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Your Dog Barks At Other Dogs – 7 Causes And What You Can Do About It

Your dog barks at other dogs while you’re walking?

It’s exhausting, annoying, and can sometimes goad other dogs along with it. When I go for walks, I want to relax and enjoy the quiet and not have a loud barking and yapping in my ear all the time.

As always, it is important to first identify the cause of the behavior and to develop tailored solutions.

You can find out more in this article.

In a nutshell: Why is my dog barking at other dogs?

When dogs bark at other dogs, it is a form of communication. They want to communicate with the other dog or human. But what exactly are they trying to tell us? To find out, you have to go into the root cause analysis.

The most common reasons for barking are:

  • Lack of socialization
  • excess energy
  • problems relaxing
  • boredom
  • Fear & Aggression
  • dominance behavior
  • protective instinct

One of the most common reasons is fear and insecurity. In very few cases is the dog really aggressive. The problem usually lies in the upbringing.

Dog barks at other dogs – these are the possible causes

There are basically two ways in which your dog can bark at other dogs outside:

  • Your dog barks at other dogs when they go for a walk
  • Your dog barks at other dogs while playing

But it can also be distressing if your dog barks when he’s alone. Regardless of the exact situation in which it occurs, the cause of the behavior must be found. Without knowing the exact reason for the barking, you should not take any action as it may have the opposite effect, reinforcing the cause and making the behavior worse.

1. Lack of socialization

This cause is especially true in puppies. But even with street dogs and foundlings, the education is often inadequate. The dog simply doesn’t know his behavior is wrong and will bark out of pure joy, a prompt to play, or just to say hello.

Dogs also hit puberty, usually around their first birthday. Then they get cheeky, try things out and are happy to test their limits with masters and mistresses as well as with other dogs.

2. Surplus of energy

Dogs want to exercise and be challenged mentally and physically on a regular basis. This is truer of some breeds than others. While some like to spend a day on the couch, others want to be really exhausted several times a day.

But no matter what breed your dog has, if there is too little exercise and mental workload, excess energy builds up, which is then quickly released when walking other dogs. Your dog will probably ask the other to play so that he can let off steam again.

If a lack of exercise is the reason for the misbehaviour, you will notice this not only through barking, but also through general restlessness, constant requests to play and your dog’s high level of activity.

3. Trouble relaxing

Relaxation is very important to allow the body to switch off and rest. Just like us humans, dogs find it easy to relax in different ways. Some four-legged friends are calm themselves, others are always attentive and can never really switch off.

Anyone who likes high voltage tries to relieve this pressure. In dogs, this quickly manifests itself in loud barking. Encounters with other dogs are often the trigger for this behavior.

4. Boredom

Boredom makes you inventive. By barking, the dog is trying to invite other dogs to play, to provoke them, or to interact with them in some other way. This will make your darling want to break out of the daily routine and experience something new.

It’s easy to get bored if you keep running the same route. Active dogs that want to be kept busy also want to solve small tasks while walking, chase after a stick or practice a few commands. Just walking in a straight line will encourage your dog to seek out other activities, such as barking.

Does your dog not want to go for a walk? Boredom will also lead to your dog eventually not wanting to go for a walk anymore. The monotonous routine that is unwound every day is no fun for any dog. The dog just runs along or wants to go home straight away. There is enough variety to make walking your four-legged friend attractive.

5. Fear and aggression

Fear and aggression – as opposite as these feelings may be, they often occur together. Because fear can quickly turn into aggression.

Some dogs have had bad experiences with other dogs. Whether it was because a much larger dog played with them too roughly as puppies, or your pet has actually experienced an attack from another dog before, fear builds up quickly. When your dog barks at other dogs, it may be a defensive behavior.

This can escalate to aggressive behavior, for example, if your dog becomes suspicious of everyone else and knows aggression as the only means of self-defense.

But of course a dog can also react aggressively without being afraid of other dogs. This is often related to a lack of or incorrect socialization.

You can find more about the topic “My dog ​​reacts aggressively towards other dogs” in my articles here.

6. Dominant behavior

Is your dog barking at other dogs and pulling on the leash? Dominant behavior can also be the cause. Your dog is trying to establish itself as the boss of either you or the other dog. Dominant behavior such as barking intimidates the “opponent” and cements one’s own position of power.

Observe your dog closely to determine if his dominant behavior is directed towards you or a fellow dog. Depending on the situation, different solutions can be considered.

7. Protective instinct

Finally, overly protective instincts can also cause your dog to bark at other dogs. In this case, the dog wants to protect its family, in this case you. Barking signals to other dogs, “This is my family, stay away.”

Even if a protective instinct is nothing negative at first glance, it can lead to problems if left uncorrected. Some dogs become more and more involved in their role – dominance behavior or aggression are the result.

Puppy barks at other dogs

Puppies or young dogs often bark out of insecurity or fear. Walkers with a rollator, children, cyclists, joggers or other dogs can be a threat to the puppy because they simply do not know many situations.

Logically concluded, your young dog should be carefully introduced to unfamiliar situations so that the fear and insecurity does not become entrenched in old age.

Often the owner himself also contributes to the fact that the behavior resulting from the dog’s insecurity is reinforced. As soon as another dog is in sight, the body language changes, the leash is tightened and the dog signals that you are unsure about the situation yourself.

So the dog goes into defense mode and barks. Here it is important to keep calm and not get involved with the dog’s energy. This will only exacerbate the situation.

Confident dog leadership is of great importance from an early age.

Many puppies enjoy the freedom to greet and play with everyone of their own kind. But that usually changes when they grow into young dogs. Because the bigger they get, the more stormy and uncontrollable other dog encounters become.

This often results in the little rascal preferring to be put on a leash and taken aside as soon as other dogs appear. But of course the dog doesn’t understand why he’s suddenly no longer allowed to go to his conspecifics.

So frustrated that he can’t play with the other dog now, he starts barking and pulling on the leash. If the problem is not dealt with early on, the worst that can happen is leash aggression.

You can find out more about this in our article Leash aggression in dogs – what really helps?

Interim conclusion: there are many different causes for a behavior

As you can see, there are many different reasons why your dog barks in the presence of other dogs. In order to effectively correct the misbehavior, you must first find out what caused the behavior in your darling.

The problem is often that not one cause occurs alone, but usually several causes are mutually dependent and occur together. This makes finding the cause and finding a solution much more difficult.

Dog barks at other dogs – here you will find the correct solution to the problem

The solutions must be as varied as the causes can be varied. With all variants, it is important that you first avoid situations of encountering other dogs or first of all keep a large distance. The further away the other four-legged friend is, the easier it is for you to focus your dog on you and prevent him from barking. Gradually you can then approach other dogs again.

No one can give you a general answer as to what exactly helps your dog. Try out the possibilities and observe your dog. He will show you what works and what doesn’t.

Focus the dog on you

1. Treats

In order for you to be able to correct the misconduct, your loved one must first concentrate on you. But that’s not so easy at first. Because most four-legged friends who bark at other dogs have nothing else on their mind than the other dog and no longer listen to the commands of their master or mistress.

That’s why you should draw attention to yourself before you meet other dogs. Treats will help distract your dog from each other. Chewing also has a calming and relaxing effect because the body releases happy hormones and reduces stress hormones. The frustration that your dog feels when meeting other dogs is reduced and your dog associates the encounter with something positive.

Once the other dog has passed, you must stop giving the treats. Otherwise, you’re rewarding your dog for the other dog being gone and further reinforcing their misbehavior towards their peers.

2. Change of direction

Another way to distract your darling from other dogs is to change direction. Once your dog stops focusing on you, change direction. One dog has to be careful and can’t keep staring at the other dog.

It is important that you keep your hands low and do not pull the line up. Before the leash fully tightens and pulls your dog around, an audible turn signal should be established. Even if this signal doesn’t work at first, over time your dog will learn that listening to the command is more comfortable than being pulled around.

As soon as the dog in the new direction listens to you again, turn around and walk towards the other dog again. If your four-legged friend stiffens again, you change direction again. This game is played until you get past the other dog without your four-legged friend staring and barking.

3. Practice commands

Dogs that generally listen well to commands such as “Sit!” or “Down!” can sometimes be distracted by these commands. However, you should only use this approach if your dog really concentrates on you when giving the commands, otherwise you will ruin them.

You can also introduce the “Look at me” command, preferably without another dog around. The easiest way to practice this is to hold a treat next to your eyes in a calm situation and give the command. As soon as your darling looks at you, he will be rewarded with the treat.

Most dogs understand this very quickly, so you can soon incorporate the command when going for a walk. Only when it works there can you use it in dog encounters.

Dog barks at other dogs – avoid aggression

Does your dog bark at other dogs and seem aggressive? Aggressive dogs are very tiring. If the aggression is caused by wrong or lacking upbringing, it can be reduced in most cases with the tips just described.

Sometimes aggression also has physical causes. For example, pain may trigger aggressiveness. The dog realizes that it is not as strong as a healthy dog ​​and tries to frighten the other off with aggressive behavior before a possible fight ensues.

An underactive thyroid or allergies can also make dogs aggressive. In this case, a veterinarian can help. Medication or special therapy will solve the cause and your dog will be completely different. Homeopathy, Bach flower therapy and other healing methods can help your dog with this.

A grain-based diet or a high content of crude proteins leads to a large excess of energy in some dogs – similar to how coffee does for us humans. In such a case, a change of diet can work wonders.

Dog barks at other dogs – clarify ranking

For dogs with a protective instinct or a pronounced dominance behavior, it is sometimes sufficient to clarify the hierarchy once and for all. Your dog needs to learn that you are the boss and that he is not supposed to do this job.

A good practice for this is to let the dog run behind you. To do this, send the dog a few steps away from you and then start running. As soon as the dog catches up to you or even wants to overtake you, you turn to him and shoo him back again. As soon as he keeps his distance again, you move on. Don’t turn around to see where your dog is walking – this signals insecurity and is very counterproductive if you want to make it clear to your four-legged friend that you are the boss.

Conclusion: Dog barks at other dogs

When your dog barks at other dogs, it is stressful for both you and the dog. Personally, I can no longer enjoy the walk. It is important to always find the cause of this behavior first before looking for a solution.

As always in dog training, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, because every dog ​​is individual. But that’s exactly the beauty of our four-legged companions.

You should definitely be prepared for the fact that correcting wrong behavior requires a lot of patience, consistency, and time. Setbacks are also part of it, and that takes a lot of perseverance.

But there are situations in which you can’t get ahead on your own. Especially with aggressive and dominant dogs, it can quickly become dangerous for two- and four-legged friends.

In such a case, I recommend the barking online course by Martin Rütter & Conny Sporrer. The online course can help you to understand your darling’s barking behavior and effectively stop barking. So that you can finally go about your everyday life again without barking.

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