Eliminating whining for obedience

Boca is a great dog, very responsive, has a bit of a natural recall (though I wouldn't trust it in any precarious circumstances) where she's just so happy you're calling her she generally doesn't think to NOT come to you.  She's pretty good at heeling.  There's a lot to polish, but I'm thinking maybe just maybe I should consider working and polishing toward an obedience title.  It scares me to say it out loud because ... what if we suck?  What if I don't do it?    But mostly the idea of having to travel to multiple places to put "legs" on her is very daunting to me.  

But the other tricky thing is although I think (I think I can I think I can I think I can) I can polish her heeling, recalls, etc.  There is one thing that makes her go nutty and that's other dogs.  She will HOLD a stay, but she whines and whimpers.  I don't know how to stop the whining and whimpering.  It's not that we haven't done a ton of work in the past.  

I train with both positive reward and corrections and for this, corrections have not worked and I'm not willing to keep trying in hopes things change.  

Can anyone help me figure out a P+ way to eliminate this behavior?  It's her one super annoying habit -- doesn't matter how far away the dog is or if we are in a car or walking or whatever--a dog in her line of sight is a reason to make annoying whining sounds.  


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  • I really think that this would not be a difficult habit to break as long as she's controlling herself and not physically reacting when she sees the other dogs.  I would approach this in a positive way.  I'd take her to a fenced dog park and start off with Boca in a sit pretty far away, but where she can still see the dogs.  I'd have lots of high value (but small) treats in my pocket.  If she vocalizes I would give a calm "no" and just wait....when she stops "yes" and immediately treat.  Then get a little closer.  Do it all again.  It may take quite a few times, but I think eventually she'll understand what it is that you're "objecting to" and that it's in her best intrest not to vocalize.  Because of Murphy's IBD, my boys don't get many treats, but once a day they do get a dental chew.  When I initially found these and that Murph could tolerate them without getting sick they used to get so excited they would sit...but cry at the same time.  I would give a verbal "no" and just wait.  The minute they stopped they got their chew.  It didn't take long for them to understand the behavior I was looking for.  Good luck and let us know how it goes.  I think it's awesome that you're going to try this.

    • Yes sounds totally doable.  Boca can handle a variety of treats okay and she loves to eat so I'll give it a try.  

    • So I tried this out on Friday.  It was HARD.  It took what I hate doing: sticking the food in front of her nose and luring her mind away.  Half the time it went like this:

      Boca: whiiiine whiiiiine whiiiiine .... {millisecond of silence}

      Me: Goo--

      Boca: barely audible whine

      Me: wait for actual silence

      Me: Goo--

      Boca: {another whine interrupting my "Good dog"} lol

      I did catch some silence and she did end up eating the equivalent of 1 string cheese and a handful of kibble.  So a success in the end.


      I think what I need to do more even without treats is just train a TON around dogs until the novelty wears off and she starts just focusing on what she's doing.  

    • I think "good dog" may be too much to say.  It needs to be really short and quick, which is why I use YES (which is just a quick marker).  Once she understands what you're asking her to do you can wait for longer periods of silence before rewarding.  I also wouldn't lure her.  I would keep the reward in your closed hand and just let her whine....then wait till she stops....she will eventually.  Then "YES" and treat.  Does that make sense? 



  • Well I think titling Boca is a great idea! I remember how focused and good she was in your early training videos. 
    I am by no means any sort of a training expert and I think Jane has this figured out for you however two things came to mind. 1. Competing behaviour - when she whines is she locked in eye contact with you? If not that can be a competing behaviour to train and 2. I wonder if a clicker could help with Janes idea so that you could mark the moment she stops the whining and treat to shape this behaviour. 

  • What a great idea, Jane. I can't click a clicke right for anything :-{ but that would be an added way to get results - maybe phase treats to the clicker.

    • I can't use a clicker either....it takes too much coordination.  I just use a quick, sharp "YES" and it works the same.

    • Thanks, I'll try that with an unwanted behavior - I've got many to choose from...... :-}  times 3.

      Isn't it funny that what could be a simple (in steps) to fix behavior, does't appear simple when you are in the middle of that behavior.  I never thought you might fix something like a whine that way in a dog.  Oddly in humans, I DON'T 'do' whining.  I used to tell my whiny students that and proceded to ignore it and they got no attention or participation. They all learned the in Mrs. Haver's class  whining wasn't going to ge them anywhere. 

    • We use "Yes!" to capture/mark a correct behavior in tricks training too. I couldn't use a clicker on a bet, lol. 

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