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!