Stopping Demand Barking with Structure and Positive Reinforcement

By: David Codr

Published Date: January 3, 2018

For this Omaha dog training session we helped a pair of little dogs; 12 year-old Pappillion / Chihuahua mix Dasher (right) and 10 year-old Pom Yorkie mix Sadie who both use demand barking to get their way and nip people they disagree with.

I spotted a few things contributing to these dog’s problems the moment the door opened.

While its natural for people to think picking up a dog from preventing it from nipping a guest or running out the door seems like a good idea, elevating a dog is a way of rewarding or enhancing it. Additionally this held position can frustrate a dog by limiting its ability to move. Finally, picking up a dog this way prevents it from learning a different, more desired behavior.

Ironically the guardians reported that Dasher is usually the difficult dog; barking and nipping the most. But because I adopted soft body language and used a few dog behavior tricks, he settled down right away. Sadie on the other hand, well Sadie decided to start demand barking and didn’t stop for nearly 2 hours.

In order for both of these dogs to calm down when guests arrive and stop nuisance barking, I spent a few minutes suggesting ways to add rules and structure to help them start to adopt more of a follower’s mindset. Dogs go through life probing to determine where boundaries and limits are. Additionally this helps the dogs see humans acting as leaders, at least in the dog’s eyes.

By petting with dogs with a purpose, rewarding desired actions with positive reinforcement (petting, attention or treats) and enforcing rules consistently and with good timing, the guardians can help the dogs stop thinking they need to protect or look out for the humans. This transition usually takes about a month, but it really comes down to how much time and effort the humans put in.

To help Sadie learn that barking is not the appropriate way to ask for attention, I handed my camera to one of her guardians to film this positive dog training technique.

Training a dog to stop barking isnt hard with the right approach. It does require good timing and prompt attention so that you are rewarding good behavior while ignoring that which is unwanted.

Demand barking is an offshoot of a dog with little rules and structure in place, so its going to be important for the guardians to adhere to enforce them consistently for the next month. If they do, they should be able to put a stop to demand barking from Sadie and Dash.

Another issue the family asked for help with was Dash’s habit of marking in the house. Similar to demand barking, this unwanted dog behavior is a result of a lack of structure in the dog’s day to day life. This can easily cause a dog to think its in a leadership position due.

It will take a month or longer of consistent enforcement of the new rules and boundaries before Dash stops thinking its appropriate for him to mark things in the house. In the mean time I suggested his guardians start kenneling him. They said that was a problem due to his fear of the kennel.

To help Dash get over his fear of the kennel, I shared a dog behavior secret with the guardian. You can get this positive dog training tips for free by watching the video below.

Creating a positive association with the kennel is pretty easy as well, it just takes some practice and really tasty dog treats, lol.

We wrapped up this in home dog training session by shooting a roadmap to success video where I summarized all the things the family will need to do to stop these unwanted dog behaviors for good.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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