My Dog Whines While He Waits in Position. Should I Correct Him?

QUESTION:

Does whining while in a particular command position cause for correction? I know from “Crazy in the Crate” and “Crazy in the Car” on your DVDs that whining should be corrected. But if my dog is in, say, the down position yet still whining, should I correct him?

While watching your DVDs, I noticed one of your dogs was whining a bit, but you didn’t correct try to stop him. This was when you had Izzy in a “Down” while you explained weaning your dog off of the training lines. Any help on this subject would be greatly appreciated as this is the main issue with my dog at this stage of his training. Thank you.

 

ANSWER:

Thanks for your inquiry. To some degree, whining doesn’t need correcting as long as the dog is fully obeying the command for the length expected – for example, if the whining is mild to medium in intensity but your dog is maintaining a proper “Down” position as per my DVD instruction. However, if the whining is overly excessive then I would certainly correct the dog.

Some dogs are simply more vocal than others. Often these are high-energy dogs and their mild to medium whining is a sort of “release” of this energy while they are waiting in position. Izzy was definitely one of these high-energy dogs. However, excessive whining is likened to rebellious protest and needs to be dealt with accordingly (as per my DVDs).

Izzy was a constantly excited, task-oriented dog. He liked to be asked to do things and once he completed one (e.g. fetch an object), he was eager to get onto the next. This was no excuse for disobedience, though. He needed to be taught to obey a long “Down/Stay” command, for example, just as much as any other dog.

You need to be very watchful of these kinds of potentially vocal, high-energy dogs. They often not only whine while in position, but they also tend to be “squirmy.” That is, they might try to wriggle their way out of position, roll onto their backs with their belly exposed, crawl their way toward you, paw at your legs, etc. There are all kinds of ways they might try to get out of containing their energy for the length of time you’re asking of them.

My overall advice to people with these kinds of dogs is to be patient with them and simply keep correcting them back into position (always remembering my Golden Rule – DVD #1 – about the level of corrections). They’ll eventually accept the fact that you’re not going to put up with any nonsense. These dogs absolutely have the ability to do what you’re asking of them – it just takes extra effort on their part to consciously decide to exercise self-control.

Also be mindful to increase the command waiting time in smaller increments than you would for a more patient and/or lower-energy dog. If you suddenly jump from, say, asking your dog to wait in a “Down” position for 15 seconds to 5 minutes, you’re going to be inviting trouble. Very gradually build up to the longer wait times I talk about on my DVDs, and don’t progress to a more advanced stage until your dog is clearly coping well with the stage you’re working on.

– Don Sullivan, “The DogFather”

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