Barking Dog Problem – Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
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Customer: Hello Sam. I have a mixed breed dog: poodle/bichon. He’s 2 yrs old / 14 pounds. I have the same problem. He barks all the time.
Sam: First, I’ve found that Bichons and Poodles have a tendency to bark for attention: in other words, the reinforcement, or paycheck, for the barking is often the attention it gets them. So, right from the start, you’re going to have to ration the attention you give your dog in barking situations. The dog has to believe Calmness gets me attention, petting, games, toys, food, play, etc. whereas barking makes people ignore me. Using force on this dog might backfire. The first approach is to try and extinguish the behavior by not giving the dog attention for the barking. If this doesn’t work, then you will need to contact me again to show you other methods.
Customer: Let me tell you first that he’s spoiled rotten
Sam: Love is great, and don’t worry about it. The only time I’m concerned about spoiling a dog is when we are talking about aggression when the love means the dog feels it has the right to discipline the people by biting them, or when we think that treats = affection, when we give a dog tasty food thinking that’s the same as affection and we make the dog fat. Fat dogs die young. Also, spoiling is where you get the dog to the point it acts out in order for you to pay attention to them for everything. It is a people created problem.
Customer: He’s my hubby’s baby, he even barks when hubby goes out and I’m in the house.
Sam: If you love your dog, you don’t want the dog in a constant state of anxiety for 8 to 10 hours a day. Make the dog believe that calmness causes you to return home.
Customer: He barks whenever he hears any kind of noise / strange sound / thunder / lightning.
Sam: You have a somewhat sensitive dog, and we can’t change that. You can desensitize most of this. Don’t give him attention for the attention-seeking barking, only when he’s quiet. You could also make a tape recording of the sounds and play them over and over again while feeding him his dinner, softly for a few days then louder and louder every day until the dog ignores them as background noise. You could also play a radio while you are gone to somewhat block out the outside noises. It won’t provide him any comfort that you are gone, but it can somewhat drown out outside noises that would trigger the barking.
Customer: He barks when he’s bored of his toys.
Sam: Again, this is attention seeking. Don’t give him a new toy at this time or you are rewarding the barking. Also, make sure that you are exercising your dog, so that when he is tired, he relaxes.
Customer: He barks when he’s confined to a closed room¦..
Sam: Use a crate or kennel. Dogs don’t like to be confined in closed rooms. Since you haven’t described any other symptoms, I am assuming that the dog doesn’t suffer from separation anxiety, but rather just boredom. If separation anxiety was involved, there would be additional things I would recommend. He probably is also perceiving the crate as a punishment rather than a place he wants to be. He might need desensitization.
Customer: He barks when he doesn’t want to eat dog food (he likes people’s food)
Sam: Don’t confuse treats for affection! Dog food is balanced and will keep your dog healthy in the long run. The best affection is spending time with the dog, playing games, going for walks, doing obedience work w/ the dog receiving praise for good repetitions. Ignore the barking here and it will extinguish. This kind of pushy behavior really is a result of spoiling your dog. There is no need to provide him people-food on demand.
Customer: We haven’ tried anything, no barking collar, no nothing on him.
Sam: I am not a big believer in using bark collars. Sometimes they can backfire on you and make the dog afraid, causing them to run and hide, because they can’t figure out what is hurting or bothering them. Sometimes dogs can’t figure out why they are being corrected by the collars, so they develop fears of normal things in their environment. If you were to try one, I would want to work with you in person to select the proper type of collar and to properly introduce the dog to the collar.
Customer: We live in Europe (Greece) and lot of pet stuff that are available in the US are not available here
Sam: Keep me informed of your progress. There are additional things I can recommend, but first I want to see how these initial recommendations work for you. Even though I live in the United States, I will train dogs anywhere in the world if you cover my travel and training fees. In a case like attention-based barking, it probably isn’t worth the expense, but then again, if it bothers you enough, and you can afford it, I would be glad to help you out personally with this problem. It takes time to extinguish behaviors. Look up the word extinguish in psychology books: if you stop reinforcing a behavior, usually it will stop occurring. For example: If I put money in a pop machine and get a Coke, I’ll keep doing that behavior. If, one day, I put money in and a Coke doesn’t come out, I might pound on the machine and shake it (being a dog I would REALLY BARK A LOT FOR A WHILE) then I’d walk away. I might try the machine again, but if it has stopped working (you don’t give attention to the barking), I won’t use that machine again (won’t bark for attention) to get my Coke. Best wishes and please keep me informed concerning your progress.
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