Did you know that 78 million U.S. families own a dog? Dogs are our best friends for a reason. They’re loyal, friendly, and will do whatever they can to make you happy (or for a treat). Dogs also have annoying habits, such as barking. Barking is a dog’s way of communicating. But barking can get problematic, such as when they bark and lunge at other dogs. If the dog you’re walking is barking at another dog, what should you do?
Dogs are also working with their instincts from their ancestors — wolves. That’s why dogs like to bury their toys. It's why they roll around in the dirt. And, you guessed it! It's why they bark and howl.
Why Do Dogs Bark at Other Dogs?
Barking is a dog’s main form of communication. This goes for all animals, including other dogs. For the most part, dogs are harmless when they bark at another dog.
They usually bark to inform other dogs of their presence. Dogs also bark to say hi and get to know the other dog.
When does barking become a problem? Body language communicates more than a bark. If your dog stands up straight and is facing another dog, they’re the dominant dog. This doesn’t mean anything dangerous — they’re just commanding their presence.
If the dog walks slowly toward the other dog, this is a good sign. They’re interested in getting to know the other dog.
There are two red flags in a dog's body language that signal fear and anger. A fearful dog cowers down, sticks their tail underneath their body, and may whimper and have their ears tucked into their head.
Angry dogs have a similar stance as dominant dogs. However, there are differences. Angry dogs are stiff, and their fur will stand up. They will bare their teeth and growl as they bark a loud and intimidating bark. They may even lunge at other dogs while they bark.
Angry dogs are also fearful of other dogs; instead of expressing fear, they’re expressing anger to try and scare the dog.
If the Dog You're Walking Is Barking at Another Dog, What Should You Do?
In most cases, dogs are harmless when they bark at other dogs. But if you suspect your dog is angry, there are ways to calm your dog and train them not to bark.
Step between the dogs
As you would in any fight, stepping between the dogs will take your dog’s focus off of the other dog, and your dog will focus on you.
This movement also does something else. As stated previously, dogs react angrily because they’re scared of the other dog. When you step in between the dogs, you’re reminding your dog that you’re there and will protect them.
Draw the dog's attention to you
If stepping between the dogs doesn’t work, there are other ways you can draw your dog’s attention toward you. The best way to do this is with verbal cues.
A dog’s sense of hearing is their second-most dominant sense. They recognize your voice. Since you’re their master, they instinctually focus on you when you speak to them.
Say short phrases to your dog to get their attention. Good examples include “look” and “over here.” You can also simply say your dog’s name.
Guide your dog away from the other dog
Now that you have your dog’s full attention, it’s time to be the pack leader and guide your dog. Start walking your dog in the opposite direction.
Always remind your dog that you’re there. Remember, this will comfort your dog. Make sure you’re as close to your dog as possible. This is easier to accomplish with a leader leash or harness.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Barking
at Other Dogs
You shouldn’t wait for your dog to bark at other dogs to take action. Multiple techniques and training methods prevent unwanted angry barking.
Train your dog
Even if you’re not a professional dog trainer, you can teach your dog to not bark at other dogs. The most important aspect of training is to practice consistently.
Train your dog daily. Keep your sessions short — about five or 10 minutes at a time. This ensures you always have your dog’s attention.
Keep your training sessions positive. Your dog will only learn if they’re in a happy and supportive environment. Instead of commanding your dog, use positive reinforcement such as praise, treats, and plenty of petting.
Get them comfortable around other dogs
The main reason why your dog acts out on other dogs is that they’re scared. The easiest solution to this problem is to get your dog comfortable around other dogs. This challenges your dog to approach other dogs, decreasing their fear.
However, you should always do this training in a contained environment. Keep your dog on a leash or harness and always stay near your dog.
Dog parks are the perfect place to start. However, stay near the entrance or at the edge of the park. If your dog is in the middle of the park, many dogs may approach your dog all at once. This can make your dog scared and uncomfortable.
If your local pet store has a training program or a small dog play area, this is also a great option. Your dog will be supervised by professionals who can assist in training your dog.
However, always ask if you can be present. Professional training and supervision won’t be successful unless you’re there to comfort your dog.
What if your pet store doesn’t offer these programs? Ask if you can stand out in the parking lot. Your dog can greet the dogs walking inside the store.
How to Reward Your Dog for Not Barking
You’ll start noticing the results of your training. You’ll walk your dog, and your dog won’t bark at other dogs. This calls for a reward! What are some examples of rewards?
All dogs love playing! Playing not only works as positive reinforcement, but you’ll tire your dog out. If they see another dog, they will be too exhausted and happy to act out.
Always bring toys on your walks. When your dog doesn’t bark, show them the toy and start playing. You can also use squeaky toys to get their attention when another dog walks by. You can also bring a frisbee or ball and play after the dog’s walk is over.
Dogs also can’t resist treats. This is why treats are the ultimate training reward.
Be careful when giving treats. Even though your dog may be a good boy/girl, too many treats can cause weight gain and other harmful health problems. Instead, break up a treat into smaller bites. Whenever your dog doesn’t bark at another dog, give them a piece of the treat.
You should also only give your dog a treat when he doesn’t act out at other dogs. Otherwise, your dog will expect a treat whenever he/she sees another dog.
Treats also act as more than a reward. They’re a distraction from other dogs, and your dog will feel happy rather than scared or defensive.
Other Helpful Tips
As you start training your dog, you’ll learn there are ways to ease the training process. What if the dog you're walking is barking at another dog, what should you do, even after training? There are other actions to take to ensure your training is effective.
Use a sturdy harness or a training collar
Walking your dog is supposed to be pleasant and a bonding experience. If you use a traditional leash, your dog may feel uncomfortable, and you won’t have as much control over your dog.
A sturdy harness secures your dog over its back and chest and not its throat. You’ll have more control over your dog without hurting your pooch.
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A training collar is also a great option. Training collars cause a response when your dog is misbehaving or performing a not-desired action (such as barking at other dogs).
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The most common responses include vibration and sound. This will alert your dog, putting their focus on you and what you’re teaching them.
If your dog starts barking at another dog, activate the response. This will distract them from barking.
Keep in mind that you should always research the intensity of the response. The last thing you want to do is scare or hurt your dog.
If the path has lots of dogs, walk a different route
If all else fails, change your dog’s route. Not all dogs can be trained easily. In this situation, the best course of action is to take your dog away from areas where other owners walk their dogs.
Surrounding your dog with other dogs will make them scared and upset. While we would love to train our dogs and improve their behavior, we also have to remember their own well-being and happiness.
Only walk your dog in uncrowded areas. An open space, such as a park trail, is the best option. Your dog will feel relaxed and happy in nature.
Time to Put It into Practice
It’s always discouraging when you’re trying to walk in your dog in peace, and they start barking and lunging at another dog. If the dog you’re walking is barking at another dog, what should you do?
Well, you should put some of these techniques into practice. See what works for you and your dog. Here's to peaceful walking!
What have you tried to do to keep your dog from barking at other dogs? Tell us about your experience in the comment section.
Featured image by Pixabay