Hello and welcome to my website. You are here because your dog keeps barking at other dogs.
I know the feeling. It is so annoying, isn’t it? It’s totally embarrassing as well.
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My dog keeps barking at me. Why?
Having to struggle to keep your dog calm when you are walking past another one is a difficult task. He will fuss and bark at the other dogs in a manner that you can feel the hostility. However, if you are reading this, you must be seeking the answer to the question “my dog keeps barking at other dogs, what do I do?”
It is stressful and shameful to have to struggle to contain your dog when you meet other dog walkers in the park. If you have a reactive dog, then you know what I am talking about. He will pull towards and bark at the other dog and if you do not know how to deal with this frustrating behavior, you might be scared of walking him.
Don’t get me wrong, walking your dog and exercising with him is a requirement for a healthy dog. However, exposure to uncomfortable situations will subject your dog to fear and anxiety. Most adult dogs that have been raised alone will develop fear in the presence of your dog.
If you are raising a puppy, it can be helpful to expose him to other well-behaved dogs for socialization. This will help your puppy adapt to seeing other dogs and even responding to the other dogs’ signals. This means that your puppy will get used to walking and seeing others of his kind and keeping calm.
If you are reading this, it means that you have experiences the stressful event of trying to keep your dog calm but failed terribly. It is important to note that a reactive dog is different from an aggressive dog, even though the two vices are quite close.
Anxiety in dogs.
Reactivity will cause your dog the inability to control its anxiety and fear other dogs. If your dog keeps barking at other dogs, then you must know how hard it is to train him out of the problematic behavior. When he sees other dogs, he is overwhelmed with adrenaline which will initiate the fight or flight reaction.
For instance, if you walk your dog on a leash, he will feel trapped to flee from the other dog, and instead react with hostility (fight). He might want to keep away from the other dog since he is afraid because he was deprived of socialization while growing up.
If your dog keeps barking at other dogs during your morning or evening walk, there are some training you can use to calm him down. Keeping distance from the other dog is one of the immediate solutions to reactivity in dogs. If he starts lunging and barking at another dog, you can increase the distance from the other dog to relax your dog.
However, you cannot always avoid meeting other dogs, which makes the above solution temporary. Eventually, your friend will come to visit you and carry his pup with him. Your dog will turn from reactive to aggressive since he will be protecting his territory.
Before we can go on to discussing aggression towards other dogs, let us look at the possible ways in which you can teach your dog out of the habit. These include:
Turn away from other dogs.
If you are walking your dog on a leash, you might consider turning away immediately you spot other dog coming your way. This will calm down the dog and he will feel relaxed. In other terms, it will be like assuring your dog that he does not have to meet other dogs until he is ready to.
This can be reinforced by offering your dog treats when you turn him away. He will be distracted by the treat since it is a stimulus and he will stop anticipating meeting the other dog.
Train him to look away.
The reason why your dog feels anxious around other dogs is the inability to read signs the other dog is giving. Dogs that have been deprived of socialization are like people with social anxiety in human beings. It gets very uncomfortable around other people and you do not want to be noticed, criticized or make any social interactions.
This means that your dog will suffer anxiety, stress or fear when he comes around other dogs. This will make be reactive and sometimes aggressive. To curb this behavioral issue, you can teach your pup to look away from other dogs.
This can be reinforced by offering him something to eat to distract him from paying attention to the oncoming ‘threat’. You can also use rotating toys or any other form of play to get his attention instead.
Play with your dog.
You can stimulate your dog while you are walking him with play. You can use a ball or any other game he loves with you to distract him from paying attention to other dogs. It can be stressful to handle a reactive dog in a park, especially when other people are also walking their dogs.
However, your dog definitely loves you and looks forward to spending time with you. Playing with him and giving him all your attention is actually a way to keep him distracted and also happy.
Avoid punishing him.
When your dog keeps barking at other dogs, it can be annoying and embarrassing especially if your neighbor owns one as well. Most people might think that yelling at the dog is a solution but then again, your dog will be so frustrated if you yell at him. Instead, stay calm and try to keep him relaxed.
training your dog to understand some words like ‘sit’ or ‘look’ might be helpful when dealing with a reactive dog. This is because you will be able to instruct him and thereby control him from focussing on the other dogs around him.
Do not, however, punish your dog by forcing him to get close to other dogs, or any other form of threatening punishment. Be patient with him as he will learn with time.
My dog keeps barking at other dogs, Help!
As mentioned earlier, dogs that bark at other dogs can be quite frustrating to walk or live with. However, through the following ways, you can be able to manage a reactive dog;
Adopt an obedience program
Even though domesticated, dogs are still packed animals and they like to feel like they belong. In the animal kingdom, every pack always has a leader and the dog needs to feel like someone is in control, and like it belongs.
Since you love your dog, he develops the sense that you and your family are a pack. When you are not in charge of his behaviors, he will feel the need to step up and be the lead. This means that every time he feels like you are in some kind of danger, he is going to react. For instance, if he sees another dog coming towards you, he will bark at the other dog to protect his territory.
Training your dog to obey certain instructions is an important way of showing your pup that you are in control. He is going to do what you tell him, even in the case he is nervous and anxious. However, this takes a lot of impulse control exercises.
Avoid other dogs.
If your dog keeps barking at other dogs, this means that he will become noisy even at home. He might see other dogs outside and bark at them. The best thing to manage this behavior is to drop your curtains so that your dog will not be able to see the dogs.
If you have a friend coming to visit you, you should tell them to avoid bring their dog along. You should keep his triggers away from him as it will reduce anxiety and fear.
You may also consider changing the environment where you have been walking your dog.
To be able to train your dog to stop reactivity against other dogs, you must understand his body language. This will predict the moment your dog will start overreacting in the presence of another dog. It is important to remember that you can only do this by replacing the situation with his favorite activity or treat.
Monitor your dog when at home, relaxed and when you are walking him and he displays reactivity signs. You should offer them a treat before they start barking at the other dog. This will stimulate him to be happy rather than afraid and anxious.
In the case where your dog has developed the problematic behavior of barking at other dogs, bringing a new dog home might work for or against for you. It is good when you want to train your first dog to curb the behavior but it will require time and focus to successfully this.
It could be fun having two canine friends but it is going to be tough for the first time if you own a reactive dog. You will have to split the time to spend with each dog separately until they can bother to be in the same room without barking and growling at eat other.
However, there is also a challenge in getting a second dog when your first is reactive. The dogs can communicate with each other through body language as well as barking. If your new dog notices any hostility from the first dog, he is also bound to respond by barking at him too.
Other times, your second dog might also learn the barking from your first dog and you would have two problematic dogs in your home. However, if your first dog is reactive, having a dog companion will help him get used to having other dogs without making a fuss.
Below are some of the things you should consider if you are getting a second dog;
You should first take your dog to a playdate before choosing him a companion. This way, you will be able to monitor the kind of energy he can relate to well. It is also important to look at how your dog reacts to the other dogs and choose the one he plays with the most. This will be easy to help you choose the best dog to stay with the first one.
It is important to look at the breed and history of the second dog before actually taking him home with you. You may want to make sure that the dog has the best experience in socializing, unlike your dog at home. This will make it easier to train your reactive dog as the second one will provide a comfortable environment for him to adapt.
Make sure that your first dog can tolerate the second one. This means that getting a second dog is going to need you to employ a lot of time and effort before getting the best partner for your first dog.
However, no matter how much you want to keep your dog company, you should consider training your dog first, Make sure that the first dog is well-behaved so that the second one does not copy erratic behaviors.
If your dog is still struggling with anxiety and fear emotions, you should refrain from getting a second dog. This might make the fear even more intense, making it worse for your dog to live with you. This might actually lead to your dog turning aggressive trying to protect his territory.
Stick to a routine
All in all, having a reactive dog can be tough, given that sometimes we don’t have the time for intensive training. However, if your dog keeps barking at other dogs, you may consider using the above tricks or having a professional dog trainer do it for you.
Your dog will bark at other dogs, or people walking their dogs for various reasons. This behavior can be a result of genetics, hormones or deprives social interactions with other dogs for a long time. As mentioned above, you can help your dog deal with this behavior through patience and effort.
Avoiding other dogs is an effective mechanism of dealing with your dog barking at them. When you are taking your dog for a walk, you may turn away if you see another dog from a distance. You can also change where you walk your dog, to a more secluded environment. This will keep him relaxed and happy.
My final thoughts.
Your dog is your responsibility. You will be the person responsible to make it as comfortable as you can by protecting him from things that threaten him. From counter-conditioning to impulse control exercise, there are many ways you can correct the behavior of your dog barking at others.