How to handle attention-seeking barking

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There are a lot of times where dogs barking is helpful. When they tell us they need to go outside, or they need more water, or there’s a raccoon digging in your garden! But what do you do when your dog is barking for attention? We share helpful tips from our friends at the ASPCA. 

What does my dog’s bark mean? 

It’s important to make sure you know the reasons behind your dog’s bark. It could be territorial, greeting, socially motivated – these reasons are broken down here. 

If it is attention-seeking barking, it’s important to know this behaviour isn’t by accident. This is learned behaviour, even if it wasn’t your intention as a pet parent.  

What to do about the behaviour? 

The important thing with this behaviour is not to reward your dog for barking. Although this may be challenging, the ASPCA advises ignoring the barking .  

To dogs, even scolding or talking to them can be seen as rewarding attention. Instead, use your body language to make it clear to your dog you will not reward their behaviour. This may look like turning away and leaving the room. When your dog stops barking, this is your opportunity to ask him to sit, and provide what he was asking for (attention, play, coming inside/outside). 

Teaching alternative behaviour 

Another method of dealing with this behaviour could be to teach an alternative behaviour. 

For example if your dog is barking at you for attention, work on teaching a sit for attention instead.  Start with when your dog is quiet, ask them to sit. hwen your dog sits, provide lots of attention and even start a play session. Continue this multiple times a day, only giving attention to your dog when they are sitting quietly. 

Finally, you want to make sure you’re regularly seeking out your dog to give him attention when he’s not barking. This could be giving him a treat, verbal praise, or petting. 

We hope you found these tips helpful! For more information on barking behaviours, click here! 

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