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Discussion Starter #1
I recently rescued my 7 month old collie/retriever mix and he's a really well behaved dog and quite smart, but he has this bad habit where he barks when he wants something. If he wants up on the bed, he'll bark. If he's bored and wants to play, he'll bark. If he has to go to the bathroom, he'll bark.

I don't mind that he tells me when he needs something, I would simply prefer if he did it in a different manner. Do you have any suggestions on how to teach him to offer a different behavior other than barking to get what he wants?

If we ignore him while he barks and then do what he wants while he's quiet, well, he doesn't seem to understand. He's still barking whenever he wants something. We tried turning our backs to him when he started barking and we tried leaving the room whenever he starts barking. He still barks.

Do you think I should allow him to bark but teach him a cue that means to stop barking? And then use the cue and then give him what he wants? My only problem with that is I still feel like we're reinforcing the barking, which we don't want. Any tips would be appreciated.
 

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For Jayne I used capturing. When she'd bark at me, I'd sit and wait, looking away from her. I'd wait until she offered a more appropriate behavior (i.e lie down, sit, whatever you want) before allowing her to do what she's asking.
 

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We've been working on waiting until he sits/downs before doing what he wants. I'm just not really sure it's clicking in his mind that that's what we want him to do. It's possible that I'm just being a bit too impatient with this one thing and that it's going to take a little while longer for him to understand.
 

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You could also try being more direct with the training. Another thing you can do is have something he wants (i.e. food) and wait for him to offer a behavior, then click and treat. Basically, replace the functional reward with a click and food reward.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What I've started doing recently is ignoring him when he barks (depending on how long he barks) and the moment he offers a different behavior (sit/down) I give him his verbal marker "Yes!" and then go get a treat for him if I don't have it on me.

If he's barking too much and it's super early or it's night time, due to there being so many people in our house I don't want to disturb, I've taught him the command "hush" which means to stop barking. And then I'll give him a treat if he stays quiet for a little bit and then I'll do what it is that he wants.

As a general rule, the "hush" command works the best, but do you think he finds that reinforcing to bark? Because if so, I'll stop using it and just work on the alternative behavior. Really, I don't so much mind his barking because I like for him to communicate to me what he wants, I just can't have him barking so much in the morning/at night and disturb all the other people in my house.
 
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