The Case of the Whining Greyhound

Michael Baugh CPDT-KA, CDBC

(from all things dog blog):

I have a situation I’d like to submit for the Ask a Trainer posts. My dog, Desmond, whines nearly all night long.

He’s sleeps in our bedroom, in his own large dog bed, right next to our bed. He has a blanket and a pillow, too. When it’s bedtime, he starts out fine, sleeping away no problem, but a few hours later, he starts whining and doesn’t stop.

At first, we were getting up to see what was wrong. We tried taking him out to the yard to go to the bathroom, but that’s never it. We’ve also tried simply ignoring him to make him stop, but that works only some of the time–and only after quite a while of him whining 45+ minutes. The only thing that makes him stop is when we pet him for a little while and/or recover him with his blanket. Even then, he sleeps for only a few hours and then starts whining again. We’ve also tried a nightlight, but it didn’t change anything.

Sometimes on weekends we let him sleep in our bed withus, and then he almost never whines. We don’t want him in our bed on a regular basis.

What’s his problem? Is he cold? Does he miss us? Is he scared? Is he just not tired enough (He goes out for a 30-minute walk/run every morning and we try to take him out for another 30 minutes after work but sometimes it doesn’t happen. We also play with him in the yard/house.)?

He’s 18 months old. Greyhound mix. We’ve had him almost 6 months. He’s done this almost the entire 6 months! We’re exhausted. Please help us!

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Dear Greyhound owner:

You present an interesting case, and a perfect one for helping us all understand how behavior works.

First, rule out any medical causes. As it turns out, most of the cases I handle don’t have medical causation. Nevertheless, we always want to make sure the dog isn’t in any discomfort or pain.

Second, identify the behavior you want to change. This may seem like a no-brainer, but in some cases it takes a bit of thought. My guess is that in Desmond’s case you want to change the whining behavior. Keep in mind behavior is an action, something your dog is doing. Waking up and whining.

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