You are far from alone in wondering why your normally docile pet suddenly becomes an alarm system when they see another dog.
But why does this happen? Is this bad behaviour or the mark of a personality defect? How can you train them out of it?
Why Does My Dog Bark At Other Dogs?
They Could Be Excited
It’s important to note that playful, high pitched barking is often a means of letting another dog know they are ready and willing to have some fun.
This is less worrying than aggressive barking, but who among us doesn’t know a little dog with a big problem constantly letting the world around them know how excited they are about every passing thing.
They Could Be Afraid
But sometimes lunging, as well as aggressive and deep barking, can represent something else.
Quite often, this behaviour is because the dog is actually afraid, and aggression is a means of keeping their area safe and clear.
A dog is, in a sense, trapped on his or her leash, and therefore aggression keeps them safe when they cannot run away.
Feeling threatened causes a dog to forgo their owner’s presence just to keep themselves safe from a perceived danger.
They Could Be Frustrated
Dogs can bark out of the frustration of not getting what they want, and oftentimes those playful yips and yaps are actually closer to a groan of disbelief.
So why does my dog bark at other dogs? They’re probably trying to tell you something.
Either “I don’t feel safe,” “I wish I could be playing with them,” maybe even “I’m just trying to keep myself safe.”
Why Does My Dog Bark at Other People?
So now we know why dogs yap at each other, but what about when they freak out on the mailman or at passing human strangers?
There are generally two kinds of barks directed at people; one that means affection and one that serves as a warning.
For the latter, much like when barking at other dogs, your pet is letting passing human beings know that they own this area and will not tolerate invasion from outsiders.
This kind of warning is characterized by a deep bark and especially growling, matched with pinned-down ears as well as hunched shoulders.
For affection, however, their ears will be up and the bark will be light in tone.
They may be trying to get the stranger’s attention so they can further show their interest in playing, such as jumping back and forth and wagging their tail.
Is There Something Wrong With My Dog?
Generally speaking, probably not.
Most of the time, a dog’s reaction seems perfectly reasonable to the dog. After all, in their minds, barking at the neighbour’s Yorkie has kept your whole household from being attacked!
Their behaviour and personality are not wrong; they are just reactionary.
As their human, it’s your job to teach them how to interact with the world around them the way you’d like them too, not just the way their instincts tell them to.
How Do I Train Them Out Of It?
Most importantly, we have to start with training you!
Often times, when we notice an upcoming issue, we react as if something bad is happening before it happens.
Your dog knows you better than you know yourself, and before long, it will begin reacting to the threat you’ve just indicated in its way through your own behaviour.
As owners, we need to show them there is nothing to be afraid of, even when our instincts are saying ‘here comes the barking again.’
Reacting by picking small dogs up is also a bad plan, as this can give them just enough confidence to actually snap at or even bite somebody.
Start by avoiding the problem before it becomes a real problem. If you’re walking and notice a dog up the street, change your route.
Making walks more unpredictable and fun can even distract from other behaviour triggers.
In a similar way, training your dog to think of people on the street or in the home as exciting visitors who bring something good along with them instead of threats can make your dog’s true loving personality shine through.
By showing them you’re not afraid, or even having those people offer treats or cuddles when they interact, you can change the behaviour once and for all.
Here’s a video on training your dog’s barking:
See also: A selection of the best anti bark devices.
A lot of patience, a lot of love and even a lot of further reading can go a very long way in curbing this frustrating behaviour.
When you can challenge a dog’s barking by changing their emotional responses to perceived threats, you can create new and wonderful ways of living with your furry friend.
Does your dog bark at other dogs?