How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking at Bikers

Medium
1-3 Months
Behavior

Introduction

It is important to get your dog plenty of exercise by taking him for regular walks and play sessions at your local park. Doing so will not only keep him healthier, it will help keep his mind stimulated and ensure that he enjoys a high quality of life.

But some dogs exhibit behavioral problems that can make regular park visits difficult. For example, many dogs become overstimulated by cyclists and react to their presence by barking and lunging aggressively. This is not only embarrassing for owners, it can be frightening for the cyclist. It can even be dangerous if your dog slips his leash and chases after the biker. Fortunately, you can put an end to this behavior by teaching your dog the ‘let’s go’ command, desensitizing him to bikes and cyclists, or redirecting his attention elsewhere. 

Defining Tasks

Dogs often put on frightening displays in response to cyclists, but that doesn’t mean they want to hurt anyone; fear and anxiety are at the root of most reactivity problems. Accordingly, the best way to diffuse these anxious feelings and put an end to the barking and lunging is to redirect their attention elsewhere. The ‘let’s go’ command works well in this regard, and it can also help stop reactivity to other common triggers, such as mailmen, large trucks and children playing outside.

It isn’t terribly difficult to teach your dog the ‘let’s go’ command. Most dogs would rather focus on their pet parent than anything else, so the command doesn’t require you to get your dog to do anything he doesn’t already want to do.

Reactivity is most common in adult dogs, but you can teach the ‘let’s go’ command to canines of any age, including puppies that are at least 12 weeks old. 

Getting Started

To start training your dog to stop barking at bikers, you will need:

  • A sturdy leash 
  • Treats or toy
  • Clicker (optional)
  • Patience 

You’ll want to start the training process in a quiet, controlled location. You can do so inside if you like, but your backyard is probably the best location. As your dog begins learning the command, you’ll want to find a location in which he can see bicyclists from a safe distance.  


The Let’s Go Method

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Step
1
Go to a training spot
Start your training session by going out to your backyard and letting your dog sniff around a bit. Be sure to have your dog on a leash. Have some treats or your dog’s favorite toy in your non-leash hand. Place your clicker (if you choose to use one) in your leash-holding hand.
Step
2
Introduce the command
Give the ‘let’s go’ command, pull gently on the leash, and begin walking in the other direction. Be sure to put a little excitement in your voice when doing so, as the goal is to convince your dog that you are about to do something fun.
Step
3
Reward your dog
As soon as your dog shifts his focus to you and starts following along, reward him. Give him a treat or toss him his toy and praise him verbally. Sound your clicker at this time if you are using one.
Step
4
Lather, rinse, repeat
Let your dog start exploring again. Once he starts investigating something, issue the ‘let’s go’ command as you did previously. Reward him as appropriate and repeat steps 1 through 3 several times to drive the lesson home.
Step
5
Use the command
Once your dog has become proficient at the new command, you can begin taking him to the park and working on the skill in the real world. Walk around with your dog as you normally would, but when he begins barking at cyclists, tell him “Let’s go!” and begin walking in the other direction, just as you practiced. Be sure to remain a safe distance from cyclists at the outset, but gradually begin allowing your dog to get closer to the cyclists as he masters the skill.
Recommend training method?

The Cyclists Aren't Scary Method

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1 Vote
Step
1
Go to the park
You can help alleviate some of your dog’s anxiety about cyclists by gradually exposing him to people riding bikes. Begin by taking your dog to a place where people frequently ride bikes but remain far enough away that your dog does not begin barking.
Step
2
Watch the cyclists
Allow your dog to view the cyclists for 10 minutes or so. Don’t try to focus your dog’s attention on the cyclists; just hang out with him and let him view the cyclists at his leisure.
Step
3
Stay cool
Keep things calm, light and positive while watching the bikes go by, but don’t coddle your dog. The goal is to convince him that cyclists are harmless parts of the world.
Step
4
Encourage
Encourage your dog’s calm behavior with verbal praise, or even a few treats. He’ll learn that staying relaxed is more rewarding than losing his cool.
Step
5
Reduce the distance
Over the course of several training sessions, begin moving closer and closer to the cyclists with your dog.
Step
6
Practice
As he becomes more familiar with the cyclists and his fears wane, he’ll stop barking at those riding on bikes. Always try to stay far enough away that your dog doesn’t begin barking, which will reinforce the behavior. If your dog begins barking, move back until your dog calms back down.
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The Let's Do Something Method

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1 Vote
Step
1
Go to a training spot
Pick an area without bicyclists or other distractions, such as other dogs or children. Let your dog explore and sniff around.
Step
2
Call your dog
Ideally, your dog will turn around and make strong eye contact when you call him. Note that you can make other sounds (such as a whistle or mouth click) to get your dog’s attention if you’d prefer. Just be consistent with whichever method you choose.
Step
3
Have him sit
Give your dog the ‘sit’ command as soon as he turns and meets your eye. You want your dog to sit down facing you and wait for further instructions. Praise him once he sits. Practice this step several times until your dog begins immediately turning and sitting when you call him or make a sound.
Step
4
Give an easy command
Once your dog has learned to turn and face you upon hearing his name, begin issuing a second command. It doesn’t matter what command you give, but it should be something easy that he does well. Lying down or barking are both good choices. Praise and reward him after he executes the command.
Step
5
Repeat the process
With repetition, your dog will begin to expect you to issue a command when you call his name. This will help give him something fun, interesting and positive on which he can focus.
Step
6
Introduce cyclists
While remaining at a safe distance, allow your dog to observe cyclists. Remain far enough away that he does not react or begin barking. Periodically call your dog while he is watching them. Hopefully, your dog will turn, sit down and wait for you to issue a command, as you’ve conditioned him to expect. This will divert his attention from the cyclists and help put an end to his barking and lunging.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Loki
AnimalBreed object
1 Year
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Loki
AnimalBreed object
1 Year

My dog goes to doggy day care and gets along with all types and sizes of dogs. He is very social with people too. However, he sometimes becomes very barky and reactive when he sees a dog across the street or in his line of sight. If the dog comes up to him, he plays submissive and they get along. If the other dog ignores him from across the street, my dog starts barking and starts pulling me towards the unfriendly dog. What can I do to get him to stop this type of behavior towards dogs that he doesn't get to greet?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kelly, Check out the video linked below. I suggest a more firm, structured heeling walk. Where the entire walk and tone of things is calmer and more respectful and he has to work to move forward by paying attention to where you are and stay behind you. Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Cole
AnimalBreed object
2 Years
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Cole
AnimalBreed object
2 Years

My dog is very dominant. He is perfectly behaved at home but he has a huge issue with non neutered males. He lounges at them and humps them. He does not bite but just submits them. Walks in the woods are fine but walks in our local parks or on the road are a nightmare. He is very large and impossible to control when he smells male dogs. Generally otherwise he is very gentle with all other dogs and has shown protection skills and has rescued dogs and kids from the water. He has had lots of training but nothing has worked. This is a nightmare for me as I hate going out with him like this. Can you advise?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Thanks for the question. I bet that Cole is a beauty! And yes, large and possibly hard to control. Is Cole neutered? He has lots of training you mentioned and based on his rescue skills, it's obvious he picks things up quickly. In order to enjoy your dog, you may have to consult a behavior specialist that can work with Cole one on one and in controlled situations with other dogs at the training center. A structured and safe environment for both Cole and other dogs is the best place to do the training. I would not walk Cole in the park or on the road where he will meet other dogs until the issue is resolved, due to the safety issues. I assume Cole knows the basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, heel (very important in Cole's case), come, down, etc. He is the combination of two dogs that like to work so advanced obedience will be a bonus for him. As well, you will be known to him as the leader, allowing you to control him in situations where it is needed. Until you get him into classes, here are some methods you can try: https://wagwalking.com/training/not-attack-other-dogs https://wagwalking.com/training/be-calm-around-other-dogs All the best and happy training!

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Cole
AnimalBreed object
2 Years
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Cole
AnimalBreed object
2 Years

Question for Darlene Stott:

Thank you for your reply. Are there any training centres you can recommend? All the one to one training we have tried so far has not worked. Yes, Cole knows all the commands but outdoors the moment he smells non neutered dogs (he was neutered at 18 months as he was not fully grown until then and at
the time he had already started this awful humping so maybe this is a continuation of the behaviour?) he changes and does not respond to anything he just runs and upsets the dogs/owners.Thank you

Daniela

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Hi Daniela, I don't have centers to recommend but I have watched many of Robert Cabral's videos and he has an association with Wag! as well that leads me to suggest him. He's written articles for us and given great advice. His site mentions full-length videos, direct contact with him and the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers via video. Take a look at the site, there is a lot of information on it. Robert has helped shelter dogs all over the United States and has extensive resources to draw from: https://www.robertcabral.com/. Thank you for taking such good care of Cole and wishing you all the best!

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Winston
AnimalBreed object
1 Year
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Winston
AnimalBreed object
1 Year

He barks at people on scooters, bikes, roller blades, but nothing else. I have no idea what to do

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Hanoo
AnimalBreed object
6 Years
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Hanoo
AnimalBreed object
6 Years

Hello. I adopted a Corgi dog names Hanoo just the start of the year. At first, we didn’t have any problems with him whenever we walk him out. But recently, my dog started to act differently when we take him for a walk. He barks at people who walks normally but more especially people who run. At the same time he barks to bikes, motorbikes and other dogs. I take him for a walk twice a day. I’m always feeling anxious when I take him for a walk. I hope you can advise me on how to deal with this problem. Thank you

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
85 Dog owners recommended

Very cute! I would make every walk a training exercise for Hanoo. It is an excellent way to keep him focused and not thinking about other dogs, people, bikes, etc. Work on his Heel, the ideal way to keep him moving and thinking. Take a look at both the Turns Method and the Treat Lure Method. See which one you think suits Hanoo best, or even alternate methods on every walk. As well, work on the Passing Approach Method here to train Hanoo how to act when passing by another dog: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs/. Lastly, it is never too late for obedience training! Hanoo would benefit greatly and it will help you form a bond of respect and loyalty with Hanoo. Good luck!

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