Your daily dog walks should be one of the highlights of yours and your dog’s day but if your dog won’t stop barking at passers by or other dogs it can quickly turn into a stressful experience for you both. We know getting them to stop barking can be a struggle but we’re here to help, getting to the bottom of your dog’s barking and understanding the reasons why they may be barking will help you in training them to stay calm whatever situation they’re in. In this week’s blog we look at the potential reasons why your dog may be barking and training you can do to help.
Top Reasons Your Dog Is Barking On A Walk
You’re probably wondering why your dog is barking on your walks, dog’s actually have over 11 different types of bark that all mean different things. The most common barking on a walk stems from your dog either wanting to be closer or further away from things round them, working out which of these reasons is triggering your dog’s bark will really help in targeting their barking.
Distance Increasing Bark
Your dog may be barking due to being uncomfortable or scared on their walk, this could be because of other people, dogs or sounds going on round them like passing vehicles. Their barking in this situation is them signalling to you that they’d like to increase the distance between them and the barking trigger so they can avoid the situation.
This type of barking is most common in under-socialised dogs and puppies who haven’t learned not everything is a threat to them.
Distance Decreasing Bark
The other main reason dog’s bark on a walk is with excitement or frustration that they’re not as close as they’d like to the other dog’s or people round them. They’re signalling to you that they’d like to decrease the distance between them and the barking trigger.
This type of barking is common is excitable social dogs who just love to play and say hello to everyone. However, if they’re not allowed to say hello it can cause them to become frustrated with you and start barking at you as well. So it’s a good idea to start teaching them they can’t say hello to every dog or person they walk past so they learn to be calm in these situations.
Why Is My Dog So Anxious On Walks?
Knowing your dog is anxious on a walk can be upsetting. This can be particularly common with both small puppies and rescue dogs who haven’t been fully socialised so are anxious and defensive about the world around them. The unpredictability of strangers and other dogs can be really hard for them to read and your dog may find this scary. Working on desensitising them will help target this behaviour and hopefully will help minimise the barking.
5 Easy Tips To Stop Your Dog Barking On A Walk
Countrylife recently wrote an article with their 5 steps to stop your dog barking at people on a walk, they’re a really helpful guide to helping build a partnership between you and your dog that’s built on trust to help them stay calm no matter what environment they’re in.
- Use The ‘Leave’ Command - You’ve probably already worked on the command ‘leave’ with your dog to get them stop picking things up they shouldn’t. However this is a good one to teach them on a walk. When they see something that is a distraction or a potential danger, and are thinking about barking or have barked once, say ‘leave’ and ‘heel’ to them to diffuse the situation and then carry on walking.
- Rewards - If your dog has ignored the distraction and carried on walking make sure to reward them with either a treat or some calm fuss.
- End the chase (but not the fun) - If your dog barks at strangers this a great tip. Letting your dog chase a moving object like a tennis ball being thrown through the air might be great fun but it actually can increase their prey drive and make them more hyper. If you find that your dog’s barking is worse after a game of fetch at the park maybe look for other ways to have fun on the walk that’s going to stimulate them but still keep them calm
- Memory Retrieving - One way to keep your walk fun but calm, as well as practice for the leave command, is using something called memory retrieving. Keep your dog on their leash and place their tennis ball on the floor, say the word ‘leave’ and start walking away with them to heel. This teaches them to focus on you whilst on a walk rather than external distractions. Then once you’ve walked a few paces turn round and stand them back for the ball.
- Retrieve and Repeat - Do multiple Memory Retrieves on each walk - between each retrieve your dog should be in a relaxed and calm frame of mind. This is great for building your relationship and trust with your dog as well as teaching them that you’re in control whilst out walking
Some of our other top tips are to walk your dogs with some other confident dogs that your pup knows well and doesn’t react to as this may help the calm down and often dogs will be easily influenced by those around them so they pick up on the fact that they don’t need to be scared or bark at everything on their walk. Also keeping to familiar routes close to your home before venturing out further as they gain confidence can really help build their confidence as well.
Ultimately training and desensitising your dog isn’t a one size fits all method, and will require a bit of time and patience. But plenty of reassurance and encouragement will go a long way.