Barking and Whining

Much of a dog's communication is through silent body language, but canines have plenty of vocal abilities at their disposal as well. Some dogs use their vocal repertoire freely, to the distress of their humans. “How do I stop him from barking?” is a frequently asked question.

Controlling Barking

Dogs bark in response to goings-on in their environment (company arriving, a dog going by on the street, a squirrel perching in a tree), because they're bored and it's something to do, or because they've learned it gets attention. Yelling at your dog is not only futile; it may actually work against you. From the dog's point of view, you're joining in with raising the alert, so it's confirmed that there is something to bark about.

Many people are happy to have a dog alert them to someone approaching the house, and Yorkshire terriers excel at this watchdog function. But they'd like the barking to stop relatively quickly. This is something you can work on through training.

Try to enlist a friend to help, so you can predict when barking will happen and be ready for it. If it's someone ringing the doorbell or walking past with a dog that sets your dog off, set up that situation. Have some really good treats at your disposal. When your dog reacts and starts barking, wait for her to be quiet for a split second (she does have to inhale at some point), and offer her one of your treats. She has to stop barking to eat. Your helper should disappear as quickly as possible so your dog doesn't feel compelled to start barking again.

When you begin to have a little control — the dog barks, but looks to you for that yummy treat — say some cue that will be your signal to the dog to stop barking. “Thank you” works nicely. Then give the treat. With practice, you can have a dog that barks at something, but runs to you for a treat when you say “Thank you.”

Controlling Whining

Whining can mean various things. First, be sure that it doesn't indicate pain or physical distress. This form would generally exhibit itself as soft, almost continuous whining. Seek veterinary attention if this occurs.

The other reasons for whining are usually fairly apparent — a crated dog wants to be let out or a dog sitting by the table during dinner wants some of your food. If you succumb to the whining and give your Yorkie what he wants, you will encourage him to whine some more the next time. Instead, pay no attention to your Yorkie when he is whining. It may go on for some time, but wait it out. Because most whining is directed at getting attention of one sort or another, keeping your attention away from your Yorkie is the best response. Wait until he's quiet to let him out of the crate. And don't feed him from the table at all.

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