Barking and whining behaviour (BWB) is complex and can take months rather than weeks to resolve.
BWB has worked for your beagle so far, and they won’t want to give it up easily.
The main hurdle you will have when trying to reduce or eliminate BWB, is the intricate workings of a dog’s brains. They have the same neural pathways as we do, and the more dominate they are, the harder it is to change your dogs behaviour.
But I am getting into the meat of trying to solve the problem without letting you know why your dog is using BWB.
So why do beagles become barkers or whinges?
Well…in a nutshell and without any kind of sugar coating…we have created this problem 🤦♀️🤦♂️
They use BWB because of us! We have created the behaviour. This has nothing to do with your beagle, nor it’s genetics and it’s not broken in anyway. It’s a learned behaviour that now works for your beagle.
But to explain why your beagle exhibits BWB, I need to firstly explain why dog’s don’t exhibit these behaviours within a pack, where they have none or limited human contact.
If a beagle (and this goes for any breed of dog) barks or whines at another dog to get what they want – which in puppies/young adults is mostly attention- the adult beagle/dog will totally ignore them.
When I watch this in my pack it is really obvious. They turn their head and/or body away from the barking/whining beagle and continue to do this by moving there body around in a circle so the barking dog can’t make eye contact.
And they will ignore the BWB for however long it takes for the dog to give up or walk away.
If the attention seeking beagle is persistent, then the other dog would have to change tact and either growl at them or shout at them (it sounds almost like a shriek), whilst lunging in a clear message that the dog is to go away.
After being ignored or told off many times over a course of hours or days, the puppy or young dog would eventually give up their attention seeking barking or whining for good.
So why do dogs ignore this attention seeking barking in their counter parts?
Because not only is it seriously annoying, but it could draw attention from other dog packs or potential predators. And even though our dogs are now domesticated, this is still a very strong instinct in our dogs to ignore attention seeking whining and barking behaviour.
My Daisy Beagle will ignore other dogs who use attention seeking barking. She’ll turn her head away in what I call her “snobby” look.
I have learnt to mimic this behaviour with my daycare and home boarding dogs. It’s fascinating to watch as the young beagle will go to each dog for attention – barking, whining and sometimes trying to lick the dog’s face. And the dog will ignore the beagle. Sometimes the beagle will go to as many as 6 other dogs who will all ignore him in turn. And then he focuses his attention on me!
So I ignore by averting my eyes, ignore the beagles barking or whining, and gently pushing him off me if he tries to jump up or get on my lap. I may have to do this a couple of times before he gets the picture and wanders off.
And my favourite part – which happens every single time – they will eventually lie down and give out a loud ‘huff’ like a stroppy teenager who hasn’t got his own way 😂
So where has it all gone wrong with us humans?
We are not ignore the barking or whining. It’s as simple as that!
And instead encourage it either intentionally or without realising it.
🐾 Who opens the door when their dogs barks to come in?
🐾 Who comforts their whining dog? Or tells them “It’s ok my love, you’re ok.” whilst stroking their dog?
🐾 Who opens a door (like a bathroom door) when their dog is whining on the other side?
🐾 Who opens the crate door when getting home to a puppy or dog who is barking continuously?
🐾 Who gives their dog a little of their food when their dog barks at them at the table?
🐾 Who shouts at their dog who is barking or whining? (It’s still attention to a dog) And this one is subtle but so effective to a dog.
🐾 Who has a stair gate at the bottom of their stairs where their dog whines or barks, because either it wants to go upstairs too or doesn’t like being apart from you, so you come down the stairs whilst the dog is whining or barking and then give it attention?
Your behaviour sends a powerful message to your dog. “If I keep whining or barking she’ll eventually come downstairs and give me attention.”
When I’m training barking or whining dogs, I will stay out of sight upstairs and wait for the dog to stop whining or barking. That’s when I start to come back down the stairs.
But if the dog goes back to whining and barking as I’m coming down the stairs, I turn around and go back up.
I repeat this until the dog is no longer reacting when I come down the stairs. And then I ignore the dog as I come through the stair gate and for a few minutes after.
Then when the dog is quiet I’ll then give them a cuddle and love.
This then changes the messages in the brain to:
🐾 my human only comes back when I’m quiet.
🐾 I don’t get any attention when my human comes back, so there is no point me sitting by the stair gate, and I’ll just stay curled up on the sofa.
In the beginning of retraining your dog it might only be seconds of quiet that you are looking out for. This is when you must be like a viper and react.
For example: A dog who barks nonstop at the back door to be let in.
Stand by the back door not looking at your dog but waiting for that second of silence.
Then as quickly as you can, open the door when your dog is quiet.
You may have to do this for a few days, just waiting for that second of silence.
But then you can increase the time when it feels right. Don’t open the door until a full 5/10 seconds of quiet. Then increase to 30 seconds, then a minute.
Keep this up. You might have to do this for a couple of weeks before eventually your dog sits at the back door without any barking at all to be let in.
You can use this same practice for any kind of barking or whining.
But be warned. When you start this training it is very likely your dog’s barking and whining is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. It doesn’t want to give up this behaviour as it’s worked for them for so long. Also they may get anxious that their usual behaviour isn’t working. It’s imperative you keep it up. But if you really feel that your dog is too anxious and stressed, please video their behaviour and I’ll check it out for you
If your dog barks in the house or garden you can use the technique – timeout. Which I will explain how to use in my next blog.
Thanks for reading.