why does my dog barks early in the morning
Barking in the morning for the purpose of waking up the owners and eliciting them to start their day early is a form of nuisance barking. What increases this form of barking is obviously the act of getting up and attending to the dog by giving it food or attention. To better understand though why a dog continues to bark in the morning despite not getting up and attending to the dog, it helps to understand all the mechanisms that come into play when a behavior is about to extinguish. To better understand the process of extinction which is the process of a behavior diminishing and eventually ending, we can compare a dog's behavior to a big fire. Giving in to a behavior as barking in the morning is adding fuel to the fire. The behavior increases, becomes stronger and is harder to extinguish. If the fuel is not added, the behavior over time, will likely become smaller and easier to extinguish. Because extinction undergoes some interesting processes, it is worth learning why the act of not getting up still causes your dog to bark or even causes it to increase in intensity and duration. This behavior can be explained as ''extinction bursts''. What happens in an ''extinction burst'' is the behavior increases temporarily, enough to have dog owners believe that the act of not getting up is not working.
Let's take a look at what happens in the dog's mind during an ''extinction burst''. The behavior of barking in the morning had to start somewhere. Very likely, upon barking in the morning you or somebody in your family got up and fed the dog. Since the barking worked in getting what she wanted, very likely she continued to do so, and very likely you continued getting up and feeding. Then one day you decided not to get up and ignore the barking thinking this would nip the behavior in the bud. It did not work, your dog very likely barked even more than before. Why is this? It is because of the process of ''extinction burst''. Basically, your dog is thinking ''My owners this morning are not getting up as usual. I need to INCREASE, my barking in intensity and duration so they get up since just barking a little is not working''. She therefore barked more and perhaps you or somebody else in your family finally tired of hearing her, finally got up. This only aggravated the behavior. Extinction bursts, take place when an owner tries to stop a behavior by not giving in and the dog increases the behavior to obtain whatever it wants.
As much as an extinction burst sounds like an annoying problem, in reality it is a sign that not giving in is working. Giving in, when an extinction burst takes place will only add more fuel to the fire. Respected trainer and president of Legacy Canine Behavior Training Inc, Terry Ryan, explains in her book ''The Toolbox for Building A Great Family Dog'' Once you recognize what the rewards are (in your case getting up and feeding) and take them away, the behavior will likely increase immediately. This is known as an ''extinction burst''. In plain words, Gus will get worst before he gets better. It might be frustrating, but take it as a good sign. It's working! You've got his number! Stay the course and the behavior will drop off over time. ''. The secret to stopping the behavior is therefore to never give in. The worst thing that can be done is giving in some days and resisting others. This puts the dog on a ''variable schedule''. What this means is that if the dog barks and gets fed one day and not the next day, the behavior of barking only puts more roots because it works in the same way as ''playing the lottery''.
People get hooked on playing the lottery because of the variability of it. Slot machines are based on this principle.
A few months ago my girlfriend and 2 cats moved in, and my dog (9 year old labrador) got shut out from the bedroom. Due to the large attached bath, it was the most logical place for their litterbox and therefore safe space for them. My dog never slept in the bedroom with me anyway, but he used to have access. Now he's shut out with a baby gate. He started out barking at night wanting to come in, but that was easy to ignore until it stopped. Now, after I came back from a week long trip (so possible separation issues? My girlfriend stayed home with him and said he was fine while I was gone), he has started barking in the morning, ranging from 2am to 6am, but mostly around 4:30-5am. I thought this would end on its own, but it's carried on for 6 weeks now. The problem is that it's hard to ignore. It wakes us up, but then once he sees me move he doesn't carry on, which makes it hard to "not respond to it" or do any kind of irritation such as squirt bottle or noise. The sonic collar I got doesn't detect his bark, only his head scratching and my bark.
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