Attention Seeking Barking

DogWalker.com caught up with professional dog trainer Marc Elias from Pooch Pals in New York City to learn a thing or two, particularly around barking. To our surprise we learned that there are actually six different types of barks i.e 1) excited play, 2) fearful, 3) dominance, 4) territorial, 5) boredom and 6) learned barking. Today we chatted about the later, learned barking which is also known as attention seeking barking. Enclosed is a snippet from our conversation:

An owner’s attention is often one of the most demanded assets your pup wants. One way your dog interprets ‘attention’ is through your body language, your voice and physical touch. It’s not uncommon that owners inadvertently reinforce barking by speaking to their dog in hopes to correct a bark i.e. “NO” or leaning down to say “STOP IT”. Instead, turning your back on an attention seeking bark and walking away is one way to communicate through body language to diminish barking behavior.

I had the opportunity to work with a lovely client whose Havanese barked when it wanted to play fetch with the owner. Instead of simply not playing the activity, we created specific time frames each day for play. At any time during play time if the dog barked, the owner was instructed to take the toy and immediately walk out of the room behind a door and wait for ten seconds. And, to not begin playing again until there was a lull in the barking.

This type of abandonment training is simple to do. With some very basic knowledge about canine communication, this owner realized he could use his attention as a training tool. This was a light bulb moment for the owner!

Whether we realize it or not, us two-legged hominoids are almost always either correcting or reinforcing our pet’s behavior in some way, shape or form. Distinguishing this is key to shaping your dog’s behavior. It’s easy, it can be fun and most importantly it works!

Marc Elias is the Canine Executive Officer for Pooch Pals LLC in New York and an accredited ABCDT dog trainer certified with the Good Dog Foundation. Learn more about Marc at www.poochpalspetcare.com.