You adore your pooch, but you often get embarrassed by his incessant barking. He barks at every dog that walks past your yard and every single dog in the area while you're out for a walk.
Barking is usually a dog's way of letting others know that they're too close for comfort -- but not always. You might even have unknowingly encouraged Buster to bark, but don't worry. With a little work, you can break the habit. But first, lets look at the various reasons why dogs bark at other dogs.
When you go to work or even out to a social event, you probably talk to other people. Buster is doing the same thing when he goes out. Watch his body language. If he seems relaxed and wags his tail while barking at the dog walking on the other side of the street, he's just saying hello.
Again, watch Buster's body language. If his tail goes between his legs or if the hair stands up along the back of his spine, he may be afraid of the other dog and is barking in an attempt to make them keep their distance. In this case, it's probably not a good idea to let the two dogs meet.
Your barking buddy might bark at other canines to alert them that your house and yard are his turf. He's simply alerting you that another unfamiliar dog is nearby and telling the foreign foe to stay away. Buster's territory is also your car. He may bark nonstop if the car next to you at a red light also has a dog inside. This strange dog is a threat and is too close to Buster's familiar area.
What's the first thing you do when Buster starts howling at dogs walking past your front window? Chances are you probably run over to him, tell him to stop and drag him away from the window. You just gave your pooch exactly what he wants: attention. You've enforced this behavior so that now every time he sees another dog all he has to do is bark. Instantly you'll drop whatever you're doing and run over to him. Even though the attention only lasts for a few seconds, it's still better than nothing.
How to Keep the Peace
If your first reaction is to yell at your canine when he's barking, he might think you're barking with him and bark even louder. Rather then yelling at Buster for barking, start ignoring him. Praise him and give him attention when the barking ceases so he learns that silence makes you happy. Otherwise you may be encouraging his annoying habit. Another option is startling him with a squirt of water to the face. He'll start to associate barking with an unpleasant side effect. However, this method only works if you can get a good aim without him seeing you. If he sees you spraying, he's only going to know that when you come around he gets a face full of water.
By Melodie Anne Coffman
About the Author
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.