How to Address Constant Whining from Your Dog

Teaching "Place"

About a week ago Loker had, what I can only describe as, a nervous break down. Loker began whining insistently anytime we were home, but not around him. One night, he was even up at 6am whining for about 30 minutes. We restrained from telling him to be quiet just incase it was attention seeking in any way.  (This was the ultimate test of self-control for me, but I succeeded!)

Figuring Out the Cause

Teaching "Place"Most dogs don’t whine for no reason. Sometimes its attention seeking, but sometimes it’s medical. It’s important to explore all the possibilities before reaching a conclusion. This is when it’s important to know your dog, your environment, and identify any changes going on in your life or in the lives of those around you. All of which can affect your dog and trigger whining.

At first, I looked at any possible medical problems, but there were no additional signs I could spot. I made sure his crate was clean and made sure he was eating and pottying normally, which he was. Next, I looked at environmental triggers which could have caused the whining, but nothing new or out of the ordinary was occurring around us that I could hear or see. I reached out to some good dog trainer friends and we came to the conclusion that the move was just now starting to get to him (2 weeks later). That he was realizing that we were here to stay and not simply on vacation.

Implementing Solutions

Whining is not an easy problem to solve. It is caused by anxiety and since dogs can’t tell us why they are uncomfortable, it is up to you to make a good guess and see if it helps. I implemented some procedures and activities to help Loker calm down. The goal of these exercises was to wear out his mind and slow him down:

  • Puzzle food toys. – Eating out of a boring bowl every day is no fun for dogs. I highly recommend puzzle food toys to help challenge your dog to use his mind to figure things out. Mental challenges are, quite often, more tiring for dogs. Getting his “thinking brain” going helps control his anxiety. I had him eating out of a puzzle for both of his daily meals. (See video below.)
  • Play Through a Dog’s Ear music. – This music is scientifically proven to relax your dog. I do notice a significant change in my dogs when I play it in their room.
  • Basic obedience. – Whenever he was out of his crate, he was on leash. We went straight back to basics. I asked him to sit before going through doorways and had him lie on his bed in the living room as we relaxed on the couch. Keeping him on leash at all times helped me control his speed. He tends to go from 0-60 mph in about one second so if he accelerated too quickly, I’d just stop and wait for him to calm down before moving forward.
  • Never reward the whining. – In order to prevent this behavior from turning into attention seeking, I made sure to never address him whenever he whined and wait until he stopped for at least 10-30 seconds before entering his proximity.

Day three after implementing these tips, there has been very little whining – even when I let the other dog out and leave Loker behind. It is a relief for all of us and I am happy that I was able to master my impulse control and help him process his anxiety constructively. If you have a dog that whines a lot, I’d suggest a vet visit first and then look at ways you can challenge their mind to help them think more as well as implement calming agents such as the ThunderShirt, Through a Dog’s Ear sound track, and relaxation exercises. Check out this article for more ways to help your dog relax: “Dog Training – How to Relax Your Dog.

Update

I just did a tiny bit of Tellington-TTouch massage on Loker last night when he initiated cuddle time. All I did was pull gently on his ear from the bottom to the tip moving from one side to the other with my thumb and index finger – WOW! He was completely relaxed for the rest of the evening. I was very surprised that this very touch-sensitive guy responded this much to it. I highly encourage you to read up on T-Touch – I know I will be! Check out these pictures of him:

T-Touch on his ear.

About 20 minutes later.

About 1 hour later. He is totally zonked out!