Learned Behavior Barking
Dogs who bark because they have learned that barking gets them what they want are often the hardest dogs to teach not to bark. Quiet often the problem will get worse before it gets better as the dog will get frustrated that the thing that worked before stops working.
The best method is a combination of three things, stop rewarding the barking, teach an alternate behavior, and teach the dog to bark on cue.
The first step is often the hardest. Your dog has trained you to respond to his barks to make them stop. When you first stop responding to barks in the way your dog expects, he will bark more to encourage you to do the thing he wants. It will take quite a lot of self control to keep yourself and your other family members from forgetting and rewarding the barking.
Teaching an alternate behavior is by comparison easy. For instance, if your dog is used to barking when he wants to go outside, you can teach him to ring a bell or push a button to make some noise that will alert you to his need to go outside. This will allow your dog to still be able to communicate in a more socially acceptable way.
Teaching a problem barker to bark on cue is a great way to control barking. If the only time he receives rewards for barking is when you ask him to, he will slowly stop barking for other reasons. It also gives you the ability to teach ‘hush’ which is a command to end barking.
Laura Azevedo CPDT – KA