How to Help Your Dog to Stop Barking at Other Dogs
Does your dog have a habit of barking and perhaps even lunging at other dogs? You could be having a nice peaceful stroll until your dog spies another dog and starts a frenzy of barks and drags your towards the dog. Or you might be at home and then your dog sees another dog out the window and starts another barking fit. This is actually a pretty common behavior problem. So why does your dog bark at other dogs? Are there steps to fixing this behavior problem? Let's find out.
Why it Happens
Barking is your dog's natural way of communicating. They will bark for various reasons. Sometimes they bark to get our attention or if they are emotionally excited - because they are happy or upset. However, when your dog barks and lunges at other dogs, trainers describe this problematic behavior as "reactivity", meaning that these types of dogs are overacting towards something around them. Here are a few common reasons why dogs display "reactivity":
When your dog is on a leash or behind a window or fence, your dog may feel frustrated that they're stuck. If they are upset and feel that they can't run away, they can only bark and lunge to make the other dog go away. When your dog sees that this method works, they may do it more and more often.
This can happen if you used to let your dog go over to see other dogs and now you don't do it as often or at all. Your dog barks because they are frustrated as they can't go over because of the leash or whatever barrier to say hi to the other dogs. They may just be too excited being around another dog.
Some dogs, like humans too, just don't quite know how to interact with others. So, when they suddenly see other dogs, they may feel extra nervous or stressed out because they are leashed and unable to get away. It could be because they are stressed or just too excited being around another dog and they are essentially trying to make the other dog move away.
4. Bad Training Habits
Some tips to keep in mind:
- Don't yell at your dog to be quiet as it could sound like you're barking with them.
- Make sure to keep your training sessions positive and that the training is consistent within the family so that you don't confuse your dog. Everyone should apply the same training techniques to curb your dog's inappropriate barking.
- Avoid negative reinforcements. When you spank, scold, or use other methods to try to stop your dog from barking it could make the habit worse as your dog may link that this happens when the other dogs are around. Then your dog may bark and lunge even more at other dogs to make them go away. So avoid doing anything unpleasant or even slightly surprising to your dog as it that may backfire.
What Can I Do?
Give Your Dog Treats
Before your dog reacts, when your dog notices another dog, give him a treat. Make sure to give him little bits of the treats and not a full treat as you want to continuously feed him small bits of treats the entire time your dog does not bark in the presence of another dog. This is a continuous reward for your dog and can also distract them. Make sure to stop the treats after the dog has passed by. (Make sure your adjust your dog's meals to account for the extra treats you give him during your training sessions.) Once your dog is trained, they will start looking to you for a treat whenever they see a dog instead of barking or overreacting. Remember, you must give them the treat before they react (bark, growl).
Give Your Dog Verbal Instructions
In addition to the treats, as your dog progresses, you can move on to verbal praise and petting to draw his attention away from the other dog to you. Choose a short & simple phrase such as "Watch me" or "Look" whenever your dog sees another dog. When you say this verbal cue before you give the treat, your dog will always associate that words with the reward. Make sure you consistently use the same phrase throughout every family member so your dog does not get confused.
Gradually Move Your Dog Closer
Slowly train your dog by moving closer and closer to the other dog. If your dog barks or reacting, then move back and work on moving closer again. Another simpler method is to make sure to change direction and turn your dog before they notice the other dog and react. You can use a treat to lure them.
These are just a few tips on how you can help your dog break this problematic behavior. We hope that this works and helps your dog!