I’ve got a bad habit.
I really, really like to bark.
That’s because I want attention. Or I might have a request. I might want to let the big dogs know I’m big, too. I bark at wheels. I bark to say “hello.”
I’m not supposed to bark just to bark. I’m supposed to bark only when it’s necessary, such as an emergency or to say I need to go outside. (That’s what I read, but I just patiently wait at the door.)
My BFF Shelley has decided she wants me to stop. She looked up some things about barking and told me about them. She said she’s going to employ a few behavior modifications (Woof! Woof! as if I’ll listen!).
She learned that to stop my attention-seeking noises, she needs to stop giving me what I want, which is lots of attention. That means ignore me (As if!), but don’t punish me either, because that won’t work (and it’s not nice).
When you tell me to not bark or to stop, you’re giving me attention. If you yell at me, especially if you’re losing your patience, I’ll think you’re talking back and responding. I’ve been conditioned to expect this response, even a negative one.
It’s best to not even look at me and to do your own thing. I’ll eventually get the hint (maybe).
When I stop barking, reward me for my good behavior. You can praise me and give me treats, and eventually I’ll learn that being silent and a good girl brings better results than my naughty barking.
Give me the reward quickly, so I associate my good behavior with the treat. (I do agree with this, so maybe I’ll start listening).
Give me a verbal praise, such as saying, “Good dog” (or in my case, “Good girl, good cute girl”) and then hand over that treat.
As I catch on, extend the period of time between quiet and treat, so that I also have to learn patience (is that a word?).
And then vary the amount of time between quiet and treat, so that I have to be the one to pay attention to you. I won’t expect things to be exact but will have to be on my toes—or paws. I’ll not bark to get attention, what I wanted in the first place. We’ll be paying attention to each other (and nicely