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Why do dogs bark at each other during walks?

 by james on 25 Mar 2022 |
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Whether he wants to greet every dog on the street or is protective of his owner, a dog barks on walks. Here’s when it can become a problem.

Why do dogs bark at each other during walks?


Many dogs bark at other dogs on walks, but it can be uncomfortable when your pet is the one instigating a noisy exchange. To help Fido stay calm during his daily stroll, you must first figure out the underlying trigger causing him to snap at other animals as they pass. Here are a few likely culprits behind a reactive Rover’s behavior:

1. He is frustrated. We walk our pets on leashes to ensure their own safety and the safety of those nearby. Though many dogs respond well to leash walking, it can create what is known as barrier frustration for pets eager to explore. Friendly dogs can feel irritated by this lack of freedom to greet each passing pet, leading to barking that can be misconstrued as aggressive or inappropriate behavior. This is a particular problem in energetic youngsters, so it is important to address the behavior from an early age.

2. He wants his space. Not all dogs who bark at other animals want to make friends. Some dogs use their voices to communicate a “stay back” message to four-legged passersby. This is likely due to a lack of socialization with other dogs and often stems from fear or a negative past experience with strange animals.

3. He is protective of you. Known as resource guarding, this type of barking is another “stand back” message, but it is aimed to keep other animals away from a valuable resource—mostly likely, you. Though Fido could be protecting a bag of treats or toy you are carrying, he is most likely vocalizing to let other animals know you are his person. This jealous barking can escalate if two dogs meet and may even lead to a fight if another animal gets too close to a protective pet.

Watch your dog and what triggers his barking during walks. To address it, start with the root of the problem. If Fido is fighting to greet every potential friend he sees, practice obedience training before ever taking to the streets. While letting him sniff each new friend may seem like a good idea, this actually teaches him to continue barking to seek his “reward” and will escalate the behavior. Instead, practice the “heel” command at home and ask your dog to do this whenever he becomes excited at a new potential playmate. Lavish him with praise and treats when he follows the command and his behavior should improve with time. If, however, your dog’s vocalizations are a warning to other animals, you will need to take a different approach to the problem.

For dogs barking to assert their space, try a front-attaching harness to more easily bring your pet’s attention back to you when he begins to become assertive around other animals. After refocusing his attention on you, give him a treat to build positive associations with seeing other animals. Offering treats when protective pets begin to bark is effective, too, as your dog will learn that he gets your attention when other animals are near. In many cases, these methods will be enough to modifying Fido’s behavior with practice and time, but some owners will need the help of a behavior specialist to address their dog’s excessive vocalizations during walk.

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