Dog Gone Problems is a weekly advice column by David Codr, a dog behaviorist in Omaha. David answers dog behavior questions sent in by our readers. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a 9-week-old puppy from a litter I had. She is OK in the kennel at night, but when I put her in a play area with her mom she whines. What can I do about it?
First off, my compliments on your kennel training. Usually when I get this question, it's the opposite. The dog is calm in the play area and whines when left in the kennel. To start, let's talk about a few housecleaning items.
First, make sure the play area — we call it a long-term confinement area — is in a room that is used frequently and not in a separated, unfinished room such as a basement or furnace room. For dogs, being separated from the group can be a punishment.
Second, make sure the play area is somewhat quiet. If you set it up in a family room or area where the puppy can see you, she may be whining for attention. I usually suggest setting up the play area in a space such as a bedroom or den.
Third, make sure there are plenty of good chew and play items in the play area. We call this enrichment. You should have an assortment of different types of toys. Click here to see some examples and more information.
Finally, make sure the puppy isn’t whining to tell you she needs to go potty. If in doubt, take her out and give her up to five minutes to go potty. After that, be sure to take her out before putting her in the play area.
Be sure to avoid taking the puppy out when she starts to whine. This very easily can turn into an unintentional training scenario: “I whine and my human comes and rescues me/lets me out. Whining must be the way to ask to get out of the play area."
Puppies are forming behavior patterns for everything they do. The more they do something — good or bad — the more likely they are to do it again. So the more your puppy whines — provided it's not for the reasons listed above — the more likely she is to continue this behavior.
I'd suggest you start being strategic about when you put the puppy in the play area. Start out with times she's tired, such as after puppy class or play time. Get into the play area yourself with a book or tablet so you can read or watch something while you sit with the puppy. This should help her stay calm and relaxed and, as odd as it sounds, practice not whining while she's there.
I'd start stacking up a series of fun and happy experiences in the area, too. Give her high-value chew items such as a Bully Bite, cow knees, ears, plush toys, etc. All of these will be very desirable for your puppy. One important thing to note is you shouldn't allow her to take the chew items or toys out of the play area. If the only place she get it is the play area, it becomes more desirable.
Once your puppy has enough positive experiences in the play area, it should become a positive, happy place she will enjoying being in without whining.
Good luck and remember — everything you do trains your dog. Only sometimes you mean it.
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Karen Windle, copy editor
We’re Bruce and Ernie (left). We love sneaking raw bacon off the kitchen counter, lounging around the house naked, er, without our collars and making friends with deer. (The deer *love* to play tag, but for some reason we’re always “it.”)
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If you're an avid reader of the World-Herald, maybe you've heard of Cooper. Features reporter Chris Peters has written about raising Cooper. Here he is on the custom pallet bed his mom built for him.
Chris Peters, features reporter
At left is Daisy. Her best friend is a reindeer, who comes to visit a few weeks each year. She complains a lot to the non-magical beings she lives with, for obvious reasons. At right is Diaz. He's a handsome boy who doesn't care about that. He loves walks and belly rubs, all people, most dogs, one cat, and zero racoons and opossums.
Rich Mills, copy editor
At the Ducey Farm in Dundee, we have the blackshirt gals who guard the back yard (Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt), and the chickens who help me garden (Brooklyn and Penny). They produce eggs and inspire pillows for the cutest and most fashionable dogs in the world (Phoebe, Gigi and cousin Tyson), who love to bark at the feral cats (Bunny and Butterscotch) who live outside and have matching tails!
Marjie Ducey, reporter
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Cory Gilinsky, features (and Sarah Jarecki, civilian)
Gracie the border collie and Beau the red heeler like long walks and frequent car rides, especially to drive-thrus that give treats.
Deb Shanahan, metro desk editor, and Kent Sievers, photographer
Isabel doesn’t enjoy her humans (especially the little ones) a lot, but sometimes likes a good chin scratch. Mostly she enjoys being left alone to sit on top of the piano and watch the birds outside.
Kevin Coffey, music critic
Izzy is 6 months old. She likes to chase her tail (and often catches it), climb up couches (and people), and bother Zake. Zake is 15 years old and unsure of Izzy. After all, Izzy has the high ground.
Zach Tegler, copy desk
Jameson may be named after whiskey, but this five-year-old gal is all sweetness. At first skittish after being rescued from a farm in Oklahoma, now her favorite hobby is stealing hearts — and covers.
Laurel Foster, online
We say Juni found us after my wife was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. This little Havaton brings our family joy, love and snuggles every day.
Jeff Robb, news reporter/data geek
Laika is, hands down, the happiest dog at the dog park. She is named after the heroic Russian cosmonaut dog, one of the first animals in space. Ciara loves to pray. When she joins our family in prayer, she sounds like Scooby Doo. She is fiercely loyal and protective.
Susan Szalewski, copy editor and news reporter
Lolo was adopted seven years ago in Louisiana. She's a mutt, and we think she's part nutria, otherwise known as a swamp rat.
Hunter Paniagua, digital sports coordinator
Minerva is a very hard worker. Two-year-old "Minnie" likes to spend her time cleaning, inspecting boxes and bird watching. (And looking adorable.)
Brandon Olson, digital content hub editor
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Betsie Freeman, features reporter
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This is Oliver. He has three legs and a bullet permanently lodged in him. (We didn't put it there). He pretends like he's surly and tough but deep down he's very snuggly.
Roseann Moring, political reporter
Loves tuna, SBH and
A fireside nap
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I'm Sasha. I was a stray in Oklahoma (where my ear was somehow torn) before a shelter rescued me & treated my heartworm. I just tested negative for heartworm, yay! I really like to play dead & get belly rubs!
Alia Conley, news reporter
Slugger, owned by the original Pet Parade Petitor in Chief and saved by Big Red Rescue in Omaha, chases his tail faster to his right than to his left. He ate a hole in the blinds to watch his owner come and go.
Steven Elonich, online editor
Toby is a 4-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix with a big personality. Given the protective tendencies of his breed, he’s very serious about watching over his property — and his owners. Until he isn’t.
Dave Elsesser, features editor, and RyAnne Elsesser
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Boston Terriers, Willow, 8, and Dexter, 6, have a closet full of costumes, sweaters, scarves and even some pajamas. They only sit this nicely for photos because there are LOTS of treats involved – but really – they are crazy little puppies!
Tammy Yttri, copy desk chief
Nine years ago, we found Zed roaming the earth (it was a ruff life). He’s a good boy. He likes his toy lobster, pepperonis (which we call pupperonis) and keeping up with his fans at Zedwin.org.
Graham Archer, digital editor
Hi, my name is Zeus, I an eight-year-old American Eskimo looking to get back in the game. They say I am fixed, but I think my only problem is you aren’t in my life. I love long walks and treats. I want someone to chase squirrels with. Won’t you paw right?
Chris Machian, photographer