Whippet Behaviour Problems & 5 Free Training Tips

Whippet Behaviour Problems

Whippet Behaviour Problems are often related to their strong chase instinct, which can make them difficult to manage around cats and other small animals. Similarly, successfully training a Whippet requires understanding how they like to play, encouraging them to do so and employing tasty treats if they are food-motivated.

Whippets generally have a laid-back and sweet temperament but, from time to time, there have been some behavioural issues reported. The best way to deal with most Whippet behaviour problems is with love, patience, and some positive training and handling.

In this guide, we’ll discuss 5 of the common Whippet Behaviour Problems, the Whippet’s personality and training tips for this aristocratic breed.

What Are Common Whippet Behaviour Problems?

whippet temperament
Whippet Behaviour Problems tend to surface when a dog is bored.

1.   Digging

Whippets can get into the bad habit of digging (they may dig their beds, your sofa, or even your yard) because they find it fun and also because it gets them your attention.

How to deal with it

  • When you catch your Whippet in the act, distract them with a toy or tasty treat. 
  • Don’t leave your Whippet outside unattended as digging is rewarding and allowing the rehearsal of this behaviour will only make it happen more often.
  • If possible, give your Whippet a designated sandbox where s/he can go to town with digging. You can also make a game out of it by burying your pet’s treats or toys.
  • Praise your pet when it uses the designated area for digging. This will help them understand where it is OK and not OK to dig.

2.   Chewing/Destroying Things 

discipline a whippet
Being sighthounds; the chase is often a popular energy outlet for Whippets.

Whippets are known to destroy or chew things like toys, furniture, garden items, pillows or bed linen. This is usually seen in Whippets having separation anxiety or those who don’t get adequate exercise.

These Whippet Behaviour Problems can be dangerous since a sock or toy could cause intestinal blockage in your pet.

How to deal with it

  • If you catch your pet chewing something, take it away and replace it with approved chew toys. Praise your pet when it gnaws on the approved toy.
  • Make sure your Whippet gets plenty of exercise – a tired dog is often a calmer dog.
  • If your Whippet has separation anxiety, enrol it in doggy day-care or hire a pet sitter to watch your pet. Unless they are crate trained, avoid leaving your Whippet alone for more than 3-4 hours at a time.
  • If possible, crate-train your Whippet.

3.   Not Coming When Called

whippets difficult dogs
A strong recall is important for all dogs, particularly dogs that like to chase. If your Whippet doesn’t have a strong recall, it should be kept leashed at all times when out in public.

Many Whippet Behaviour Problems stem from a stubborn or independent streak. They are smart dogs that may know what you want them to do but they might still refuse to do it or choose to do something totally different.

How to deal with it

  • Always praise your Whippet when it comes to you. This will teach it that coming to you is “fun” and rewarding.
  • Use the word “COME’ instead of just saying your dog’s name. Saying your pet’s name alone won’t help it understand what you want it to do and many owners over-use their pet’s name, meaning it loses its value to the dog over time.
  • You can also try moving away while asking your Whippet to come to you. This should prompt it to come to you. Once it does, praise and reward it.

4.   Pulling on the Leash

whippet behaviour
Whippets benefit from learning loose-leash walking skills which can help keep them focussed on their owner amidst distractions.

Many Whippet Behaviour Problems are related to their strong prey drive which may cause them to chase after rabbits, cats or other dogs on their walks. Always keep your pet on a leash unless you’re in an enclosed area.

How to deal with it

  • Train your Whippet to walk nicely on the leash from a young age. Otherwise, pulling on the leash can become a problem.
  • Keep the leash short but loose.
  • Have an attention noise that you use to get your Whippet’s attention, when they look back towards you, say “yes” and feed a treat.
  • Repeat.
  • After a few days, your Whippet will know that they get rewarded when they walk next to you and focus on you, resulting in them receiving a treat or praise.

5.   Separation Anxiety

whippet excessive greeting disorder
Whippets can suffer from Excessive Greeting Disorder which can be exacerbated by separation anxiety.

When your Whippet gets anxious each time you leave, you must teach them to feel calm and confident in your absence. Crate training can be a great way to increase your Whippet’s independence and calmness through the provision of passive calming activities. Whippets with separation anxiety tend to urinate indoors, bark excessively, or even chew up things.

How to deal with it

  • Give your pet a toy. Leave it for 5 to 10 minutes, then come back.
  • Do not make a big deal out of leaving and returning. Be calm when you go and return.
  • Crate train your buddy although this may not work for severe anxiety cases.
  • Speak to a dog and vet behaviourist, some dogs benefit from medication to help them overcome separation anxiety. Medication to reduce anxiety, along with the implementation of a behaviour modification plan can be transformational.
  • As mentioned above, enrol your dog in day-care or hire a dog walker/pet sitter to come and check on your Whippet every few hours.

6. Whippet Excessive Greeting Disorder

when do whippets calm down
Whippets like other breeds benefit from calmness training – rewarding calmness and offering passive calming activities throughout their days, can help calm them down.

Whippet Excessive Greeting Disorder is a common personality trait of this breed. It is characterised by displays of over-excitement when owners return home or guests arrive. Whippet puppy training should aim to increase calmness and ensure that any greetings are only carried out when the dog is not over-excited.

How to deal with it

  • Limit the Whippets freedom when you return home or guests arrive.
  • Use a baby gate to keep your Whippet in a laundry or other room of your house, until they have calmed down.
  • Never give your Whippet attention when they are over-excited, they should be calm when you or your guests acknowledge them, with no running or jumping up behaviour.
  • Whippet Excessive Greeting Disorder is inherently rewarding for the dog, therefore it’s important to limit the rehearsal of this behaviour or it will quickly become an ingrained problem.
  • Crate training can be very helpful to increase calmness during greetings and stop separation anxiety.

If needed, seek the help of a dog trainer or a canine behaviourist.

FAQ – Whippet Behaviour Problems

how to keep a whippet busy
Whippet Behaviour Problems can often be solved using positive reinforcement-based training methods and employing a calmness protocol.

How do you discipline a Whippet?

Like other dogs, Whippets learn best through the use of positive dog training methods. They have sensitive personalities and using harsh discipline can negatively affect your relationship and increase Whippet Behaviour Problems.
The best way to train a Whippet is by teaching them what you want them to do and rewarding them for those behaviours. Similarly, the rehearsal of bad behaviours such as excessive greeting disorder, chasing, digging, pulling and chewing should be limited through management as they are inherently rewarding to the dog.
Crate training is a great way to improve a Whippet’s behaviour and it reduces frustrating problems like separation anxiety and increases calmness.

Are whippets difficult dogs?

Whippets can be independent and difficult to train however they can also be refreshingly independent and not overwhelmingly demanding of pats and attention. As with training any dog the key to cultivating a calm and obedient companion is to utilise things that they enjoy as rewards for behaviours that you want to see more of. Behaviours that are helpful to reward include; calmness, sitting, resting, focusing on you, coming when called, calm greetings etc.
Similarly, Whippets being sighthounds enjoy chasing things. They will often chase small animals which should be limited by keeping your dog on a leash, it’s one of the more common Whippet behaviour problems. On a positive note, an effective and positive training tool can be a flirt pole, when the dog does a behaviour you like such as sitting, reward them with a game of chasing the tug toy on the flirt pole.

How to keep a Whippet busy

Whippet Behaviour Problems can be prevented by keeping them busy. Whippets can be kept busy with passive calming activities such as interactive toys including green tripe stuffed Kongs, food puzzles, scent games, chewing raw meaty bones, snuffle mats littered with kibble, long-lasting chews etc.
Similarly, Whippets enjoy chasing things and many love a good game of fetch or chasing a fluffy toy attached to a flirt pole.

How long can you leave a Whippet

how long can you leave a whippet

Whippets can suffer from separation anxiety and excessive greeting disorder which can make the separation anxiety worse if not managed well. It’s important to leave and return calmly and ignore your Whippet, paying them no attention, until they are calm and relaxed.

Crate training can be employed to slowly increase the time that your Whippet spends alone, allowing them to adjust and practise calmness in your absence. A Whippet left alone for 8 hours without any training can be prone to soil, chew, bark and be a nuisance while you’re away.

When do Whippets calm down?

whippet puppy behaviour

Whippets can start to calm down after adolescence which starts at around 6 months of age and ends around 18-24 months of age. Some Whippets are more energetic than others and it is possible to buy a Whippet from a breeder who breeds puppies with a calm personality. Meet both parents of your Whippet puppy to ensure they are calm and well-behaved.

Passive calming activities that are good for Whippets include stuffed Kongs, snuffle mats, licky mats, long-lasting chews, raw meaty bones etc. Passive calming activities encourage calmness and rest. An overtired dog can be ratty; adult Whippets need at least 14 hours of sleep per day, and puppies need about 18-20 hours.

Similarly, calmness is definitely something that can be increased through training. Calmness can be rewarded and will be more likely to be offered by the dog in the future if good things happen when they are calm.

Are Whippets good pets?

The Whippet personality is sweet and loyal. They make good pets for people who want a dog that will lounge around the house but who is ready and willing to run free when at the park. They can be difficult to train because they’re often not food motivated and owners can therefore have limited options for rewards. Finding what your Whippet enjoys, whether that be play, chase or tasty treats, is key to setting them up for success in training new behaviours. They are often not as playful as some other dogs, children might find them boring compared to other breeds like border collies, cavoodles etc.

Conclusion – Whippet Behaviour Problems

Whippet personality

Many whippets display some or all of the above behavioural problems at some point in their lives. Understanding what to do will help you better handle your dog during these anxiety-causing situations. Similarly, Whippets are sighthounds, they like to chase and this can be used as a reward in training new behaviours. Sighthounds are sometimes not food motivated but will be very driven to learn new skills, particularly if the reward involves chasing a fluffy toy on the end of a lure.

If your Whippet Behaviour Problems sound like any of the above and you are struggling to manage them, consult a dog behaviourist, vet behaviourist, online dog training course or a dog trainer near you for a training and behaviour modification plan.

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Hi! I’m Tres! I’m passionate about dog behaviour and training. My dog training methods are effective for all breeds and goals. I have trained dogs for protection, obedience, manners, loose leash walking, crate training and have solved common behaviour problems such as reactivity, barking, separation anxiety and more. Let’s connect, sign up to my free newsletter (above) for helpful tips and upcoming training events.
dog trainer Sydney

Hi! I’m Tres! I’m passionate about dog behaviour and training. My dog training methods are effective for all breeds and goals. I have trained dogs for protection, obedience, manners, loose leash walking, crate training and have solved common behaviour problems such as reactivity, barking, separation anxiety and more. Let’s connect, sign up to my free newsletter (above) for helpful tips and upcoming training events.
dog trainer Sydney

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