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National Train Your Dog Month: Animal-Directed Demand Barking

by | Jan 20, 2012 | 10 comments

I had two comments about what to do when the demand barking your dog exhibits is not directed at you but at another dog in the house.  This is such a common (and annoying) puppyish (my scientific term for “juvenile”) behavior, I thought I would address it here.

If you haven’t already done so, go back and read my original post on demand barking.  Once you’ve read that, you ‘ll understand that it isn’t good enough to just not give the dog what he is demanding by barking, you must also remove the possibility of the dog gaining the reinforcement he is seeking.  So how the heck do you do that when it’s a dog’s attention he is seeking?

You remove the other dog.  No, that doesn’t mean you put the poor dog that’s being barked at in isolation.  It means you go get that dog and take her into another room for a treat, leaving the barker behind.

It really is simple as that, you can’t yell at the naughty dog because that will affect the poor good dog, and you can’t remove the naughty dog because then (at least for a few seconds) someone is paying attention to him.  Barking dogs need to be invisible.

After some time, if you are consistent, the dog-directed (or cat-directed, etc.) demand barking should stop happening, or at least drop in frequency, especially if the barker is a young pup that hasn’t had a lifetime of accidental reinforcement for demand barking.

What other frustrating things do your dogs do?


  1. Laura Markey

    Thanks for the tip. I’d been putting the woofing pup behind a babygate for a 20 second time out every time he barked at one of the others to get a toy. I’ll now try taking the other dog plus toy/treat out of the room and see how we get on with that!

    • cogdogtrainer

      You’re so welcome, Laura, and thanks for the comments!

  2. kimchisue123

    Thanks for this! We recently adopted an additional pup (9 month old terrier/corgi) that has quite the demand bark to get me and my other dog to give her attention. I am sure her previous owners gave into her demands as this is much more that the usual puppy barks. She seems to be understanding (after many days, lots of barking and enormous restraint on my part) that if she barks at me I leave the room and she does not get what she wants. Still, she is having a hard time when the two dogs are in full play and she barks at my quiet dog. It makes sense to leave the room with the other dog and give him treats but I am finding the whole process too time consuming…not from a waste of my time standpoint but from a training standpoint. I am afraid by the time I grab my other dog and we go to the kitchen she isn’t understanding why we are leaving. Do you think using a marker sound like “uh uh” when she barks would be good? Any other ideas? Her demand barking is INSANE.

    • cogdogtrainer

      You’re welcome, and I’m glad you’re finding my advice helpful. But, you’re forgetting an important piece (which is perhaps not clear enough in the blog); you must have positive reinforcement backing up the correct behavior. The reason it seems to be taking a long time is that you don’t have that piece. Any time your pup attempts to get your attention in any quiet way (or doesn’t try to get your attention at all), engage her and play with her AT THAT TIME. Being a terrier corgi mix puppy she would probably thrive on some good tug games and shaping sessions. I find that my dogs only demand bark at me when I haven’t given them what they need (exercise, play, mental stimulation) which is my fault, and not theirs. I would not use a no-reward marker, because she doesn’t yet understand how to ear the reward in the first place. The first step is always prevention, if the demand barking is really frequent, she needs more out of her environment than she is currently getting.

      • kimchisue123

        Thanks! Very good point! We are doing positive reinforcements whenever she comes to us and sits quietly or if she is just relaxing on her bed. I do think I can give her more positive reinforcements though. I recently moved her daily dog park outing to the morning, which seems to be helping.

        Still, she seems persistent about barking at our other dog. They play quite often but sometimes he needs a break and she barks at him. I am still trying the leave the room with the other dog technique but I don’t think she is understanding…but we are only on day two so I will keep it up. Also, do you have any tips for stopping barking during play? It is not quite demand barking but more excitement. I have been stopping the play when she barks but it is hard to reward her when they are playing and she does not bark.

        • cogdogtrainer

          I typically allow barking during play. It is unlikely that your dog will understand what behavior you are targeting when you disallow noisy play, which leads to frustration, which leads to more barking. The whole reason the dog won’t understand is what you just pointed out–you can’t reward the quiet play effectively. So allow it and kick them outside if it gets too noisy. Your pup might mature and find life in general a little less exciting, which will cause a decrease in barking anyway.

  3. Karen

    Thanks for such an insightful post. I’ve only just discovered your blog (I googled “demand barking”). I would love to hear your comments on my dog’s demand barking: Kira and I go to agility training classes, and she shows all the signs of loving the sport. She is eager and her eyes are shining and she is very focused. However, in between our turn on the equipment we wait at the side of the barn whilst other dogs are getting their turn. Kira will then suddenly utter a VERY high-pitched bark, and then keep barking at me. She is seeking my attention, and I’m not quite sure what she expects from me, but if I cue her to do some tricks and reward her for those then she keeps quiet again. But often it is very natural for me to look away, watch the other dogs perform, talk to another person, listen to our instructor, etc. Then she barks. Because it is so high-pitched, my body reacts with a fright (usually I jump a little with surprise) before I have even registered what is going on. I’ve tried extinguishing the behavior by turning my back to her and looking up and away. But that hasn’t worked (over many sessions). I’ve also tried teaching her a “quiet” cue, and a “whaddaya say?” cue to distinguish between the barking and the quiet, but that hasn’t stopped her from barking when I’m not paying her attention. I’m afraid that my body’s fright reaction serves as an encouragement for her to carry on. And in any moment that I’m not directly paying her attention, she utters these high-pitched barks. I can’t pay her attention 100% of the time, I can’t offer her a raw meaty bone in that setting, and any toys I offer her are useless unless I play with her. I also can’t easily crate her as the barn is very large, and I can’t quickly get to the crate before it is our turn to perform again (and anyway she’d bark even more persistently inside the crate). Do you have any suggestions for me? I really want to fix this.

    • cogdogtrainer

      Hi Karen,
      This is an excellent question and I am working on a whole blog to address it. Watch for that, it should be up in the next week.

      • Karen

        I’m really looking forward to your blog on this question. I’m just wondering whether to buy a Manners Minder (remote treat dispensing system), and to try to train Kira to be quiet in her crate whilst I train my other dog loose outside the crate. My initial thought is to actually just concentrate on rewarding Kira for being quiet, and ignore my loose dog until Kira is happier to be quiet. Then I might try the same approach with her outside the crate, but perhaps tethered near to the Manners Minder. What do you think?


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