This article is a guide into dealing with your dog barking at other dogs whether are home, during walks or when he is on a leash. We offer scientific methods of dealing with it that have been recommended for professional use as well as simple at home solutions to help stop your pup from barking at others.
- Dog Barking At Other Dogs
- Reasons for Dog Barking at other Dogs
- How to Stop Dog Barking at other Dogs
- 1. Desensitization and Counter-conditioning
- i. Anticipation
- ii. Offer a Treat
- iii. Reward Reconditioning
- iv. Repeat
- 2. Constructional Aggression Treatment
- Dog Barking at Other Dogs on Walk while on Leash
- Make the Walks Fun
- Additional Tips to Stop a Dog from Barking at Other Dogs
Dog Barking At Other Dogs
Just like humans, dogs too exhibit body language. A happy dog will have relaxed facial muscles, her ears held back and mouth slightly open. This will then be accompanied by tail wagging as well as wiggling of the butt. On the other hand, a distressed dog will have its lips curled up, eyes squinty, tail tucked between the legs with muscles tight. They will also fling forward barking deeply as well as lunging at their potential threat. The latter behavior may be shown more so where a dog is going to another dog. Wondering why your dog is barking at other dogs? Here are the causes.
Reasons for Dog Barking at other Dogs
When a dog reacts to other dogs, it usually is as a result of fear. By reacting aggressively to other dogs, he manages to keep them away. Another reason why they may act this way is as a result of frustration. This is more so in restraining situations such as when they are behind a fence or when they are out for a walk and are held on a leash yet they wish to play with other dogs. The frustration resulting from their inability to free themselves for some play time makes them bark at dogs on the other side of the fence.
While the lunging and dog barking at other dogs is stressful for both the pet and the owner or person handling it at the moment, the dog will usually assume that the display of aggression works since the other dog will be sent out of their way. This keeps reinforcing the behavior.
A number of physical factors could also intimidate the dog into reacting this way. These include the size of the other dog, its behavior as well as appearance. The presence of a big dog that has an intense stare can increase the possibility of the reaction.
A dog will also be affected by the number of unfavorable encounters he has had during his walk or in the park. The more stressed he is, the higher his likelihood to blow up at the slightest provocation.
To control this behavior, it is important to learn what factors affect your dog to a point of lunging and barking at other dogs.
How to Stop Dog Barking at other Dogs
For dogs that are reactive to the presence of other dogs, there are humane and sound scientific approaches that will help in behavior modification. Below we discuss two of these professional methods on how to stop dog barking at other dogs
1. Desensitization and Counter-conditioning
In desensitization and counterconditioning, the dog is exposed to the mildest stimulus that they tend to notice. Once they have noticed it, they are offered something they love to distract them. This way, your dog learns to associate the sight of the other dogs with the specific treatment. When done right, they will with time learn to tolerate other dogs.
In this initial step, you anticipate when the dog will be barking at other dogs. This is most likely to happen at the moment when they are exposed to the stimuli which in this case is another dog.
ii. Offer a Treat
Once this has been attained, you redirect their attention to something they love. This distracts them into focusing on the offer as opposed to the stimuli. This can be their favorite treat. One they are always looking forward to having. The treat is only to be offered before they can react. If offered after they have already started to bark, it will result in reinforcement of the behavior.
iii. Reward Reconditioning
This is where you retrain your dog so that when he sees another dog, instead of getting adrenaline rush and barking, they instead learn to look at you since they will be expecting a treat from you. Ensure that the treatment offered is not a single piece. You could break it into tiny pieces so that you can feed him when there is another dog walking around. You can incorporate verbal commands and praises to reassure your pooch and also ensure he does not lunge at the other dog.
To reinforce this, it is necessary to keep practicing until the behavior is ingrained in the dog. Once this is achieved, you can start to gradually reduce the treats before eliminating them all together.
Note that in case he happens to bark, you should not offer any treat as this will only have the reverse effect which will contribute to a reinforcement of the dog barking at other dogs’ behavior. Instead, try and get away from the other dog by crossing the street or walking the other way.
For the method to work, you have to initiate the lesson before the behavior escalates to lunging and barking. This way the lesson will stick. As the dog gets used to this and treats become enough to keep his attention off other dogs, you can try and go to an area with more dogs like outside fenced dog parks. While there, continue working on keeping their focus on you. Gradually reduce the distance and keep moving closer to the dogs over a few weeks. With time they will get reconditioned and stop barking at others.
2. Constructional Aggression Treatment
This treatment for reactive dogs is based on the premises that dogs will display their aggression in moments of panic which they, with time, learn that it works. The second premise is that dogs are friendly in some contexts.
As such, the trick is to teach the learner dog to import positive behavior into problematic situations. The learner dog is therefore presented with a mild version of the stimulus. Where they offer a non-aggressive behavior, the other dog is moved further. This way they learn to associate being nice to other dogs with driving them away.
While the desensitization and reconditioning treatment, as well as the constructional aggression treatment, are quite simple and subtle, the extent to which your dog improves depends on how skilled the trainer is, the dog’s resilience and willingness to learn as well as its guardian’s ability to guide and help it.
Dog Barking at Other Dogs on Walk while on Leash
When a dog is being walked on a leash, their movement is restricted and this may make them feel threatened by the presence of another dog. This may be the cause of your dog barking at other dogs during your regular walks. To deal with this, there are a few preventive measures you can put in place to curb the behavior.
This includes keeping your dog away from other dogs. This should be done before the dog gets to react. Change your direction if you notice another dog that is likely to cause yours to react. Whenever the situation is too stimulating and it is likely that the other dog will challenge them, learn to tactfully turn away in the opposite direction or maneuver towards a different direction from it without having to harshly pull on the leash.
Make the Walks Fun
If you keep your dog engaged in different activities, their attention will be on you. This way they will be distracted even when other dogs are walking by. Keep changing the pace by walking slowly then speeding up, rotate, weave around trees, allow your dog to put his feet on curbs, jump on benches or any other thing that you can think of. By incorporating these other activities, your dog will be preoccupied.
Additional Tips to Stop a Dog from Barking at Other Dogs
Basically put, to stop a dog barking at others, you need to change their emotional response. This is done by preventing the dog from practicing the behavior. To achieve this:
- Remove them quickly and easily from any challenging situations before they can react.
- During your walks, keep your dog focused on fun activities. This distracts him from other things that may be happening around him.
- Learn to be confident and avoid showing anxiety when out with your dog. Your dog will follow suit.
While living with a reactive dog may be embarrassing, it is possible to have the behavior under control. Engage a professional if the behavior is too much for you to handle so you can stop your dog from barking at other dogs. With the right training and support, your pet should learn to cope being around other dogs without feeling threatened or reacting.
- Yourdogsfriend.org: Help! My Dog Barks & Lungs at other Dogs
- Lovethatpet.com: Does your Dog Lunge at other Dogs When Out Walking?
- Cesarsway.com: Cesar’s Best Tips to Stop Dog Barking
- Animalhumanesociety.org: Managing a Leash Reactive Dog