We've all been there: enjoying a relaxing stroll with your dog, and it hits them. They've spotted a new puppy on the block. Your calm, happy-go-lucky pooch goes into a barking fit.
Walking a dog that barks at other dogs can be stressful and even scary for some pet parents. So how do you deal with this situation? We have 8 tips to help you prevent and deal with barking on walks.
There are many reasons why a dog might bark on dog walks. They could be overexcited, fearful, reactive, or showing dominance. Knowing your dog's reasons for barking will help you to find a resolution. For instance, a fearful dog may need more socialization, whereas a reactive dog may require exposure therapy. Overexcited dogs might benefit from obedience training to help them maintain a calm demeanor during exciting scenarios.
Every dog has triggers, and it's important that you know them, especially if a dog is reactive or prone to barking. Does your dog bark at dogs bigger than them, or do they bark at every dog? Do loud noises like traffic lower your dog's barking threshold? Identifying your pup's triggers will help you keep your dog under their barking threshold and know when to remove them from a situation.
Rather than scolding your dog for barking and escalating the situation, reward them for behaving properly. When your pup stays calm during an interaction, give them some high-value treats. Keep your treats in a pocket or pouch for easy access. You might even use a clicker to "mark" the desired behavior, so your dog knows exactly what you want from them. Over time, your dog will realize it's more beneficial for them to remain calm than to bark.
One of the best ways to minimize excitement levels is to wear your dog out before their walk. A good game of fetch or tug-of-war will lower your dog’s energy level and make them less likely to bark. As many trainers say, "A tired dog is a good dog."
One of the easiest ways to stop a barking fit before it starts is to use distraction techniques. Bring a tug toy or other high-value toy along for your walk. When you see a dog coming, break out the toy and have an on-leash tug session with your pup. Alternatively, you can direct your dog to sit and pet them to distract them from other dogs passing by.
Socialization is key when walking a dog that barks at other animals. Acclimating your dog to other pets will not only boost their confidence if fearfulness is an issue, but it can also minimize overexcitement, dominance, and reactivity too. Organize play dates with other dog owners in your area or take them to the dog park.
If your dog is reactive or dominant, you’ll need to keep a close eye on them while socializing. Watch your dog’s body language and remove them from the situation if they appear to be uncomfortable
The easiest way to prevent your dog from barking at other dogs is to avoid areas with a lot of dog walkers. While this isn't always ideal, this can help make your dog feel more confident on their daily walks. As your dog becomes more confident, you can start walking in areas with higher foot traffic.
Finally, use a sturdy harness and leash while walking a dog that barks at other dogs. Proper gear will help you maneuver your dog more easily when they are in a hyperexcited or reactive state. The last thing you want is for your dog to slip out of their collar amid a barking fit. This could pose a danger to your dog and others.
We hope these tips inspire you to tackle on-leash barking and make your dog walks more enjoyable. Looking for someone to walk your pup when you’re not home? Book a local dog walker through Wag today!