Demand Barking is usually something owners accidentally train their dogs to do. Here are two examples:
- Owner sits on couch. Dog brings ball to owner. Dog barks repeatedly at owner. Owner gets frustrated and throws ball to get dog to stop barking. Dog learns “Hey! If I bark and bark and bark, they throw the ball!”
- Owner is at dinner table. Dog begs at owner’s feet. Dog barks repeatedly at owner. Owner gets frustrated and hands over a table scrap. Dog learns “Hey! If I bark and bark and bark, I get a snack!”
What do you mean “accidentally?” How does a dog learn to Demand Bark?
In the beginning, it might just be one bark; like the pooch is saying “Look! A ball!” or “Hey, look at me!” so the owner doesn’t think much about throwing the toy or handing over a snack. The problem is that dogs learn VERY quickly and many can be incredibly persistent. This means that one bark can turn into incessant Demand Barking in no time! Think of the kid at the grocery store who demands a candy bar, and when mom says no, the kid has a melt down. To stop the melt down, mom gives in and buys the candy.
How can one put an end to Demand Barking?
The best way to end Demand Barking is to simply ignore it and quit giving in to it! So, grab some earplugs and let the dog bark and bark and bark until it realizes that barking no longer reaps any sort of reward. Many times a temper tantrum will be thrown to test the owner. NO MATTER WHAT, THE OWNER CANNOT GIVE IN! If owner gives in when temper tantrum sets in, all this tells the dog is “Oh, so THAT’S how loud and how long I need to bark. Got it.”
Why won’t scolding or punishment work?
In general, any attention is a reward to a dog, even if it is negative. (This is why we recommend turning way from a dog that jumps up, instead of trying to push dog into a sit.) Also, because the demand barking has been working so successfully for such a long time, it would take an incredibly harsh punishment to offset the drive for reward.
Try offering a toy that will keep dog entertained without owner’s attention, such as a tricky treat ball!