APDT Conference: Day 4.3

Some basic but otherwise interesting stuff to conclude Day 4 – Irith Bloom with a problem solving session titled “Shut Up Already! Dealing with Excessive Barking.”

Irith was quite a good speaker so it made the session interesting. She classified the types of barking into one of the following:

  1. Alert barking – generally occurs in response to a new or sudden stimulus
  2. Demand barking – reinforced by attention and any attention is often good enough
  3. Anxious barking – often no obvious trigger and is likely to be emotionally motivated
  4. Aggressive/Fearful barking – usually reinforced by distance

She then spoke about each and offered some helpful training.

Alert barking – strategies included the blocking access (physical/visual), adding white noise to the environment, etc. She also likes to teach “Quiet”. And another stagey is “click for barking”. The way this works is Bark->Marker->Food. Repeat as many times as necessary with a goal to reduce the number of barks to one or even zero over time. Ultimately, ‘alert-worthy’ stimuli will cue the dog to go find the handler. She had a video of this with a dog barking at the door and showed even within a short duration the dog went to the handler rather than bark at the door.

Demand barking – is often highly resistant to extinction and any type of attention may be reinforcing. There also may be some form of anxiety involved so she recommends relaxation exercises – she adapts Dr Karen Overall’s program (I have used this and it provides excellent training). Irith also mentioned the following thesis from Debra McKnight – thesis. Strategies for demand barking include: keeping the dog happily occupied (food toys, puzzle toys, etc); impulse training (e.g. “leave”); look for and reinforce quiet behaviour; ignore (more effective if the behaviour is new); negative punishment (e.g.. leaving the room) – however, this could then result in anxious barking.

Anxious barking – often the toughest type of barking to deal with. It may appear random or be part of an observable stimulus pattern – trying to identify the antecedent and the reinforcement are difficult. However, if known strategies include avoiding the stimulus. Again, the relaxation training is of benefit. As well as the Karen Overall protocol, she also mentioned “relax on a mat” from Chill Out, Fido!, mat relaxation using marker from Fired Up, Frantic, and Freaked Out (she likes this one), bodywork or TTouch on mat from Control Unleashed. Off-switch games are of benefit, such as from Control Unleashed, tug (Jean Donaldson), fetch, etc.

The objective with anxious barking is to reduce the overall stress of the dog – so identify and eliminate as many stressors as possible. Further strategies include mental exercise and enrichment.

Aggressive/Fearful barking – occurs in response to certain stimuli. Strategies include: avoid triggers, block sight lines, white noise, strategic walk locations and/or timing; counterconditioning and desensitisation; watch; look at that; hand targeting; BAT/CAT/Treat-Retreat. And perhaps some desensitisation and counterconditioning for the handler reaction as well.

As earlier mentioned, it was a pretty good session and well balanced with some good video.

And now there is only Day 5 to go – these conferences are so value for money (even more so if you include a holiday with it) so if ever you are thinking of going to USA for holiday, look at planning around the conference. The next one is in Connecticut (NY way), then Dallas (Texas is great and you can fly direct to Dallas), then if you really want a holiday – Las Vegas. So start saving now.

I am in LA now with three days to go after a long but highly enjoyable five weeks away. Will get the Day 5 summaries posted soon.

 

 

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