying. Submissive dogs whine as a way to suck up to dominant pack members, and your dog may whine at you to show you are her alpha. Grab a tug toy and encourage the dog to pull. Let her tug for a few seconds, then release the toy and let the dog win the game. Enroll her in an obedience class to expose her to new situations and boost her confidence.
Ignore your dog if she is whining to get your attention. Many dogs vocalize when they get excited, and playing into her excitement will only encourage her to whine. Keep entrances simple when you arrive home. Speak quietly, move slowly and give the dog no attention until she calms down. Pet her only when she is quiet to show her that being calm is the proper way to behave.
Teach your dog a “quiet” command. Encourage the dog to whine, and as soon as she starts to cry, tell her “quiet” in a firm, tough voice. Hold a treat out to the dog and, when she stops whining to sniff your hand, reward her with the treat. Practice the “quiet” command every time the dog cries, and soon she will associate being quiet with a positive reward.
- Stopping a whining dog is a process of trial and error, so be patient. It may take weeks of consistent behavior modification before she learns that whining and crying is inappropriate behavior.
- Never spank your dog for whining. Negative punishment will only frighten the dog, which may lead to more whining.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.