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Canine Behavior/Incessant whining

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Question
Hello Ms. Friedman.

I have a ten-year old, male, neutered, Border Terrier. He lives in my house and I live alone although when he was growing up my husband was alive, and my children were around. It is clear my children and I remain part of his "pack". I regularly have people over for many hours.

He is well fed, always has water and gets walked. We got him as a puppy so he has never been abused (I do not believe in physical reprimands). When I am alone with him he does not whine except for a clear objective ("share your sandwich with me!" or "I need to go out"). Likewise, when my children are here with me he does not whine. We can, for example, watch TV for a few hours and he rests by our feet, hangs out or sleeps nearby. No whining.

But, when I have any person over (a non-pack member) and in the same room with me, even when they stay for hours, he whines incessantly (literally for hours), usually while focused on the person, and not on me--that is the whining is directed at them. There are a number of different people I employ who stay here for hours at a time. They walk him, give him food some play with him a bit and one of them plays with him a lot. His whining is the same towards each one.

However, if the person leaves the room where I am, he stops whining. Likewise, if I leave the room where he is and he is alone with the person, the whining stops.

It is only the combination of me in the same room with the person where he does this. I have tried giving him treats when he is not whining to reinforce that absence of whining, which has had no effect. I have tried saying "no!" when he is whining--which does work, but only for about one minute, at most. It is driving me a bit crazy and is quite unpleasant.

This behavior started at least three years ago, but it has gotten progressively worse. Do you have any notion about what might be the cause here? Any suggestions for what I might try to alleviate it?

Thank you,

Susanne

Answer
I decided to answer this question after all, even though you didn't follow the instructions in my bio, and so, apparently, didn't read it. While I wish you had taken the time, I decided to take the time to respond as I think your question is an interesting behavioral one. I have a few questions of my own before responding more fully:

1. How long has your husband been gone?
2. We're you together with your Border Terrier frequently?
3. What was your dog's relationship like with your husband?
4. When your dog whines, do you allow your dog to stay in the room, focused on the other individual? Have you ever tried removing him (your dog) from the room in which your visitor is?
5. Can you think of anything that might be reinforcing the behavior, such as attention, visitors feeding your dog, etc.?
6. Would you mind reading my bio and agreeing to its terms as described, but only if you fully intend to do what I request?

Madeline

Canine Behavior

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Madeline S. Friedman, M.A.

Expertise

I respond to public questions only. I'm not a veterinarian & do not respond to medical questions.Suggestions: Submit a question in one area of priority, as what I am able to address in this venue is limited. Provide as much detail re: the behavior & issue as you can. Tell me how & if behavior is a change from previous behavior & when the changes occurred. Let me know what you think may have triggered such changes & what you have tried so far to resolve it, & what the results were. Let me know what you want help with & what are your concerns & questions about the behavior. I have set up a payment/donation to myself for responding to questions. I donate most of it to animal shelters & rescues. I keep a small portion for my time. The minimum donation is $25.00 on PayPal. When I see that a donation has been made, I will respond to your question. You will be prompted to make the donation before submitting your question. When you have read & rated my response fairly, which must be at the time you read it, I will refund $5.00 back to you IF YOU REQUEST that I do so in your rating comments. If I ask for more details, please respond as a "follow-up" & not as a new question. If I don't respond to your question, I will refund your donation less $5.00. DO rate me fairly at the end of our exchange. I will be pleased if you DO nominate me for volunteer of the month - why not, if I was generous in my response? I may suggest something you were not necessarily ready to hear, but I am honest in the interest of helping your dog, & that is my goal. Please keep that in mind. Please do NOT contact me privately about Allexperts questions through my e-mail or website unless I have invited you to do so. That is an invasion of my privacy - thank you for respecting it. If you would like to contact me for actual dog training & behavior consulting, you may contact me through my Web site.

Experience

Own & operate dog training & behavior consulting businesses, Hoboken Dog Trainer, and ny-njDogTrainer, in the NYC & NYC Metro areas since 2002. Work with thousands of dog owners & their dogs, & shelter & rescue dogs. Active volunteer in dog shelters and rescues (rescues being "no kill" and shelters being municipality-run urban shelters that can and do euthanize dogs). AllExperts volunteer in "Dogs, Category 701" and "Dog Training" and "Canine Behavior" since 2006. When you submit a question, please make sure it's being submitted in the appropriate category as I volunteer in two different categories. Make sure you agree to the Virtual Contract (the instructions I outline for question submissions) and agree to read and rate my response when I answer in the body of your question. I make donations to various animal non-profits based on YOUR ratings. If you don't rate my response, or rate it unfairly, you have just denied a dog rescue org or shelter a donation. Keep that in mind.

Organizations
Professional Member of APDT for five years Founding Member of Animal Behavior Associates Behavior Education Network Former Board Member of IAABC, appointed by Founder Former Member of IPDTA in Canada Founding member of Behavior Education Network

Publications
Chronicle of the Dog (APDT, peer publication, numerous articles) Popular Dog Series magazine, numerous entries AOL in Everydayhealth.com Tonowanda News Morris County News Vermont News Boston NOW New York A.M. Polo Trace Newsletter The Dodo AOL

Education/Credentials
Counseling Psychology, Caldwell College Animal Science, Rutgers University Master of Arts Degree Permanent New Jersey State Teaching Certification (teach public school and university level) Numerous workshops, lectures, and seminars on dog training and behavior Ongoing self-motivated study in my area of expertise

Awards and Honors
Best Canine Coach Award, 2006, Rondout Valley Instructor's Training Course Society of Illustrators, second place international competition Jellybean Photographics, second place international competition Fashion Institute of Technology "Commitment to Illustration" award

Past/Present Clients
Testimonials from a number of clients appear on my Web site at www.ny-njDogTrainer.com under "Reviews." My customers include: Puppy owners wanting to get their puppies off to the best start; owners of mature dogs who want their dogs to have more obedience skills; fosters and owners of rescue dogs or shelter dogs; customers with special needs who need to train or retrain their dogs; housetraining and housebreaking; owners who have behavioral issues with their dogs such as house accidents, aggression towards humans, aggression towards other animals, inattentive dogs, unmotivated dogs, overly-exuberant dogs; and, more.

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