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By MS du Toit
or maybe most dogs
will at an early age start to bark at their owners for attention. Most
owners, through a lack of knowledge or out of frustration and
impatience, would then respond by either calling the dog to them and
trying to calm it, or by yelling at the dog to stop barking. This is
exactly what the dog wanted. It does not take long for the dog to
realise that if he barks, he receives attention.
attention-barking is not stopped within the first couple of days, the
dog may develop a habit of bark-for-attention. This unwanted behaviour
can even develop to such a degree that it can be classified as a
compulsive disorder. The best way to stop this from happening is to
prevent it to become a habit in the first place. This should be done
within the first day or two.
If this barking behaviour is a mild
attention-seeking activity, just avoiding reinforcement may be enough
to stop it. In other words it may be enough for the owner to just
ignore the dog. The dog will realise that no attention is given and
will stop his barking.
If, on the other hand, his barking has
been rewarded a few times even by yelling at him, he might be more
persistent. It might then be necessary to reward alternate behaviours.
The owner could use a clicker and click for every period of silence,
even if it is only a second or two. He can later demand a longer period
of silence before clicking and add a cue to the silent behaviour.
dogs do not only bark for attention. Especially dogs that are left
alone for hours at a time, will start barking out of boredom. With
breeds like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds an increase in
mental and physical exercise might be enough to stop the barking.
that professional trainers use are:
A shaker can.
can fill a can with pebbles or coins and when the dog starts barking,
you shake the can. The noise will startle the dog and he will stop
barking. At that very moment, click and treat the dog.
concept works exactly the same as the shaker can. Fill the bottle with
water and when the dog barks, spray him with water. He will stop
barking for a moment and then you must click and treat the dog.
To be successful at training your dog not to bark, you must be very
consistent. Use positive
reinforcement methods when you train the dog. The best is to
stop the unwanted behaviour before it becomes a habit.
MS du Toit has been training dogs for ten years.
Please visit her Dog
Training Review Page.
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