February 24, 2018

The dog barks again

The dog barks againThe tea is poured. The seating is comfortable. The TV is OK.

But the biscuit isn’t wanted. No big deal. It’s set down on the coffee table.

The dog barks at the biscuit.

The dog is hushed.

The dog barks again, louder.

The dog is given a bit of the biscuit.

Soon, the barking resumes.

The dog is hushed again.

You know what happens next.

The owner is teaching the dog…

Bark, and you might get a bit of biscuit, and

If you don’t get a bit of biscuit, bark again, louder.

The owner is inadvertently “reinforcing” the behaviour he doesn’t want (barking).

What behaviour are you inadvertently rewarding—in dogs or people or anything else?

To illustrate with the dog… if you want a different outcome, you need to (1) refuse absolutely to give them the biscuit when they’re barking and (2) give them the biscuit when they’re not barking.

Sounds simple?

It’s not the pattern we typically follow.