I read a great article today on “That Mutt” titled “Stop A Dog From Barking at People on Walks.” I could relate instantly because one of my dogs, Rocky, used to do this and not only was it embarrassing, but as a larger breed, he probably scared the people passing by. So why do dogs bark at people on walks and what advice is out there to stop this ‘rude’ behavior?
According to That Mutt:
Dogs could also bark at people due to:
1. Excitement. “Hey! A person! I love people! Yay!”
2. Frustration (due to excitement). Not being able to reach that person fast enough due to being on a leash. See my post: Leash aggression.
3. Protection or resource guarding. Although this often stems from fear & feeling the need to protect from the “threat.”
But how do you identify which of these reasons your pet is barking on a walk?
Look at their body language and tune into your sixth sense! Your overall feeling of the situation can say a lot. If tension fills the air immediately, chances are there is negativity to the barking, such as in frustration or protection barking. Overwhelming energy may be a case of high excitement.
Reading your dog’s body language will also answer many of your concerns. Check out how he is holding his head and stare. If he is locking on to the walker with intensity, your fur-pup is guarding you from perceived danger. Is he darting behind you and barking from the cover of your legs? Sounds like the poor soul is scared to death. Jumping and pulling, not necessarily in a lunge-fashion, can be an indicator of excitement and playfulness that still needs to be controlled.
So How Can I Stop this Unwanted Behavior?
In my opinion, one of the best pieces of advice that came from “That Mutt” is:
1. Make a list of your dog’s exact triggers. Be specific.
Try to pinpoint exactly when your dog reacts. For example, Honey barks at men wearing hats or tall men once they are 10 feet away. Or, Bentley barks at children once they are 15 feet away, especially if they are running or on bikes.
Your dog might have 5 or 6 different triggers. Brainstorm with family members or roommates so you get the most accurate list.
If you know me at all, you will know that I am a HUGE advocate of documenting everything! From allergy season to training and behavior – write what you see down on paper to look for patterns or trends. We can be soul-mates with our fur-babies but unfortunately, we speak a different language. Subtle hints in what is wrong can only be found by documentation.
Once you know what triggers your pet on the walk, now you can work to resolve that issue.
PLEASE BE PATIENT. When correcting a behavior that is sort-of built in to your dog’s personality, it will take time. I like to say two steps forward, one step back is the norm for any behavior modification. You will see improvement but don’t be alarmed if your buddy resorts back to bad behavior after a week of no barking. You are essentially forming a new habit and that takes time and practice.
Other advice from “That Mutt” is:
2. Reward positive behavior with high valued treats
3. Using the right training collar on walks and walking your pet on your side
4. Work on basic obedience commands
Barking on the walk can be stressful for you and if you are not enjoying this time together outdoors than you may not be walking as much as you should. Check out my blog on Walking and why it is so important for a healthy well-balanced pet.
Correcting this behavior is essential!! Identifying the problem and working together to solve it will help your dog live a happier, healthy life…..which makes your life happier and healthier as well!
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