Nipping it in the bud!

I remember as a child being one to "push my parent's limits," especially in new situations. I'm not sure if it's because I knew they were taking into account everything going on instead of just a normal day at the house, but I seemed to like to press my luck during things out of the ordinary. For example, whenever we took a trip to a relative's house it was very easy for me to be quite the nuisance for attention because 1) we weren't at home (often on a multiple hour car ride actually) so there was no "room" to send me to and 2) my relatives would often give into my attention seeking shenanigans because they don't see me often. 

Here's the most common occurrence, if I remember clearly: Myself and my sister in the back seat whining that that we're hungry. My mom has packed plenty of snacks in the car for us, but since we are on the road WE felt like we should be eating glorious fast food (we rarely ate fast food except for when we traveled). So, the chorus went something like this (in the most annoying kid voice you can imagine): "Hungryyyyyy, I want McDonald's, I want, I want, I want....blah blah blah." 

If we went to McDonald's, my sister and I got what we wanted and my parents reinforced that we can do all of that and get what we want.

When my parents ignored me, I would get louder (did they HEAR me????) and more annoying. 

When my mom would try and negotiate with me ("Honey, there are apples in the cooler") my whines would get even more desperate for "real food" and "how that isn't lunch." I would continue to harp at my parents in the front seats. Negotiation wasn't the answer.

It wasn't until a consequence was laid down (a believable one, because when my dad said it he meant it and did it!) that I would shut my trap. For us, we were outdoorsy children, and one of our favorite things to do when we visited my grandmother was go to a local wildlife state park and look at the wolves and foxes. So when our chorus of annoying noise wouldn't stop, my dad would say: "If you don't stop whining, we will not visit Reflection Riding the whole trip and you will stay in the house the whole time." And that was all it took--we shut up! In the past we'd thought we'd play the game and keep whining to see what happened, and he'd right away say "Ok, I told you. We're not going." We didn't get to do a thing we wanted, because my dad was serious and consistent about his consequences. My sister and I learned quickly to cut it out if he told us to, and when we started our whine games on future trips he quickly gave us our options and didn't wait until we were screaming! 

When your dog is about to start with pushy, attention seeking, and complaining whining behavior, save yourself and your dog some time by nipping it in the bud and interrupting/correcting it at the start. When your dog understands there is consequence for the behavior, they quickly learn that all of "that" is not how you get what you want. It's better for you to address the nonsense quickly and consistently at the first moments of the behavior, because the longer you negotiate or ignore it, the harder and longer they are "working it" (making it much harder to stop)! They have been conditioned over time to think that's what works, and that you've never really stopped them before, so why should they believe you are now? The quicker and more consistently you disagree with those behaviors and stop the escalation, the more consistently your dog will not push those buttons. Owners, kids, dogs, and parents are all much happier when the whining is done! :)