Organizing Training- making a plan for whining

I think barking is easier to resolve than whining is. Whining takes so little effort on the dogs part and can be sneaked in with no telegraphing of body language before hand. And a dog who whines is __________ (irritating, frustrating, a bother, getting on nerves, sneaky).April10Obe2013 002

I’m organizing; no more off-the-cuff winging it on this one, I’m starting to label the dog – which is a clue to my not-so-good mindset.

  • lists/tallies/goals
  • posted items to remember
  • blog summaries of identified issues and progress
  • facebook postings about what I’ve done today
  • reference books/reference trainer’s postings
  • outlines of weekly lessons
  • video – I have trouble with transferring my recordings so this has gotten bogged down (new GoPro camera is on the agenda)

I think everybody knows the set goals mantra – specific, measurable, achievable, reassess, time-frame. But I’ve found that being too much focused on getting there makes for frustration and feeling resistive – not enough fun and kindness in the process.  The goal is good, but it’s all about the process.

However; frustration is the mother of new plans, of rethinking, of new brain synopsis connections.  Frustration also needs to be built into training in order for concepts to really be understood. Too much handing it out on a platter means not enough thoughts, not enough understanding of the choices for dogs and people. Too easy means not enough understanding happened.

So why am I pondering this so heavily? Whining. I keep getting whining from Obie and its driving me to levels of irritation. I kinda want to bop him. And I considered it and couldn’t think how it would actually help. Note that trying to suppress a behavior automatically gets me on the punishment route (preferably negative punishment – which is taking away attention as opposed to adding aversives; aka bopping). To rethink it, I need to identify where I rewards could fit in to emphasize the pleasure of silence.

I started timing and counting the whines because it’s more measurable than trying to tally silence. He comments on a lot of things – it seems to be a ‘hurry up’ do something, or look at me or I’ve done this long enough, or I want out of here …  He’ll whine when he’s asked to do a sit or a down or trick or go to crate or bed or while he’s waiting. Both for new cues and old. It doesn’t seem to be pain – which I did wonder about because of the frequency, but it doesn’t sound like pain. And it is related to being asked or expected to do something – so more like frustration or uncertainty or a complaint or a comment. When he’s just doing things, no whining.

When does he whine specifically?

  1. when I open the bedroom door to get him out of his crate
  2. when the Treat & Train is on 15 second intervals or higher
  3. when I leave him tethered to feed the horses
  4. when he’s waiting for me to put away my jacket
  5. when he’s asked to do a cue and he wants to get done faster
  6. when the Treat & Train gets stuck and doesn’t deliver

What have I done so far?

  1. Door – turned around until he’s silent then turned back to re-approach; closed the door and tried again; repeat, repeat. Next version I think I’ll deliver a remote treat as I start to open the door because I haven’t seen the problem abate despite my sometimes theatrical silent non-cooperation. Well thinking about it, he used to whine each time I reached for the gate latches on the crate, so actually it has abated. It’s just not gone, like I think it’s supposed to be by now. What does he believe the reward is?
  2. Treat & Train – back up and re-worked up the levels. I’ve gotten incredibly competent at running the remote to not reward a whine (he just throws them in there). Each bedtime I sit next to his crate and reward at long intervals by hand – in between I do meditation exercises to counter the experience of hearing whining — not kidding. Next I think I need to be able to always hear him to be sure he isn’t throwing whines when it’s automatically feeding – supervision. His whines aren’t always loud or long, sometimes whisper-y and quick.
  3. Tethered – the irritating thing is often I’m right there behind him and he’s looking out the door and whining. But he hasn’t tried chewing the leash which was a previous problem. Next – maybe make sure he’s done going to the bathroom before he has to wait for the horses to be fed.
  4. Waiting entryway – I’m going to keep playing the waiting game on this one, rewarding when he does his down/stay silently and doing a collar touch/silent or ‘excuse me’ comment until I have a consistent boy. This is the one he sorta blew off Friday – but maybe despite my internal ‘I can’t believe this!’, he might have had an aha moment based on how long we had to reside in the entryway waiting for this process to finally work. Saturday great down/stay.
  5. Cue whine – I’m ignoring. I think this will abate when he is sure how to do the stuff at higher speed and isn’t over-thinking it.
  6. Treat & Train stuck – take my time before fixing it so he doesn’t think his whining made it go faster. Of course, I’ve been doing that all along … what is his reward in this?

Goal silence. Measure – whining, barking during specific times I’ve noted on lists. Tracking on calendar. Reassess in a week – reevaluate approaches to see what worked or what needs changing.

Celebration when we get there! And informed my daughter (he’s her dog) if she restarts this behavior after it’s resolved,  #$@%___%^!!

Do you have a specific dog training issue you’re working on and tracking? How fast do you expect things to be resolved?  Have you had a dog that whines?




2 Comments Add yours

  1. scarlybobs says:

    Kasper is a huge whiner when it’s time for walkies!

    We’ve only just begun tackling this recently, as he was getting louder and more insistent. We freeze any time he whines, and only continue to move towards walkies time when he is quiet. I am amazed at how quickly this has been working; we’ve only been at it a week and already there’s a marked improvement.

    With Zoey I’m working on getting her to wear a coat. Sounds pretty simple but she is very sensitive to wearing things, having things touching her body and restricting her movement. I’ve broken the whole process down into eleven steps, and it’ll probably take a month or so before we’re anywhere near done…especially as I’ve only done one training sessions so far, oops!

    Good luck anyway 🙂


    1. Freezing is great – glad to hear how well it’s working for Kasper. Thanks for reminding me ‘cuz I didn’t mention it. For Obie, it wasn’t effecting him.;( He’d just continue – originally barking, and now whining, hence stop motion, turn away, go further if noise continues and turn back with smile if it doesn’t.

      We had a heeler who didn’t like wearing clothes – she looked particularly pitiful with addition of garments. She was disgusted with compliments about them, so those weren’t offered. And any food rewards had to be top shelf. Good luck with Zoey’s coat.

      Liked by 1 person

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