Today’s topic is bark on command – problem solving. So a while back I was teaching on how to create barking on command. I was going through the process of teaching Jericho and Alpha. If you don’t know, Jericho and Alpha are my German Shepherds. Right now they are a little bit older than seven months and five months. Alpha is seven months old. Jericho is the five month old.
Frustrate The Dog
So part of what I have to do with these dogs is develop a strong bark and hold. And I was fortunate that I was able to take the more traditional route that I was trained to do many years ago on how to get a dog to bark on command. In that particular process, essentially what we do is we’re going to frustrate the dog in a way that gets them to bark for the thing that we’re frustrating them with.
Then when they actually start barking, we then allow them to have the thing that they were barking at. It’s a pretty easy way to get a lot of dogs to bark. One of the things that I’ve been talking about with my clients the past few days, and I’ll share that with you all right now, is that frustration actually has two primary effects when you’re trying to work with the dog. The one that most people probably think about is that frustration actually gets you to quit doing something.
And this is true. However, before that effect happens, that’s the punishing effect of frustration. The first effect of frustration is to get you to try harder. The dog, in this case, tries to do different things to figure out what’s going to work for them to get the thing that they want. So this is where you end up getting your barking.
You’re frustrating the dog and the dog wants to bite that object but they don’t know how. And then it barks because it’s trying to do something new. When that succeeds, then the dog’s brain says that there’s a reinforcing effect, and I should continue to bark. However, if you’re using the method that I use, which was having a leather rag on the other side of a fence using barrier frustration. Sometimes in the dog’s frustration, instead of barking, it will feel like it can’t bite the thing that it wants so it will bite the closest thing to it.
This has another name. This particular behavior is called redirected aggression. Sometimes you’ll see it with dogs that are behind a fence and a car is speeding by. The dogs are chasing the car and the car gets away. But the dog doesn’t get to bite the car. They’ll bite the nearest dog or they’ll bite the nearest human. Now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the dog is aggressive.
The dog’s brain is just going a little haywire, if you will, because it can’t get the thing that it wants. And instead of barking, it decides to bite something. So if you’re having the problem of being on one side of the fence with your dog and you’re using a leather rag or some kind of flirt pole to build the frustration and your dog is redirecting, here are a few things that you can do.
Box The Dog In
Okay, so the first thing that you can do is you can actually box the dog inside of fencing. A lot of times we’re doing this with us on one side of the fence and the dog on the other. But you can create a cube, a cage if you will, with only the dog inside of the fence. And so this way the dog cannot redirect to you when you’re building it this way. Once the dog does start barking, then you can either mark it with your moment markers.”Yes”, “Okay”, your clicker and then release the dog.
When you release the dog, though, you want to make sure that the rag, the bite object that you want your dog to get on, is the fastest moving object in the environment. That it wouldn’t happen to be your legs because the dog is still looking for that target to bite. If you’re able to successfully do this, it should look something like this. Your dog is behind the cage, you begin to tease it, you see the frustration grow, then the dog has enough frustration and it barks. Then you open the door to the containment and the dog chases and bites and tugs on the leather object.
That’s a particularly good way to solve the problem of the dog redirecting on you. Now, there are other ways to do this. One way that you can do this with food, which takes a little bit more patience, is to place your dog on an elevated platform. You can use a dog bed. You can also use some of those great Cato boards. They make some very nice training boards.
You get your dog on there, give them a piece of food, wait maybe 3-5 seconds. Give them another piece of food. Do this for 2-3 days where you’re getting them on the platform and then giving them the piece of food. But then after the third day that the dog has come to expect this, give them a piece of food and then just wait, wait maybe 10 seconds. Start talking to your dog and seeing if you can get them to bark. You could repeat the word “bark” or whatever command that you want to use.
And then as you see the frustration build. You’re going to have to play a game with them to see if you can time it just right to where they’ll get frustrated enough and bark at you so you can give them the food. Or you go ahead and satisfy your dog. So that way, the punishing effect of the frustration won’t come into play. This is why when you’re using this technique, it’s a good idea to go several days of showing your dog that it’s going to get the food, because that’s going to make your dog resistant to the punishing effects of frustration.
Okay, so I hope that’s useful for any of you guys that are trying to develop barks on command and maybe having some problems using the agitation method.There’s the food method that might work for you.