My dog is perfect… well perfect for me! But I will say Pluto’s got quite a bark on her. This is the one thing that Pluto does that makes me crazy. Today we’ve got a guest post from dog trainer John Visconti to address some barking problems. This is the first part of a series on barking and more importantly what to do about it!
Fish swim. Birds fly. Dogs bark.
Many dog behaviors owners consider to be problematic are normal canine activities.
Barking is one such behavior.
Not only is barking often an issue for the owner but it frequently becomes just as problematic for the dog when we confuse her/him by tolerating and even encouraging some types of barking (stranger on your property) and not others. Or when we unintentionally reward barking and then punish the dog for doing so.
Barking has a communicative purpose. The keys to diminishing the behavior are to determine the triggers and the purposes behind them and then reinforce the dog for an alternate behavior or change the dog’s emotional response to whatever is causing the barking. Every canine behavior has a purpose. Dogs do what works; it’s that simple.
As with any behavioral issue, a trip to the vet might be in order, especially if the problem has sprung up suddenly, without prior history. Your dog might be in pain.
With medical issues ruled out, dogs typically bark for the follow reasons:
Attention seeking: This is the dog who has learned “when I bark, the humans pay attention to me. And if I bark at the cabinet, or at the kitchen table while they’re eating, they give me food. I LOVE barking”
The bad news is, you have reinforced your dog’s barking by rewarding it and any rewarded behavior is more likely to occur. The good news is, you can change the behavior to one you prefer. This is achieved by simply ignoring the barking and rewarding an alternate behavior such as, silence while sitting. Note: it is very possible that when you start ignoring your dog’s attention seeking barks, the barking might get a bit worse before it gets better. Think of it as going to a vending machine every day, inserting a dollar and pushing the button for what you want. One day, you do this and it doesn’t work. Do you simply shrug your shoulders and walk away? Of course not. You push the button again and again. You might even tap the machine, push the machine, shake the machine until you realize, the price went up to $1.25 at which point you’ll engage in a new behavior, that is, inserting $1.25 into the machine to get what you want. Think of yourself as the vending machine and the dog as you. Let your dog know what NEW behavior will get the reward.
Check back in for tips on how to control other types of barking such as, recreational barking, fear reactive barking , reaction to environmental stimuli, aggression barking, boredom, stress vocalizations, separation anxiety and how to address them. And put barking on cue in order to stop it? Really?
John Visconti, CPDT-KA, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owner of Rising Star Dog Training coaches dog owners on Long Island. John is a low risk, positive-reinforcement trainer who has written for numerous training publications such as the APDT Chronicle of the Dog and the LI Dog Directory. John is a former chair for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. He is AKC CGC certified. He is also a member ofJean Donaldson’s Academy for Dog Trainers.
Rising Star Dog Training
Telephone: 516 672-6280