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I’m new to this forum and came here for some help. I’m at my wits end with my golden retrievers barking for attention. Mulligan is six years old and the perfect dog except for his barking. He only barks when he wants attention which is typically at the park in our morning/evening dog group and in the evening when I’m at home with him. The problem is his behaviour has been reinforced for the last couple of years. In our morning group (6 am) he will bark to get someone to throw his toy, he has all of us trained very well. Since it is so early in the morning and I live in an area with tons of high-rises overlooking the park, all of us are very conscience of waking the neighbours up so we run to get his ball and throw it. In the evenings I can be sitting and watching TV or have a friend over and he’ll bark until one of us gets up. I try my best to ignore him and not reinforce the behaviour but I live in an apartment building and don’t want to disturb my neighbours. I just got snubbed from my overnight dog care person recently who can’t take him anymore because of his barking. I live on my own in a city with no family so this is huge for me that I can’t use her anymore. I am very close to buying a zap collar, I hear they can work almost immediately and if this helps it will be a load off my shoulders. I am in a situation where I can’t ignore his barking because of the noise/neighbours and I’ve tried disciplining him but he ends up getting the attention he wants. Any and all advice welcomed.
 

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It's really unfair to shock a dog for something you've effectively been training him to do for 6 years. I get that you're in an apartment, so am I. I also get attention barking, my dog does it, too. (For the same reasons. It works.)

This video explains how to handle barking. You also have to stop rewarding his barking. Don't go to the play group for a while, take a walk instead. Don't reward barking in the apartment, either.
 

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I see this a lot at parks and usually it is a reaction caused by the owner (oops!) getting too involved in chatting rather than throwing the ball. The result? The dog learns that he doesn't get the ball thrown unless he is there to remind his owner that he is waiting for them.

The first part of the puzzle, clearly, is to stop getting sidetracked with talking and pay attention to your dog. This one is on you.

Secondly, you clearly need to stop rewarding the barking. If you asked me, the ball and the park time being very valuable to him, this is the first thing that I'd take away for barking. Teach him 'quiet'. If he opens his mouth after you've told him "quiet", leash him up right away, put the ball away, and take him for a leashed walk on the sidewalk for 5-10 minutes instead. So basically, you are imposing a time-out while still exercising your dog. Now the tables are turned-- instead of encouraging play, his barking is actually ending all the fun. It's sort of like "Bark if you want to stop doing this activity and do something less interesting instead!" When the dog makes this association, they will make the most obvious choice: just keep quiet so that the off-leash play time keeps coming!

Thirdly, teach your dog a new behavior that he should do when he wants you to throw the ball. This could be putting the ball at your feet, pushing the ball into your hand, or bumping you with his nose. Teach him that this action will make you instantly throw the ball. Dogs will pretty much do whatever works. So if he realizes that this is a good way to get you to throw the ball (as opposed to barking, which only gets him a time-out) he will do this instead.

This is a PROactive approach (I will prevent his barking) as opposed to a REactive approach (I will only respond after he's woken up the neighbors). It has benefits over a shock collar. I know because my family resorted to using one on my ultra-yappy pomeranian. Having been shocked once (years ago), he now refuses to go outside if they put the shock collar on him before letting him into the backyard. That was a fairly convenient consequence, considering his response to a shock. Could you imagine if your dog responded the same way and decided, "Well if I have to wear the shock collar at the park, then I just don't want to go to the park!" That would be a big waste of money, and it would make exercise a bit more of a difficult affair. Better to sort this problem out proactively then to take the afterthought approach and all the extra fallout that comes with it.
 

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Our dogs sometimes bark too, and its really loud and obnoxious. Ours usually bark when some one comes up to the door or when they see a cat outside.

Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, to get attention (I want play, food, outdoors, walk, ect), to warn us, and I found very often when they are bored. They also bark when excited, which is reinforced often during play.

Ignoring can bark, but usually a firm no can work also. A gentle but firm touch on the neck is what another dog in a pack would do. Let the dog know you are the boss.

The second thing that really helps is getting their energy out with a long walk, hike or jog. Sometimes our dogs get really bored and start to bark for a walk. You exhaust them on a walk and they don't bark. : ) Walking is one of the best things you can do to get a dogs energy out and stop bad behaviors.

Yes, barking is a real pain, our retriever mix does it too. But I really hope this information helps. Remember, you don't have to yell at a dog to let them know you are the boss (though sometimes yelling feels good : )

Best of luck!! :)
 
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