For many dog owners, encountering the barking of their furry companion whenever another dog comes into view happens all too often. It's important to remember that barking is your dog's way of communicating with other dogs; however, it is vital to understand when their barking is too much and, possibly, even aggressive.
Unfortunately, if your dog is excessively barking towards other dogs, it won't be an overnight fix. However, with the proper guidance and strategies, you can stop your dog from excessively barking at other dogs and make your walks as enjoyable as they should be!
Why do dogs bark at eachother?
You may often find yourself puzzled when your dog barks relentlessly at other dogs, and it can be a little embarrassing and stressful. By understanding the root causes behind your dog barking at other dogs, you can take steps to address it effectively and positively.
Dogs are social creatures with their own unique language, and barking is just one of the many ways they express themselves and communicate with other dogs. You can gain valuable insights into their emotional states, intentions, and needs by recognising and deciphering their barks. Seong Chan Yeon DVM, MS, PhD states that a dog's vocalisation "can be divided into several types". These vocalisations "can carry the senders' emotional state" to other dogs and humans.
Your dog may bark out of the blue, and this can be due to various stimuli. They sit at the window, and once they see another dog, a person, a bike, or a SQUIRREL can trigger your dog to bark. Similarly, your dog may bark at different sounds, like people talking outside or a car beeping. Alert barking is very similar to territorial barking, and according to Science of People, dogs that engage in alert barking generally have closed mouths, pointed ears and stiff tails. Your dog may alert bark to inform you of something outside or wrong.
Interestingly, although this type of barking can be a nuisance to us now, in the domestication process of dogs, humans originally bred for dogs to alert when something or someone was outside, says Preventive Vet.
Just like us, dogs have their personal spaces, and they take guarding them seriously. When another dog, person or vehicle enters their territory, whether it's their home, the neighbourhood park or their backyard, barking serves as a warning to trespassers. This territorial behaviour can stem from a desire to protect what they perceive as theirs, causing them to vocalise their displeasure.
When your dog is territorial barking, this behaviour can be self-reinforcing, according to Soraya V. Juarbe-Diaz, DVM, DACVB Veterinary behaviourist. Your dog's territorial barking can be reinforced because they believe their barking has made the person, animal or object retreat from the area your dog is protecting. In Dr Jarbe-Diaz's words, "Mail carriers and delivery people, enter and exit the dog's territory as a function of their occupation, not as a result of the dog's behaviour." your dog's barking is reinforced "when pairing occurs between its behaviour and the intruder's retreat.".
Dogs, like humans, can experience fear in certain situations. When faced with a perceived threat, a dog may resort to barking as a coping mechanism. By vocalising their distress, they attempt to ward off potential harm or signal their need for reassurance from their owners.
Social interaction and excitement
Barking is not always an expression of negativity; it can also be a reflection of excitement and eagerness for social interaction. Dogs are inherently social beings, and when they encounter other dogs, especially ones they find intriguing or appealing, they may bark as a way of initiating play or simply expressing their enthusiasm.
In some cases, barking can stem from frustration or aggression. When a dog does not feel like they are being heard, they may bark out of frustration. Likewise, if your dog has gotten into a routine of receiving a Fish Skin Flattie treat after their walk, they may bark out of frustration because you've forgotten to do that. I Heart Dogs says they bark at you to make you aware of the problem.
To combat frustration barking, find what is triggering your dog to get frustrated. Are you teaching them something new that they do not understand or telling them to stop doing something without providing the desired behaviour? Make sure you are being clear and are rewarding your dog enough, especially for learning new commands. Kristina Lotz, a professional dog trainer, says that in her experience if her dog starts barking at her in their training sessions, she will need to "stop and change" the way she is training her dog.
Unfortunately, "Aggression is the most common and most serious behaviour problem in dogs". Dogs may get aggressive for a few reasons, one being because they are around new dogs or people.
1. Shifting their weight to the back of their legs
3. Baring teeth
4. Fixed stare
5. Whale eyes
This behaviour might indicate the need for further socialisation and training to help your dog feel calmer and more confident around other dogs.
What to do if your dog keeps barking at other dogs?
It can be disconcerting when you can't stop your dog from barking at other dogs. Fortunately, there are various practical strategies that you can employ when your dog engages in excessive barking, especially towards other dogs and people. By understanding how to respond appropriately, you can address the behaviour and work towards creating a more peaceful and enjoyable experience for both you and your furry friend.
Change your route to avoid other dogs
If possible, create some distance between your dog and the source of their barking. This could mean walking in a different direction or temporarily changing your route where other dogs commonly walk. By removing your dog from the trigger, you can prevent the barking from escalating and allow them to regain their composure.
Distancing and going on a different walking route are not permanent fixes to your dog's barking. However, these are great strategies to begin with in order to manage your dog's barking.
Understanding your dog's feelings
Developing a deeper understanding of your dog's emotions and triggers that lead to them barking at other dogs is essential. Dogs may bark out of fear, anxiety, frustration or excitement, and identifying the underlying emotions can help you address your dog's behaviour more effectively.
Observe your dog's body language, paying attention to signs of stress or discomfort, such as tense body posture, raised hackles, or pinned-back ears. You can tailor your training approach and provide appropriate support by recognising and empathising with your dog's feelings. If your dog is fearful or anxious around other dogs, consider gradual desensitisation and counter-conditioning techniques to help them develop positive associations and build confidence.
Socialisation and training
Regular socialisation and training play a vital role in helping your dog become more comfortable and confident around other dogs. Enrol your dog in obedience classes or seek out controlled socialisation opportunities where they can interact with well-behaved dogs in a supervised environment. This exposure can help your dog develop positive associations and better social skills.
Unfortunately, there isn't another socialisation period after those 4 to 12 weeks. Therefore, you will need to correct the barking behaviour.
Divert their attention
Redirecting your dog's attention can be an effective way to interrupt their barking towards another dog. Carry training treats or a favourite toy during walks to redirect your dog's focus away from the other dog. If you are still encountering issues with grabbing their attention, try some more enticing and high-value rewarding treats such as Dried Sprats for dogs.
With the treats or toy, engage your dog in a game or ask for simple commands like sit or stay to shift their focus onto you and away from the dog that is triggering your dog to bark.
Teach getting your dog's attention on cue
One effective way to address your dog's barking towards other dogs is to teach them to focus on you on command. By training a specific cue, such as "look" or "watch me," you can redirect your dog's attention towards you when they start fixating on other dogs.
Training your dog these attention grabbing cues in a calm environment with minimal distractions is the perfect start to ensure you are the sole focus of your dog's attention. Gradually increase the level of distractions, reinforcing their ability to maintain focus on you even when other dogs are present. With consistent practice and positive reinforcement, your dog will learn to turn to you for guidance and reassurance, reducing their inclination to bark at other dogs.
Similarly, teaching your dog recall commands such as "come" provides you and your dog's safety by ensuring your dog will come back to you on command. If your dog is not listening to your commands, Dogs Trust states that it is most likely due to more exciting distractions such as dogs or SQUIRRELS!
Seek professional help
If your dog's barking behaviour persists or becomes problematic, consulting a professional dog trainer or behaviourist may be beneficial. They can provide specialised guidance, tailor training techniques to your dog's specific needs, and help you address any underlying issues contributing to their barking behaviour. With the dog trainer or behaviourist's expertise, you can develop a customised plan to effectively modify your dog's behaviour.
Using desensitisation and counter-conditioning to stop your dog from barking at other dogs
Desensitising your dog is an effective approach to help them stop barking at other dogs. Start by identifying the threshold at which your dog reacts to other dogs, whether it's displaying anxiety, tension, or barking. In a case study by Joke Monteny and Christel Moons, they stated that desensitisation and counter-conditioning can be used together:
Create a controlled environment for desensitisation sessions, choosing a quiet location where you can observe other dogs from a distance that keeps your dog calm and relaxed.
Gradually expose your dog to other dogs, beginning at a distance that doesn't trigger their barking response. Use positive reinforcement, such as training treats and praise, to create positive associations with the presence of other dogs.
Over multiple sessions, decrease the distance, ensuring your dog remains calm throughout the process.
Seeking professional guidance from a qualified dog trainer or behaviourist can provide invaluable support in tailoring the desensitisation plan to your dog's specific needs.
Remember to be consistent, patient, and celebrate small victories. With time and dedication, you can help stop your dog from barking at other dogs and foster better social interactions.
Remove their motivation to bark
Understanding the underlying motivations behind your dog's barking is the key to addressing their behaviour effectively. By uncovering their triggers, satisfaction responses, and attention-seeking tendencies, you can take proactive steps to eliminate their motivation.
Unveiling the triggers
The first step in tackling your dog's barking is identifying the triggers that set them off. You may already know and have discovered that their barking is caused by another dog. However, it is crucial to rule out any other triggers, such as passing strangers, loud noises, or even specific environments. By recognising these triggers, you can anticipate situations that may provoke barking and proactively manage them, reducing the likelihood of your dog feeling compelled to bark.
Additionally, pay attention to your dog's body language and the sound of their bark when these triggers cause your dog to bark. This can help you identify your dog's feelings, which will help you choose the most suitable training method for your dog.
Breaking the satisfaction cycle
Barking can become a self-rewarding behaviour for dogs, leading to a cycle of satisfaction. When your dog barks and their desired outcome is achieved (e.g., attention, access to something they want), they learn that barking gets results.
To break your dog's satisfaction cycle, it's essential to withhold any rewarding response when they bark and instead provide attention or rewards when they remain quiet and calm. This teaches that your dog's problematic behaviour, such as excessive barking, will not get a response, gradually diminishing their motivation to bark if they are seeking attention, etc.
If your dog's barking is caused due to fear or territorial tendencies, management techniques such as stopping your dog from seeing the triggers can help. The triggers can be dogs or people coming towards their home. As Dr Jarbe-Diaz said, your dog's barking is reinforced when pairing occurs between their barking and the retreat of the dog or person. To combat this initially, some trainers recommend closing the blinds so your dog can not see out the window, eradicating your dog's satisfaction.
Many dogs bark to seek attention from their owners because they may be bored, lonely, or simply craving interaction.
Just like you should break your dog's satisfaction cycle, counter their motivation to bark by ensuring they receive plenty of mental stimulation and physical exercise, engaging in playtime, training sessions, or puzzle toys that keep their minds occupied. You can proactively minimise their desire to bark for attention by meeting their needs.
Evaluate your dog's environment for any stimuli that may trigger excessive barking. Consider playing white noise, closing the curtains, or putting up barriers to reduce visual and auditory triggers.
Although this does not directly tackle and fix the trigger causing your dog to bark, it does create a calm and peaceful atmosphere that can help your dog feel more secure and less inclined to bark.
Consistency and training
Consistency is key when working to remove your dog's motivation to bark. Establishing clear training methods by using the same command words and using training treats to reward at the right moments will gradually reinforce the desired behaviours in a positive manner.
Here are our customer's top 3 favourite training treats to use with their dogs:
Dog & Puppy Training Treats
Fish Skin Cubes
Whitefish & Herb Slices
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to ignore my dog when he is barking at other dogs?
When your dog is barking at other dogs, ignoring their behaviour is generally not recommended. Dogs use barking as a way to communicate, and it's important to understand the underlying reasons behind their barking. Ignoring the barking without addressing the root cause may not effectively resolve the issue and could potentially lead to more significant behavioural problems over time.
When your dog barks at other dogs, it could indicate fear, anxiety, territorial behaviour, or a lack of socialisation. By ignoring the behaviour, you miss an opportunity to provide guidance and training to help your dog overcome these issues. It's advisable to consider positive reinforcement techniques, such as rewarding your dog for calm behaviour or redirecting their attention away from the triggering stimulus.
Seeking assistance from a professional dog trainer or behaviourist can be highly beneficial in evaluating your dog's specific situation and developing an appropriate training plan. They can provide tailored guidance based on your dog's individual needs, helping you address the barking behaviour effectively and ensure the well-being of both your dog and the other dogs they interact with.
Why does my dog go crazy when he sees other dogs?
When your dog becomes extremely excited or reacts seemingly uncontrollably upon seeing another dog, there can be a variety of reasons behind this behaviour. It's important to understand that dogs are social animals with their unique personalities and experiences. Here are some possible explanations for why your dog may react this way:
Lack of socialisation:
If your dog has yet to have adequate socialisation experiences with other dogs during their critical developmental period, they may become overwhelmed or anxious when encountering unfamiliar dogs. Proper socialisation at a young age is crucial in helping dogs learn appropriate behaviours and feel more comfortable around others.
Fear or anxiety:
Some dogs react strongly to other dogs out of fear or anxiety. Previous negative experiences, such as an aggressive encounter or a lack of positive interactions, can contribute to these feelings. The sight of another dog triggers a fear response, leading to intense reactions like barking, lunging, or pulling on the leash.
Protective or territorial behaviour:
Certain dogs may display an exaggerated response when they perceive other dogs as threatening their territory or owner. This behaviour is often driven by a desire to protect their resources or establish dominance.
Overexcitement and lack of impulse control:
Some dogs become overly excited when they see other dogs due to their inherently sociable nature. They may struggle to control their impulses and exhibit hyperactive behaviour, including jumping, barking, and pulling.
Dogs on leashes can sometimes develop reactivity issues, as the physical constraint can make them feel trapped or frustrated. The presence of another dog may amplify these feelings, resulting in reactive behaviour.
Understanding the specific reason behind your dog's reaction is essential in addressing the behaviour effectively. Working with a professional dog trainer or behaviourist can help you assess the situation, develop a training plan, and teach your dog alternative behaviours and coping mechanisms. Positive reinforcement techniques, counter-conditioning, desensitisation, and controlled introductions to other dogs can all be part of the training process to help your dog become calmer and more comfortable around other dogs.
Can I stop my dog from barking at other dogs?
Yes, you can! Try following the points mentioned in the blog under 'What to do if your dog keeps barking at other dogs?'. These include:
Change your route to avoid other dogs
Understand your dog's feelings
Socialisation and training
Divert their attention
Teach getting your dog's attention on cue
Seek professional help
What if my dog does not learn to stop barking at other dogs?
If your dog continues to bark at other dogs despite your efforts to address the behaviour, there are a few additional steps you can take as a responsible dog owner:
Evaluate the training techniques:
Reflect on the training methods you have been using. Are they consistent, positive, and rewarding? Consider whether any adjustments or refinements are needed.
Seek professional assistance:
If your dog's barking behaviour persists and proves challenging to modify on your own, it is highly advisable to consult a professional dog behaviourist or certified trainer experienced in dealing with complex behavioural issues. They can conduct a thorough assessment, identify any underlying factors, and design a customised behaviour modification plan for your dog.
Remember that every dog is unique; modifying their behaviour can take time and patience. It's essential to approach the process with empathy and a commitment to understanding and addressing the root causes of your dog's barking. With proper guidance and perseverance, you can work towards reducing and managing the barking behaviour effectively.