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Val123's avatar

Who would think that reverse psychology would work on a dog?

Asked by Val123 (12684points) June 1st, 2010

One of my first questions here was about one of my dogs who BARKS TOO MUCH! I took all of the advice given, and the only real result is the dog (Dutchess) is now inordinately fond of lemon juice (it worked for a day though, Red Power Lady!)

Well, I have several “tricks” I’ve used in my classrooms when a kid or kids are not on task, and one trick is not to address the kids who are misbehaving, but to praise the kids who are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. It works nicely and avoids a bunch of negative nagging, as well as avoiding giving the “bad” kids any kind of attention, while giving the “good” kids the attention they hardly ever get!

Well, the other day Dutchess was barking her fool head off, and without thinking I started praising my other quiet dog, a German Shepherd, named Dakota, for being such a good, quiet dog. I called Dakota over and petted her and petted her and praised her for not barking and just ignored Dutchess! To my amazement…it worked. Dutchess was kind of freaked out, too, but she quit barking. I specifically used the words to Dakota “Good dog for not barking,” because we’ve hollered at Dutchess the words, “Stop barking!” a million times, so she made some sort of connection. It’s worked time and again since last week, too.

What make ye of this? Is the psychology the same whether we’re dealing with humans or animals, and what IS the psychology?

Don’t ask why I’m talking funny because I don’t know.

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12 Answers

syz's avatar

It’s positive reinforcement rather than negative.

xxii's avatar

Dogs learn by example, especially younger dogs from older dogs. How far apart are the two dogs in age?

That, and withdrawing attention (or showering it elsewhere) can often act as a distraction or a negative reinforcer. Eg. when a dog refuses to give you a toy and wants you to chase him for it instead, you pick up another toy and start “praising” it, as silly as that sounds. Very often the dog will drop the original toy and start trying to get the new one from you.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

Hmm..I wonder if it would work with my dog!

Val123's avatar

@ChocolateReigns You’d have to have two dogs first!

@syz Yes, it is. But it’s a little obtuse, and I find in interesting that it works on a dog!

@xxii Yes, and Dutchess has learned a LOT from Dakota, since she was brought here as a baby when Dakota was full grown. For example, we can be 93% sure that the dogs won’t take off into the neighborhood when left unattended on the open side deck, because we can be 93% sure that Dakota won’t….she raised Dutchess, really.

netgrrl's avatar

Actually the way I taught one dog to not bark was by first teaching him to bark on command as a trick. (Like “speak!” or whatever you want to call it.)

From there I was able to teach a “No speak” command.

It’s not an overnight fix, but it works.

Val123's avatar

@netgrrl Nice….wish I had the time!

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I want to try this! My dog has recently been joined by my bf’s two dogs, one of them that barks A LOT. So far not much is working, we’re trying the water squirt bottle but he just starts up when we’re not out there and all day when we’re gone (neighbor complaints). I’m going to try this, I’m desperate.

Coloma's avatar

I can see the connection, absolutely.

My new cat has been here for less than 3 weeks, and I have kept a calm demeanor, let her explore, no neurotic management and the results are amazing!

In less than 3 weeks she knows and responds to her new name, has mastered the kitty door, hangs around the house, comes when called and, in general, behaves as if she has been here for 3 years and not 3 weeks!

Keep it on the down low, be casual and non-reactive and miracles happen! lol

netgrrl's avatar

I should say it’s probably not going to be very effective on a dog that’s suffering separation anxiety while you’re gone. That’s a whole different ball game.

Val123's avatar

@netgrrl I hardly think she suffers from separation anxiety! They’re both glad to see us when we get home, but they aren’t going about tearing things up.

You can only do what you can do at the moment.

netgrrl's avatar

Sorry @Val123, my last reply re: separation anxiety was meant for @Neizvestnaya who mentioned dog barking all day while they were gone because the neighbors had complained about it.

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