My dog barks for attention, but only in specific circumstances. How do I work with him to stop?

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Our dog is a neutered male, about 3 years old, and a total lovable 60lb scruffy mutt.

He barks for attention but usually in one circumstance – my wife and I sitting on our couch, and he’s on his bed about 8ft away. Usually watching TV, sometimes eating. Always between 7-9pm at night, it’s kind of a routine.

He gets walked and goes in the backyard multiple times a day and is invited to often join us on the couch for plenty of pets. But now we’re just in the routine which is pretty frustrating.

We have been working over the past several weeks on not reacting to his barking. I’ve heard an analogy like pressing your remote harder to get it to change the channel on the TV, the dog tried barking harder and louder to achieve a reaction. He’ll stop sometimes after a couple barks, sometimes it’ll go on for 15 min.

I’m trying to figure out how to teach him the command “quiet”. Here’s the issue – I find it hard to trigger his barking, and as soon as I turn to look at him he stops. So it feels hard to get him to understand a command means “stop barking” because any attention we pay causes him to stop, and by the time I get up to give him a treat, he’s already stopped.

How do I break this cycle? The only think of is completely changing our schedule, which is unfortunate since it’s some of the only time my wife and I really get to spend together during the week.

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