Walking our dogs is great for both them and us. Everyone gets exercise, and your dog is less bored and can get out some energy. It’s pretty win-win all around.
But sometimes, walking our dogs means we meet other people out walking their dogs, and that has the potential to become a headache if your dog is one that barks at others. Not only can that rile up other dogs, but it’s also just a bit embarrassing when our dogs aren’t behaving. So, when the dog you’re walking is barking at another dog, you need to remedy the situation, but what should you do?
You can handle your dog barking at others with the nine tips below!
Before You Begin
Before you look at the tips below, it’s good to know why your dog is barking at other dogs in the first place.
When your dog is barking at other dogs or pulling at their leash to try to get to them, they’re engaging in reactivity (though it’s also sometimes called leash aggression). What is reactivity? Basically, your dog is in their feelings and having an intense reaction to those emotions. Often this comes out via barking or leash pulling, or other aggressive behavior.
Okay, good to know, but why are they feeling so much, so strongly? This reactivity typically occurs for two reasons (though there may be others):
- Your dog hasn’t interacted with other dogs much and is afraid of them. Barking is how they try to get the other dogs to go away.
- Your dog is frustrated because it’s used to being able to interact with other dogs, and it can’t interact with this one. Barking is their way of expressing their excitement to meet the new dog and frustration that they can’t actually reach them.
Luckily, you can remedy a barking situation on walks in a few ways. With the guide below, get your pup to stop barking at other dogs.
The 9 Tips to Stop Your Dog From Barking at Other Dogs While Walking
1. Distract Your Dog
Distraction is a wonderful way to get your dog to stop barking, and one of the easiest ways to get their attention elsewhere is to bring treats on your walk. You need to be familiar with the distance at which your dog usually starts barking at another dog so that you can prevent the dog’s barking before it happens. Say your dog’s name clearly and wait a second. If your dog looks at you and gives you attention, give the dog a treat directly into their mouth. Give the treats one at a time while your dog keeps their attention on you. Walk away before the other dog gets closer. As you continue training, you can work on gradually decreasing the distance between other dogs and your dog. You can also try bringing your dog’s favorite toy as a distraction.
2. Give Your Dog a Command such as “Heel!”
Though this will help mainly with any lunging, getting your dog to hang back can also work to prevent barking by grabbing their attention. You could also use “Leave it!” or just their name. However, don’t tell your dog to sit, as they will feel more vulnerable in a sitting position.
3. Teach Your Dog to Pay More Attention to You
It may seem simple, but teaching your dog to look at you on command and pay attention to you during walks can go a long way in helping them avoid distractions such as other dogs. Plus, it can strengthen your bond!
4. Tire Your Pup Out with Challenges
Adding challenges to your daily walk will stimulate your pet’s mind, tire them out enough that they don’t want to bark at others, and keep their attention on you. What exactly would these challenges be? You can do various challenging things such as changing your direction suddenly, changing your speed, walking around trees and other obstacles, running in circles, zig-zagging—anything of that nature, really.
5. Keep Walking
This is one of the easy ways to get your pup to stop barking. When you see another dog, simply turn around and walk in the other direction. Don’t wait for your dog to start barking at the other dog, though. Walk away as soon as you notice them.
6. Walk a Different Way
If other ways of getting your dog to stop barking aren’t working, you can always choose another route to walk. Hopefully, there will be one in the area that involves little to no other dogs. You could also change up the time of day you walk your dog to avoid others.
7. Socialize Your Dog
If you think your dog is barking at others because they haven’t had much doggie interaction and are scared, you can desensitize them by socializing them. Grab a friend who has a dog and invite them over. Don’t let the dogs get close at first. Simply let your dog see the other from a distance. If your dog starts barking at your friend’s pet, call your dog’s name and tell them to stop. When they comply, give them a treat. Slowly, you can decrease the distance between the animals as your dog learns not to bark.
8. Consider Having Them Neutered
If your dog is male, part of the reason they could be barking is that they are being territorial. Having them neutered could go a long way in reducing those territorial tendencies.
If nothing else here has worked to get your dog to stop barking at other dogs while you’re on walks, then consider having them trained. Obedience classes can teach your dog how to behave properly while on a leash.
If your dog constantly barks at other dogs while the two of you are on walks, it’s likely because they are afraid or frustrated. Luckily, with the nine steps above, you should be able to get your dog to stop their barking behavior. If you’re on a walk and your pup starts barking at another dog, you can try to distract them, command them to heel or leave it, have them pay attention to you, or simply walk away. You can also lessen the chances of your dog barking at others by walking in a different location, teaching them to pay more attention to you on walks, tiring them out with challenging walks, socializing them with other dogs, training them, or neutering them.
It may take a little bit of time and patience, but eventually, your dog will learn not to bark at other pups on walks, making walks more enjoyable for you both!
Featured Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock