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How to Stop a Dog From Barking at Other Dogs: 5 Vet-Approved Tips

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 7, 2024 by Dogster Team

Angry dog barking at something or someone

How to Stop a Dog From Barking at Other Dogs: 5 Vet-Approved Tips

VET APPROVED

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Dogs are social animals and they communicate by barking. When your dog barks at other dogs, it could be for several reasons. A bark can be a warning, a welcome for friends, or an indication of excitement, anxiety, aggression, or territoriality.

But sometimes, barking at other dogs can get out of hand and may be accompanied by aggressive behaviors like lunging and attacking. If your dog is showing such tendencies, it’s best to get them under control before any serious problems occur.

Fortunately, you can train your dog to stop barking at other dogs. It’s just a matter of teaching them the desired alternative behavior, and nature is on your side. Your dog’s instinct is to obey you because you are effectively the leader of their pack. That said, it is your job to make sure you’re communicating the right messages.

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Why Does My Dog Bark at Other Dogs?

The first step in getting your dog to stop barking at other dogs is to understand the possible reasons for this behavior. They may not have been properly socialized to be around other dogs. If you adopted your dog from a shelter, there might be a history of abuse that you know nothing about but that affects their behavior in the present. If they were attacked by a larger dog when they were a stray puppy, they may be responding to those memories.

Your dog may be barking at other dogs because they are defending their territory, or they feel threatened by their approach outside, or they just want to play. Whatever the reason, if they start to bark uncontrollably, this behavior can be an embarrassment and lead to official complaints.

So, it’s in the best interests of your dog to teach them to stop barking at other dogs. You may even get to the point where they enjoy being around other dogs and playing with them.

dog barking outdoor
Image By: Jne Valokuvaus, Shutterstock

divider-dog pawHow Can I Train My Dog Not to Bark at Other Dogs?

If you’ve tried teaching your dog basic commands like sit, stay, and heel, you already know that there are basic rules to follow.

  • Be consistent: Your commands should be clear and consistent. The dog should get the same message from your family members and friends so they don’t get confused.
  • Stay calm: Dogs are intelligent and sensitive and will pick up any feelings of discomfort or unease on your part. If you tense up when you approach another dog on a walk, your dog will try to defend you and demonstrate the very behavior you are trying to correct. If you are calm and in control, your dog will sense that and take their cues from you.
  • Be firm: Dogs know quite well how to use their soulful eyes to get what they want. If your dog is behaving badly, don’t give in to their pleas for a treat. They should only get treats for good behavior.
  • Be patient: Dogs can learn new behaviors, but it can take time and patience. Don’t lose your temper and yell at your dog or even worse, smack them. They won’t understand why you’re upset, and it won’t change their behavior.
  • Carry treats: One thing dogs do understand is how to get treats. Be prepared to reward their good behavior with a treat each time they deserve one. To avoid feeding them too many treats, you can break up each treat into several pieces and feed only a bit at a time.

Once you’re prepared, you can begin the training.

Woman training a white and black havanese dog in the garden
Image Credit: Peter Mayer 67, Shutterstock

dogster paw dividerStep-by-Step Guide

Your goal is to avoid or minimize the triggers that cause your pet to bark whenever they see another dog. Here are vital steps to get your pup to stop barking at other dogs.

1. Avoidance

Once you figure out what triggers your dog’s barking, you can try to remove those triggers from their environment.

When you go out for a walk, keep at a distance from other dogs. This will also help you figure out your dog’s comfort zone and the distance they have to be from another dog before they start barking. Cross the street to avoid a close encounter, but don’t get stressed about it. Your dog will pick up your emotions and react accordingly.

However, you can’t keep avoiding other dogs and crossing the street forever, and it may not be practical to block the view out of the windows. That’s when you should move on to the next step, which is teaching your dog alternative behaviors.

female french bulldog walking
Image Credit: Piqsels

2. Distraction

You can break a behavior pattern by distracting your dog when another dog approaches. Luckily, it’s easy to distract dogs, and a supply of treats should hold their attention. When you’re out for a walk and see another dog in the distance, get your dog to focus their attention on you.

Figure out the distance at which your dog starts barking at another dog. It varies for each dog, but usually, it’s around 20 to 30 feet. When you see a dog in the distance where your dog would start barking, stop and distract them by giving a command that they already know, such as heel, or teaching them a new one, like quiet or turn.

Give them a treat in small pieces so long as they do not start barking. Soon, they will look for the command and the treat rather than at the dog.

The next step is to reduce the distance from other dogs, giving your dog the command and treats when they obey. Your dog will gradually focus more on your command and the treats than on the other dog.


3. Positive Reinforcement

Dogs react better to treats and positive reinforcement in the form of praise and petting than to punishment and scolding. When you give your dog a treat for not barking in the presence of another dog, they come to associate this behavior with pleasant consequences. As the dog gets used to not barking around other dogs, slowly start replacing the treats with praise and affection.

You can also gradually reduce the distance between the dogs to move on to the next step. This is teaching your dog to be friends with other dogs.

man walking dog_Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

4. Socialization

You can try this at the park or with a friend’s dog, but it’s best in a setting where all dogs are leashed. Slowly reduce the distance between your dog and other dogs, and stop at the point where they begin to bark or growl. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 by giving them the command to be quiet and a treat when they obey.

Gradually reduce the distance between the dogs until you can have a casual conversation with your friend with your dog completely relaxed.


5. Celebrate!

Your dog is now ready to have fun with canine companions. You can schedule a play date with a friendly dog and enjoy the spectacle of the two having a great time.

dogs in grass_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

Clear communication and positive reinforcement are essential for successfully training your dog. We do not recommend coercive methods, such as shock collars and chemical sprays, because these are not that successful and will stress your dog. Likewise, you should not consider vocal surgery to prevent barking. This is an extreme step that will interfere with the dog’s natural means of communication.

Keep in mind that sometimes, excessive barking can just indicate boredom. Dogs need mental stimulation and physical exercise to be happy and well-adjusted.

However, if your training fails to have an impact, we suggest that you sign your dog up for obedience classes with a professional dog trainer. Your dog will be socialized to being around other dogs, and you will also pick up useful tips.


Featured Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

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