Barking: Barking for Attention

If a dog is trying to get your attention he will seemingly bark for no reason and then stop as soon as you speak or look at him. He may bark when you are speaking on the phone, watching television or stopping to talk to another dog owner in the park – in fact, any time he is feeling ignored!

  • This can often arise if your dog has inadvertently trained you to give him attention, so now you’ll need to teach him that there are certain times when he cannot have attention.
  • Start by training him really well to respond to a ‘down-stay’ command using a hand signal e.g. the flat palm of your hand moving downwards towards the floor.
  • Once your dog knows what this means, hide some treats in your pocket and get a book. Open the book, hold it in one hand and walk around the room pretending to read it, with your other hand out in the ‘down-stay’ signal. Look at the book, not your dog (who should hopefully still be in ‘down’) and count to ten. If your dog is still quiet, put the book down, remove the hand signal and go to your dog to praise and reward with a treat. If not, wait until he is quiet before rewarding and next time reduce the count time to 5 or less and work up.
  • Repeat this many times, slowly increasing the amount of time that you ask him to lay quietly. Then start again, without the book this time but still not looking at your dog and just using the hand-signal.
  • This hand signal can now be used whenever there is a situation where your dog’s barking for attention is a problem.
  • Make sure that you give him lots of ‘free’ attention every day. If your dog is seeking attention because you ignore him unless he’s annoying you with his barking, you won’t be able to stop him. All dogs need social and physical contact and as far as they’re concerned a telling off is better than no attention at all.
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