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I have a 5-6 month old GSD who constantly barks at me for attention, how do I discourage the barking aspect?

TLDR - For background and context.

I am completely aware that German Shepherds are working dogs (especially ours as they are from working lines) and im fully aware of what we bought as we already have one that is 2 years old so I know that they need alot of upkeep.

My partner and I have a second GSD who has developed a habit of barking at us for attention, whether it be play or strokes, same thing. Something our other GSD doesn't do.

She gets 1 hour intense walk at 6am every morning where I work her and try to make it as engaging (and tiring!) as possible but not too much as she is still young. I do all sorts of things, ring work, bite work, tugging, fetch and obedience, bits of everything really. Which does tire her out for the most part, she may have a play with our other one when we get back but more often than not she settles down and we go to work.

She also goes to a working dog club on a weekend to work on aspects and do fun stuff like obedience and protection work etc.

When we get back from work she wants constant attention which is great to engage with her and keep us the main interest. But she barks when we don't give her immediate attention. This is the aspect I want to discourage. I want her to be able to part entertain herself and also come to us, just not demand attention by barking. Our other GSD isn't as demanding and is happy to entertain herself, play with us or sleep, she isn't as vocally demanding.

Is there any advice anyone can give?

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    Really painful, but the best thing to do is ignore the barking - leave the room, wait for quiet and come back, treat her when she's being quiet with fuss / training treats. Our sheltie loved to bark at first now he's the quietest dog on our road.
    – Aravona
    Oct 16 '18 at 9:34
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    @Aravona Please don't write answers in comments. Use comments to suggest improvements in questions or answers and use answers to actually answer the question.
    – Elmy
    Oct 16 '18 at 11:41
  • @Elmy it's not really a full answer it'd get marked as too short, sorry we do this on TGO all the time as they had aligned to this in their question as well.
    – Aravona
    Oct 16 '18 at 12:38
  • @Aravona We generally try to discourage answers questions in comments here. Comments are really to ask for clarification or offer corrections. The advice you gave sounds good to me so perhaps if you can pad it out and add a little more to it, it could be a good answer.
    – Henders
    Oct 16 '18 at 14:24
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The problem here is not her work schedule, it's that you react to her barking.

It's a very simple line of thought:

  • Attention (petting or playing) = good
  • Barking = gets attention
  • Barking = good

You need to break this cycle by not rewarding her for any barking. Whenever she starts barking for your attention, turn away from her and don't react to anything she does until she is quiet.

You should turn away to signal her that she actually looses your attention instead of getting it. Turn away exactly once, don't turn it into a game of peek-a-boo.

Ignoring her will be difficult at first. She will be loud, she might jump at you or start whining in ear-splitting pitches. Don't look at her, don't move your arms or legs, don't speak to her. You must completely ignore her until she hasn't made a sound for 20-30 seconds. Then reward her exuberantly.

Repeat until her behavior changed. Every member of the family must ignore her barking. You probably need to repeat this treatment several times and she might develop substitutional behaviors. You should treat your other dog in exactly the same way so both of them understand that barking for attention is bad.

Please note that barking during play is natural behavior and should not be punished. It's the equivalent to children laughing and screaming while playing.

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  • This looks like a great answer to me - I like that part about consistency between people who interact with the dog. That seems to be very important in my experience to avoid confusion for the dog.
    – Henders
    Oct 16 '18 at 14:26
  • This is a great answer thank you! I actually tested this out before replying to it to see if it worked. She is incredibly constantly persistant at time so ignoring worked sometimes and not the others so we took to a check chain combined with this method and it really helped. We'd correct her on the chain if she didnt stop after a while and when she did we would then give her the attention and its worked really well so far!
    – UIO
    Nov 2 '18 at 15:28

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