Self-rewarding behaviors: BARKING & other problematic behaviors

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Self-rewarding behaviors: BARKING & other problematic behaviors

This is a discussion on Self-rewarding behaviors: BARKING & other problematic behaviors within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Barking is a common behavior, & nuisance barking is a common problem. Nuisance barking is either too frequent , too persistent , or at the ...

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Old 09-14-2017, 03:06 PM
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Lightbulb Self-rewarding behaviors: BARKING & other problematic behaviors

Barking is a common behavior, & nuisance barking is a common problem.
Nuisance barking is either too frequent, too persistent, or at the wrong time: Ex, 3-AM when the neighbor gets home from work.


GSDs, all the classic terrierrrists, Poms, Chis, toy Poodles, & many companion-types or toy-breeds are highly vocal - meaning they yap for any reason, or sometimes for no reason at all.
Beagles bark - when they're happy, sad, bored, hungry, lonely, _______ .

Many GSDs & Malinois will also talk about the world or their day - whine, warble like canaries, moan, & make other remarks; some, like my friend John Haag's BSD-Mal, can't seem to shut-up for even 30-seconds at a time. Sheesh.

I'd toss the word 'command' in the trash, & use cue instead - 'command' has a whole lotta emotional baggage attached, from the military sense or royal prerogatives - a dog who "refuses" a command is either insubordinate or a traitor, while a dog who doesn't comply with a cue may simply not have heard or seen it, doesn't understand what's wanted, hasn't been proofed under the circs, etc.
Nobody threatens to hang an actor who misses a cue - not even in a multi-million-dollar Hollywood epic.

Getting barks on cue is surprisingly effective - U need to teach "Speak" 1st before U can install the off-switch, so Speak comes B4 'hush'.
Once barking is under fairly-reliable stimulus control [on cue], spontaneous barks should decrease - & when they happen, 'Hush' should quiet them quickly, unless the provocation is ongoing.
For instance:
if someone rings the doorbell & the dog barks, 'hush' should work unless they keep pushing the button.
Similarly, if someone is pounding on the front door, no amount of 'hush' is liable to quiet the dog.


teaching 'Hush' -
the dog already knows Speak well, & will bark promptly 4 times of 5 single cues [80% success rate].
They're ready for 'hush'. // This requires a certain amount of acting on Ur part; discover that inner actress.

Get the dog slightly excited, & cue Speak; shrink, freeze, eyes-on-eyes with the dog, index finger to lips, & -whisper- 'hush...'
Make it obvious that YOU ARE LISTENING - freeze, hold the pose, fingers to lips. // Most dogs get it quickly.
Mark & reward the *instant* they stop to breathe between barks, if that's what it takes - dogs can't bark AND eat.

Don't expect real-world compliance until they've had a minimum of 3 to 5 days of brief, successful rehearsals -
2 or 3 trials per session, 3 to 4 sessions per day, is less than 20-mins per day, but very effective for learning.
"Sleeping on it" is also very important for learning & memory retention.

the 80% test [4 times out of 5 single cues, they succeed] is the benchmark for raising the criterion.
Add or increase any ONE of the 3 Ds during that session:
- Distraction
- Distance [further from handler / closer to distraction]
- Duration

Remember to stick to one variable at a time [not more-prompt AND straighter sits, but prompt OR straight;
choose one - work on the other in a later, separate session].

- terry

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Old 09-14-2017, 03:18 PM
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Arrow self-rewarding behaviors - Desirable, or in many cases, Despicable

Self-rewarding behaviors include some of the most-difficult to reduce / retrain / extinguish, problem behaviors.

- escaping:
every time the dog bolts thru the open door & romps around the neighborhood, or chases horses on nearby pasture, s/he is massively reinforced for bolting.

- chasing wildlife / livestock:
when the dog rips the leash outta yer hand & flies after the bounding deer / paddling duck / backyard chickens at a friend's house / squirrel in the park, it's wonderfully exciting & rewarding.

- mounting Fs / sex:
escaping to find the estrus F he's been whining & teeth-chattering over for 3 days is a monster-sized reward - that genie's not going back in the bottle.

- catching / killing:
for predatory dogs, snagging & killing the critter they're chasing is the Ultimate Thrill; if the animal's too big to kill, grabbing it is next best [dairy heifers in a pen, horses, sheep, etc], so large animals often end-up with lacerated legs.
Small animals like cats, rabbits, ducks, etc, are often killed outright, many by a sharp head-shake that snaps the neck or spine.
Siberians, JRTs, & GSDs are, as breeds, notorious cat-killers - individual dogs may make friends with the FAMILY cats, but don't bet that they won't chase & quite-possibly kill strays, feral cats, or the neighbors' cats -- any stranger-feline that crosses their path might become a target.

It can be really difficult, in some cases practically impossible, to entirely quash these self-rewarding behaviors; sometimes strict Mgmt is all that prevents them, & Mgmt, sooner or later, usually fails.
The visitor leaves the storm-door unlatched, & the dog knows how to nose the handle upward & push thru it; the garden gate isn't locked, & the dog pounces on it repeatedly in frustration, then the latch rattles open, & poof!...


the instinctive behaviors that we like as working behaviors are also self-rewarding:
fetch the bumper for many retrieving breeds; moving stock or chasing wildlife for herding breeds [harassing resident geese as an alternate career for BCs who bite fleeces], trailing or finding scents for scent-hounds [Bloodhounds finding lost persons; Beagles working airports for the USDA], & similar.

Sometimes we can incorporate those self-rewarding behaviors into training:
a bringsel on the collar of a SAR k9 who happens to be a Lab is just a modified version of "fetch the bumper".

Cutting short a herding session for an overexcited Aussie who refused to drop is a great way to teach self-control - drop, & U can keep playing. Chase when U've been told to drop? - Game's over.

- terry
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Old 09-14-2017, 03:41 PM
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Bringing the teeth chattering stuff over here because I typed a long reply and don't want it to go to waste. Apologies in advance if this is still the wrong place. Maybe there's a tie in for people with dogs who get TOO excited about self rewarding behaviors, and indications of such.

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Originally Posted by leashedForLife View Post
teeth-chattering usually goes with 2 things: Excitement / arousal, & Frustration.

Arousal is just overall excitement - i stipulate b/c some folks think it only refers to sexual excitement, & i had a client tell me his dog "couldn't be aroused, 'cuz he didn't have an erection" - which of course really confused the owner.

Anyway, a dog who sees her best-buddy approaching the house while looking thru the window is likely to become aroused - pupils dilate, BP rises, resp/ pulse increase, she might hackle slightly [piloerection], woof happily, her tail wags, & she bounces toward the door.

Cats will teeth-chatter at the sight of prey - if they are outside, teeth-chattering is only usually seen when they first sight the prey; as soon as they determine an approach & start stalking, teeth-chattering stops.
INDOOR cats will teeth-chatter while watching birds at a feeder, but they don't seem distressed; they don't vocalize, & most won't jump at the window once they realize it sends the birds away. // They want the birds to stay; they want to watch - this is cat-TV.
Nonetheless, the teeth-chatter indicates a certain level of frustration; mild, but it's there.

A dog who loves to chase things, a BC or Aussie, or with a thing for birds, like a Springer or Cocker, might jump at the window nearest the bird-feeder, just to see the birds flare off, settle, return, & s/he can scare them again. It's a game. Some dogs get crazy over it: a working-lines GSD belonging to a client would hurl himself at the patio-sliders nearest the bird-feeders so hard, she thought he'd break a bone... & he'd teeth-chatter like a Spanish dancer with castanets as soon as he saw ONE bird in the yard.
Bear in mind, this is a dog who chased flying leaves outside in fall - thru the windows. Moving branches in a breeze. Shadows of moving branches, on the floor. Oy.

He'd also teeth-chatter at the sight of the postie coming with the mail, a leashed dog walking by on the city sidewalk [her house was fully 50-ft back from the near edge], joggers, bicyclists, etc - all things he'd like to chase - but he couldn't; the wall, the window, something prevented him from accosting them.
This GSD was dog-reactive, dog-aggro, & stranger-intolerant - he could just barely tolerate pedestrians who WALKED on the city sidewalk past their [unfortunately open-plan] house; he'd bark like a fool & rush to the nearest window to tell them off, but he wouldn't teeth-chatter.
Teeth-chattering was reserved for targets who pushed his buttons - they moved quickly [bicyclists], or made noise [skateboards], or trespassed [the postie] - the ones he apparently wanted to assault, not merely chase off.

The ones he wanted to bite were the ones that elicited teeth-chattering.

Does that help?

- terry


--------

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysTomboy View Post
That does help. Thanks!

The first time Mira did it was during an altercation with another dog. He just wanted to play, but she wasn't happy at all about a big, strange dog coming directly at her head on at full speed and she reacted with growling and barking, hackles up and lunging - the whole 9 yards. I was trying to pull her back but the owner of the other dog had him on too long of a leash and wasn't listening to me and her dog ended up in Mira's face. She stood her ground and her teeth were doing the chattering thing. The other dog's owner was oblivious and didn't think there was a problem until Mira snapped at her dog and made him yelp (poor big 'ol blockheaded goofball).

The other times have been with me when, in retrospect, she has been overly excited. Once when I'd just come home from work and was waiting for her to sit before giving her the release command and opening the baby gate that keeps her in the kitchen, but her hyper, doggie brain was having trouble getting her wiggly butt to stay on the floor. So teeth chattering in frustration there, maybe?

The other time was during play time with me and again she was super excited and wanted to put my hand in her mouth, but she was jumping up instead of waiting for me to offer my hand, so I made her wait and she did the teeth chattering thing there. Frustration or anticipation or just really wanting something to hold in her mouth? Maybe I'll try offering her one of her stuffed toys to carry around.

She does indeed like to chase things: the bunnies when they run away from her (although if they're sitting still, she play bows and barks at them ), the rope on the end of the flirt pole (when she catches it, she does the head shake kill thing). She seems to like the chasing part of fetch more than the bringing back part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leashedForLife View Post
teeth-chattering usually goes with 2 things: Excitement / arousal, & Frustration.

Arousal is just overall excitement - i stipulate b/c some folks think it only refers to sexual excitement,
Gotcha. Kinda the same way that a dog humping can mean arousal or excitement without being sexual. Mira's done that, too. This is the other reason I don't let her jump on me. It's poor doggie manners in general, but excited + jumping + human contact = her hugging me with her front paws and then trying to hump me. Same thing if I'm sitting down (on a piece of furniture) and we're playing fetch. If I let her put her front paws on my lap on her run back to me, she'll try to hump my leg.

That's not appropriate behavior for a young lady, Miss Mira. I'm raising you better than that.

Quote:
he could just barely tolerate pedestrians who WALKED on the city sidewalk past their [unfortunately open-plan] house; he'd bark like a fool & rush to the nearest window to tell them off, but he wouldn't teeth-chatter.
Teeth-chattering was reserved for targets who pushed his buttons - they moved quickly [bicyclists], or made noise [skateboards], or trespassed [the postie] - the ones he apparently wanted to assault, not merely chase off.

The ones he wanted to bite were the ones that elicited teeth-chattering.
The bolded bit above is very much Mira. Intruders need to be told off and chased away with extreme prejudice. When the teeth chattering happened with the other dog, I was worried it was a precursor to biting. Less concerned about that now after the other instances since those were (presumably) happy excited incidents.

Thank you for the reply.


(LOL at bird feeder as cat tv. )
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Old 09-14-2017, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leashedForLife View Post
Many GSDs & Malinois will also talk about the world or their day - whine, warble like canaries, moan, & make other remarks; some, like my friend John Haag's BSD-Mal, can't seem to shut-up for even 30-seconds at a time. Sheesh.


Mira's kindred spirit! My previous dog was a Husky/Shepherd mix and I thought she had a lot to say! Mira's easily got her beat. I don't mind all of the other vocalizations, but the barking bothers me.

Ugh, if I go the "on cue" route, that means I have to make the barking worse before it'll get better. Not sure my ears or my nerves can take that.


As for barking at "intruders" (like the people who live in the house behind me), I'm trying to teach her to bark once and then either come to me or go to her bed. I want to get her into the habit of barking once and then leaving the door to take herself away from the stimulus. Otherwise, what happens is that she'll bark continuously while they're in sight, but eventually they go back inside or get in their car, and I think she thinks that she did her job and scared them off, which reinforces to her that she needs to be all barky and protective and defensive when she sees people outside.

Mira, your job is to bark ONCE to let them know you're here, and then I'll let YOU know if additional action is needed.
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Old 09-14-2017, 05:51 PM
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Arrow "worse"? - Not usually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysTomboy View Post

...
Ugh, if I go the "on cue" route, that means I have to make the barking worse before it'll get better. Not sure my ears or my nerves can take that.
...
not really.
When U cue her to bark, it's no more than once - occ, at the beginning, she'll bark 2X, but that shouldn't persist.
HAVE THE TIDBIT / toy / other, ready-to-go B4 U cue, 'Speak'. If ya whip it right in there, she won't have time for Bark #2.

A hand-signal can also help - an opening hand [closed mouth = fingers on thumb-pad, held with knuckles horizontal; open to a horizontal 'mouth' like a toothless gator, fingers flat / together above the horizontal thumb].

Now, if U like, U can cue more than one rapid-fire bark [hand signal, signal, signal...] or one bark, then another, separated [hand signal --- signal].

She can do dialogue. Or reply to straight lines from her co-star.
- terry

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Old 09-14-2017, 08:44 PM
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Teaching a behavior or allowing a behavior and then correcting via a reward ultimately the dog gets rewarded, it's all the same, wrong path to follow when it's undesirable. Dogs at times "train" their humans via undesirable and unwittingly trained behavior displays to get corrected, comply and ultimately they get what they want. If they don't exhibit the undesirable behavior it won't lead to the command to cease the undesirable behavior hence no treat crammed in its mouth. Dogs are smart and know how to train humans to get what they want and most importantly learn through precedent and experience. One needs to be thoughtful of what they are actually rewarding.
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Old 09-14-2017, 09:27 PM
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I agree with DriveDog if a dog is rewarded for an undesirable behavior by giving it a reward then the dog played the human. For example if my huskies go after a cat and the way I got it to stop going after the cat was give it it's favorite toy. My huskies just learned go after the cat to get the toy and they would most definitely do it again. I only used cats because that's what everyone thinks huskies do is go after cats. The don't especially trained. I had one of my huskies when they were a pup go after a cat I rolled her over on her back growled in her face she looked away( submission) from me to look over at the fence and she never even walked towards a cat she ran away. Now that sounds harsh but I have seven huskies sometimes that's the only way to make them pay attention and stop.
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Old 09-14-2017, 09:27 PM
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This is true. My previous dog trained me to give her treats when she stole socks from the laundry basket. I thought I was being clever teaching her to bring them back to me after she stole them so I didn't have to chase her around the house to get them back, but it didn't take long at all before she was casually bringing me socks and looking at me like, "Here's your sock, man. Where's my treat?"
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Old 09-14-2017, 10:48 PM
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Smile Disagree.

Teaching a dog to BARK ON CUE is not "rewarding bad behavior".
We *asked* the dog TO BARK - we are putting bark under stimulus control.

Did U tell Ur husky to "Go chase the cat"...? // No - the dog decided to do that, on her or his own impulse.

Sure, U can construct bad behavior chains - for instance, if i have a dog who jumps on ppl, & he jumps on me, & i ask him to sit, then reward him, i COULD build a bad chain: jump up, 'sit' / reward.
However, if i do it right, i get to the dog BEFORE s/he jumps up, ask for a sit, reward the dog AND give the petting & attn s/he wanted -
that's why he was jumping up. His desire for attn is sated, he's learning to SIT to be greeted, & he's not rewarded for jumping up / then sitting.
No bad behavior chain. We taught a preferred behavior [sit to be greeted].


In this particular case, we have a dog who's a nuisance barker. // We teach her to bark on cue - having done that, we can now teach "stop barking". That's the off switch. // Once she learns 'hush', she can stop barking on cue.
Now, we have controls on both: start & stop.

Barking is not a "bad" behavior; we WANT barks, but not all the time - we want barks under specific circs.
We don't want our dog barking like a madman at 4-am... unless the house is afire, in which case, YES! BArk!

- terry
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Old 09-15-2017, 06:06 AM
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I will give you a point for that leashedforlive huskies aren't know for barking but mine will talk they say mamma me too and I love you and when I say it's okay but they all howl at 7:44pm everyday it's hilarious I don't do anything I just let them do it sometimes I will do it with them just for the heck of it. My other dogs don't bark my lab and sheltie stay quit and no barking is allowed unless they need to go outside.
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