Give me more treats!

Ray has, on isolated occasions, barked at people who have given him treats.

It has happened at our bank but, more frequently, at our Lululemon store. Given the circumstances at the time of barking, we are pretty certain that he is simply demanding more treats. He knows that barking does nothing positive for him at home in this context, but with these other people… he probably sees it as a valid option!

One of the issues with this, despite Lululemon’s staff being so understanding (they have known Ray for three years now), is that when an almost 80lbs Shepherd/Rotti lunges and barks, it can be quite intimidating. Fortunately, he only seems to target the same people but, if it was somebody who did not know him, it could be quite a traumatic experience. We have a solution!

Ray can be predictable to a large degree and therefore, if he suddenly tenses up and fixates on somebody, we can tell that the lunge/bark routine is imminent and we can distract him. The problem is when we are distracted. This is very common at Lululemon’s because the staff are always asking about him and the more they know, the more they seem to want to know.

Our solution now is that, as soon as he barks, we pull on his leash to turn him around and make an immediate exit! Our logic is based on the knowledge that he likes all the places that give him treats (no surprises there!) and so, if barking means he is immediately forced to leave, then it should not take him long to adopt a “no bark” rule when there! Well the theory is good, and time will tell!

The unfortunate aspect of this is that we must advise any staff who want to make a fuss of him that he might lunge and bark and, if he does, then we will very quickly take him outside.   They shouldn’t take it personally. He is just trying to coerce more treats from them, and we’re trying to teach him the benefits of patience and diplomacy!

25 thoughts on “Give me more treats!

    • Hi Sheila – Ray used to bark at us, but we just turned our back on him and totally ignored him. It did not take him long to realize how best to “work” the system, and the barking at us stopped! Of course, if you are going to teach her how not to behave, then you should also be reinforcing good behavior so she does understand her choices.

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      • There are other behaviors that are more important to us to reward: going bathroom outside, not jumping, not growling when service people come, not jumping on people. Sometimes these are hard to reward with treats, but we give lots of praise. For very bad behaviors, such as running toward the street, chasing the neighbor’s cat, barking at the mailman, she is scolded and removed from the situation, sort of the same thing you are doing, I guess. She gets treats mostly for doing tricks, like sit pretty, high five, roll over, etc. I think the barking for a treat or for fresh water is more like doing a trick to her and I find it more amusing than annoying. This breed is strictly a pet and wants to please people.

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        • There are two areas that I would suggest consideration to. Scolding tends to come out as a loud commanding sound. A dog cannot understand English so goes on body language and vocal tones. Typically it will interpret a loud reprimand type of human sound as barking. i.e. It could easily assume that you were supporting her position.
          Barking for a treat or for freshwater should also be approached with caution. If she deserves a treat, or has no water, then it is of course a legitimate request and it puts the onus on you to avoid those circumstances If however she is simply making demands then, unless checked, it can easily escalate into more frequent demands simply because “barking works” from her perspective!

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  1. Good theory, and I’m sure you will get the support of the staff once they realise why it’s happening. If Maggie does The Elvis (which iis definitely not acceptable unless she’s on the defenisve), we put her on the equivalent of the naughty step.

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  2. I’ve found one of the impediments to training dogs is other people being kind. Farley is a Wheaten Terrier, and they are notorious jumpers. On the advice our his breeder, when we first got him, we were told not to pet him, look at him or acknowledge him in any way if he jumped. He had to wait until he sat before we would even look at him. Of course, he was a cute puppy and everyone wanted to play with him. We had to teach our friends on how to behave, so we could train Farley. Once we trained our friends (ha ha), Farley got the idea. Now he never jumps on people. Good luck with Ray. I’m sure he’ll do great with your help.

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  3. I totally agree. That sounds like a very good plan – action and reaction, natural consequences. I am sure if the staff was understanding of the barking they also will be understanding of getting him trained not to bark anymore.

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