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Shaping Out The Whining

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If your dog is a whiner you will understand how irritating and frustrating that constant little whine is. Many dogs will only whine in the home when they need something, this may be a plea for food, to be let outside, go for a walk, have attention or because they are bored.


If your dogs is wanting access to a resource, only allow them access to that resource once they are quiet. As you practice this more frequently, increase their period of quiet before rewarding them with that resource. Also teach them a more suitable, alternative behaviour they can use to ask for that resource, such as sitting quietly. e.g. standing quietly by the door will mean the door will open and they can go outside.


However, many dogs that have had a history of practicing whining will do so out of habit. Before, we begin shaping, we need to ensure your dog is not in need of any of the things listed above.


What can you use as a reinforcer?

- Eye contact

- Touch

- Verbal Praise

- Body orientation

I prefer not to use food as reinforcer in these situations, as dogs are super smart and may become aware that the treats come out when the whining starts.


Shaping

Shaping is a training strategy used to move towards a specific behavioural goal (being quiet), without the behaviour being prompted. We do this by breaking down the behaviour into small manageable steps (quiet for 5 seconds / 10 seconds etc), which enables us to work towards the final behaviour (no whining). Each step is successfully reached, praised, rewarded and repeated before moving onto the next. Ensure you take it at the dog’s pace and build their confidence if they are struggling, before moving on. It is hard to change an ingrained habit.


  1. Ignore the whining. This can be very tricky, but it is important that your dog gets no response from you for whining. Simply looking at them or telling them to be quite, may be enough of a reinforcer for them to continue this behaviour.
  2. Use your body. When they whine turn your body and eyes away and remove your hand from petting/stroking. As soon as they are quiet, turn back and smile at them and resume petting. Repeat as often as necessary whilst adhering to your step by step goals).

Don't have time to train today? Prevent the behaviour from occurring by keeping your dog busy with an activity toy or by tiring them out more than usual.

Need to try something else to get your point across?

When they whine say "enough", reward them if they stay quiet. If they continue to whine, swiftly but gently remove them from the room for 5 seconds. Repeat as necessary. Soon they will associate the words "enough" with leaving the room if they do not keep quiet.

Is this a new or sudden behaviour change? Get a vet check to rule out pain or illness.

Any questions?

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