If your dog barks at other dogs, and maybe even lunges at them, when you’re out walking then this is something you need to put a stop to as soon as you can before the behavior becomes too engrained. And to do that you first need to understand why your dog behaves the way they do. So let’s take a look at the reasons that dogs bark at other dogs, and what you can do about it…
Why A Dog Barks At Other Dogs
The main reason a dog barks at other dogs when on the leash is quite simple. It’s to make them go away. And they want them to go away because they’re scared. If your dog wasn’t on the leash, they’d probably just run away in fear. But as they can’t run away, their fear makes them bark and act aggressively towards other dogs.
The other reason a dog may bark at other dogs is because they can’t get to them. You’re out walking with your dog and they see another dog that they want to go and investigate and maybe play with, but the leash won’t let them. And so they become frustrated and start to bark.
So if you’ve got a problem with your dog barking at other dogs, how do you solve it?
How To Stop A Dog Barking At Other Dogs
Here’s a few tips on how to stop a dog barking at other dogs through fear and anxiety…
Avoid The Situation
One thing that you can do is to try and avoid the situation in the first place. To do this, you can’t afford to wait until your dog starts reacting to the other dog or dogs. So if you’re out walking your dog and you see other dogs being walked, cross the road to put some distance between your dog and them, or just turn and go in a different direction. If the other dogs never get close to yours, then your dog won’t be afraid and hence won’t bark out of fear. The worst thing that can happen is that the other dog gets close, your dog barks and/or lunges at them and this has the desired effect (from your dog’s point of view) of frightening the other dog and making it back off. This just reinforces your dog’s reactive behavior and is likely to make it worse the next time.
You also need to make sure you remain calm and relaxed when you and your dog approach other dogs. If you get nervous and stressed because you’re worried about how your dog is going to react, then your dog will pick up on this and it will make them more fearful and so more likely to bark and lunge.
Don’t Make Your Dog Feel Trapped
And when your dog is approached, make sure you don’t hold their leash too tightly, or pull back on it. If you do, your dog will feel trapped and try to pull forward, just making the situation worse. So just keep a firm grip on the leash in case your dog does decide to lunge forward, but make they feel they’ve got room to move if they need to.
Don’t Make Your Dog Sit When Approached
Something else to avoid is trying to make your dog sit while another dog approaches. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make because all it does is make your dog feel very vulnerable and afraid. And so they’re much more likely to react aggressively.
Get Your Dog Used To Other Dogs
It’s important that your other dog becomes used to other dogs and can meet them without barking at them. You want to change their reaction to other dogs from being scared and wanting them to go away to thinking that good things happen when they see other dogs.
A good way to do this is to stand with your dog somewhere where they’ll see lots of other dogs, at the park for example. Stand a distance away from where the other dogs usually go so that your dog will stay calm and not react to them. When your dog sees another dog, start giving them treats until the other dog goes away. In this way, your dog will start to associate the treats (good things!) with seeing other dogs.
Once your dog gets comfortable from seeing other dogs from this distance, gradually start to move closer. If your dog starts to react and bark at the other dogs, then you’re too close and need to move back.
Using this method, over time you should be able to get your dog completely used to other dogs.
If your dog barks at other dogs when you’re out and about together, follow the advice in this article and it won’t be long before your dog gets used to meeting other dogs calmly without reacting.