The most annoying behaviour that Oscar has (besides chewing...enough said) is barking. I think it's starting to scare the neighbour kids, who are out more often now that the weather is getting better. He can see them when they play out back because the pen is right next to the window and he pretty much barks at them incessantly. I really hate to think that Oscar might make them nervous, not to mention the barking is annoying, so I really want to get rid of his barking. Nothing that we have tried so far has worked, whether it's shaking a pop can full of pennies, spraying him with water from a mister, or treating him when he's momentarily quiet in the middle of a barking spree after telling him to be quiet. When it comes to the last option, I think he gets confused and associates the barking with a reward because of the timing. The other two options just agitate him, which makes him bark more. Not useful.
So, after seeing the video, I figured I'd try cuing the barking to eventually get rid of it. I managed to teach him the Bark command in about ten minutes. It's easy to train a behaviour that comes so naturally to him! Now the tricky part will be getting him to learn that he only gets treats when I tell him to bark, not whenever he feels like barking. I really hope this works, because otherwise I'll just have a dog who barks whenever he wants treats, which is pretty much all the time!
Now that he's associated the word "bark" with actually barking, I have started to ignore him when he barks spontaneously (which he was previously rewarded for, when I was trying to teach the command in the first place). I have instead been telling him "quiet," and then rewarding when he stops barking. I continue to treat when he barks on cue. Do you think treating "Bark" and "Quiet" together is confusing? Has anyone tried this, and if so, what worked for you and what didn't? If this works, I'll feel like a genius. If it doesn't, I'm buying earplugs in bulk.
|Oscar thinks getting treats for |
barking is the greatest thing ever!