Barking Mad

How do I stop Oreo barking?

She will literally bark at ANYTHING. It can be a right pain, especially outside at 7am waking everybody up🤦🏽‍♀️

I was hoping to train it out of her using a clicker. I haven’t used a clicker much with her before so I will obviously begin with teaching her “click” means “treat”, before putting it to a specific behaviour.

My question is: how do I go about using the clicker to stop her barking behaviour?
I am just a little unsure about when to click and treat to allow her to know that I want her to STOP barking, rather than continue doing it!

Any advice will be much appreciated :)
 

snowbunny

Administrator
Do you want her to bark and then you tell her to stop and she stops? Or to not bark at all? Because they're two very different things.

A clicker is a device which helps to teach a precise behaviour. I don't think it's an appropriate tool for this because you don't have a "thing" to click.
 

snowbunny

Administrator
Can you click for quiet instead @snowbunny ? x
An absence of a behaviour isn't a behaviour. I would never click for anything that wasn't something very precise, as it can create confusion. I also don't like to keep clicking once a behaviour is established, because as we're fallible our timing is bound to be off at times and we're more likely to shape a less precise behaviour by continuing to click than if we stop earlier on in the process.

@Sophiedoodle in that case, I would consider training a behaviour that is either incompatible with barking, or that makes the bark less likely. eg some dogs don't bark when sitting, even though they technically could.
My go-to would be a sustained nose target or chin rest, or similar. Outside of the barking situation, train this to fluency. You should then be able to ask for that behaviour when she barks, and she comes to your hand. If she doesn't perform it in that scenario then you might find that this is a problem with arousal rather than training and the barking is fulfilling her need to deal with the stress hormones. In which case, your job would be to help her a) lower that arousal or b) redirect it into a more productive behaviour. So to help my dogs blow off steam if they're a bit buzzy, we do flying hand targets. To calm them, we do eye contact and breathing exercises.
 

snowbunny

Administrator
Ah, well that's more complicated using R+ methods, because you have to determine why she is barking, and come up with a way to either deal with her response to the trigger so that she doesn't feel she has to bark, or else change that trigger into the cue to perform an alternative behaviour which fulfils the same function as the barking behaviour. It's not easy :)
 

Emily_Babbelhund

Mama Red HOT Pepper
I agree with @snowbunny that if you want to use the clicker for this, a nose target would be good. I used this for pretty much anything, including Carbon wanting to go to other dogs when he can't and even distracting him from landings on a plane. He loves nose touch and we've done it so much that it will cut through some pretty formidable stressors.

Also if you find the clicker too fiddly, a sharp and happy "Yes" (or anything one syllable you want) works too. For sustained or calmer behaviours, a long "Goooood" works better with Carbon: he gets too excited about the clicker.

Just saying this in case you misplace your darn clicker because, well...I'm always misplacing my darn clicker! 😂
 

snowbunny

Administrator
Also if you find the clicker too fiddly, a sharp and happy "Yes" (or anything one syllable you want) works too.
I'm using a tongue click with the ladies at the moment. It's far less worrisome for them than the plastic clicker, I can moderate the volume as necessary, and it may also bypass the language centre of the brain which I've read is one of the benefits of a clicker rather than a marker word. I do still use marker words when I'm using particular reinforcement strategies, but my "catch-all" is the click.
 
breathing exercises
??? I’m curious! How do you train breathing exercises with your dogs?

Interestingly, I took Snowie with me to yoga in the park. He was very restless most of the time (tethered to a pole right next to me). But at the end, when we lay supine and did relaxation breathing, he also lay down and relaxed.
 

snowbunny

Administrator
??? I’m curious! How do you train breathing exercises with your dogs?
It's something that Leslie McDevitt teaches. Hold a treat in front of the dog's nose (you want the dog's mouth to be closed, so you may have to work on that part first), then watch the nostrils and wait for them to flare. As soon as they do, feed the treat. Repeat, and after a while you'll see the dog will suddenly "get" it and will flare their nostrils really dramatically. It's really funny! Then you can transition to a different cue. I point and my nose and breath in through it.
 
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