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Puppy singing for his supper... a wee bit too loud!

(7 Posts)
30andMerkin Thu 11-Nov-10 09:33:51

Hi all, need some advice from fellow New Puppy Owners or experienced dog parents!

Our 18 week old pup (lab cross) gets very barky every meal time. We weren't too bothered by a bit of excitement at dinner before (our mistake) as we've used this to our advantage - we've got a good 'sit-stay', and he'll now sit there, quivering with excitement, with his bowl on the floor waiting for the command to eat, so 'Wait' is going well too wink! Also whistle recall association.

The problem is now when we getting his meals ready. His food lives in the kitchen and he's figured out what we're doing. When he was on dry meals it wasn't too much of a problem but recently he's been having more rice/chicken/Hills wet etc (on vets orders) so it takes longer to get ready, involves microwaves and things that make interesting noises, and the (human food containing) fridge. We feed him in the utility room, and put him there after a trip to the garden while we get his meals ready, at which point he starts barking A LOT, standing up against the door/window to try and see the kitchen (which i know isn't great for his back legs) etc. Obviously I don't want to encourage it, but ultimately he gets rewarded for it because he gets his dinner!

I've started refusing to come into the utility room with his bowl until he'd stopped barking. If he could see me through the window and was barking at me I stand completely still and ignore (trying to quickly get his food ready when he can't see me!).

Am I doing the right thing? Any other tips? Or is it just inevitable... dogs like their dinner. This is the one really antisocial thing he does and i'd like to knock it on the head.

frostyfingers Thu 11-Nov-10 09:43:00

Can you prepare his food at a different time from when you give it to him - may be half an hour earlier or something so that he's not instantly rewarded.

Try and catch him by surprise when he's not barking - look, here's something I made earlier!

30andMerkin Thu 11-Nov-10 09:52:28

Hmm, could try that but not sure it will work. Won't work for breakfast as he gets fed first thing, and he has massive naps just before lunch and dinner (my main available quiet time to work).

If I tried to creep out of the study to get his lunch ready without him he'd probably wake, bark because I wasn't there, try and scramble down the stairs on his own, then need the loo, then think 'Oh, it's nearly lunchtime, I'm hungry!' I can try it, but tbh I want to figure out a way of stopping barking rather than making every meal time any more of a stealth mission than it already is!

frostyfingers Thu 11-Nov-10 11:31:23

I wondered if by him not "anticipating" his food and it just appearing he might think he doesn't need to scream and shout for his dinner!

Having said that my 2 labs stalk me from the moment they've had their walk, whatever time of day that is, until they have their dinner. They don't make a sound, just hang around and look sad until finally you give in - then they start the same trick until the fire is lit in the front room and they can go in there.

They are food driven which can be an advantage but does sometimes have an equal number of drawbacks!

GrimmaTheNome Thu 11-Nov-10 11:40:36

Would it be possible to make one big batch of food per day, at a time when someone else is around to train or distract the pup?

minimu1 Thu 11-Nov-10 18:26:35

You are doing the right thing.

I would make his meal in front of him and the minute he barks pick up his meal leave the room. He will either go quiet or bark more. If he goes quiet come back in and start to make the meal again. He will bark again and out you go again.

Basically if he is quiet he will get his food if he barks he will not.

You will need some patience to start with and maybe start doing this on a day when you have a bit of time!

Don't ever ever give in to his barking and he will learn really quickly but do be prepared for him to get a bit louder and more vocal before he gets the hang of the quiet bit.

The barking has worked in the past so he will try even harder to make it work again = more barking but if you do not give in he will quickly realise quiet means food.

30andMerkin Thu 11-Nov-10 21:25:00

Thanks minimu that backs up what I was thinking. It's called extinction something or other isn't it, when they try one behaviour LOADS more before realising it doesn't work? great! grin

I could try and be more stealthy about preparing his food, but I think that' might just mean when he does spot that I'm doing it he'll bark, and as his crate is in the kitchen obviously I also don't want him barking when we're cooking our own meals!

Actually I think it's just him developing his bark full stop now, although it is worse at meal times by a long way, he also barked after dinner (and no, he didnt need the toilet, I think he was requesting seconds!) and at the postman for the first time today. So, he's found his voice.... any other tips for how we establish when it's acceptable to use it and when not?

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