Are you unable to eat dinner without your dog’s demand barking at you until the very last bite?
Do you take your dog to the dog park only to see them incessantly barking at another puppy that’s minding their own business?
Are you getting complaints from your neighbors that your dog has been barking since you left home for work?
Demand barking in dogs is a common issue that many dog owners face. Our pups crave attention, especially if they are dealing with separation anxiety or just boredom. But this can pose challenges for us…and our neighbors.
Before you even begin trying to stop demand barking, however, you need to understand what it is and why it’s happening. After figuring that out, you can begin training and eventually have a nice, quiet home where you and your dog are happy.
What is Demand Barking?
When a dog wants something specific (play, food, walk, etc.) and starts barking at you, this is known as demand barking. This is one of the most common types of barking but also the most annoying.
Demand barks tend to be higher pitched, louder, and happen daily when no training is given. This can be disruptive for you as the owner, the neighbors, and it’s also not a fun feeling for your dog either.
You can think of demand barking like a child throwing a tantrum. They scream and cry (bark and whine) until they get what they want. This is what your dog is doing every time they start demand barking.
Causes of Demand Barking
There is more than one cause of demand barking. This is why it’s important to carefully examine when your pup is barking so that you can get to the root cause. Demand barking can be caused by the following:
- Your dog wants attention and thinks barking at you will get them noticed.
- Pups that want to go outside and play will demand bark until you let them out.
- During dinnertime, dogs who want some of your food will begin barking.
- If you’re preparing your dog’s food too slowly, they’ll bark to rush you.
- Your dog wants to play with another dog who’s uninterested and barks to get their attention.
Another time you’ll notice demand barking a lot more is if you suddenly change your routine.
For example, you come home after a long day of work. You pour a glass of wine, turn on Netflix, and hope on the couch instead of grabbing your running shoes and your dog’s leash.
Meanwhile, your pup is anxiously staring at her leash wondering, “What’s going on with my human? We always go for a walk when she gets home? Maybe she doesn’t see me. Maybe I should bark to get her attention”.
Your dog starts getting antsy and eventually starts barking at you, basically telling you that your wine and unwinding can wait and that she wants to go for a walk NOW!
Deviating from your usual routine can leave your dog in a tailspin, especially when it comes to energy-releasing activities like walking. How you handle demand barking in dogs will determine if their behavior will continue or if you’ll be successful in stopping it.
How to Stop Demand Barking in Dogs
If your dog has been demand barking for years, it isn’t a lost cause. Like most troublesome behaviors in dogs, this one can be reversed with a little training and a lot of patience. There are some things you can teach your dog that can eliminate, or at the very least, decrease this type of yapping.
Don’t tell your dog to hush. It’s tempting to want to shhhh your pup when they’ve been barking at you for a while. Especially if you’re tired from work or not feeling well. But giving any sort of verbal cue is still rewarding your dog with attention and reinforcing the behavior.
Even though you see this as reprimanding them, they still see it as “Yay! My human paid attention to me. I’ll bark next time too, since it seems to be working.”
Offer alternative behaviors. By rewarding a different behavior, you show your dog that there is more than one way to get what they want.
For example, you try the “Sit, Stay, Lay” approach when getting the leash for a walk. So, instead of barking when your dog wants a walk, they’ll perform that trick instead because that’s what gets them rewarded.
Give your pup a time out. Just like you would give a child throwing a tantrum a timeout, giving your dog a timeout can work the same way. The best way to give a timeout is by using a barrier that allows your dog to still see you.
Watch the video below to find out how to use a barrier to stop demand barking. You’ll see how after a whole hour of barking, the dog finally stops barking and appears a lot more relaxed.
This just goes to show that persistence and patience will pay off. Your pup will eventually understand that barking will not give them what they want.
How to Stop Demand Barking in Puppies
Your puppy’s demand barking might be driving you crazy. But be careful trying to stop it. You’ll want to be attentive to when they’re barking. If you just pass every bark off as wanting attention, you’ll likely end up with an accident in the house if they were really trying to go out to pee or poo.
Young puppies are to older puppies what babies are to toddlers. You wouldn’t immediately hush a baby the way you might hush a toddler if they were crying. Likewise, don’t shoo your young puppy away when they begin barking. Instead, figure out why they’re barking first.
With this being said, as your puppy gets older, implementing strategies to stop demand barking becomes crucial. Training to rid your dog of demand barking while they are young will ensure that as they get older, it isn’t an issue.
Give them a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter. We all know how much dogs love peanut butter. Stuffing a Kong toy with peanut butter allows for your pup to get their minds off the attention they aren’t getting. It also helps if they are barking out of pure boredom.
You have the option to give your pup other chew toys as well. It’s important to make sure that you supervise them and that they don’t have any small parts that could accidentally be swallowed.
These types of chew toys don’t have small parts and are durable, so as your pup plays, tiny pieces are less likely to fall off.
Don’t reward their barking. Do you “answer” every time your pup “calls”? By doing this, you are rewarding their demand barking and reinforcing their behavior. Instead, you can try rewarding your pup with a treat when they become quiet.
For example, your dog remains quiet as you leave the room and don’t give them attention. Immediately turn around and reward them with a treat or with affection and attention. This lets them know that being quiet gets rewarded. Not barking.
How to Stop Demand Barking for Food
Sometimes, your pup may have the habit of demand barking while you’re preparing their food. They’re so excited to eat their yummy dinner that they believe that by barking at you, it’ll make you hurry up. This is when you do the exact opposite.
As soon as your pup starts demand barking while you’re getting their food, put it away and walk out of the room. Make sure you put the food out of reach too. And once your pup is quiet, then you can continue preparing the food.
What will your dog learn from this? That quiet dogs get fed! Keep doing this every time you feed them, and you’ll notice a huge difference.
Dogs Who Bark for Your Food.
It’s almost inevitable that your pup will pull out the puppy’s eyes when their mouth starts watering at the smell of your rotisserie chicken. When you don’t pay attention to them, they’ll start barking to demand your attention.
You might be tempted to just give them a small bite. But you need to resist, as this will reinforce the demand barking, and it will happen at every single meal.
A quick way to stop your pup from begging or demand barking for your food is to keep them busy during your mealtimes. You can give them bully sticks or a Kong toy filled with peanut butter (Link to Amazon).
To keep them even more distracted, try putting the toy in a different room. This keeps your dog occupied and out from under your feet.
How to Stop Demand Barking for Attention
Ignore Your Dog and Walk Away.
If your dog is barking to get your attention, ignore them. And by ignoring them, that also means not telling them to be quiet, as mentioned earlier. By ignoring their demand barking, your pup will eventually realize that they aren’t getting any reward for their actions.
The barking might drive you absolutely crazy, but by giving in, you’re doing more harm than good. Just walk away to another room, and let your pup continue barking. This will take the power out of their bark and put the power back in your hands.
Distract Your Dog with Toys.
This is another time you’ll break out the Kong! If you’re working from home and have a conference call you need to hop on, give your dog a Kong toy to keep them distracted during the meeting. Remember to move the toy to a different room to add to the distraction.
Add “Quiet” to Your Commands.
Assuming your dog already knows the basic commands (sit, stay, lay), try adding quiet to your commands. Just as you trained your pup to sit by giving them treats or a different type of reward every time they complied, do the same with the quiet command.
You are giving them attention, but you’re letting them know that they don’t get a reward from you unless they’re quiet.
How to Stop Demand Barking at Other Dogs
Does your pup frequently bark at other dogs at the dog park? They are barking for their attention just like yours.
This can be especially troublesome if you have a dog that is stereotyped as being aggressive. Instead of just being bothered by all the barking, other pet owners may think that your dog is being hostile when he really just wants to play!
So, here are some things you can do to stop your dog from demand barking at the dog park.
Your Dog is Demand Barking at One Specific Dog During Playtime.
Fido may want to play, but Fluffy is having fun just relaxing underneath a shady tree. Unfortunately, Fido doesn’t pick up on these cues and continues barking at Fluffy to get her to play with him.
If you notice your pup is barking at a dog that has no interest in playing, try redirecting them to another playmate that might be a little more interested. If you can’t find a playmate right away what else can you do? You guessed it. Break out the Kong toy!
Your Dog is Demand Barking at Every Dog They See for Attention.
Dogs, usually puppies, bark at other dogs for attention when they lack social skills. Dogs are more likely to lack social skills when they haven’t been socialized at dog parks or haven’t spent any time around dogs in other settings.
Giving your dog exposure to other canines as puppies will minimize demand barking at other dogs. They’ll be able to pick up on the social cues and realize when the other pup wants to give them attention and when they don’t.
Demand Barking That Only Happens at The Dog Park
If your pup only demand barks at other dogs where there is localized play, like the dog park, try changing it up. Instead of taking them to the dog park, try somewhere else.
Walking your dog along a busy trail at the beach or along the sidewalk in your neighborhood will give your pup the exercise they need and the social interaction they want from other dogs walking by. Keeping them moving offers a distraction and keeps them from demand barking as well.
You’ll also get to enjoy a nice view of the beach. Or finally, get a chance to say hi to your neighbors you haven’t seen in a while.
How to Stop Boredom Demand Barking
Do you wake up on a Monday morning to find yourself jealous of your pup’s schedule? Wake up. Eat. Sleep. Go for a walk. Eat Again. Sleep. Repeat.
This may seem like a relaxing way to live. But it gets repetitive and mundane fairly quickly. Especially for dogs that have been bred to do jobs at one point in time. Dogs need mental stimulation, much like us humans.
Mental stimulation is known to lessen hyperactivity, lower stress, and keep older dogs mentally fit. Hyperactive and anxious dogs are a lot more prone to demand barking. Hyperactive dogs will demand bark when they want to play.
Anxious dogs, especially those suffering from separation anxiety, will relentlessly bark to get your attention.
If you suspect your dog is demand barking from boredom, it’s time to add enrichment to their life with some mentally stimulating activities.
How to Mentally Stimulate Your Dog
Food puzzles, stimulating games, and treat dispensing toys will all help quell the boredom of your pup until you’re able to spend some one-on-one time with them. This can drastically decrease the demand barking as you come home from work too.
Treat stuffed toys allow your dog to solve a puzzle in order to get the treat. This is great for keeping your pup occupied while you’re away at work. You can use special feeders that release food after your dog finishes a puzzle. Doing this merges meal time and fun time so your pup can get a mental workout while getting physically nourished.
Hiding treats and toys around your home is another great way to keep your pup mentally stimulated during the day. You’ll want to continue switching up the toys and types of treats so your dog never bores of them.
Play a video for your pup. You can find videos like this one on Youtube to keep your dog distracted all day. This might take some trial and error to find the video that keeps your dog entertained, but it’s a cost-effective, easy way to keep your pup mentally stimulated.
A lot of these videos range from 8 to 10 hours, which makes them a great option for keeping your dog entertained while you’re away at work. Or if you’re at home but need some quiet time.
Play with them. Whenever you’re able to give them some physical play, do it! You can throw a ball, play tug, or go on a run with them. Remember that bored dogs with pent-up energy will inevitably begin demand barking. Help them release their energy, and you’ll do your ears a favor. Your pup will also feel a lot more relaxed and at ease.
How to Stop Demand Barking When You Live in an Apartment
Living in an apartment presents specific challenges when you have a dog dealing with demand barking. You might not be able to just ignore your pup when they start barking for attention, for fear of annoying the neighbors.
But you still need to teach your dog that they can’t bark every time they want your attention. So, what do you do in this situation?
The great thing about training is that there are always multiple avenues to get to the desired destination. Here are some things you can do if you want to get your dog to stop demand barking if you live in an apartment.
Give Your Dog Entertainment.
Much like the bored dog, the dog who lives in an apartment needs entertainment. When you can’t let the barking linger, break out the Kong toy! It’ll keep them distracted and keep your neighbors from knocking on your door in the middle of the night.
You can also try leaving them with dog toys that help stimulate their brain. This will keep from getting bored and will give them something to do while you’re away at work. Refer back to the “boredom” section to get an idea of how to keep your pup mentally stimulated.
Give Your Pup Positive Reinforcement.
Every time your dog shows some sort of restraint from demand barking, give them a treat, cuddles, and plenty of attention. When using positive reinforcement as a way of training, there are do’s and don’ts to follow.
|Do this…||Don’t do this…|
|Always praise your dog immediately following the desired behavior.
Dogs live in the moment and want their treats and attention as soon as they do what you want them to do.
|Never make the training complicated.
Instead of saying, “Stop barking at me,” simply say, “Stop.” Dogs respond better to simple commands.
|Always make the training fun.
Drawn out training sessions can bore your dog, especially if you’re trying to use positive reinforcement for puppies.
|Never show inconsistency.
Allowing your pup to bark for your table scraps and giving in once will reverse all the hard work you put into your training.
|Always try to wean off the treats.
It’s great to use treats in the beginning, but if you happen to be in a situation where you don’t have treats on you, you still want your pup to be responsive.
You can substitute treats with petting and playtime.
|Never stop correcting bad behavior.
Although positive reinforcement training focuses on good behavior, bad behavior should still be reprimanded.
Why use positive reinforcement while training your dog to stop demand barking? Because the reward you give your pup makes them a lot more likely to keep repeating the behavior (not barking).
Think about it. If you were given a raise at your job every time you did well on a report, you’d be more likely to continue doing well than if you were simply disciplined for doing a poor job.
Consider a Dog Sitter or Dog Walker.
To stop demand barking in dogs, consider getting a dog sitter. Your dog sitter can keep your pup company and keep them from barking and upsetting the neighbors. Note that this will only work if your dog is demand barking for attention or out of boredom.
Dogs who demand bark for other reasons like wanting food will still have this problem with a sitter. In this instance, you can teach your dog sitter how to deal with your pup by using the tools you currently use. This also maximizes the training experience since your dog essentially has two trainers.
Finding a dog sitter is becoming increasingly easier. There are even apps that allow you to find a sitter that is located near you.
If you can’t afford a sitter, a dog walker may be an option on your list too. Using a dog walker will allow your pup to get some much-needed exercise and decrease your boredom. It’ll also get them out of the house for a while and quench their thirst for attention for a few hours.
Find a Dog Trainer.
Getting a dog trainer can help even if you don’t live in an apartment. But when you live in an apartment, it can be a lot more urgent to get your pup to stop demand barking. Too much barking can lead to you having to find a new place to stay.
By hiring a dog trainer, you’ll be able to get your dog the training they need in a shorter amount of time and with fewer hiccups. The trainer will also train you! You might be reinforcing certain behaviors and not even be aware of it. Working with the trainer will help reverse both yours and your dog’s negative behaviors.
Finding a dog trainer to help with demand barking is simple. You can do a quick google search and find a trainer in your area ready and willing to help. What if I don’t want a trainer in my home?
You can book an appointment online! Most trainers just require a basic webcam or your phone’s camera. It’s convenient and saves you’re the hassle of traveling to a dog training studio.
No matter what problem you are facing with your dog they have a solution. Training a dog to become the dog of your dreams has never before been this easy.
The Extinction Burst Dilemma
You take these tips and start ignoring your dog when they demand bark for attention. But you’ve run into an issue you didn’t even see coming. Now your dog is actually barking a lot more, and somehow the barking seems to go up an octave.
But isn’t your dog supposed to be quiet when they realize you aren’t giving them attention? Why are they barking even more?
An extinction burst is a psychological term that essentially means that when a rewarded behavior is no longer enforced, it gets worse before it gets better.
This is why you’ll notice that in the initial stages in which you stop reinforcing demand barking, you’ll notice that there is a huge increase in barking. This seems counterintuitive to you but think about what’s going on in your dog’s mind.
“My human is ignoring me when I want attention. I guess I’ll have to bark even more. Maybe they don’t notice me today. Maybe I can try barking louder too!”
The best part about an extinction burst is that it’s actually happening. This is because it means that what you’re doing is working. This is a sign that your training is finally paying off, so do not give in under any circumstances. Doing that will just put you back at square one.
Just remain patient and continue doing what you’re doing. It’s similar to trying to get clear skin and cutting out junk food, and downing glasses of water. At first, you may notice your skin is starting to actually break out more. But keep at it, and eventually, your skin will be healthier.
Likewise, keep at training your pup to stop demand barking, and eventually, they will.
Bark Collars for Demand Barking
You may be wondering if you can simply purchase a bark collar to get your dog to stop demand barking. Maybe you heard how effective they are and want to know if it’ll be effective for your situation.
Bark collars work by reacting to your dog’s barking or the vibration of their vocal cords by shocking them, releasing a high-pitched sound, or spraying them with citronella. The truth is a bark collar can work, but it’s best to find a more humane way to stop the barking.
Even if your dog stopped demand barking, it doesn’t address the cause of barking at all. Sure, you can choose the collar that sprays citronella if you want to avoid hurting your pup, however, it still causes discomfort for them.
With all the different methods to stop demand barking, choosing one that won’t make your dog uncomfortable is the best option.
Dog training of any kind can be frustrating. For you and your pup! But don’t give up. Demand barking that is left unresolved will just continue to wreak havoc on you and your dog’s relationship. And if you’re getting complaints from your neighbors, those will continue to roll in too.
Demand barking in dogs can be reversed a lot better when it is worked on while they’re puppies. But all hope is not lost if you’re dealing with an older dog.
Ignoring attention-seeking, keeping your dog mentally stimulated, and making sure they are socialized will greatly diminish or completely eliminate demand barking.