Teaching the Bark

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Postby DemoDick » September 7th, 2008, 2:50 am

Sure, I can get rid of whining too...with a quiet, or no command...but for serious whining...anything? I never realized how annoying it was until Elwood came into my life. The others all whine for things, but not constantly.


When is the dog whining and when does he do it? Until that gets addressed everything else is superfluous.

In this case, it sounds like something that has been inadvertenly reinforced to death by someone else. Also, for some dogs, vocalization is a self-rewarding behavior. I think it goes back to genetics and wild dogs. Coyotes, for example, sing in unison for a number of reasons but it is mainly a social activity that just feels good. Some domesticated dogs are wired to, or in some cases learn to, vocalize to relieve stress or elicit a reaction from their owners as a form of very subtle manipulation. Connor whines in the crate peridodically when we have guests and/or their dogs over and was really getting on my nerves tonight, for example. He abandoned that strategy when he realized it was getting him nowhere and Dad wasn't happy with it.

For a chronic crate whiner, typically, I would introduce an appropriate correction via a long line strung out the door. We are not so much trying to "punish" the vocalization as we are trying to break the cycle of vocalization to create the desired behavior. I've also heard it referred to as a "pattern interrupt" in training circles. Couple the correction with a "quiet" command previously taught through marker training, and (this is crucial) IMMEDIATELY reward the "quiet behavior" with a mark and treat.

I normally don't like to use a correction when the dog doesn't know what is being asked of him but in this case the correction creates the desired behavior that we need to mark. The goal is to place the dog in a very black and white place where vocalizations result in unpleasantness while quiet gets him treats. It is absolutely necessary to prime the dog by marking and treating quiet behaviors away from stress by specifically eliciting vocalization and ignoring everything but its cessation and labeling the "quiet" behavior.

This must be repeated until the dog understands that the crate is a place for him to retreat into for quiet, restful time. Another major part of this is to make sure that his "crate time" is largely enjoyable anway, so he should enter his crate to discover peanut-butter stuffed Kongs, treats, or whatever else floats his boat. What we want to do is teach him that stress is a no-brainer when in the crate; it can be avoided by sleep and relaxation.

Of course, your mileage may vary.

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Postby airwalk » September 7th, 2008, 9:33 am

Demo Magic is typically quiet in his crate, as a matter of fact that is one tool I use when his stimulation level rises to a point he doesn't seem to be able to find the off switch...he spends a few minutes (usually 20-30) in his crate quieting down.

It's the other dog, getting in the car, walking to a new place, new people in the mix, a new sound...those types of stimulus that he also doesn't seem to be able to control and I haven't figured out how yet to nix the whining and the occassional bark outburst (and yes it's really kind of a I can't help myself outburst).
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Postby TheRedQueen » September 7th, 2008, 10:32 am

Well, in my case, this dog has been gone for a few years...lymphoma got him a couple years ago. :(

But he was difficult to deal with...in terms of the whining...and I never fully resolved it...he whined till the day he died.

He too was quiet in his crate...and quiet at home (most of the time). Things that caused him anxiety were ever changing...it just depended on his mood and confidence level. But even when he was confident...at flyball let's say, he'd whine because he was excited about getting ready to run.

He was also a screamer...so corrections given often made him vocalize in other ways. :nono:

I wish he was still around, because I wasn't using the clicker as much then...I'd like to see what I could do with him now. ;)
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Postby DemoDick » September 7th, 2008, 2:44 pm

airwalk wrote:Demo Magic is typically quiet in his crate, as a matter of fact that is one tool I use when his stimulation level rises to a point he doesn't seem to be able to find the off switch...he spends a few minutes (usually 20-30) in his crate quieting down.

It's the other dog, getting in the car, walking to a new place, new people in the mix, a new sound...those types of stimulus that he also doesn't seem to be able to control and I haven't figured out how yet to nix the whining and the occassional bark outburst (and yes it's really kind of a I can't help myself outburst).


Try to elicit the behavior with a stimulus and then mark the instant he shuts up.

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Postby airwalk » September 7th, 2008, 6:23 pm

That's what we're working on now...keeping my fingers crossed.
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Postby HappyPuppy » September 9th, 2008, 6:22 pm

I just started rewarding Ruby for every vocalization and I'd reinforce the word, "talk" with the treat (esp when she was being pestery and talkitive) - then I started rewarding for more proper barks - but actually, I prefer little airy-sounds vs the full-on BARK but if I keep waiting on giving the treat she'll offer a louder response.
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Postby DemoDick » September 11th, 2008, 1:51 am

Matt,
Did you get a bark yet?

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Postby maberi » September 11th, 2008, 8:44 am

DemoDick wrote:Matt,
Did you get a bark yet?

Demo Dick


Yes I got a bark last night a 12:00 when a group of teenagers walked past the house. Unfortunately I couldn't find my clicker in the dark so I just screamed at him to shut the F up
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Postby DemoDick » September 12th, 2008, 12:44 am

Yes I got a bark last night a 12:00 when a group of teenagers walked past the house. Unfortunately I couldn't find my clicker in the dark so I just screamed at him to shut the F up.


Good reason to ditch the clicker and go with a verbal mark. You can't forget your vocal cords. But I'm not sure I'd be marking that particular type of bark. You could me reinforcing something you don't want. Keep working and have fun.

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Postby pitbullmamaliz » September 12th, 2008, 7:15 am

maberi wrote:Unfortunately I couldn't find my clicker in the dark so I just screamed at him to shut the F up


Interesting choice of marker word/phrase. Most people use "Yes" or "good" or something easy along those lines. But "shut the F up!" has a nice ring to it. May be fun to use in public.
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Postby TheRedQueen » September 12th, 2008, 9:35 am

pitbullmamaliz wrote:
maberi wrote:Unfortunately I couldn't find my clicker in the dark so I just screamed at him to shut the F up


Interesting choice of marker word/phrase. Most people use "Yes" or "good" or something easy along those lines. But "shut the F up!" has a nice ring to it. May be fun to use in public.


I shall use that with my Service Dogs from now on! :dance:

BTW, I manage to use clickers and verbal markers, Demo, there is no reason to "ditch" the clicker to use a verbal marker at times. My guys understand both. ;)
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Postby maberi » September 12th, 2008, 9:46 am

Yes, I do use verbal markers as well (Yes!!)
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Postby maberi » September 12th, 2008, 10:35 am

Oh, BTW

Kayden was playing with Karma in the dining room this morning while i was eating breakfast and he barked. I marked this and his eyes lit up and he stared at me wondering what he did right

Maybe I can use Karma to help him learn :|
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Postby Wyldmoonwoman » September 12th, 2008, 10:46 am

maberi wrote:Oh, BTW

Kayden was playing with Karma in the dining room this morning while i was eating breakfast and he barked. I marked this and his eyes lit up and he stared at me wondering what he did right

Maybe I can use Karma to help him learn :|


GREAT IDEA! You may have found the thing that makes Kayden bark! Just make sure you don't mark a pissed off at Karma bark!
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Postby LaylaWoobie » September 12th, 2008, 10:53 am

He barks at Layla :|
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Postby maberi » September 12th, 2008, 10:58 am

That my friend is out of frustration because Layla is trying to rip his face off
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Postby LaylaWoobie » September 12th, 2008, 11:00 am

Its frustration because she's incredibly good looking
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Postby DemoDick » September 13th, 2008, 3:53 am

BTW, I manage to use clickers and verbal markers, Demo, there is no reason to "ditch" the clicker to use a verbal marker at times. My guys understand both.


Yeah, but you're special, Erin. :)

I can think of a couple reasons to ditch the clicker. Once you develop the ability to consistently mark verbally, a clicker is just another piece of gear you can forget. I think it's better to make learning as simple and consistent as possible for both dog and handler. So most people are best served by either marking with a click, or marking with their voice (assuming they can do it consistently enough).

Another reason is similar to the one Matt encountered. If you are using both verbal marks and clicker marks, but you're not on your toes when the dog offers a rare, but desired behavior, by the time you realize your clicker is out of reach it may be too late to mark the behavior verbally. If you're trying to mark a behavior that the dog rarely offers, this can be extremely frustrating.

The last, and most important reason to ditch the clicker, is that the sound they produce has been scientifically proven to cause delayed and unpredictable explosive diarrhea that may take years to manifest. So all of you clicker-types out there have something interesting to look forward to. :wink:

In all seriousness, when I started marker-training Connor I used a tongue-click because I hate the sound of clickers, but needed something that offered the same precision. It seems to work just as well.

Demo Dick
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Postby maberi » October 15th, 2009, 7:32 pm

Who's that dog with the big ears barking on command? Yep, that's right. Kayden :wink:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1VBRSDnTd4

I finally decided to come back to this since I gave up a while back. The only way I could get Kayden to bark so I could mark it was with someone knocking on the door (the only time the dog barks). I had Heidi bang on the bedroom door while I stood on the other side with Kayden. It took a little encouragement but he finally barked and I marked it. He stood there staring at me for a while but we repeated the process, slowly moving away from the door. Within 2 days I was able to remove the knocking and just ask for the behavior.

Next, the bark and hold (cough cough Demo)
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Postby katiek0417 » October 15th, 2009, 7:37 pm

WhooHoo!
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