Three-year-old Cockerpoo Baxter whines when the lady goes up the stairs. He whines when they are on the phone. He whines and screams in the car. Baxter whines constantly for attention.

How can they stop the whines?

This has several approaches.

First, get to the bottom of why. This will be a mix of over-arousal and wanting something to happen. It will include habit and unintentional reinforcement.

Could Baxter’s demanding so much attention be because there isn’t enough happening for his busy brain unless he whines?

Pre-empting and calm

They will start to pre-empt the whining with giving him what he may be wanting before he starts. Then it will be quietness that gets the results. This will mean finding a bit more enrichment.

The overall atmosphere needs to be a lot calmer. There are several things the lady in particular can do that will reduce excitement. He whines in eager and ecstatic anticipation of the fuss he’ll get when she comes home, for instance.

Stopping the whining requires making it something that no longer brings results.

Next, they can consider making ‘not whining’ produce results.

Teaching Baxter what they do want.

They can do this with either a clicker or a marker word ‘Yes’ – capturing quiet moments. They can pre-empt whining with ‘Yes’ then food before he starts. When he does whine, instead of telling him to be quiet (which of course doesn’t help at all), they can wait for him to stop briefly. Then capture that moment. Make it rewarding.

One time when he whines that is particularly annoying, is whenever the lady goes upstairs. He follows her up, whining. He would be as bad or worse if he was shut behind.

I suggest a little ploy. First she should teach him to ‘stay’ at the bottom and then call him to join her just after a few steps. I doubt he will whine if he has a job to do.

Next she can get to half way up before calling him. Then to the top. Then a few days later just out of sight before calling him. That way I hope she will break the habit of whining at the bottom of the stairs.

The ‘habit’ aspect.

So much whining will undoubtedly be a habit now. So, they should do all they can to work hard at this. Habits are hard to break.

Baxter is a vocal dog. It’s unreasonable to expect the whining to stop altogether.

They have a challenge with major excitement before getting into the car. He can’t wait to get to his usual destinations which he loves.

A bit of change in routine before going out can reduce the anticipation. He could for instance be put into the car before they get themselves ready.

This is largely about being inventive – and being consistent.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete report. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog, you can do more harm than good. Click here for help