Redirecting and teaching alternate behaviours
Barking is a persistent problem behavior that a lot of people face and for some people it’s very very problematic and that’s where you get dogs that are what you might call nuisance barkers or dogs that will bark over enthusiastically. You know they’re very very vocal perhaps when strangers come to the home or the doorbell goes or somebody knocks on a window or and the dog throws themselves at the window or the front door and you continually tryto pull the dog back but it just carries on doing it maybe your neighbors have complained or maybe you know shift workers. This is a real problem because the dog is waking up everybody else in the house at intermittent times and it’s becoming really a big nuisance for you
Redirecting Behaviour,Stimulus Control
One thing that a lot of people will say is that the way to address problem barking is not to address barking directly but is to control when the dog barks and we can do that by bringing barking under what you call stimulus control so essentially we call on the dog to bark and when the dog barks we reward the dog and then the moment the dog stops barking we reward the dog and then we eventually take the Barking away and only reward times when the dog isn’t barking and we can give that a name .
So whether that’s quiet or silence or thank you or whatever it is and they don’t think it’s all that means be quiet and now I get the reward and so this becomes this very strong Behavior .Or we can teach the dog that one or two barks then you go over to your bed and lay down and I’ll come over there and I’ll give you a reward or a reward can be remotely delivered if you’ve got the kit to be able to remotely dispense rewards to the dog or anything where I’m essentially I’m doing anything other than providing a negative consequence to the behavior of barking.
It doesnt always work
I just want to talk about this because I without doubt, I will tell you that if you’re there and the doorbell goes and you try and counter condition or desensitize or bring barking under stimulus control or Teach an incompatible Behavior other than barking it is completely doable.
Dogs are contextual Learners you’re basically teaching a pattern of behavior and the pattern of behavior is get someone to ring the doorbell or perhaps I’ve got a remote doorbell here so I can control when it’s going to make that sound and I’m going to instantly reinforce not barking. Rapidly reinforce not barking or silence and that gives me this great thing .I’m like wow you know listen now I can push the doorbell no barking there’s some food absolutely brilliant
….UNTIL you’re not there …because you are teaching a pattern you are teaching a context to the dog. You’re basically putting together all these parts to form this jigsaw puzzle that you want them to learn but when you’re not there and the jigsaw falls apart and what the dog then reverts back to what it did previously. It does what previously served the dog best in this situation so in a context other than when you’re there to be able to provide the alternative reward the alternative reinforcer what did the dog do it barked what will it do it’ll bark .
What is the worst thing that you can do for a problematic Behavior give it a random schedule of reinforcement allow it to sometimes happen, allow the dog’s sometimes experience how enjoyable that was to really really strengthen it and that’s the problem that you get with behaviors like this .
So if you do get somebody who says to you, look we can deal with your problematic Behavior by teaching your dog to do something else, instead ,when they the stranger approaches the front of your house or when the doorbell goes or When someone knocks on the front door we can get your dog to do something else or we can bring your barking under stimulus control so we can call upon it speak good quiet good good do you know what I mean start building up this silence command but you’re not there and your dog is because you go to work presumably or you’re taking the kids to school or you need to pop out and get a pint of milk and the dogs at home and somebody comes and calls nobody’s telling me to do anything else there’s no reinforcement so it does the enjoyable thing again and that is why this goes on and on and on and why when the trainer turns up and works with you or when you go to classes the dog’s great there but as soon as you go outside and get into the real world it all starts to fall apart.