Crazy Barking for His Dinner

by Harriet
(Ocala, FL)

Fozzie likes his food!

Fozzie likes his food!

My Fozzie is 4 years old and for the past, probably 2 years, he goes crazy when I get his food in his dish, barking and jumping until I put the dish down.

I've tried ignoring him. I've tried saying uh, uh and no. Nothing works except getting his dish down. Any suggestions?

Answer



Giving your dog his dish while he is barking and jumping wildly will only reinforce that behavior. Since he has been doing this for the past 2 years, this behavior is very strong in him. This means that when you try what I suggest, you must be SUPER patient. When you want to get rid of an unwanted behavior you have to stop reinforcing it. This is called extinction in psychology.

When you do an extinction protocol, the behavior will get worse before it gets better. So you must be patient, if you give in and give your dog his food, you will only make him more resistant to extinction. He will learn that if he barks and jumps even louder and higher, he will get his food. You are training him to do so by giving him the food before he stops barking.

To make the exercise a little easier, you can start with an empty food bowl and practice. If he is quite, put 1 kibble inside and let him have it. Move slowly until you can put several pieces of kibble in the bowl without him going crazy.

If at any point Fozzie barks and/or jumps, you must turn around, place the food bowl away and walk out of the kitchen. Make it very clear that barking will stop the exercise. Do not talk or look at him. As soon as he is quiet again, walk back inside, and start over.

In the mean time, I also recommend you teach him several obedience commands to keep him learning and focusing on other things that are not barking and jumping. While you are preparing his food, you can ask him for these commands and toss him a kibble for a good response. Again, if he barks, the game stops and you walk out of the kitchen.

If you are successful, you should keep in mind that once in a while he may start barking again, just to check if you are alert! If that happens, ignore and walk out the kitchen and only feed him if he is quiet. If you need to back back to empty food bowl and a few pieces of kibble, you can do that to help him settle.

Hope this helps!
Nati.

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