Since taking my gundog pigeon shooting, I’ve noticed that if he is told to sit for any length of time, he whines. How can I stop this?
We often get asked about how to deal with a whining dog and how to prevent it in the first place. The first thing to note is that gundog whining and whining dogs in general is common and not something you should worry yourself about to much. We say don’t worry to much but it is something that you need to deal with sooner rather than later.
Most gundog owners who are having to deal with a whining dog often think that they are at risk of being expelled from a shoot or even a training class. We’ve never heard of a man and his dog (or a woman for that matter) being asked to leave a shoot because their gundog is whining.
My gundog didn’t whine before!
In the case of a gundog that was previously quiet but has now suddenly started whining can cause more worry and frustration than one that has been whining from the day you brought him home. As we said earlier, it’s important to note first that whining in gundogs and dogs in general is common so keep calm!
Whining in any dog often first appears towards the end of their first year so most dogs will have previously been ‘quiet’. Depending on where your gundog whines should give you a first indication as to the reason. The majority of dogs that whine at home are doing this out of frustration whereas a gundog that whines whilst participating in a training class or on a shoot is more than likely going to be due to over excitement.
How can we cure it?
Like we said earlier, it’s best to ‘nip’ this behaviour in the bud early on. A gundog that has already established a behaviour of whining in the field is usually considered almost impossible to cure. This is why many gundog owners and trainers alike will make all attempts to deal with the issue very early on. This is not to suggest that you can’t change the dogs behaviour but the odds are not in your favour. If you believe you may have an established whiner, we suggest you try the prevention tips and exercises below whilst you’re on the phone to a professional dog behaviorist. It’s impossible to tell whether or not your gundog is an established whiner simply by looking at him. The only way to really tell if your dog is an established whiner is to simply complete the prevention exercises over and over again with the support of a dog behaviorist. If your dog does not respond, then you have a big problem on your hands.
Prevention is better than cure
Just because you have prevented whining in your own home doesn’t mean to say that it won’t occur in the field. Whining at home and in the field is often caused by two complete different reasons as we talked about earlier. The most important strategy you can follow is to ensure that you and anyone who has access to your dog understands that there should be no reward following a period of whining. When we talking about rewards, we’re not merely talking about a bone, treat or praise but anything that could be remotely identified by your dog as positive. It’s important though that you do not create an environment where you dog becomes scared of you as this will not help things at all.
If your gundog whines…
- don’t make eye contact with him after first having told him off
- leave him where he is and remove yourself from the room
- delay anything he may consider positive such as allowing him out of his crate or through the living room door etc.
There are other strategies you can try also such as:
- Identify whining triggers and work on them
- Reward silence wherever possible
- Introduce stimulating activities such as putting their dinner in a kong
- Punish whining but do not scare your dog