Barking (driving you) Mad

Pretty much all dogs bark but demand or attention seeking barking has the potential to drive you mad, and we have had a run of cases involving demand barking , driving owners mad.

There are lots of different reasons for a dog barking, and certainly excessive barking or changes to barking behaviour (increases or decreases, for example) may even indicate an underlying medical causes so a vet visit is a good idea.

To solve problem behaviours, we need to know what the behaviour is, when the behaviour happens and why the dog does it. (you can apply this to any behaviour, not just demand barking)


What is demand barking?

Demand barking is usually directed at you or the thing the dog wants e.g. the ball that’s rolled under the sofa.

The demand barker 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 you how it’s done:


In that clip, we were coming to the end of our session and he had worked hard at self-control, so he’s a little depleted. We have also just started to work on some lead handling and this has raised his excitement level.

By taking a break in the constant stream of opportunities to earn rewards to talk, Balto becomes frustrated and wants the game to continue.

When does your dog do it?

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

Sound familiar?

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.

There’s a hint in the label for this barking…attention-seeking…

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.


These barkers become the centre of attention when they bark, whether they get good things or are told off, it’s all rewarding for this barker.

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


Why does your dog still do it?

Even though you might have tried ignoring your demand barking dog, he still shouts at you.
Attention seeking behaviour will often present like this, as very resistant to efforts at withdrawing the reward. This is likely because this behaviour works best in extinction burst.


Extinction is not just for dinosaurs

Extinction happens when we break the associations between the when and why and demand barking. Extinction means preventing the dog barking at the when and stopping him gaining access to the why.

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:


Problems with extinction: extinction bursts

If you have been rewarding demand 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 what he wants.


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 extinction of the demand 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.

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 in the situation too, further damaging relationships.

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


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

Just ignoring unwanted behaviour (as is often recommended) is not good enough, easy, safe or effective so for peace and quiet we need to develop a better program.

Achieving Peace & Quiet

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


1. An ounce of prevention…

List the whens in which demand barking is likely.

Prevent your dog practicing attention-seeking barking – practice makes perfect and your dog is already pretty good at demand barking!

Before they start, give your dog something else to do, ideally something that makes demand barking at you difficult.

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

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.

A little bit of extinction can be applied, 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.

When it happens, stop the interaction, go still and don’t reward. Step or turn away if you need to. Wait for the silence…

When they stop, count to three before redirecting their behaviour. This might mean that you resume the interaction, or you ask for another behaviour.

Reward with attention, food rewards, toys or access to good things.


4. Make quiet MORE rewarding

Make a training mix with your dog’s regular food:


Have a little bowl/s of your dog’s training mix in places that you and your hang out – there should be at least ten rewards available.

Your dog isn’t barking all the time.

Reward your dog at least ten times for quiet over the day. Use all those food rewards, and restock if you need to.

5. Change the motivation

An attention seeking dog wants and needs something from you, as annoying as their chosen method of communicating that need is.

Teach your dog how to train you to give him access to things he wants without having to bark or be obnoxious.


Work on default sits:



You can work on default downs too, any behaviour that makes barking a little more difficult and giving attention easier.

By practicing throughout the day your dog is being rewarded more and more for quiet too.

6. Interrupt barking

We don’t really want to stop our dogs barking altogether but do want to be able to control it a little better.

You can teach an interruption cue, that may be applied to different unwanted behaviours including barking.


Or we can teach a Shush! cue that is eventually applied to barking behaviour, after some practice:

Sssshhh! means search the floor for yummies:


7. Work on underlying factors too

Demand barking can be a sign telling us that the dog doesn’t have enough to occupy himself, that he doens’t tolerate frustration well and that he doesn’t calm himself too well either.


And then bask in the peace and quiet…

This week, at AniEd


This week we had lots of applicants in for interview, well more of a chat really, for our new Canine Behaviour & Training Technician program that’s starting next month. CBTT7 will be starting soon and we can’t wait!

Awesome Pets & their People


Molly was back for more Daytraining this week and we were able to achieve more polite leash walking in new areas with much improved responsiveness and reduced vigilance from Molly!



And by making dog walks more dog, we can take some of the pressure off loose leash walking all the time, which dogs find really hard:



We had a home visit for follow-up with Teddy as part of our continued program to help him settled in and become more comfortable with triggers.

We also hung out with his sister Daisy and the dogs played with the snufflemats their owner has made for them!

Ted learns that triggers mean yummies, and soon mean to look to his mum:


Help your dog pass major triggers, when there’s no other way, like a large dog in a window (only a couple of metres from the pathway) barking at us, as is the case here:


Doing a U-turn to avoid triggers that may cause stress and a reaction requires lots of enthusiasm – Ted’s certainly got that:


Ralph came for a training session and we discussed adolescent excitement, dog-dog play and lots and lots of recall training.

Ralph and his people will be working through our recall exercises over the next month or so to improve responsiveness and self-control.

First step is to condition a new recall cue, so that hearing those words causes a whip-lash turn:


Once we can surprise Ralph with his new recall cue when he’s mildly distracted, we can begin to build an approach and collar grab into our recall routine:


Putting it altogether we can play the high energy game Recall Relays so that recalls mean fun and rewards:


When we can play recall relays in lots of different environments, we can begin to really challenge our recall cue by adding distraction recalls:



Not only does our new recall cue mean that the dog will always be rewarded, but also means that to access distractions they must recall first.


Lola came for some behaviour work – she is even more adorable in real life! She has spent much of her early life confined to a crate but is now in a great new home and we will be working through some behaviours to help her settle and better cope.

Teaching default sits is a great exercise – think of all the things that your dog can’t do if she’s sitting…!


Newly rehomed dogs will often require help with separation; we get started with Lola right away:


Providing dogs with fun puzzles is great but especially for dogs who need a confidence boost:



People Training

More Canine First Responder course delivery this week for the Animal Care students of Ormonde College of Further Education, Kilkenny with everyone earning their certs and a greater understanding of what to do in an emergency.


This weekend, our CTI3 learners are back for their second weekend of tuition, working on Canine Health & Disease and Animal Learning & Applications.

They are working hard on learning about canine health, responsible ownership, disease and disease prevention, emergency care, environmental enrichment, learning theories, canine signaling, the effects of aversives and training techniques luring, capturing, targeting and freeshaping. They will certainly deserve their rest after all that!


Looking forward to a sunny week, next week!

Weekly Woof from the Web

More woofs!

We are all about making walks more interesting and have written about it here and looked at in a couple of training videos too here and:


Check out this great clip with some lovely ideas from Muttamorphosis:


Specific ingredients are often present in dog attacks to humans, the impact of many being preventable. This excellent piece looks at the building of a dangerous dog, in a pretty direct manner.

What would it look like if we treated other people we don’t know, like we do strange dogs? Would our expectations of dog behaviour change…?

(language advisory for this one)


We couldn’t blame these people for objecting to this harassment, yet may subject dogs to this and expect them not only to tolerate it, but to enjoy it. Not fair!

Reframing is key to many of life’s challenges, including some dog training challenges too: Training mindfully

Dogs have such an entwined relationship with humans that they have apparently evolved a heightened awareness for our emotional states:


Nail clipping is often dreaded by both people and pets, but just how important is cutting your dog’s nails, really?
Teach your dog to be more comfortable with nail clipping, rather than just managing their behaviour with help from this lovely clip:


Please share this clip with dog owners and parents: My dog growled at my baby…help!

Willy the Pug chooses to work for his food, rather than take that same food for free from a bowl – dogs are contrafreeloaders!


Even Willy thinks food bowls are a bad idea!

40 Awesome Guinea Pig tricks from cutie Ceico – awesome training, great relationship and so much fun!
And here’s his pal Ace doing some scentwork – not just for dogs!

Dogs + trampolines = lots of fun!

Pretty sure we’ve all had days where we felt like this persistent dog

What do you get when you add Whippet puppies to a box…? watch and find out *melt*


Weekly Woof from the Web

So many awesome woofs from around the web, let’s get started!

Lots of interesting pointers here to help tell if our dog has a muscle injury.

Just like humans, visual acuity in dogs declines with age but dogs are more likely to become nearsighted, according to a recently published report. This may account for changes in responsiveness and other behavioural responses. Summary of this work here.

Some excellent tips: Creating a canine travel emergency kit 

We all want our dogs to be happy so here are 10 things to avoid as many dog don’t like them, and here are 16 things you should stop doing in order to be happy with your dog because your happiness is important too; enjoy your dog and be happy together!

Talk about keeping ’em happy…here are 19 easy dog treat recipes!

You know your pet best and if you suspect that they are a little off, it’s a good idea to have a chat with the vet. Here are 5 surprising signs your pet might need to see a vet.

And to keep that vet visit and treatment as stress-reduced as possible this post offers a wealth of resources on doing just that: Less stress at the vets for dogs and cats

A nice straight forward piece here, Are Muzzles Cruel?…let me give you a hint…NO!

Some pets are just super helpful…


They will always be your best friend… (tissues needed)


And here’s what it would look like if donkeys had Skype…


Congratulations to Lucca, an explosives detection dog, receives the Dickin Award, after serving with the US Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan and losing a leg – go Lucca!

This week, at AniEd

A busy week of dogs, dogs, dogs and one cat…


Awesome Pets & their People

Molly did some really fantastic work during Daytraining this week and we made lots of progress when we went for short walks – go Molly!

Molly – treat stalking level: expert

Here she practices Crate Games, 1, learning to settle in her crate, that polite behaviour gets her nice things and that rewards happen away from the door:


This stunner, Balto, came for some behaviour work and we put lots of new exercises in place to help him and his family.



Practice collar grab exercises with your dog everyday, even if you only do five reps at a time – it all adds up, helping your dog feel more comfortable with collar handling, a vital skill.


Make sure to go at your dog’s pace, listening to them to maintain comfort and safety.

Elvis, and his buddy Millie, came for a training session too and we worked on confinement comfort…but really needed to spend more time working on posing…or at least both looking at the camera at the same time…


Bella and Ruby came for a visit too. Bella has just been adopted and we want to make sure that these two girls learn to get along and develop a great friendship.

We looked at lots of the best ways to manage their behaviour with separation and careful integration so that we can avoid the rehearsal of any unwanted or inappropriate behaviour.

On walks we are going to practice lots of parallel walking so that the girls can become more comfortable with one another, in wide open space, without direct approach or contact, and while everything is moving.


Here’s a top tip: do you own an adolescent dog, a new dog, a puppy or a worried dog?

Bring treats with you on every walk. Any time you or your dog spot something concerning that causes your dog to alert, stop and watch your dog closely.

Each time your dog looks at the distraction, feed them a treat, one after another.
Soon your dog will begin to get the game and look at the distraction and then back at you (hey! where’s my treat?!). Your dog is learning that distractions mean to focus on their person – without you saying a thing!


If your dog reacts, vocalises, can’t take food or is unable to look away from the distraction, the situation may be too much for them. Get them out of there and try again, when further away.

Rua and Loki are quite a pair – full of life and mischief! They came for some behaviour work to help them cope better with stress, learn to settle when apart and make life easier for everyone!

Blurry tails!

Loki is learning to happily wear a muzzle right now; an important skill for all dogs.

We recommend this training program for helping dogs learn greater comfort with muzzling and taking your time so that they are comfortable with the feel of the muzzle on their face.

If your muzzle training reaches a bit of a lull or you want to give your dog some extra help, try adding this exercise:


Prince, such a cheeky chappie, came for some behaviour work too and is going to be learning all about crate training and handling comfort from now on!

An unexpected visitor

A very sweet and friendly cat, yes, a feline, found us and we soon made friends. He has no collar or chip, and is injured and quite skinny.
He is very comfortable with our handling and contact and had a yummy lunch, before we brought him to the vet for treatment.

We have a lovely rescue space all lined up for him, should no owner come forward, so hopefully he is on the road to recovery soon.

We have named him Ollie!

Although we didn’t introduce him to the dogs, to prevent any distress, Daisy and Dilis had a great time sniffing one of the blankets he slept on, giving it a very thorough going over!

Olfactory enrichment!

People Training

Today our CN4 group came for their last day of tuition on their Canine Nutrition course.

We covered lots and lots, with some great discussions on homemade and commercial diets, food and behaviour, dietary adverse reactions, obesity and dietary support and management for a range of conditions.

A busy day with Decker lending a hand because who better to tell us about canine nutrition than the dog himself!


AniEd Dogs

These four troublemakers had lots of fun being office dogs:



Weekly Woof from the Web

More woofing to make up for the lack of Woofs last week!

The fantastic Jessie is still looking for her forever home!

Detail of an amazing piece of work, run by Morris Animal Foundation since last year, involving 3000 Golden Retrievers and their owners hoping to shed more and more light on genetic disease, particularly related to cancers in these dogs, all dogs and people too: San Jose dogs, owners join DNA studies to help find cures

Bloat or GDV, is a scary and often fatal condition particularly affecting large dogs (especially Great Danes) and one long surrounded in mystery. Works commissioned in the last few years is progressing to provide more information on the possible genetic basis of this and related conditions; a summary of this fascinating and not yet published work here.
Never heard of bloat or not sure what it looks like? Check out this piece on identifying the signs of bloat.

Hopefully we haven’t scared you too much about bloat, but here are 8 ways your pet can help relive your stress
And certainly the pet-person relationship can be beneficial for all-round health; read this heartwarming story about a 90 year old woman (who) declines chemotherapy, chooses to spend her final days travelling with her dog. Both Ringo & Norma are lucky to have one another, for however long.

Teaching your dog to settle on a mat is a vital skill; here’s a great starter clip:


Here a couple of ideas for YUMMY homemade treats: Easy-peasy 4 ingredient dog treats and Homemade frozen peanut butter banana dog treats

Dogs who are trained for the highly stressful and difficult job of being an assistance dog are very carefully selected, produced, reared and trained – this is not a job that any or every dog can do; read the ups and downs of such a journey here.

Losing a beloved pet is never easy (in fact, it downright sucks!) and grieving is an important part of the process: After pets pass and What you need to know about grief & losing a pet
And if you have to make that awful, hard decision here are 5 tips for preparation.

When we keep dogs as pets they are living in a foreign land; take some time to learn a little about their communication behaviour (I am sure that you have noticed that they can read humans pretty well!):


And for a more indepth covering try here and here.

Despite our shaky grasp of DOG, your dog thinks you’re perfect just the way you are!

Some pretty neat ideas for puzzle feeders for cats in here, and they may be suitable for some dogs too!

The Subaru ads never disappoint dog lovers: Dog Tested and Do more of the good stuff (search their channels for more!)

I really hope that this is true and KLM really do this..!

Apparently today (4/4) is World Rat Day – check out these fabulously trained pet rats!

And your daily d’awwwww:


Have a great week!

Weekly Woof from the Web

Ooops, we seemed to have missed a Woof so will make it up with two this week!

The GORGEOUS Jessie, who needs a new home!

The key to teaching any species is first understanding how they learn about the world; this is a great place to start:


But training/learning is for all species, in pretty much the same basic way, so here are some lions with an awesome recall and stationing behaviour: Recall

We’ve all seen our dogs apparently act out some intense scene in their sleep, but do humans and animals have similar dreams?

Not only do we teach dogs how to behave around children and teach parents how to monitor child-dog interactions, we can teach children the best ways to behave around dogs too: How to be a kid dogs feel safe with
And some great tips on keeping interactions safe too: A dog will always tell you if he’s about to bite

We are pretty bonkers about enrichment for dogs – anyone handy want to build us one of these?!


Older dogs require a little extra TLC to make sure they have the best quality of life for as long as possible: 6 Tips for Caring for Older Dogs

Just as it’s important to take care toward the end of your dog’s life, it’s also vital that great care be taken at the start of your dog’s like: Puppy 101

We have talked about the importance of looking beyond daily-walkies as a way of entertaining your dog here; this piece looks at this too, with some nice ideas included: What’s in a walk?

Muzzle training is a must for ALL dogs, before they need to wear one: Muzzles: limiting or liberating?

Such an elaborate operation, and clearing away the evidence too:


Here’s another super talented canine:


And on stealth, I think this fella has them all beaten: Ninja Husky

Developing the next generation of animal care, training and beahviour specialists in Ireland.