Barking can become extremely frustrating for everyone. Do you wonder if you are the person that accidentally encourages and reinforces the escalation?
Barking is one of the most common behaviors that is inadvertently positively reinforced.
What do I mean by that? There is a tendency to accidently offer the dog exactly what it is asking for with the bark and so barking becomes the dog’s primary way of communicating. Now, we don’t want to stop our dogs communicating with us, but we do want to teach our pups additional ways to communicate.
There are plenty of ways for our dogs to communicate without always defaulting to the bark.
Many new puppy owners enjoy their puppies first squeaky attempts to bark and respond to their pups with eye contact and a bunch of high-pitched words and questions. The barking is generally followed up with trying to figure out what the dog wants. You want to play? Want to go outside? Are you hungry? And behold, a ton of good things start pouring in every time the pup starts vocalizing.
So, when a puppy wants and needs attention a bark comes in handy and is an easy way to get your attention and a bunch of amazing things will certainly follow.
SUGGESTION: As difficult as it may seem, try not to engage with the puppy when they are barking. Whatever you do, try to avoid throwing your head in their direction and giving them direct eye contact. That is immediately gratifying and teaching your dog that if they want your attention all they need to do is let out a bark.
Better Ways to Communicate - Understanding how your pup communicates is vitally important in creating an amazing bond with a puppy. What we do is teach puppies ways to communicate that are more acceptable. We always start by reinforcing eye contact and/or sitting. Both of these exercises are amazing at stopping the barking as well as teaching your dog how to properly act and behave when new people or animals are in their environment.
3 MOST COMMON TYPES OF BARKING
Barking is an amazing tool for your dog to communicate and understanding the types of barks and how to communicate with your dog in each instance is crucial in a great bond and creating a well-behaved dog. We humans are actually quite proficient at being able to distinguish between different barks. Check out this publication that talks about different barks.
Is there a specific bark that your dog is constantly offering? Is it one of these 3?
SOLICITING BARKS - LONELY BARKS - ALARM BARKS
SOLICITING BARKS - These are the barks we create by immediately responding to them and giving our dog’s what they are asking for. A bone, a treat, petting, playing, going outside, etc. This is by far the easiest type of barking to get rid of so long as everyone is on board with the plan. Barking at the leash/dog bowl - If your dog barks hysterically when you get out the leash or open the dog food cupboard you know that you have been positively reinforcing that bark with their favorite things. We can start to diminish that crazy barking by waiting for a window of silence and doing what is called counter conditioning. It requires time and patience to change the way your dog reacts to the things he/she is used to offering a bark and being reinforced for.
LONELY BARKS – Certain dogs are more social than others and there is a tendency for certain breeds of dogs to become extremely distressed when isolated for long periods of time. It becomes a huge issue for certain dogs when kenneled or left for several hours without a break. Lonely barking does not diminish if not reinforced.
When a pup is “lonely barking”, the sound of their own voice is in itself quite reinforcing. Some dogs will literally bark on and off all day until a human return. The most likely route to success is to provide the dog with more companionship. That could mean a dog walker or a doggy daycare once or twice a week if your pup enjoys the company of other dogs.
ALARM BARKS - Dog’s bark to alert us to potential sources of danger and it is perfect when they alert us to possible dangers or intruders. Sometimes we need to let them know when it is their job and when their job is done because if we don’t teach them, they will resort to their own devices and things can easily get out of control.
When your dog alerts you that some person or critter is in their yard or on their property the behavior is self-reinforcing because the dog barks and the animal or person goes away. They think their barking deterred them and sent them away. So, rewarding with a job well done…
We definitely want our pups to let us know when someone is at the door but then we want them to stop. It gets distressing when our dogs are racing up and down the fence, yapping at everyone that passes or running up and down the windowsill barking at people in the street or greeting people at the door with paws and huffs and sniffs.
Here are 3 important steps to teach your dog when it is or when it is NOT their job to avoid persistent barking after the doorbell rings.1. A gate or barrier can prevent your dog from getting to the door and guarding it. 2. Make it your responsibility for who enters the house instead of your dog thinking it is up to them. 3. Reward the dog as soon as they stop carrying on.
We want to communicate to our dog’s “Thanks for letting me know… I can take it from here…
There are other many other types of barks worth researching and understanding. If you are able to identify and work with your pup through these steps, you can see great progress and have a happier family and neighborhood! BNADOG.COM 2021