How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking at Bikers

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking at Bikers
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-3 Months
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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. 

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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. 

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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.  


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The Let’s Go Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Cyclists Aren't Scary Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

5

Reduce the distance

Over the course of several training sessions, begin moving closer and closer to the cyclists with your dog.

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.

The Let's Do Something Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By Amy Caldwell

Published: 12/21/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Milo

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king charles

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6 Years

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Question

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Milo only barks when we go for a walk and my 8 year old grandson takes his bike. As soon as he goes ahead of Milo, he barks and won’t stop until he comes back to him

Feb. 17, 2022

Milo's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Barbara, I would work on desensitizing pup to the bike in stages. First, teach pup the Quiet command - Quiet method from the article I have linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Next, set the bike on the ground outside and practice walking pup past the still bike, rewarding pup for all calm responses around the bike. Do this regularly until pup seems unconcerned with the bike on the ground. Next, stand the bike upright against something, or have someone hold it, but keep it still, and repeat the same rewards for calm responses. Next, have someone walk the bike slowly. Rewarding pup for calm responses. Practice the bike being walked ahead of pup, beside pup at a distance pup can tolerate, and even behind pup. Practice the slow movement until pup seems unconcerned with the bike, rewarding calmness and quietness, reminding pup Quiet if pup barks. As pup improves, have you helper walk the bike faster and faster overtime as pup improves. When pup can handle the person running beside the bike, then transition to practicing having someone ride the bike very slowly, and gradually increase the speed during practices as pup improves also, until pup can handle the usual speed and locations with your grandson. This training will need to take place in lots of short sessions over several weeks, not just over a couple days, most likely. You want to build a habit of pup feeling calm around the bike, which takes lots of short practices and gradually working up to the fast movement of the bike. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 17, 2022

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Boomie

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Belgian Malinois

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4 Years

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Our dog had progressively gotten worse as she’s aged with her reaction to motorcycles. She will jump in front of a moving car in order to chase one. And if we are driving with her, we have to have her leashed very tightly, or she will go crazy and lash out to bite anything amd everything. She’s destroyed seatbelts car seats and once even nipped my arm when I was trying to get her under control. We are at a loss and need help. Any advice would be amazing.

Nov. 26, 2021

Boomie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello James, First, because of pup's level of arousal, tendency to redirect aggression toward you and others when aroused by the cars, and the intensity of the behavior, I would start by desensitizing pup to wearing a basket muzzle for safety. I would also hire a professional trainer or behaviorist who is very experienced with obsessive compulsive behaviors, teaching avoidance, remote collar training, and aggression. Look for someone who comes very well recommended by their previous clients. I would start by teaching a solid Leave It command to pup. Teach the Leave It command using the Leave It method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Second, teach pup a structured heel - practice away from cars at first. Check out the article and video linked below Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Third, purchase a high quality remote training collar with stimulation, lean how to fit it properly and find your dog's "Working level" - which is the lowest level that your dog feels and responds to. Only use a high quality collar such as E-collar Technologies, Dogtra, Sportdog, or Garmin. Check out the videos below: Fitting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Working Level finding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Jeff Gellman cat aggressive dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y More e-collar work with cats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8lkbX0dhT0 Fourth, teach an e-collar heel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJaZsZdcjwU Fifth, put it all together. Walk pup on a collar or harness that's secure. Practice your e-collar heeling with cars in sight. Whenever pup starts to fixate on the cars or break the heel position, tell pup "Ah Ah Heel" - If breaking heel, or "Ah Ah, Leave It" - for fixating on cars, and correct on pup's working level on the e-collar. Practice around cars a lot until pup will ignore them and focus on you around them. Reward ignoring cars when pup is calm around them also - don't reward while pup is still in an overly-excited or aroused state though - only calm. All of this should be done working with a trainer and pup wearing the basket muzzle for everyone's safety. Any other training you can do to help with impulse control in general is also great, such as a long Place, Down-Stay, waiting at doors, not exiting a crate until told Okay, ect... Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M For the car riding, pup needs to be crated or tethered with something like a ruffwear car riding harness and seat belt tether away from people. The same training can then be applied to teach pup to leave other cars alone while moving too, but this should be done with your car stationary first, using the remote to correct from a hiding spot away from your car, and returning to reward through a cracked window when pup lies down quiet and isn't reacting to other cars. Once pup can handle your car being stationary while other cars move past, like in a parking lot, then with your car slowly moving, pup tethered securely to keep everyone safe, and a second person in the car - one to concentrate only on driving and one on training, a similar process that was done on walks would be done in the moving car, first on short trips like just parking lots, calm neighborhoods, ect... Day 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgNbWCK9lFc Day 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpf5Bn-MNko&t=14s Day 3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj3nMvvHhwQ Day 4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxrGQ-AZylY This is not a behavior I would address on your own. I would hire a professional to oversee the training and be sure to utilize the basket muzzle for safety. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Nov. 26, 2021


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