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What Is Demand Barking?

When you get a dog, you will have to accept that there will be a certain level of noise. Dogs bark. That’s a fact! If you’re expecting everything to be peaceful and quiet after you bring your new pup home, you’re in for something of a surprise… and you may want to consider getting a different kind of pet!

Something to bear in mind, however, is that there are a wide range of different reasons why your dog may be barking… and the reason behind the woofs will largely dictate how you deal with them, so it’s important to spend some time listening to your dog and paying attention to other cues so you can determine why they’re barking and what they’re trying to say.

Often, barking is a very clear expression of feeling and emotion, whether that’s frustration, excitement, anxiety, fear or boredom. Or perhaps your dog is alarm barking, letting you know that there’s a perceived threat on the horizon.

Whatever the motivation for the noise, always remember that barking is one way your dog will communicate with you and it’s entirely normal… but it can become excessive or be related to undesirable behaviour of some kind, so it’s important to know what to do and how to train your dog accordingly to resolve the issue.

What is demand barking?

One type of woof that you’ll want to nip in the bud as soon as you can is demand barking, where your dog is making noise to get something that they want, whether that’s food, a toy, your attention or something else.

Naturally, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to something like this, so if you’ve got a new puppy at home, make sure you never respond when they demand bark. 

Even if it’s just looking at them or telling them to be quiet, rather than giving into their demands, you’re still reinforcing the negative behaviour, which means they’ll be more likely to bark in this way in the future. 

Also remember that scolding your dog and telling them off will be seen by them as reinforcement that they should continue yapping… so your best bet is to ignore them, no matter how hard that may well be!

And, of course, never give your dog a treat when they’re barking, as you’re simply telling them that demand barking is desirable behaviour and this can be a particularly difficult habit to break once it’s been cemented.

Instead, bide your time, close your ears and wait until they’ve finished barking, at which point you can give them a toy or a high-value treat, which will help reinforce the idea that silence is desired and barking is not.

As with any kind of training, patience is an absolute must when trying to get to grips with demand barking and you shouldn’t expect to see instant results overnight, particularly if you’re dealing with an older dog whose habits may be more firmly ingrained.

Positive reinforcement

One of the most effective training methods for demand barking (and other behaviours) is positive reinforcement, where you ignore negative behaviour that you don’t want and reward positive behaviour that you do.

The key is to never tell your dog off for the negative behaviour and maintain strong consistency with positive rewards for the desirable behaviours in order to see the results you’re looking for.

Start off by praising your dog whenever they exhibit the behaviours you want, both verbally and with treats, so that they start to associate the reward with the action in question.

It can be beneficial to keep your training sessions shorter, particularly at the beginning or if you’re dealing with a young puppy, as your dog may get bored. If they’re not engaging with the session, they won’t learn what you want them to, so train them in bursts of ten minutes or so and keep the momentum going each day until you see the desired result.

If you’d like any further help or advice relating to demand barking and training your dogs, get in touch with Sean Hyden today to see how he can help.