Are dogs sad when they look out the window?
Whining is one of many forms of canine vocal communication. Dogs most commonly whine when they’re seeking attention, when they’re excited, when they’re anxious or when they’re trying to appease you.
Why Do Dogs Whine?
Some dogs whine excessively when interacting with people and other dogs, usually while adopting a submissive posture (e.g., tail tucked, body lowered, head down, gaze averted).
Some dogs whine during greetings. This kind of vocalization is usually motivated by excitement and may be directed at dogs or people.
Some dogs whine in the presence of their owners in order to get attention, rewards or desired objects.
Some dogs whine in response to stressful situations. In this context, whining sometimes seems involuntarily.
Other Problems That Might Cause Whining
If your dog only whines just before you leave or during your absence, she may have separation anxiety. If this is the case, your dog will usually display at least one other symptom of the disorder prior to your departure or when left alone, such as pacing, panting, excessive drooling, destruction (especially around doors and windows), urinating or defecating indoors, depression or other signs of distress. For more information about this problem, please see our article, Separation Anxiety.
Injury or Medical Condition
Dogs often whine in response to pain or a painful condition. If you notice that your dog vocalizes frequently or has suddenly started to vocalize, it’s important to take her to the vet to rule out medical causes.
What to Do About Excessive Whining
Dogs can try to appease people or other dogs when they perceive a threat or aggression being directed at them. Appeasement behaviors include holding the ears back, tucking the tail, crouching or rolling over on the back, avoiding eye contact or turning the body sideways to the perceived threat. Appeasement whining is also a normal canine behavior. You may be able to reduce your dog’s appeasement whining by building her confidence. Try taking her to an obedience class that uses reward-based training techniques. You and your dog can also try trick-training classes or dog sports like agility, flyball and musical freestyle (a combination of heeling and tricks performed to music). Playing fun, interactive games with your dog, like tug and fetch, can increase your dog’s confidence. Avoid physical and verbal punishment. Avoid physical and verbal punishment. Intimidating your dog will only decrease her confidence level and may increase appeasement whining.
Whining During Greetings
If your dog whines when greeting people, you can divert her attention to her favorite toys. Simply telling your dog to be quiet during greetings usually isn’t effective because, unless you’ve taken specific steps to teach your dog what the word “Quiet” means, she won’t understand you. Additionally, most dogs whine when greeting people because they’re excited, and in an extremely aroused state, they may not have control over their behavior. Instead, use management procedures to help prevent your dog from becoming overly excited. For example, downplay greetings, keeping them short and simple. Avoid speaking in excited, loud tones, and keep your movements slow and calm. Wait to pet and interact with your dog until she’s less excited. It may also help to teach her to do something you’d like her to do instead of whining, such as sitting or hand targeting when she greets you or other people. Your dog may whine a lot less if she’s busy performing some other, more polite behavior instead.
How to Teach Hand Targeting
Try teaching your dog to touch an outstretched palm with her nose during greetings to help her stay calm.
- Hold your outstretched palm right in front of your dog’s face, and wait for her to touch it with the tip of her nose. Don’t say anything. Just wait. If she isn’t paying attention at all, you can say her name to get her focused on you, but don’t say anything else and don’t move your hand toward your dog. Your touching your palm to her nose won’t help teach her to move her nose toward your palm. If your dog doesn’t touch your hand at first, you can try removing it and then presenting it again, or moving it side to side in front of her face, or rubbing a treat on your palm to encourage your dog to sniff it. As soon as you feel your dog’s nose touch your palm, say “Yes!” and feed her a small treat from your other hand.
- When your dog touches your palm reliably 9 out of 10 times in a row, start to present your hand in different places. Hold it out to the side of your dog’s face, down toward the floor and a few inches away so that your dog has to move toward it to make contact. Finally, hold your palm up above her head so she has to reach up to touch it. Always remember to say “Yes!” as soon as you feel your dog’s nose make contact with your hand, and then feed her a treat.
- When your dog touches your hand 9 out of 10 times in a row, regardless of where you’re holding it, then introduce a cue or command for the behavior, such as, “Say hello.” First say the cue then present your hand and wait for your dog to touch it. When she does, say “Yes!” and give her a treat.
- Incorporate your dog’s friends and family into the training. Practice her new skill in a variety of places: your home, a friend’s home and on the street during leash walks. Ask friends who your dog knows and likes and who walk along your regular route and stop to greet your dog so she can practice hand targeting with them. Remember to keep rewarding her when she responds correctly.
- The next step is to generalize the training to people your dog doesn’t know. In advance, tell a friend who’s never met your dog what to do when meeting her. Then invite the person to your home or arrange to meet while you’re taking a walk with your dog. During the meeting, if the stranger presents his or her hand and your dog seems confused, help her out. Remind her what to do by asking her to touch your hand first a few times. Then ask the stranger to try again.
- From this point on, if someone wants to greet your dog, either in your home or out in the world, explain that he or she should simply put out a hand and wait for your dog to approach. You can cue your dog by saying, “Say hello.” After your dog touches the person’s hand with her nose, she’ll turn back to you for her treat. In the event that the person ignores your request and reaches out to pat your dog, she should feel relatively relaxed because she’s expecting the person to extend a hand to be touched!
- Be careful not to reward your dog if she performs this new behavior when you haven’t asked her to do so by at least raising your hand to her. Some dogs can get pushy and will approach people to touch their hands, even when the people do not want to interact. Reward your dog for touching only when you’ve given the cue.
If your dog uses whining behavior to seek attention, rewards or desired objects, you need to teach her that remaining quiet is a better strategy. Sometimes reducing attention-seeking whining may be difficult because owners may unwittingly reinforce the behavior. Realize that any eye contact, touching or talking to your dog—even if you’re scolding her—all constitute attention. Use dramatic body language such as turning away from your dog or folding your arms across your chest and completely ignore her to indicate to your dog that her attention-seeking whining won’t work.
In addition to not reinforcing whining behavior, you need to reward your dog for being quiet. Teach your dog that she must always be quiet before receiving your attention, play or treats. Regularly seek out your dog to give her attention and rewards when she’s not whining. When your dog understands that silence works well to get your attention, she won’t feel as motivated to whine.
Don’t hesitate to contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) in your area. Many CPDTs offer group or private classes that can give you and your dog lots of great skills to learn and games to play that will reduce her appeasement whining, whining during greetings and attention-seeking whining.Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate a CPDT in your area.
Whining as a result of anxiety is difficult to eliminate unless the cause of anxiety is removed. Anxious whining is usually accompanied by other nervous behaviors, such as pacing, circling and licking. Many anxious dogs do not seem able to control their whining when under extreme stress.
Some medications may help reduce your dog’s anxiety. Consult a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) to learn more about anti-anxiety medications. Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about locating one of these professionals.) Do not give your dog any kind of medication for a behavior problem unless directed to do so by a veterinarian.
Does Your Dog Need A Window With A View?
If you have a dog that perches in the window, peacefully soaking up the sun like a cat while calmly watching the world go by, then you are one of the lucky 1%. (Facts may be over-dramatized to make a point.) These beautifully curious dogs are totally unaffected by all that is happening on the other side of the glass, never barking or showing any signs of hyper-activity what-so-ever. (That 1% is sounding right on the money right about now.)
Unfortunately, I rarely find this to be the case.
Some dogs discover their lookout-station (window sills, backs of sofas, etc.) on their own while others have their perch created for them by their guilt-ridden humans who hate to have to leave their dog home alone. Owners who fall into this category feel like giving their dog a view makes life better for him. But does it? In most cases this could not be farther from the truth. The dog sitting on his perch barking at the mailman, cats, cars and neighbors not only feels frustrated, but also, in many cases, an increased sense of responsibility. As humans, we know that both frustration and an added sense of responsibility both fall under the umbrella of stress. No fun!
Think of it like this. If you were anything like I was as a child you got sent to your room for misbehaving. It was called being grounded or punished. Having a window with a view of friends playing outside while being locked up in the bedroom would actually increase the punishment, not lessen it. This increases frustration.
Then there’s the territorial aspect of it. Territorial dogs will only see the window as another medium to alert them of who is encroaching on their turf which forces them to be on high alert all day long. This increases their territorial responsibility.
Both of these mental states cause elevated stress hormone levels, which is just as bad for dogs as it is for humans. And, if we look at this situation in terms of maintaining a balanced home where the dog respects his humans, it can also throw things off. A dog that has too many responsibilities can have an inflated sense of authority as well. The dog may start to think of himself as self-employed rather than working for a family where the humans are in charge.
So, if this has made you realize that you need to take away your dog’s view, don’t feel badly about it. Shut those drapes, close those blinds, take away that perch and know that you are actually giving your dog a gift by lowering his sense of responsibility and frustration — hence lowering stress levels.
You can always alleviate those feelings of guilt by taking him for more walks, joining an agility class or taking Fido with you whenever possible.
Window seats are only for the 1% of those dogs who can totally relax and enjoy the view.
-Chad Culp, Certified Dog Trainer and Canine Behavior Consultant
© Thriving Canine, 2013
Why does my dog look out the window?
If your dog has been looking out the window a lot, this post will show you likely reasons why and what you can do about them.
So, why does my dog look out the window? Likely reasons why your dog looks out the window are that it can hear or see people or animals outside or that your dog wants to go outside.
There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog looks out the window and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are a number of things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are a number of things you can do about it.
Why does my dog look out the window?
Below are likely reasons why your dog looks out the window and what would make each of them more likely.
Your dog wants to go outside
A likely reason why your dog looks out the window is that your dog wants to go outside. This would be a lot more likely if your dog wants to go outside when you approach the window and if it stays by a window that normally gets out through.
Your dog hears or sees animals outside
Another likely cause is that your dog can hear or see animals outside. This would be a lot more likely if your dog does it at a time when you are able to hear or see animals yourself.
There is a problem inside
Another possible cause is that there is an issue inside. The problem could be that the room it normally stays in is too hot, loud or bright. This would be more likely if your dog has started looking out the window more since there was a change in the home.
Your dog simply likes how it feels by the window
It could also be the case that your dog likes the way it feels by the window. This would be a lot more likely if it is slightly cooler by the window due to some air getting through the vents.
It is being protective
The cause could also be that your dog is being protective. This would be more likely if your dog tends to bark outside the window and if it does it when there are a lot of people or animals outside the window. It would also be a lot more likely if you happen to live on a busy street.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
If your dog has always looked out the window
If your dog did not always look out the window, it would help to consider what else happened when your dog first started doing it. If your dog started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as a change in the environment inside or because your dog started hearing, smelling or seeing animals outside.
The timing of when your dog sits by the window
If there is a certain time that your dog tends to look out the window, it would also help to consider the timing. For example, if it only does it during the daytime, when people are walking past, it would be a lot more likely that your dog is looking at the people. In this case, it could help to get your dog to stay in a quiet room where it is less able to see and hear the people walking past.
What to do about your dog looking out the window
Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.
Let it do it
If your dog seems to be doing it simply because it likes the way it feels by the window, one option would be to simply let your dog continue doing it.
Limit potential problems inside
It would also help to limit possible issues inside such as by letting it stay in a part of the house that is less noisy, cooler and where it cannot see people outside.
Why does my dog look out the window at night?
If your dog only seems to look out the window at night, the cause could be that it can hear or see animals outside or that it is sitting there because it likes the way it feels by the window.
Why does my dog look out the window when I leave?
If your dog only seems to look out the window when you are leaving, the most likely cause is that your dog has some separation anxiety.
Why does my dog look out the window and whine?
If your dog looks out the window and whines, the cause is likely to be that it wants to go outside or that it can hear and see people outside.