How to Stop Demand Barking

What to do if your dog barks at you to demand things, such as food.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
4-minute read
Episode #122
Dog demand barking

This week, a little lesson in accidental training by a Facebook fan. Katherine posted that her two Shih Tzus always bark at her while she’s eating, so she winds up feeding them whatever’s on her plate. Katherine, I can solve your problem, but you might need some earplugs, and you’ll definitely need a boatload of patience..

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What Is Demand Barking?

Alas, poor Katherine has taught her dogs that if they would like some of whatever she’s having, the thing to do is to bark at her. Trainers call this demand barking. No pointing fingers at Katherine, because people accidentally teach dogs this and other nuisance behaviors all the time.

In Katherine’s case, something like this probably happened: She was eating. One or both of her dogs happened to bark – maybe to get her attention, maybe because a noise outside got them agitated. Not knowing how else to quiet them, Katherine tossed them each a bit of whatever was on her plate. Dogs learn fast, especially when a behavior comes naturally to them anyway. Two or three reps of this training scenario, and Katherine’s Shih Tzus were demand-barking champs.

So what’s Katherine to do?

Demand Barking Ends When It Stops Working

If Katherine wants the barking to stop, she needs to make sure it no longer produces food.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).