Bark Bonus

Do you remember the scene in 101 Dalmatians? The Twilight Bark? The technical term is “socially-facilitated barking”.

Barking can be contagious! One dog barks, another dog barks back, another dog joins in, and before you know it, we’re all howling at the moon. 

Listen carefully. Do you hear dog tags jingling? A dog barking? Both should prompt you to throw a little party, reach into your pouch and feed your dog a treat immediately. This is called The Bark Bonus. 

We do this early on so that your dog quickly learns that every time they hear a dog bark (or dog tags jingling), something amazing happens (food!!) regardless of their reaction. 

Q: Why am I doing this? 

A: Because you know that your dog is going to bark back eventually if they’re not already doing it… It can fuel reactive behaviour and cause you a lot of frustration and even irritate your neighbours if it’s happening at home. 

Q: At what age should I start doing this? 

A: When you first get your puppy or rescue dog. OR…as soon as you read this Quick Win. The sooner you start, the better. Starting BEFORE your dog is barking back will prevent this problem from occurring in the first place. Starting it when your dog is already barking will take a little longer to see results, but you’re never too late to start. So start now!

Q: If my dog is already barking, do I still feed? 

A: Yes…absolutely. Start happy talking as soon as YOU hear the sound, and that will bridge the gap from the sound to the treats and eventually, your dog will stop barking back and start looking at you for a treat. That’ll be a real treat! 

Caveat: If, after doing this for a few days consistently, your dog starts to bark to demand a treat, let me know and we’ll work on that! You might have to withhold the treat if they bark before you can feed them…but do try to get it in there fast!