Stop a Dog From Whining for Attention


a white pug in a green harness paws at the camera

“Why is my dog whining?” asks the exasperated dog owner as his or her pup continues to cry. Dogs really know how to get our attention, and one way to do so is by whining.

It works, right?

With a dog constantly whining in the background, you can’t help but rise to the bait. Cries and whines almost always get a reaction from us. We either laugh at the dog, talk to the dog, pet the dog or even scold the dog. Either way, the whining is reinforced.

Some dogs whine more than others, and sometimes it can become a really annoying habit. If you have a dog that tends to whine for attention, read on to gather some ideas to get the behavior under control.

Stop a Dog From Whining for Attention

1. Truly ignore the constantly whining dog.

I used to wonder, “Why is my dog whining?” When a dog is whining and I do not want to reinforce that behavior, I make absolutely sure I do not give the dog any attention. This is a lot harder than it sounds because even smiling or glancing at the dog is enough attention as far as he’s concerned. You’ll learn to recognize your dog’s whines well enough to know when he or she just wants your attention or if something’s genuinely wrong.

“I recommend getting up and moving away from the dog if it’s too hard to ignore,” said Robin Bennett, a certified professional dog trainer. “At a minimum, turn your back on the dog.”

She said not to make eye contact because most dogs will find that rewarding.

Bennett also warned that when dogs are ignored while whining, they often whine even louder before they quiet down. If the owner continues to ignore the whining, the dog will eventually learn the behavior never works.

2. Try not to scold the dog.

a fuzzy brown dog whines

Whenever my dog’s constantly whining and I tell him “no,” it doesn’t work very well to quiet him. He just wags his tail and looks at me, like, “Ha! I got you to look!”

This is the reason Bennett said she does not recommend scolding a dog for whining.

“For some dogs, any attention is better than no attention,” she said.

3. If you have to give the dog attention, ask him to sit first.

Why is my dog whining? You ask yourself the question dozens of times every day. Sometimes we do have to give our dogs attention when they’re whining. For example, maybe it’s the only time you have to take your dog for a walk or a potty break, and you can’t wait for him to quiet down.

Instead of going to your dog while he’s whining, tell him to sit or lie down first. Then, reward him for that behavior. I learned this little trick from a professional trainer when I was trying to get my foster dog to stop barking in his kennel.

4. Reward calm behavior.

a grey puppy with blue eyes lays on the carpet

“Watch for moments when the dog is not whining, and promptly give the dog praise, love, and a treat,” said Bennett. If you pet the dog every time she whines, the behavior is reinforced and you’ll have a dog constantly whining to make you pay attention.

“No whining equals attention,” she said.

5. Plan ahead and manage the whining.

Finally, Bennett suggested it’s best to manage situations where the dog is likely to whine.

“Provide an alternative option for the dog before the whining happens,” she said.

For example, if you know your dog whines while you talk on the phone, she said you could provide your dog with a chew toy or rawhide right before your phone call so he is occupied. Then reward him for calm, quiet behavior.

Do you have a dog that whines? How do you respond to the whining? The next time you ask yourself, “why is my dog whining?” you can turn to these tips for help.

About Lindsay Stordahl

Lindsay Stordahl is a blogger for She has a black Lab mix named Ace and two naughty cats named Beamer and Scout. Lindsay owns a pet sitting business called Run That Mutt and also maintains the blog ... Add Lindsay to your Google+ circles at . You can follow Lindsay on Twitter @ThatMutt.

  1. We have a basset that whines way too often but it never seems to be an attention thing. We don’t ever give him attention when he does it but he just continues anyway and does it at random. He’ll be laying in his dog bed whining for absolutely no reason – its not like we’re eating or he’s looking at us for attention or anything. I’ve ruled out hunger, the need to go to the bathroom, attention, etc. but it STILL happens. He’s very low maintenence but the whining drives me NUTS sometimes!

    • My dog whines on his bed sometimes when he seems to think he’s supposed to stay there even though I haven’t given him a stay command. It’s like he can’t remember he just decided to lie there on his own, and then he looks for permission to get up by whining! Not saying that’s what your dog is doing, but it’s an annoying habit my dog has somehow developed.

    • I was told dogs have no sense of time which is why they greet you like you’ve been gone for 10 years. Lol
      My dog seems to sense time. He will go to window & watch for hubby’s truck at just 5 minutes before he comes. How does he know this. He can also sense our Harley’s pipes from other bikes. Ya, they have a sense of time.

      • They don’t have a sense of time. They utilize their sense of smell to associate when you return. Your smell was the strongest when you left, but 8 hours later, it got less potent, say going from a 10 to a 2. Your dog notices these fluctuations in scent potency, and they make the association that, “when this smell is at a 2, my owner comes home.” This is how they know when you will come home.

  2. We have always had pretty good luck with this – but we usually go with the *ignore* option! I’m glad that I learned early on in pet ownership that any attention is rewarding the behavior. When we crate our dogs we usually give them a peanut butter kong or a small treat and this helps, esp when they are pups! Great post – sharing!

    • I definitely used the peanut butter in a Kong trick as well. If I get the peanut butter out, my dog seriously dives head first into his kennel. He still whines for attention every now and then, and it’s totally my fault because I give him attention for it!

    • I hate crating of dogs. Whatever you teach him to do in the crate can be taught outside the crate. You are confining your dog to jail for no reason
      Dogs always want to please you and is why they go in the crate. Boycott crates.

      • My dog loves his crate, he is 12 and ever since he was a baby he loves it, we don’t shut him in it, he just goes in there when he wants to take a nap or just doesn’t want ppl to bother him. He spends prob 50% of the day in his kennel, he loves it. He feels safe in there.

      • I disagree crating dogs can be very helpful. My partner and I have 2year old chiweenie mix that misbehaves is often. We put him through obedience training in every form since he was a puppy. He still doesn’t listen and, does what he wants so, crating him as well as limiting his playtime made it manageable. However, he still got a lot more things to correct because his behavior has gotten to the point we can’t take him anywhere. We still pay $119 for every training session but, he won’t listen to anyone. Crating is for him.

      • I have a choc. Lab/pitt mix rescued as a pup. I have tried everything, spent $100+ on toys but she destroys anything she can get a hold of even when I am home so I had no choice but to crate her when I leave.

  3. our dog tends to whine and yelp ANDscream? when she senses or sees something or somebody, especially other dogs and people. it breaks my sound barrier, hurts my ears and head. its very loud and can’t seem to break through it.ignore or not ignore, she still does it when you are trying to hear what someone is saying , I don’t know what to do. I have a small dog so I say quiet or relax then I pick her up! help!! keri

    • Sounds like she is barking out of excitement when she sees someone new. I’m sure this is very frustrating! There are different techniques you could try, and you may want to consider hiring a trainer for some suggestions.

      Are there any treats she finds extremely valuable? Maybe some pieces of real chicken? Or hamburger? I would put her on a leash and then figure out her “trigger” distance. For example, if she barks at someone 20 feet away, you would stop at about 25 feet away, ask her to sit and give her some treats. Then, maybe the next time you can get within 18 feet or so. With time, patience and consistency, you should eventually be able to work closer and closer to her “triggers.”

  4. this is all great advice but what happens when you and your dogs have gone through the ordeal of having a house fire and then being forced to move into the city?

    • Hi Tera. I’m sorry to hear your house caught on fire. Did your dog’s whining behavior start after you moved or before?

      I know moving can be stressful on everyone, including dogs. A couple of things that can help include sticking to a somewhat normal routine every day (so life is predictable for them). I would also recommend making sure your dog is getting plenty of structured exercise such as a long walk every day.

      For the whining, I would try the tips in this post, mostly ignoring the whining by not paying attention to your dog and even getting up and walking away. When it’s really annoying, you could try giving your dog something to chew on/interact with like a treat-dispensing toy or a natural chew.

      Hope that gives you some ideas to try!

  5. HI,
    We just got a new dog that’s a year old. She does really well at not whining at home.
    We took her to Pet Smart though and WOW she just lost it. I know there are so many smells and things going on but would you have any tips for taking her to a place like that and teaching her not to whine? She mostly whined when she noticed other dogs.
    She’s a chinese crested about 12 pounds.

    • Your dog sounds cute! I’m guessing she was really excited and overwhelmed. One thing that helps my dog is to take him on a long walk before taking him somewhere “exciting.” That way he’s tired when we get there and calmer. So I would definitely give that a try.

      Also, just slowly taking her out to more and more different places over time should help so it’s not such a big deal to her anymore. Start with some quieter places like different parks and then visit busier places as she seems more comfortable.

      Bringing along highly valued treats (like jerky treats) might also help in some situations to keep her focused on you. And you could always enroll in a group obedience class to work on basic obedience.

      Hope that helps you brainstorm!

    • If you are going to have a dog you already know he/she is going to bark. Get over it. My dog also has a high pitched bark that drives us crazy. I don’t lecture him as one day it may be a burglar he is barking at.

      • I agree about no telling them off for barking when someone comes to the door. If someone broke in during the night the dog needs to bark to warn you of an intruder. On the other hand our dog barks at squirrels, foxes, cats and other dogs. We need selective barking from them haha

  6. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he barks and whines A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

  7. Hi There,

    I have a 5 year old standard poodle that up until a month ago was never alone. She lost her sister to cancer. she is wonderful when left at home alone, in the car alone but was whining when she sensed our arrival. I ignored her whining when getting in the car, or arriving at home and it is coming to a halt. However, she whines if we take her somewhere and put her on a leash 10 or so feet away from us. We’ve ignored her for as long as we could but she just would not stop. After a scolding, she calmed down for the better part of the time she was leashed. How do we correct this? In this case, she can see us – just can’t reach us.

    • Hi Karen, my dogs will sometimes bark or whine if I tether them away from me in public too. I actually avoid doing that because it’s just not worth the stress for me. But sometimes it’s unavoidable. It might be helpful if you can practice with her a few times per week where you only leave her for 30 seconds, then return and give a treat if she’s quiet. Then repeat several times. Eventually you would do this in more and more situations and increase the time away from her to 45 seconds before giving a treat, 1 min, 2 mins, etc.

      Another idea that might work is if you can give her something to chew on like a bully stick or a Kong toy with peanut butter while she’s tied. But she might be too anxious to care about something like that and I’m not exactly sure what environment you’re talking about.

      Some people successfully train their dogs to lie down on a mat or towel at home and then take that item out in public and the dog knows to lie calmly on it. Just another idea.

  8. I have a Boston. She will come and sit in front of me and wait. If I don’t realize she’s sitting there she stands up one puts her paws on me and starts whining. I tell her to get down and she whines more. I’ll try the walking away and see if that works.

  9. Hi!
    So I have a 3 month old cockapoo who is extremely attached to me. She’s been at home 2 days and starts whining, crying and barking if I leave her in her crate and walk away. I’ve been ignoring her and she stops after 10 minutes. I give her treats when she is quiet followed by “good quiet” or “good being quiet”. But she started to whine after I walked away. So I waited until she COMPLETELY settled down to give her the treat. I am very anxious to leave her at home while I’m at work (even though my parents are at home) because I worry my mother will get really anxious and the pup will feed off of that.

    Any advice?

    • Even though it is hard to listen to your pup cry, keep up with the training! Once she knows that is her space and a time to be quiet it will get easier. It may take awhile but it will be worth it.

  10. I have a pit bull that’s about 2 months old. We’ve had him since he was 6 weeks. When we put him to bed, it takes hours before he is quiet. We ignore him, at first after about 30 minutes of crying I was thinking that he had to use the bathroom, but no he goes outside and chases the neighbor’s cat, and I honestly just don’t know what to do with him.

    • Keep up with the routine. If the crying continues, try moving their sleeping space to a new area. It could be that they don’t feel that this location is “their space” to be comfortable in.

    • I know this is an older post but it sounds similar to what I went through with my puppy. We positively reinforced crate training so she was perfectly happy going in, having the door closed etc. during the day, but for the first few nights she would get very anxious if I tried to walk away after putting her in. I realized I would also be very nervous in a new house so I decided to get a sleeping bag and sleep right up against the crate and she settled down immediately to go to sleep and was perfect ALL night EVERY night from day 1. After a few days I moved a little farther to a couch in the same room, and a few days after that was able to be in a completely separate room without an issue. Now, at 5yrs old, her crate is in our bedroom and she chooses to go in there at night instead of stay on the bed with us (it is always left open now) because it is her safe space. 🙂

      • So glad to see your post as we just got a 16 week old Golden puppy on Oct 30th and he will whine, cry and bark at night when we put him in his crate for bedtime. He hates being in his crate with the door closed. So my hubby slept right outside the crate last night (with the crate door open) and he slept for 5 hrs!! I’m hoping we can try it tonight with the crate closed then gradually move farther away little by little like you did. (Along with additional crate training during the day.) Thanks for the tips!

  11. My dog whines at the door all night. My dog is a small 3yo Manchester Terrier. She has abyssmal separation anxiety that results in chewing of windowsills and door frames even if one of us is on the front porch out of her line of sight. She cannot be crate trained this far, but that’s next. She will whine and shake, make herself physically ill and make a horrid diarrhea and vomit mess everywhere if left in a large dog crate with a dog bed, blanket, organic grain-free dog food, water, and toys with one of us staying in the same room. It is better to not make this dog get in a crate than clean up a biohazard every day. She was a stray and was abused and run over by a car before we adopted her. She has had a hard painful life and I hate to have to discipline her because she’s been through so much suffering. We just moved to a new house. We are trying to get her to sleep in her big, comfy dog bed with 2 thick blankets in the living room with the heat on. Her dog bed is on the couch. She is allowed on the couch. We tell her jump up in her dog bed and wait till she burrows down and tuck her in with the blankets, reassure her she is ok, and then we try to leave the room.
    We are trying to train her away from sleeping on the bed during the day. My husband worked the night shift and she would burrow on our bed while he slept. She had accidents on our bed while we were in the process of moving, so we decided no more dog on the bed. We have not allowed her in our bedroom in the new house. We got a new comforter to replace the one she had an accident on.
    She whines a very high-pitched whistling, squeaking tone that could wake the dead and it varies the way she does it, like she’s trying to talk. If it was any other dog I would think it was in severe pain, but that’s the kind of whine she makes. She scratches the door while whining, which is a big problem with lead paint dust. Usually I tell her “Go Lay Down” but it doesn’t work. The whining turns into a bone-chilling, teeth grating howl.
    I thought I would try something.
    I put a rug in front of the bedroom door in the hallway. I get out of bed, go to the inside of the bedroom door, and wait for her to stop whining for at least 2 seconds, which rarely happens.
    I open the door and immediately tell her to sit. She doesn’t listen. I turn to the wall and ignore her until she stops whining again. Then I tell her to sit again and she sits and lays down on the rug. Then I give her lots of praise. I am trying to teach that the rug is a quiet zone so she won’t whine while on the rug any more.
    After the rug training, I immediately tell her “Go outside” and wait until she comes back to the door from the fenced in back yard. I let her inside, make her come to the rug and sit, lay down, and be silent, lots of praise. Then I tell her come here to the living room, sit in the living room doorway, praise, then “Go Lay Down” and have her jump in her dog bed and cover her with blankets and lots of praise.
    It is really hard to train this dog because she is so stubborn.
    Sometimes we have to take turns going to the couch and holding her until she curls up and falls asleep, but I worry that it reinforced behavior that a human will always come cuddle you on the couch if you whine the living daylights out of them.

    The good news is, the second time I tried the training protocol, she finally jumped in her dog bed and burrowed down. Success? I hope.
    I haven’t slept in two weeks thanks to her whining. I know it is a lot of new stuff for the dog, but I have to put food on the table and I need sleep in order to do that.

    • This dog has whined and scratched at the door if not let in our room from day 1. She would never sleep on a level lower than us in the same room or in the living room. I am convinced her original owner let her have free reign and never trained her. Also I should mention this dog will chew through a leash in no time flat and cannot be tethered outside. She will even chew through a leash if it is not attached to her collar, just sitting on the car seat while I’m driving. I figure she chewed through a rope and got loose from her original owner and became a stray. She’ll make the neighbors threaten to call animal control with how much whining and screaming she does if left outside alone for more than one minute. She has chewed through every leash any time I try to walk her, so I switched to a chain leash. She tried to chew that, too. I gave this dog a second chance but she has made my life very hard. I had to pay a double pet fee on her to keep her in this new house, $600. For that, her behavior is unbelievably horrid. I am at my wit’s end with this dog but I cannot give in and allow her to sleep on our bed. I fear my husband will let her do that one day and all my training progress will be lost if she gets what she wants.

  12. I have a girlie terrier that’s a pain I the ass. He always whines in his crate and I have to beat the crate for him to stop…. works every time! Sometimes I’ll putvhim out in the cold for awhile and he straighten out

    • That’s not a good way to handle that. Your probably scaring the dog. I know it can be frustrating, but maybe try some different methods that won’t make your dog scared or cold

  13. While on my way to my friend’s house, I saw a small dog running down the highway. So I stopped my car (scared I was gonna run him over) and the moment I opened my door, the little guy jumps in!! He didn’t have a tag on him so I took him to the Animal Shelter and checked him to see if he had a chip. He did have one and instead of leaving him there, I took him home to see if I could find it’s owner. BIG MISTAKE! He ended up peeing on my x-mas tree and was leaving hair EVERYWHERE. So I put him in a corner with a bed and some food, but he just kept whining and whining. I had to put a type of barrier because he kept trying to JUMP over the little fence I put to roam around the house. I honestly don’t know what to do. Every time I tell him to stop whining and move away, he stops. But then he tries to jump again, and has succeded 6x already:(

  14. Tried the ignore it for months that is an idiotic suggestion I am at my wits end with this Jack Russell between chewing up everything and being destructive and whining this is by far the worst dog ever I trained my aussie in no time but this dog won’t learn.

  15. My Aussie is driving me 100% insane with constant whining and barking. I have to crate him if we aren’t up and around in the house bc he marks EVERYTHING!! #atmywittsend

  16. I thought that since I can work from home a few days a week that it would be great for my 2-year old shih tzu. Now he has gotten used to me being there and whines all the time. If he does that and he’s near the door, I let him out to pee. Sometimes he does, and sometimes he doesn’t. I put him in the crate where he can see me and he stops whining. The moment I let him out of the crate, he just goes all over the house and whines. It is really distracting when I’m working. I think he just wants to sit on my lap which is not possible when I’m on a keyboard. If I work upstairs, I used to put him on a chair facing the window and that keeps him quiet. I stopped doing that since each time we’re up there, he vomits from not eating in the morning, or gets excited and pees on the carpet. Letting him upstairs is a logistical nightmare as he has to wear a belly band and I have to make sure he has had something to eat. Thing is, if he figures out I am working at home that day, he would rather be with me than eat, which then of course causes the bile vomiting episodes. I can’t win with this dog.

  17. My dog is 4 now a mini Pincher Chihuahua mix and whines to the point of aggravation. Nothing we do makes him stop if he’s out running around he jumps all in your face and whines. We take him out give him food play with him and still he comes back jumping in our face whining. When he’s in his crate he’s horrible! When you shut the door he gets louder!!!! Telling him to stop or ignoring him doesnt work. He refuses to eat in his cage he will let it sit until you open his cage door seriously and he’s a picky eater also. He has water food comfy bed and even we switch out shirts with our scent for comfort in his cage and still he whines. We can’t just focus on him ever second and its getting to the point of my husband regretting getting him that’s how bad its getting. Please some advice id appreciate it. Ive had dogs all my life and this is the first dog to act like this and everything ive done with my others ive done with him and im out of ideas.

    • try not crating if dog is housebroken and doesn’t chew on furniture. i have had my dog 2 months. he is 10 yr old and quiet. i just shut the bedroom doors to keep him out of those 2 areas. he does well without crating. try it for a few minutes or so at first.

  18. My groodle starts whining about 5:30 am every morning to go for a walk. She foes walk every day – not always at 5:30. She is very loud and vocal. Have tried ignoring and also saying no sternly. She wakes us up and is relentless. This is the only time she whines. It’s getting exhausting and frustrating. Any advice is welcomed thanks in advance

  19. does he really need a crate? I have had my 10 yr old cockapoo 2 months and let him run around when i am gone. just shut the 2 bedroom doors. he is housebroken, doesn’t chew and really doesn’t play with toys. he likes his naps. Maybe try no crate.

  20. 14 months ago we brought a stray home who had apparently been kicked out of several homes who took him in due to bad behavior. At the time we had a female sharpei, 7 years old and a male cat. We tried keeping him outside at night but he would constantly whine and howl. We tried this for 3 nights but the neighbours began to complain so we had to bring him inside. He marked all over the house, chewed couches, tables, collars… basically anything he could find whenever we left the house. The marking continued even when we were home so we had to keep the baby gate on the stairs closed to keep with us upstairs during the night. It got so bad we thought of taking him to a shelter. When our Sharpei died last April he magically became an obedient dog (apart from the constant whining), no more chewing… no more marking…

    A few weeks ago we decided, since it has been so long, to leave the baby gate open during the night. Big mistake. Since then, the marking has started again, anytime he is left alone he will mark (usually under the kitchen table and on the couch). Nothing has changed around the house to alter his behavior… I honestly don’t know what to do.

    Apart from the marking, his constant whining has become unbearable. He whines all day…. As soon as the sun starts coming out he starts. If i get up during the night, if i turn in bed, when the alarm goes off he begins whining. He gets so excited when we get up in the morning he runs up and down, lies on his back all whilst whining. When my husband is in the bathroom, he sits outside the door and whines, he whines when he wants to be fed, when he wants to be walked… He basically whines all the time. Ignoring him doesn’t work.

    I am losing my patience, any advice is welcome.


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