Category Archives: AniEd

Puppies Bite. Deal with it.

Get a cuppa, this is a 30 minute read. But also makes a nice reference guide that you can dip back into when you have a question or need some guidance.

Puppies Bite. Deal with it.

And we’re going to help you. 

There is much ado about puppy biting; that and toilet training tend to be the most common cries for help from new puppy people.

Puppies use their mouths, as do dogs. And it’s normal. Puppies use their mouths in communication, in entertainment, in exploration and education. If puppies are not doing these things, mouth first, we might be concerned about their health and development.

Here’s the low down: puppies develop through this biting stage. If you do nothing and just put appropriate management in place, biting behaviour reduces and everyone moves on with their lives.

I’m not going to say puppy “grows out of it”, because typically, puppies grow into problems and left unchecked, puppy biting may indicate or lead to more serious stuff.

The goal is not to stop puppy biting, just as we don’t want to stop other normal puppy behaviour. Really, we just want to survive puppy biting and not make things worse.

Normal Puppy Biting

Puppies start to intentionally bite their litter mates from about 2.5/3 weeks of age. As they begin to move about a little more, they will put their mouths on anything they can reach, and will bite each other, their mum, other dogs and humans they meet. If it fits, they will get their mouth on it!

When we take them home, usually at about 8 weeks of age, we interrupt puppies right in the middle of their bitiest period with their littermates (usually about 7-9 weeks).

Puppy biting is social behaviour and not related to teething. Indeed, it tends to reduce just as teething begins at about 14/15/16 weeks of age.

I tend to find that puppies are at their most bitey, with their new humans, from about 10-14 weeks.
They’ve just started to settle into their new home and feeling a little more confident, they’ve lost access to most of their social outlets (their littermates) and they need to
get their teeth sunk into any and all things.

Normal puppy biting goes away as puppies age; our work is aimed at preventing anything more serious developing.

Puppies have sharp little needly teeth (as if I need to tell you!) because they don’t have a whole lot of jaw strength.
So they need sharp teeth to make their point (!) in social interactions.

It’s perfectly normal for puppies to use their teeth in social situations and they just need to use a little bite, without too much pressure, to gain social relief; they can get their brother or sister to  give them a break.

Common types of normal puppy biting:

  • chewing on you: often happens when puppy is quite calm; they might chew on your hands or fingers, sometimes manoeuvring your knuckle on to their back teeth
    This is usually comfort seeking.
  • relief-seeking biting: often happens during interactions that involve physical contact, manipulation or restraint. Puppy wants to be free, finds the interaction and handling unpleasant, and is asking for distance and relief.
    They will usually aim their biting at your hands, or the harness or brush you are using.
  • land-shark (as in your puppy turns into a land-shark doo doo doo doo doo doo) They might bite repeatedly, biting may appear as to come out of nowhere, they might jump and bite, and may vocalise and growl.
    This often happens when puppy is over-stimulated and over-tired.

On top of those three biting categories, puppies will often bite at and chase feet, trousers and other clothing, and even hands that are moving and flailing.

That’s a lot of biting!

What’s not normal?

Me telling you that puppy biting is normal behaviour might provide a little comfort, but largely isn’t terribly helpful.

Puppy biting is certainly frustrating for humans, but the more tense or panicked we become, the more the biting escalates.

Of course, the harder puppy bites, the harder it is to stay calm; puppy bites harder and so an unhappy routine develops…and round and round we go.

I strongly recommend that all puppies and their people have qualified help to guide them through puppyhood and behavioural development. This will include programs in place to help with puppy biting and monitoring of their biting behaviour.

The vast majority of pet owners I talk with think that their puppy’s behaviour is terribly dangerous, intense and aggressive even when their puppy is demonstrating normal puppy biting.

While puppy biting is normal, necessary and natural behaviour, there might be times when puppy biting behaviour warrants more concern. For example, the following:

  • generally normal behaviour might be of concern when expressed at unusual, increased or decreased frequencies, intensities, severity etc. so if biting increases and seems a disproportionate response, seek help
  • puppy is growling, stiffening and biting when physically manipulated, restrained, moved or picked up
  • puppy is growling, stiffening and biting when items are removed from them, such as chews, toys or ‘stolen’ items, or when approached when puppy has such items
  • you often note puppy stiffening and growling before biting
  • growls, vocalises, hides from, snaps and/or bites new people
  • directs growling, snapping, biting behaviour toward children

Why is biting normal behaviour for puppies?

Puppy biting happens because puppies are immature youngsters, just learning to navigate their world, who are not terribly well coordinated.

They haven’t yet developed mature communication systems and skills.
When puppies bite, they are seeking something, making a request, trying to communicate their needs. And because they lack mature communication skills, they don’t have other ways to ask for a break, or a rest, or just time to process.

Dogs, including puppies, are often comforted by having things in their mouths. They might seek out sensory pay off by biting or holding something in their mouths when they are stressed, excited, and wound up.

Puppies often bite more and harder when they are over-stimulated, over-tired and just over everything, needing a break and a rest.

Whens & Whys of Biting Behaviour

The first job, for you, on the road to managing, preventing and reducing biting, and stopping it getting worse, is analysing the whens and whys of biting.

Can you match whens with whys for your puppy?

List out the times when biting happens.
What’s going on, who’s present, what’s just happened?

  • puppy bites during games
  • during, after and in anticipation of something exciting happening
  • when you hug them, hold them, pick them up, restrain them
  • when you groom them or try to put on their gear
  • in the evening
  • when people come home or come down in the morning
Puppy biting is often directed toward excited kids!

From this, we can look at the whys of biting; why is your puppy biting and what are they getting out of it. Remember, dogs, and even puppies, do behaviours that work!

Puppies bite:

  • to gain social relief so the humans remove the social pressure
  • so that you move away, leave them alone, give them space and a break
  • for attention and interaction
  • for sensory pay off
  • to help them improve their comfort and get their excitement under control
  • to gain access to things or places
Redirect puppies and children to their own activities so they are busy and just sharing space!

Every interaction with your puppy is a learning opportunity; your behaviour makes biting more or less likely to happen immediately and over time.

What not to do

There’s no such thing as ‘bad’ behaviour and your biting puppy is most certainly not a bad puppy. Puppy biting is normal, we just happen to find it unpleasant!
Generally, the more you force, the more biting there will be.

Young puppies, in this biting stage, are also going through some very important behavioural development.
Adding force, startle, intimidation, and suppression may have implications for that puppy’s behavioural responding in their future.

All the work we do with puppies during this stage has ramifications later on; this work in an investment in your puppy’s future, in the dog you will have in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years.

Don’t yell, “NO!”, yelp or startle, slap, hit or “tap” anywhere on puppy’s body, push away, attempt to physically restrain or hold their collar, push their lips into their teeth, pinch, spray, pin, roll or scruff.
Don’t do these things  or similar, and if you have started, stop now.

Just stopping puppy biting isn’t the goal. Preventing puppy practicing biting is our jam; that way you’re not a pin cushion and puppy is not learning to use their mouth to get out of socially pressuring situations with humans.

Teach don’t threaten. Prevent rather than punish.

Puppy people who do these things to their puppies are not bad people; we are not in the business of blame or force for puppy people, just as we avoid it for puppies.

There are all sorts of connotations in our culture about dogs putting their teeth on human skin and puppy biting HURTS! New puppy people are worried about their puppy; it can be frightening and confusing, and not knowing what’s best to do can cause humans to respond rashly.
It’s ok. When you know better, you do better. We will support you and your puppy; it’s a team effort.

A new puppy person might also feel pulled in different directions; everyone has advice and knows best when you get your puppy.

The information here is evidence based, as up to date as you’ll get, and based on thousands upon thousands of hours of puppy training, puppy rearing, and puppy-people education.

Whatever advice you choose, be consistent. Be predictable. Teach your puppy what to expect from interactions with you.

Work through our program. Consistently.

I tend not to recommend puppy classes because so many are a free for all, and for the same reasons, I don’t think daycares or dog parks are ideal for supporting appropriate behavioural development in dogs.

But I do like to set up short outings or meetings for puppy, with appropriate adult dogs, rather than lots of other puppies or young dogs. Giving puppy social outlets for biting with other dogs, may help with the underlying motivation for puppy biting behaviour, providing these interactions are carefully supervised.

To Do

We are not trying to stop biting; we just want to survive this biting phase and not make things worse. Our approach will reduce biting over time, and most importantly, open and develop channels of communication and trust between you and your puppy, while helping them develop life skills.

Consistency is our goal; one of these tools alone will not work over night. The program works as a whole, over time. Puppy raising is a marathon, not a sprint! Rather than concentrating on specific training exercises, we are living this program. Every interaction with your puppy is an opportunity for learning.

1. Prevention

Go back to your whens and whys analysis. What can your puppy expect from these interactions?

You coming home and puppy anticipates great excitement…biting at the ready!

  • Redirect them by tossing food rewards or produce a toy as soon as you come in the door so puppy has something to do, other than bite.

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You trying to fit their harness or brush their coat and puppy anticipates discomfort….biting at the ready!

  • Use food rewards and toys to keep the bitey end of puppy busy.

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You can see where we’re going with this…

Avoid putting puppy in those situations that anticipate biting. Practice not getting bitten.

2. Three-count Interactions

Your puppy probably doesn’t want to be picked up, hugged and touched a whole lot…it’s a bubble I burst for a lot of new puppy people! In general, this is a primate thing and not really a dog thing.

Plus you’ve just met your puppy and you don’t know one another that well yet. Learn to work hands-off, use your food, use your toys and use your engagement to encourage puppy, rather than going straight to putting your hands on.

If your hands are not on puppy, there will be a lot less biting.

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Let puppy choose how much touching and handling they want. And help them learn to expect choice in interactions with humans by practising in all interactions with your puppy.

The rules for interacting with puppy:

  • wait for puppy to come to you
  • work low down and keep your hands low
  • have a treat in your hand for puppy to lick at in your hand
  • one hand on puppy at a time only
  • touch puppy in the area closest to your hand (usually their shoulder area) and pet gently for a 3-count
  • withdraw and ask if puppy would like more

3. Rollercoaster Games

Rollercoaster Games help your puppy come up in excitement, and then come down again for calm. This primes their systems to better cope with stress and the daily swings of life.

This is how you play with puppy. Short and sweet.

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Rollercoaster Games, played properly, teaches puppy
to release an item too, which can help with asking
puppy to let go of you or your clothing.

Think of your puppy’s day, and all their interactions, like a Rollercoaster. If we bring ‘em up, we gotta help them come down again.

The best ways to bring puppy down is to provide sniffing, lapping, and chewing. After any sort of excitement, help your puppy regain some control, without biting you, by facilitating some sniffing, then lapping and chewing.

4. Appropriate Enrichment, Exercise & Entertainment

Your puppy probably doesn’t need too much more excitement in their life; puppies find everything exciting and they tend to have big feelings all over the place.

Make Rollercoaster Games, sniffing, exploration and chewing the main forms of exercise that puppies get.

They don’t need to high octane play or meetings. Social and environmental exposure should be about puppy learning that their world around them is no big deal, rather than cause for alarm or excitement.

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If you want to survive puppyhood, start #100daysofenrichment today! This is a free 100-day training program that will support all of this and provide your puppy with beneficial and appropriate enrichment.

5. Hands are not for biting

Instead of hands being for biting, turn hands into instruments of rewards!

Smear rewards on to your palms so the presentation of hands anticipates licking and lapping, rather than biting. Use wet food, cream cheese, yoghurt, peanut butter or liver pate as training rewards. Present your palm low down for puppy to lick. Regular
practice will help change puppy’s expectations from biting to licking.

Hand feed your puppy. Teach them to expect that hands will produce food rewards that are lapped up or tossed for sniffing or chasing.

Teach a hand target behaviour so puppy learns that hands are for bopping and then moving away.

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This also becomes a nifty way of redirecting and moving puppy without having to put hands on.

6. Rest & Routine

Puppies, much like babies, thrive with a structured routine of feeding, resting, play and sleep.

Puppies should have about 18-20 hours of sleep a day! Most puppies, with whom I work who show lots of biting, are simply not getting enough rest. Think about a rest to activity ratio for your puppy; for most puppies a 3:1 or 2:1 rest: activity units is appropriate. For example, 40-60 minutes rest to 20 minutes activity.

Puppies will often need help coming down from excitement so that they can rest properly and then they need a comfy resting place where they know they won’t be disturbed.

Once puppy’s needs are met, teach them how to settle and establish a settle-context.

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Make sure puppies are warm, fed, toileted and have a cuddle-buddy for naps. Give them a large soft toy
to snuggle with; this is especially helpful for very young puppies and for overnight.
Provide puppy with a stuffable toy or irresistible chew to help them soothe and calm, as they drift off.

7. Management & Confinement

I can’t recommend confinement training enough; you might work with a crate, a baby gate, a puppy pen. Whatever you use, do it.

Confinement train puppies properly so that they are comfortable with being behind a barrier. This is a life skill.

But confinement training (done right) can be really helpful in preventing biting, providing puppy with a quiet place of their own to rest, and helps puppy to learn about frustration tolerance and self-calming. A puppy behind a barrier can’t bite you and you can move away or closer, rewarding puppy’s behaviour appropriately.

Having puppy in their pen when the kids come in or when the household is moving about is perfect for preventing biting during this excitement.

This allows you to reinforce calm behaviour, by tossing food rewards, while keeping everyone safe and reducing biting-practice.

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Letting puppy drag a light line, just on their collar, may allow you to move or restrain puppy, without having to put hands on.
Make sure puppy only wears their line when supervised, otherwise they will get tangled or chew it.

Let’s NOT rely on “time outs”:

A confinement area also gives you a place to put puppy when the biting gets too much. We will NOT be relying on a “time-out” approach; why would we want to apply a punisher to puppy’s attempts at communication?

But, when puppy has turned into a full-on land-shark it’s understandable that you might need a break.

Instead of picking puppy up and placing them somewhere, you storm off, as if mortally wounded, for about 20 seconds just to give everyone a chance to calm down.
If biting starts again as soon as you return, puppy needs some down time. Prepare a yummy stuffable toy and settle them down for a nap, ideally in a suitable confinement area.

8. Toys & Chews

Have lots of things to entertain puppy.
I’m not talking about just boring rubber balls, rawhide and rope toys lying around. You need a range of interesting toys that allow your puppy to express a range of behaviours. Rotate them regularly (every couple days) and just have 3-5 available at a time.

For tugging and redirection, my favourites are chaser fur toys or faux fur, if you prefer. (We love the Tug-E-Nuff range of Chaser Toys.) These are special toys that are just for these types of interactions.

Biggie in his Activity Box!

Give your puppy an Activity Box; a good sized shallow box that you leave on the floor for puppy. Add a toy, a stuffable and some safe items of interest such as cardboard tubes or crumpled paper. Rotate items frequently and it doesn’t matter if they destroy the box or its contents just watch your puppy for ingestion or other hazards.

Redirect puppy to their Activity Box when you need to change their
focus from biting or being silly.

Puppies need lots and lots of things to chew. And variety is important too. Have a range of chews that are updated as puppy develops and rotate them regularly. More on chews and chew-ideas here.

9. Teach

Instead of how to stop behaviour, instead think what would you prefer puppy to do?

Maybe we would prefer puppy to engage with a toy instead, let go of you when asked, or ignore your trouser leg or shoelace.
We can teach those behaviours.

Check out our piece on developing a program for foot chasing, which helps you implement these teachings, here.

10. Communication

Putting this program in place consistently, helps you to learn to listen to your puppy and respond appropriately.

Learn puppy’s signs and relevant contexts. What tells you that puppy is becoming overwhelmed and that biting is imminent?

Be proactive and redirect puppy to a sniffing or chewing task, play some Rollercoaster Games to let them release some energy or excitement, give them a break and allow them to do their own thing, set them up for a nap.

What other proactive things can you put in place to help your puppy, and prevent biting?

Not one big of this program refers to “traditional obedience” or “manners”. That’s not what puppies need – a puppy who sits or gives the paw, will still bite.
Puppies, and dogs for that matter, need life skills so they can live in the human world, and they need outlets for their behaviour so that living in our world isn’t stifling.
More here: This is how we do it and here: Not the be all and end all.

Kids & Puppy Biting

Kids and dogs can be a tricky mix, especially with busy family lifestyles and high expectations. We could talk all day about child-dog safety, but here, we are just covering children and puppy biting.

Kids, especially small children, are often the focus of intense puppy biting. And normal child behaviour plus normal puppy behaviour can make parenting challenging. I often don’t recommend puppies for young children because kids can become scared of puppy, and that relationship can be tough to repair.

Adding a puppy is like adding another toddler to the family so best be prepared for some serious education for the whole family!

Why do puppies bite kids so much?

We already know that puppy biting behaviour is completely normal dog behaviour, and absolutely normal child behaviour is often the cause of extra puppy biting.

But there are lots of things we can do to prevent and reduce puppy biting through lots of careful management and adult supervision.

Children are shorter, and often on the floor, and more easily within reach for puppies.

Most importantly, children are more likely to behave in a manner that over-excites and overwhelms puppies.

Just like puppies, children might not be terribly coordinated, and they might not realise that they are making puppy feel uncomfortable or scared.

Children might be more likely to unintentionally exert social pressure on dogs, for example, holding them, staring at them, taking things from them and so on.

Kids may tease puppies, often unintentionally, and may treat
their new puppy as they might a stuffed toy.

Puppy will begin to anticipate feeling this way in response to
kids, and biting is imminent!

The goal is for kids and puppies to be able to share space rather than having intense or exciting interactions. Dogs love children with whom they can share space!

That’s what socialisation should produce: social neutrality; kids are no big deal and puppies can cope with their presence.

Puppy people with children in the home, or visiting regularly, must have a program in place.

Consider carefully the whens and whys of biting the children and prevent puppy being put in those situations.

Use confinement and designate child-zones and dog-zones so that everyone has safe space.

Prioritise making space-sharing possible. Set kids and puppies up with their own calm and engaging activities so that they learn to just be with one another.

  • Babies: There is no reason for puppy to have contact with baby. Set puppy up with calming and engaging activities when baby is present, such as sniffing, puzzles, stuffables and chews.
    Puppy learns that baby means all is calm, they learn to busy and settle themselves and develop a positive, calm attitude to baby and baby related activities.
    Always supervise dogs and kids directly and actively, or confine puppy elsewhere.
  • Toddlers: Baby gates and plenty of separation are best for puppies and toddlers.
    Careful management is important when toddlers are move around and active.
    Toddlers might like to participate in feeding puppy, putting together puzzles, tossing food for sniffing and rewarding. Puppy learns that approaching a toddler gets them to toss food away, giving puppy distance and reducing biting.
    Use guided touch to help toddler learn how to touch puppy and practice 3-count interactions with puppies.
    Always supervise dogs and kids directly and actively, or confine puppy elsewhere.

  • Children: As children develop, and their coordination and comprehension improves,
    they will be able to participate more and more in puppy care. This helps
    puppy and child to develop a wonderful relationship and the child’s
    developing awareness helps reduce biting.
    Kids love to keep records, they can weigh out puppy’s food, and supervise other household members in training and interactions with puppy.
    Teach children to Be A Tree when puppy chases or jumps.

Video demonstrations for some exercises to work on with kids and puppy:

Teach children about the rules for interacting with puppy and 3-count interactions:

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Guide children in teaching others about 3-count interactions!

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Take care introducing Rollercoaster Games for kids and puppies. Supervise and guide carefully!
TUG:

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Take care introducing Rollercoaster Games for kids and puppies. Supervise and guide carefully!
FOLLOW-ME/FREEZE:

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Hand targeting is a simple exercise, for puppies and kids!

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Kids learn to capture behaviour other than biting in contexts where biting might happen, like in the kitchen!

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Kids learn to capture behaviour other than biting in contexts where biting might happen like when the child sits quietly or eats.

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With guidance, kids can learn to teach their puppies to walk nicely with them, engage and deliver reinforcement. To avoid arguments, tagteam training works too!

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Short sessions of fun and activity, after some foundations, can be a great way to build fun and relationship, while also teaching puppy how to have fun without biting.

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Our expectations of both puppies and kids can be unrealistic.

When getting a puppy, you will be doing the work, while guiding, managing, supervising, and providing education for both kids and puppies. On a repetitive and ongoing basis…
Puppies will need as much care and parenting as children!

Check out the FREE Instinct the Dogs & Kids course here.

In Summary

What does puppy need when the biting starts?

  • hands off
  • redirect by tossing food rewards away or create a diversion (e.g. rustle packaging, open the fridge, get their lead)
  • make biting a toy appealing by waggling it
  • bring them for a toilet break
  • play some Rollercoaster Games
  • facilitate sniffing and exploration
  • leave them to their own devices (once safe)
  • provide sniffing fun and puzzles
  • give them their favourite chews and stuffables
  • some downtime, a nap, rest and relief

Most puppies come home when they are less than 60 days old. They have not been on the planet very long and couldn’t be expected to have any idea how to behave in the human world.
There will of course be clashes between what’s normal for dogs and what’s acceptable for humans.
But, we’re the ones with the big primate brain capable of guiding and teaching our pets, and most importantly, providing them with acceptable outlets for their behaviour.

In summary:

  • puppy biting is normal, just like tail wagging or barking
  • puppies use their mouths in all sorts of ways
  • puppy biting is social behaviour, rather than teething-related
  • normal puppy biting reduces over time, usually by about four months of age
  • we are not working to stop puppy biting; we work to reduce and redirect, and prevent anything more serious developing
  • puppies bite to communicate their needs
  • seek help for puppy biting and puppy education
  • When does puppy bite? Change what puppy might expect from those contexts by setting up more appropriate activities for them.
  • don’t apply force, intimidation, fright or pain; take a deep breath, walk away, give puppy a stuffable toy and have a break…puppy rearing can be tough and you will survive this!
  • be consistent
  • work hands-off and keep the bite end of puppy busy; practice not getting bitten
  • don’t rely on “time outs”
  • be consistent; work through our program, choose tools and adapt as you go

Puppies bite. And many puppies bite a lot.

Take a breath and remind yourself that this is normal. Don’t take it personally; your puppy is not trying to dominate you (‘cos, what then?!) or hurt you.

Hang in there. This will get better. Your wounds will heal, and you and your puppy will build a wonderful relationship together.  

If you need help, contact us.

This is specifically about puppy biting that happens up until puppy starts teething (about 4 months). After that and once your dog gets their big teeth, we are talking about adolescent biting and mouthing, which can be a little different and may require alternative protocols.

A nice look at the evidence, or lack there of, related to puppy biting and dog training here.

Download the Puppy Biting Checklist here:

Download the 6 Reasons Your Puppy is Biting You infographic here:

You can download this entire puppy biting survival guide as a PDF booklet here.

Barking (driving you) Mad

Dogs bark for all sorts of reasons, and not one of those is to drive you mad, although that’s often the result. Barking, like all behaviour, functions for the behaver.

Your dog is barking for a reason and lots of barking (often considered “excessive”) or changes to barking behaviour (increases or decreases, for example) may indicate an underlying medical cause so a vet visit is a good idea.

When modifying behaviour, we need to know what the behaviour is, when the behaviour happens and why the dog does it. Here, we are talking specifically about barking that’s considered “attention-seeking” or “demanding”:

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“Demand” or “Attention Seeking” Barking

We commonly refer to barking as ‘problem’ behaviour, but just who’s problem is it? Usually, it’s a human problem.

Of course, increased or out of context barking may indicate or lead to problems for the dog, but generally, help is sought when behaviour causes human problems.

Let’s consider the terms we use to describe this type of behaviour; we use terms like “demanding” and “attention seeking“, terms with connotations about how we view the dog’s behaviour and their motivations.

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It’s odd because all behaviour is demanding, it’s functional, the behaver uses behaviour to gets things. And of course sometimes, behaviour is used to get attention. Attention being a reinforcer of many behaviours for many dogs.
There’s nothing wrong with any of this; this is what you and I use behaviour for too.

Your dog is using his or her behaviour all the time, to change the outcome of interactions. To get things he or she needs and wants.
Indeed, we actively teach dogs to perform behaviours to get stuff all the time and we teach them, often unintentionally, to bark for stuff too.

What is your dog doing?

This type of barking is usually directed at you or the thing the dog wants e.g. the ball that’s rolled under the sofa; sometimes, they don’t appear to be directing their behaviour toward anything in particular and are just shouting!

The dog may make direct eye contact with you, may bounce toward you, may throw their head back and may even follow you to get their point across.

Balto shows how it’s done:

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This clip shows a not very nice demonstration (on my part); we were coming to the end of our session and he had been working hard, doing his best to calm himself.
We had just started to work on some handling work, which has caused some conflicted responding.
All this, on top of everything else, and then a break in opportunities to earn food rewards, is all too much leading to frustration related behaviour.

When does your dog do it?

Consider the context in which Balto is barking, above.
The picture we set up, tells the dog how they might expect to feel and to anticipate what behaviour they will need.
How do you think Balto will anticipate feeling and behaving in a similar picture again?

Look carefully at what’s happening just before and while your dog barks at you.

Whens often include:

  • you have food, whether you are eating or it’s food for the dog
  • you have a dog toy
  • there is a toy available or the dog knows where it is
  • you are preparing food, for you or your dog
  • you are on the phone or having a conversation
  • you are busy and otherwise engaged
  • you are relaxing

What do these pictures cause your dog to anticipate? How can they expect to feel and behave when they see this picture?

The clues are in what your dog is doing.
For example, you beginning to prepare food becomes a cue telling your dog that food will become available. If you have made that food available contingent on their barking, well, they’re going to bark!

It’s also valuable to make a list of whens for quiet too.

  • when is your dog not barking?
  • what are they doing when not barking?
  • what are you doing when they are not barking?
  • when can your dog just be?
  • what does that picture look like?

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Why does your dog do it?

Dogs do what works – they are very efficient at learning how to get things they like, and avoid things they don’t like.

When we call this barking ‘demand barking’ or ‘attention-seeking barking’, we are describing the function of this behaviour, the whys.

Your dog has trained you – they bark and you give them what they want. Don’t take it personally – dogs do what works and there’s no more significance than that.

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For lots of dogs, good or bad attention will quickly establish and strengthen behaviour.

Whys might include:

  • eye contact
  • smiling
  • talking to the dog, even telling them off
  • giving the dog the food or toy they want
  • allowing the dog gain access to the thing they want

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Why does your dog still do it?

Even though you might have tried ignoring your barking dog, they continue to shout.

When there has been inconsistent reinforcing and ignoring, off and on over time, barking behaviour will often appear very resistant to efforts at withdrawing the reward. This is likely because this behaviour works best in extinction burst.

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Extinction is not just for dinosaurs

Extinction happens when we break the associations between the when and why and barking behaviour.
When extinguishing barking the dog learns that there is no point barking at the when, because the why is no longer available.

So this sounds easy, right? Just ignore the barking, don’t give in, extinguish that behaviour…

But, and this is what’s driving you crazy, before we get extinction we get extinction bursts.

Extinction bursts are not just for dogs; this clip shows some examples of behaviours you might recognise:

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Problems with extinction: extinction bursts

If you have been rewarding barking behaviour and one day decide, no more, your dog may bark a little more persistently to gain your attention (hey, what’s wrong?! this usually works!) and when this doesn’t work, he barks a little more, maybe louder, maybe he jumps a little bit more too.
All in all, the behaviour gets bigger, just in case you missed it…

The problem is, that you are only human and this burst of activity may push you to the edge, and you give in. Now your dog has a whole new bigger and better barking behaviour to get those whys.

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Problems with extinction: intermittent reinforcement

If you have been rewarding barking now and then your dog may not notice at first that you have decided that today is the day for ending this behaviour.

This dog will try even harder and be a more persistent extinction burst-er.

Problems with extinction: spontaneous recovery 

Extinction bursts may lead to eventual reduction of barking behaviour but before that the behaviour will go through cycles of bursts and recovery…yep, the behaviour comes back before going through another burst and another recovery, over and over.

This is really difficult to maintain and live with, so we give in and we get even bigger bursts of demand barking.

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Problems with extinction bursts: frustration

Not getting the reward he expects may cause your dog to experience high levels of frustration. This can be especially relevant when we are talking about behaviour that is often arousing (exciting) so your dog may be too wound up and lose some control.

Frustration is experienced as an aversive, so may cause the dog distress. This can be associated with other things happening in that picture too, like the people or animals present, further damaging relationships.

And frustration can drive aggressive responding, causing the dog to redirect his frustration onto you, other people or animals present or even other things around him.

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Extinction doesn’t sound so hot anymore, huh..? 

Just ignoring unwanted behaviour (as is often recommended) is not good enough, easy, safe or effective.
Just ignoring unwanted behaviour isn’t very kind for dogs either, particularly as we are often not terribly consistent or clear with signals to our dogs.

For peace and quiet we need to develop a better program.

Achieving Peace & Quiet

Once we know the whens and the whys, we can begin to build a program to reduce barking behaviour and bring back some peace and quiet.

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1. An ounce of prevention…

List the whens in which barking is likely. What are the pictures in which barking happens?

Prevent your dog practicing barking; practice makes perfect and your dog is already pretty good at barking!

Before this picture even starts, give your dog something else to do; something that might make barking at you difficult, something that changes the way they can feel about that picture (instead of frustration, calming, for example).

Ideas might include:

  • move to another room
  • set the dog up with a yummy stuffed, frozen food dispensing toy
  • park your dog with a yummy Kong toy
  • throw the ball before they bark
  • use two balls so he almost always has one ball in his mouth
  • set up some sniffing challenges in another room or in the garden
  • move toys to areas that dogs don’t have access e.g. the bathroom
  • don’t give the dog toys at source, where you store them

What else works for the whens you have listed?

2. Remove rewards

List the whys that drives your dog’s demand barking behaviour.

Prevention might not work every time, especially early on when you are trying to establish the program.

No more eye contact, no more talking to him, no more giving him the ball…turn your back, step away, sing a little song to yourself, put the ball away.

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A little bit of extinction can be applied, only where we are working hard on all the other areas too.

3. Redirection

Barking is still going to happen. You are human. Your dog is a dog. Even when you have been doing your best with numbers 1. and 2., barking will still happen.

Don’t get disheartened. You can decide whether this is one you want to go for, or sit out and just let the dog bark. Get back on track the next time.

Redirect just functions to redirect your dog’s focus away from barking or whatever triggered the barking. It’s a bit of a quick fix to get some peace in the moment.

Redirection might include:

  • when your dog barks, move away from them and pretend to engage in some very interesting activity, with lots of ooohs and aaaahs. Continue this silly charade until your dog follows you to see what you’re up to.
    When they join you, interact with your dog, ask them for some behaviours or provide them with a sniffing activity, for example.
    Snuffling is my favourite point of redirection: it’s hard to bark when sniffing, and sniffing and snuffling can be calming and all-engrossing for dogs. Also, your dog already knows how to do this alternate behaviour – you don’t need to teach a new behaviour, just stick this established behaviour into existing situations.
    Lots of snuffling ideas below:

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  • when your dog barks, stop the interaction, go still and don’t reward. Step or turn away if you need to. Wait for the silence -this might be momentary. When they stop, verbally praise and make eye contact, smiling. Count to three before asking them to perform some behaviours or before engaging in some activity with them.

A delay is important so the dog is less likely to form further associations between barking and your interaction and cueing.

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4. MORE reinforcement

When people think barking, or ‘problem’ behaviour, their first go-to is usually, stopping it. But, that’s really the least efficient approach, and can even bring about some worrying side-effects.

Instead think reinforcement!
To reinforce behaviour means to strengthen it and when modifying behaviour, we set the environment up so that alternative or incompatible desired behaviours are more likely to be chosen as they provide the same outlets as barking.

Because we are working through the entire program, barking behaviour becomes irrelevant, inefficient and ineffective (Susan Friedman).

First, make a training mix using your dog’s regular food plus some yummies.

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Using the dog’s regular food as much as possible helps to reduce the addition of extra calories when working with food reinforcers.

Have small bowls or containers of your dog’s training mix or food rewards in suitable places; in situations that barking occurs and in situations that quiet occurs.
This will make sure you are ready to reward and catch your dog being quiet.

Food is not the only reinforcer suitable for this work, it’s just fast and is great for snuffling.
We have to remember the whys of your dog’s barking behaviour too. The new behaviours we put in place should function for the animal, in the same way as barking did in those contexts.

4.1 Non-Contingent Reinforcement (NCR)

NCR means that reinforcement happens, regardless of what behaviour the dog is doing.

This can be an effective approach for dogs who bark when you come into the house or room, for example. Step inside the door and immediately scatter food rewards.

What we really want to do here is to do the thing that triggers the barking, and immediately make food rewards, snuffling, the toy or a fuss and attention available immediately.

You are changing the meaning of that when; instead of it cueing barking, it means that you make the good stuff available, which cues other behaviours such as eating, sniffing, playing or interacting.

Protopopova & Wynne, 2015, found that this approach was effective in reducing unwanted kennel behaviour in a group of shelter dogs.

And Zurlinden & Spanos presented their work applying their quiet kennel exercise to hospitalised dogs at VBS 2020. I love this work; when a person showed up in the kennel area/ward are, they gave treats to the dogs regardless of their behaviour. Rather than concentrating on what the dogs were doing, the aim was to improve how the dogs were feeling, to reduce their motivation to bark.

4.2 Respondent Conditioning: barking interrupted 

Respondent conditioning is a way of learning about associations allowing animals to predict when something relevant is about to happen.

Adding a signal that tells your dog that something good is about to happen can be used to interrupt barking behaviour so that the dog engages in some other more desirable and incompatible activity.

We don’t really want to stop our dogs barking altogether but do want to be able to redirect their behaviour to stop barking if needed.

This signal, a kissy noise, is paired with a treat. The dog orients to you when they hear this signal, because it makes yummies happen, so that you can bring your dog away from barking.

Once your dog can orient to you, you can redirect them to another activity.

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Or we can teach a Shush! cue that means, search the floor for yummies.

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Payen & Assemi, 2017, applied a respondent approach to reducing barking in groups of shelter dogs.

4.3 Differential Reinforcement (DR)

DR means to reinforce another behaviour, that isn’t barking. The more we reinforce (strengthen) quiet behaviour, the less barking there will be.

There are several types of differential reinforcement. Differential Reinforcement of Incompatible behaviour (DRI) is probably the most useful. Pick a behaviour during which your dog is quiet and reinforce that.

That’s why I like snuffling so much; it’s incompatible with barking, your dog is really good at it, and snuffling is reinforced by more snuffling.

Look at your list of whens, now turn those into snuffle parties instead of bark-fests!

This works well for door-bell-barkers:

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Some really intense barkers might require a more gradual approach to reducing barking behaviour. Instead of aiming for quiet, we might reinforce fewer barks, quieter barks, smaller barking behaviour (barking without jumping, for example).

Quiet or quieter behaviour make treat chases and snuffle parties happen.  Aim for at least ten reward-parties each day in relation to quiet behaviour.

Protopopova & Wynne, 2015, found that DR schedules may help to reduce unwanted kennel behaviour in a group of shelter dogs. And Protopopova, Kisten & Wynne, 2016, found that the use of an automated feeder may be effective in reducing barking by differentially reinforcing quiet behaviour in home-alone dogs.

5. Change the picture

Go back to your list of whens:

  • when does your dog bark?
  • when is your dog quiet?

5.1 When does your dog bark? 

Keep a log.

Record when your dog barks and what is happening just before and in the barking picture.

The things that make up the barking picture, or context, tell the dog how they are about to feel (perhaps frustrated at losing access to your attention, interaction reinforcers…all the whys) and what behaviours they will need (barking).

Let’s start changing that picture. Change your dog’s anticipation. Change how they expect to feel and behave.

The first clue to this picture is now going to predict some other, quieter activity.

For example, you just starting to prepare dinner or a snack, makes a fun sniffing game happen in the garden. Set up a sniffing course, find it with toys, or simple scatter feeding.

For example, you setting up to work on your computer, makes a delicious stuffed toy happen in their bed.

For example, you about to engage in some activity that does not involve your dog, makes a snuffle-party happen.

Make the trigger for so-called ‘demand’ or ‘attention-seeking’ barking a cue for something else that’s much quieter.

5.2 When is your dog quiet? 

Keep a log.

Being quiet is just like barking behaviour in that it happens in particular contexts; what do quiet pictures look like for your dog?

There are two things to do here; first, reinforce the hell out of quiet behaviour. Quietness is the most reinforcing behaviour there is.

Second, set up a settle context.

Make sure all your dog’s needs are met; they’ve been fed, had a drink, toileted, mental and physical exercise provided, they have had social interaction and company with you.

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Practice lots. Maybe you only get a few seconds of settling the first time, but keep practicing. The more you do it, in a similar context to how your dog would settle themselves any way, the more successful you will be.

6. Change the motivation

The clue is in the name; this barking dog is seeking attention, interaction, connection. Even when the dog’s barking behaviour appears to function to get other things like food or toys, that they are applying such big behaviour, often suggests to me that they want more than just that.

Despite how annoying their chosen method of communicating that need is, the dog’s behaviour is information and they need you!

Throughout our training program, as we have been working to establish quieter responses and extinguish barking, we have been applying lots of food and other reinforcers. That’s fine, especially for teaching.

Go back to your list of whys; the functions of “attention seeking” barking behaviour (again, the clue is in the name).
The new behaviours, instead of barking, must eventually fulfill the same functions as barking behaviour did.

Examine those whys. Now, begin to add them to the reinforcement strategies you have in place during training.
We are not removing the other reinforcers (e.g. food); we are adding in those other functions, i.e. your attention, interaction, connection. New behaviour must be at least as, if not more, worth your dog’s while. If we are replacing well established behaviour, we have a BIG reinforcement history to match.

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Teach your dog other behaviours, that are quieter, that get them your attention, interaction, connection.

Most likely, those quiet behaviours exist, or certainly did. We humans tend not to observe the subtleties of canine behaviour, and when we do, we often don’t think them relevant or misinterpret them.
Your dog was asking for you, before the barking escalated.

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Film your dog. Set up the camera and leave it running, rather than you holding it, in barking contexts. Review your footage and watch your dog closely. What were they doing before the barking started?

Because this behaviour wasn’t reinforced and barking was required, it might not happen any more. That behaviour didn’t work, and dogs do what works, disregarding the rest.

Film your dog regularly. Become more attuned with their movements, subtleties and nuances. Just watch them. Their behaviour is information.

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Teach your dog that simple, soft eye contact works. No words from you, don’t add a cue. No words are needed.

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Come do our engagement course, with your dog, and open up a whole new way of communicating and interacting with one another. More here. 

Reinforce eye contact by capturing it – this means to just catch your dog gazing at you. Make goods things happen when you catch them quietly finding your face!

7. Provide appropriate enrichment & entertainment

This type of barking may be telling you that your dog needs more appropriate stuff to do.

Unfortunately, enrichment, in the dog world, has become associated with elaborate puzzles and dramatic challenge that appropriate entertainment has been lost.

Before developing an enrichment program for your dog, or introducing entertainment, make sure you have a good understanding of what they need. Is it really more high octane activities? Is it really another tricky brain-game?

You’re in luck. We’ve done the work for you with #100daysofenrichment. All the background info you need to understand what your dog might really need, and hundreds of challenges for you to adjust for your individual dog. Start today!

Appropriate challenge helps provide dogs outlets for good stress, helps them build frustration tolerance and let them be a dog. Your dog would choose this for you both, if he or she could!

In summary

This has become much longer than intended, and certainly more in-depth. But you made it this far.

There are lots of categories of barking behaviour, that may be defined differently, but, barking, like all behaviour, functions for your dog. The program outlined here is specific to “attention-seeking” type barking, but this approach can be applied to lots of types of barking and other behaviours too.

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Not all barking is “attention seeking”, a lot of barking functions as distance increasing behaviour too.

Consider the function of barking (the whys) and examine the pictures/contexts in which barking happens (the whens).

  • collect the data: the whens, the whats and the whys
  • don’t just ignore unwanted behaviour
  • prevent
  • remove access to reinforcers
  • redirect
  • add more reinforcement: non-contingent reinforcement, respondent conditioning, differential reinforcement
  • change the picture (and consider the quiet pictures too)
  • change the motivation (your dog wants you)
  • add appropriate enrichment

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Transparency

This piece is a re-write from one I posted about four and a half years ago. I pulled it about a year ago, maybe a little more. I came across it, quite by accident, and decided that the tone no longer sat comfortably with me. It was a really popular piece, well-shared but there’s nothing like time to give you perspective. We are all learning and growing, me included.

If you want to read it, you can access it here. Use this password: transparency2020

It’s password protected so it’s not available generally, that’s all. I would prefer this be the Barking Mad piece I stand behind. You might be able to spot the tone and content that I don’t really like, or certainly, have moved on from.

Today’s piece sort of got away from me and is really a full dog-nerds program, but was inspired by some pretty funky “demand barking” advice being shared so I thought an update was needed. If I am calling out others’ advice, I may as well highlight that I too am not always happy looking back at what I may have done in times gone by (*cringe*). Fair is fair.

 

He’s not really barking…he’s catching kibble. 

Foundation Mechanical Skills

Online, self-paced, mechanics course for trainers, training enthusiasts and those working toward becoming a trainer!

Mechanical Skills

Do you remember learning to drive? It seemed daunting, and even impossible, that you would eventually be able to work all the controls, moving feet and hands independently and in tandem, while also concentrating on the road, changing the radio station and adjusting the AC.

Maybe you have taken dancing lessons. Learning where exactly to place your feet while marking out each step, movement and posture. After some practice, you are able to do these moves seemingly unconsciously, without too much thinking required.

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We attribute the term “muscle memory” to such skill building often experienced with learning to drive, dance, play an instrument or in sports.

These are mechanical skills and animal training is founded in mechanical skill. Not magic, or “instinct” or mystical powers as so many trainers and TV trainers attest. It just requires skill, knowledge and observation…oh, and tons and tons of practice.

We are sorely lacking good teachers with many believing that just getting behaviour, in animal training to be sufficient. Just getting behaviour is just not good enough.

Good teaching is particularly important for our animals learners, who cannot truly consent to training and who are vulnerable to the whims of humans. Good teaching is part of providing the animals in our care with good standards of welfare.

If you want to teach behaviour, get results and keep you learner happy and engaged, no matter the species, mechanical skills are the keys.

This program, made up of three component courses, will introduce the foundation concepts in teaching from setting up learning environments to monitoring your learner’s comfort, to applying learning theories and drilling mechanical skills.

Foundation Mechanical Skills Program

At a glance: 

When? You can start any time!
Apply here and let us know about your teaching and training experience.

Where? From the comfort of your own home, anywhere, any time!

Who? This course is for professional and student animal trainers, and enthusiasts.
This is a beginners course suitable for those who wish to build on this start, working toward becoming a professional trainer.
This is also a great revision and refinement opportunity for established trainers, who will benefit from structured work, with feedback.

How long? This is a self-paced course, usually taking 3 months to complete. You will have access to the online course area, materials and supplementary resources for four months from your enrollment.
There are three component courses taken concurrently as part of this program:

  • L1 Set-up for Success
  • L2 Fundamentals
  • L2 Clicker Mechanics

How much? Program fees are €80 payable via PayPal or bank transfer, for the entire program. Assessment submission is optional and costs a further €20, payable at submission.

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To participate, you will need:

  • access to suitable learner/s of any species
  • teaching equipment such as clickers, reinforcers and so on
  • appropriate places to work with animal learners, with a chair, table, bowls and so on
  • dice
  • a device and internet access
  • you need to be able to use the internet, blogs, Facebook groups and if you wish to participate to the fullest, be able to record and upload your short training clips
  • means to film your work for guidance and feedback when it’s posted to our Facebook group; it’s best that you can set up the camera or have someone else hold it so that we can see you and your dog.

You get: 

  • 24/7 access to the course online areas, from anywhere, for four months
  • optional assessment submission and self-paced learning
  • multiple media learning resources for viewing or downloading
  • course manuals and assessment portfolios
  • three courses with over 20 instructional and demo clips
  • comment facility at the online course areas for participation, enquiries, interactions
  • access to a Facebook group to post videos for feedback and to interact with participants

Topics covered include:

  • behaviour and environmental interactions
  • training session set-up and planning
  • enrichment and learner welfare
  • reinforcers
  • precision and competency
  • ABCs of behaviour
  • mechanics of reinforcement
  • markers, clickers
  • seven clicker mechanics games including positioning, reinforcer handling, observation and capturing

Your mechanical skills are the foundation for your teaching success and something that AniEd prioritises in all our trainers. Join us on this journey to building mechanical skill,  and lots of skills, ideas and knowledge applicable to all areas of animal teaching.

How Long?! Building Duration

Online, self-paced, mechanics course for trainers and training enthusiasts!

If you want to teach behaviour, get results and keep you learner happy and engaged, no matter the species,, mechanical skills are the keys. Just like sports or dancing, teaching involves technique and skill, that are honed over hours and hours of practice.

Building duration in behaviour during teaching is just one challenge to your teaching mechanics. Doing this course will help you develop a range of approaches to building duration, minimising the use of punishers (yes, even P-) and working with your learner’s behaviours, rather than against them.
You will fill your toolbox with learner-friendly tools so that you will have options to suit a range of learners and requirements.

This course will introduce you to advanced concepts in reinforcement and sequencing, as well as challenge training approaches entrenched in “this is just how we have always done this”. All of it is presented within an evidence based framework relating to the science of how animals learn.

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At a glance: 

When? You can start any time!
Apply here and let us know about your teaching and training experience.

Where? From the comfort of your own home, anywhere, any time!

Who? This course is for professional and student animal trainers, and enthusiasts. A basic level of knowledge and skill is presumed and will be required to complete this course; you must have foundations level mechanics. This is not a beginners course.

How long? This is a self-paced course, usually taking 6-10 weeks to complete. You will have access to the online course area, materials and supplementary resources for four months from your enrollment.

How much? Course fees are €40 payable via PayPal or bank transfer.
Assessment submission is optional and costs a further €10, payable at submission.

To participate, you will need:

  • access to a suitable learner of any species
  • teaching equipment such as clickers, reinforcers and so on
  • a device and internet access
  • you need to be able to use the internet, blogs, Facebook groups and if you wish to participate to the fullest, be able to record and upload your short training clips
  • means to film your work for guidance and feedback when it’s posted to our Facebook group; it’s best that you can set up the camera or have someone else hold it so that we can see you and your dog.

You get: 

  • 24/7 access to the course online area, from anywhere, for four months
  • optional assessment submission and self-paced learning
  • multiple media learning resources for viewing or downloading
  • course manual and assessment portfolio
  • five explanatory lectures (clips)
  • over 20 demonstration clips
  • comment facility at the online course area for participation, enquiries, interactions
  • access to a Facebook group to post videos for feedback and to interact with participants

Teaching duration presents challenges to the teacher and the learner, often resulting in frustration and confusion to both parties.

Clear cueing and excellent mechanics helps to reduce this, improving efficacy and learner experience. This is especially important when it comes to reducing the stress associated with learning and that which may be particularly involved in building duration in teaching behaviours or in life.

Your mechanical skills are the foundation for your teaching success and something that AniEd prioritises in all our trainers. Join us on this journey to building mechanical skill in relation to duration, and lots of skills, ideas and knowledge applicable to all areas of animal teaching.

Rapid & Reliable Recalls

Online, self-paced recall master course for you and your dog!

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Master Course Details:

When? You can start today…or any time! Apply here.

Where? Anywhere, any time!

Who? This training course is for all dogs of any age and their training enthusiast humans.
Training with your dog requires lots of dedication, particularly when working online and remotely, so this course is for pet owners and pros really committed to working on training exercises every day, to see results.

How long? This is a self-paced course with 12 weeks of exercises. You will have access to the online course area, materials and supplementary resources for four months from your enrollment (until the end of November if starting in July, for example).

How much? This course costs €200

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To participate, you will need:

  • a device and internet access
  • you need to be able to use the internet, blogs, Facebook groups and if you wish to participate to the fullest, be able to record and upload your short training clips
  • your dog and your course materials
  • your dog’s walking gear, e.g. collar, harness, lead etc.
  • a harness appropriate to your dog’s conformation is safest when working with long lines; we recommend a Y-harness like this one here
  • a long line of 5m or 10m (more on long line use as required on this course here)
  • various reinforcers for your individual dog such as their favourite food rewards and toys
  • a snufflemat or similar (ideas here) but you may also use a small bowl or container
  • suitable locations to practice that are low distraction and safe, and some places that allow for safe and distanced exposure to distractions appropriate to your individual dog
  • means to film your work for guidance and feedback when it’s posted to our Facebook group; it’s best that you can set up the camera or have someone else hold it so that we can see you and your dog.

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Goals of this course

This course will help you to:

  • build a reliable recall
  • teach recall cue/s that are responded to rapidly, getting that whiplash turn
  • improve your relationship with your dog through the development of rich reinforcement histories
  • get a whiplash turn recall
  • develop new lines of communication between you and your dog
  • have fun with your dog
  • build value in different reinforcers
  • understand how and when to apply appropriate management
  • generalise recall behaviour to different contexts, including distractions

You get: 

  • 24/7 access to the course online area, from anywhere, for four months
  • multiple media learning resources for viewing or downloading
  • almost 30 games over 5 levels across 12 weeks
  • 5 explanatory mini-webinars (clips) – homework for humans – covering topics such as recall management, long line handling, reinforcement, cues, distractions, and motivation, and lots of background information so that you understand how teaching recall works
  • over 70 demonstration clips
  • access to our Get Engaged! course for free
  • comment facility at the online course area for participation, enquiries, interactions
  • access to a Facebook group to post videos for feedback and guidance
  • build a reliable recall with your dog that may be a life saver and will definitely open up a world of fun with your dog
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You’ll have to do a little more than that…

Online Training with your Dog

Before you sign up, consider carefully embarking on an online training course. Teaching your dog requires plenty of time, patience, skill building and knowledge development. When working remotely in a group, this is largely on you.

A course like this is best for those pet owners who are really interested in committing to working with their dog daily, learning lots of new information about dog behaviour and teaching dogs, and in developing great mechanical skill in teaching.

If you’re ready to go, we would love to have you. You can apply here and pay online.

Please note that all dog training, including course activities, are participated in at your own risk. AniEd, staff and trainers cannot accept any responsibility or liability for any injuries or losses sustained during course activities.

You are responsible for your dog’s safety and behaviour at all times and you are advised to ensure you have adequate pet or household insurance cover for liability in the unlikely event of damage or injury caused by your dog to property or to a third party

There can be no guarantees in terms of success with training and behaviour programs as there are so many variables affecting your dog’s behaviour and your success.

Once payment has been received, you will be provided with course access. There are no refunds, whole or partial, available for course fees once you have accessed the online course area.

By continuing and participating in this course you agree to these terms.

Get Engaged! Human training for dogs

Online, self-paced training crash course for you and your dog!

Crash Course Details:

When? You can start today…or any time! Apply here.

Where? Anywhere, any time!

Who? This training course is for all dogs of any age and their training enthusiast humans.
Training with your dog requires lots of dedication, particularly when working online and remotely, so this course is for pet owners and pros really committed to working on training exercises every day, to see results.

How long? This is a self-paced course, usually taking 8 weeks to complete. You will have access to the online course area, materials and supplementary resources for three months from your enrollment.

How much? Course fees: €30
You can pay by PayPal or electronic bank transfer:

  • PayPalhttps://www.paypal.me/AniEd/ or search our email address, info@anied.ie
  • Bank Transfer to the following:
    Account Name: AniEd
    Bank Name: Bank of Ireland
    Account Number: 16146805
    Sort Code: 900420
    BIC/SWIFT: BOFIIE2D
    IBAN: IE84BOFI90042016146805

To participate, you will need:

  • a device and internet access
  • you need to be able to use the internet, blogs, Facebook groups and if you wish to participate to the fullest, be able to record and upload your short training clips
  • your dog and your course materials
  • your dog’s walking gear, e.g. collar, harness, lead etc.
  • a long line of at least 5m (more on using a long line safely here)
  • various reinforcers for your individual dog such as their favourite food rewards and toys
  • a chair to sit in for practicing some course games and a surface, such as a small table, for reinforcers, for some course games
  • a snufflemat or similar (ideas here) but you may also use a bowl or even grass, when working outside
  • places that you can take your dog to practice course games (bearing in mind current restrictions, safety etc.)
  • means to record your work for guidance and feedback when it’s posted to our Facebook group; it’s best that you can set up the camera or have someone else hold it so that we can see you and your dog.

Goals of this course

This course will help you to:

  • improve your relationship with your dog through the development of rich reinforcement histories
  • develop new lines of communication between you and your dog
  • have fun with your dog
  • build value in different reinforcers
  • recognise engagement and disengagement
  • generalise engagement behaviours to different contexts
  • teach focus exercises
  • build a foundation for recall, loose leash walking and other “obedience” exercises

You get: 

  • 24/7 access to the course online area, from anywhere, for three months
  • multiple media learning resources for viewing or downloading
  • course manual to download
  • 14 games over 5 levels across 8 weeks
  • 5 explanatory mini-webinars (clips) – homework for humans – covering topics such as engagement, choice, play, reinforcers, motivation, distractions.
  • over 40 demonstration clips
  • comment facility at the online course area for participation, enquiries, interactions
  • access to a Facebook group to post videos for feedback and guidance
  • set the foundations for a wonderful relationship with your dog

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Engagement. What is it good for?

Like all buzz words that are the talk of trainer-town, engagement is tricky to define. We know it when we see it, and we certainly know when we don’t have it.

‘To engage’ is defined as participating, to attract someone’s attention, and the one I particularly like, to establish meaningful contact or connection.

The important things to note here is that the dog chooses to engage, that they are working to attract your attention, and that you’re (both) developing a meaningful connection.

When engagement happens, the dog is fighting to engage regardless of the presence of distractions and triggers and regardless of whether you have treats or toys.

Making engagement happen starts with the human. If we want our dog to choose us, regardless of what else is going on and regardless of whether we have treats or toys, we have to work to prove that engaging with us is the best!

When the dog is engaged, choosing you regardless, he pushes into the learning and interacting process; he is more than meeting you halfway.

Engagement is the key to teaching nice loose leash walking skills, achieve excellent recall and focus, even around distractions. It’s the foundation to all teaching and “obedience”skills.

Join us on this awesome learning journey, with you and your dog as a team!

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You’ll have to do a little more than that…

Online Training with your Dog

Before you sign up, consider carefully embarking on an online training course. Teaching your dog requires plenty of time, patience, skill building and knowledge development. When working remotely in a group, this is largely on you.

A course like this is best for those pet owners who are really interested in committing to working with their dog daily, learning lots of new information about dog behaviour and teaching dogs, and in developing great mechanical skill in teaching.

If you’re ready to go, we would love to have you. Submit your details in the form here and you will be taken to a page with a link and password. That provides access to the course online area where you will find instructions and course materials.

Please note that all dog training, including course activities, are participated in at your own risk. AniEd, staff and trainers cannot accept any responsibility or liability for any injuries or losses sustained during course activities.

You are responsible for your dog’s safety and behaviour at all times and you are advised to ensure you have adequate pet or household insurance cover for liability in the unlikely event of damage or injury caused by your dog to property or to a third party

Once you have received course access (a link and a password that must not be shared with any other person), there are no refunds available.

By continuing and applying to participate in this course you agree to these terms.

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This is it! This is the last day of the current run! Day 100, more pockets puzzles, here!

Well done getting through all this with your pet, I hope you both have had lots of fun, and most importantly, lots of learning. No matter how much you participated, I can’t thank you enough for being here and seeking to improve your pet’s quality of life, through enrichment!

This is how we do it

In an attempt to differentiate and demarcate, it’s common for trainers, their businesses and training organisations, to invest a lot of effort into discussing what they won’t do, what training tools they won’t use, and how they won’t treat or handle your pet.

And while transparency is good, and historically, in this industry, it has been valuable, we aim to emphasise standards, rather than limitations or restrictions, and what we do, rather than what we don’t.

“Training”

Here’s the thing, we don’t really do training. There isn’t some established definition of ‘dog training’ but the term certainly carries with it many connotations, synonymous with discipline, obedience and control.

We have come a long way in teaching others, and in our role, we have students of different species, each with needs, abilities and expectations.
But, the dogs are the vulnerable parties, whose humans want help to understand the needs of their pets.

It’s all education. And both species require a safe learning environment, free from intimidation, with copious amounts of support and guidance.

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The modern dog

Dogs live with humans, which has provided them with many advantages. But, this arrangement also deprives them of so much, largely because our expectations of them and their behaviour are unrealistic.

As humans continue to live both busier and more sedentary lives, dogs spend longer in virtual social isolation, confined in under stimulating environments, with little consideration for their behavioural needs, to the detriment of their welfare.

Dogs are expected to and must inhibit their tendencies, their behaviour, their very dogginess just to live with us and when they don’t, their lives are at risk.

We put a lot of effort into management; setting up the dog’s environment so they are less likely to make mistakes. Unwanted behaviours, those mistakes, are usually normal dog behaviours. Management alone, suppresses dog behaviour even further, so we don’t do management alone.

What a dog needs

So far, we are talking a lot of what we don’t do. Instead of “training”, our programs help identify and provide for the dog’s needs, while supporting the human owner and making sure everyone’s welfare is maintained.

Foundations, we guide you in establishing, will always lie in helping the dog live an appropriately enriched life and the relationship between both learners, human and canine, being enhanced through engagement.
We work on engagement, and everything else follows – this makes “obedience” just not an important thing.

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We concentrate on teaching behaviours that benefit the dog in their life with their human, and that help the dog and their human live together.
That’s what enrichment is supposed to do; provide dogs outlets for their natural behaviours, providing them with coping skills for the world we keep them in.

Be aware that ‘training’ and learning, for your dog (and for you), is happening all the time, whether you are involved directly, indirectly or not at all.

That’s why we use naturally occurring cues, rather than barking out “commands”. All behaviour is cued by something, even behaviours that we don’t like. Those cues prepare the dog to anticipate outcomes that may relate to them feeling accordingly.

We analyse those cues, or triggers, for behaviour, and teach the dog to carry out some other healthier behaviour in response. This allows us to take a reinforcement based approach and minimise the use of aversives.

“Obedience” is not prioritised as, in our experience, we don’t think that’s what you and your dog needs at all (more here on the whys).

Our species is obsessed with obedience, discipline, control, dominance. Instead of emphasising training exercises, let’s provide our dogs with experiences.

Allow them to navigate our world, as dogs, using their senses, their cognitive approaches, letting them find their joy, allowing them to work it out. We can be their guides (it can be  appropriate and acceptable to both species), jumping in when asked, sharing their joy, basking in their silliness.

This provides dogs with important life skills – stuff you can’t teach through “obedience” or control. Their humans learn how to shape their dogs’ experiences and together they navigate their world.

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An enrichment based approach

Enrichment is about providing captive animals, including companion dogs, with outlets for normal, natural, necessary behaviours. Many people don’t seem to know what constitutes species-typical behaviour and requirements for dogs or about breed/type specific requirements – dogs are just expected to conform.

And, it seems, that the term ‘enrichment’ and its application, have been somewhat co-opted and apparently are thought to be about puzzles of ever increasing complexity.

That’s not it at all. And that’s why I wrote and developed #100daysofenrichment – it’s essentially a complete “training” program, providing both canines and humans with skills and knowledge required to live together happily and healthily.

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No woo here

While all this might sound a little bit out there, we assure you that everything we do is grounded in evidence and sciences relating to animal learning, animal behaviour, human teaching and animal care.

We take a systematic approach to carefully analysing the dog’s environment, lifestyle and behaviour. And then we translate that for their human so that they’re not hit with too much jargon or technicality.

Human centric

Our entire conversation about dogs is from our point of view; how much they love us, how they were sent here to help us; I mean, we say that a dog loves us more than he loves himself.
We talk about the wonders of dogs, but this is largely acceptable only on our terms, via our Disney-version of dogs.

Dogs are wonderful as dogs, just being dogs. Real dogs, uninhibited by human burdens and expectations, doing things that are so often perplexing, and even disgusting, to us, being dogs living their best dog-lives.

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