Monday, April 18, 2011

Why is your dog barking at other dogs while you are walking him?

In the earlier posts we saw 2 dog behavior issues. The first one was how to crate train your dog effectively and in the second post we saw how to get rid of your dog's grooming phobia. In this post we will see the next  behavior problem i.e. 'My dog is barking at other dogs while taking it for a walk' as a continuation to my earlier post 'Positive reinforcement training to tackle all the nagging dog behavior problems ' and how to get rid of it.

Barking at other dogs while walking on the street is a very common behavior problem amongst dogs. The intensity of this behavior will obviously vary depending on how socialized your dog is with other human beings and animals. One of the major reasons for this behavior problem is lack of proper socialization. Hence it is every essential that you socialize your dog with other dogs and human beings right from it's puppy hood. But if you have an adult dog that you have adopted from a shelter home or elsewhere with this problem then all you can do is correct it through training.

Correcting the Barking problem through Positive Reinforcement Training(Clicker Training)
Positive reinforcement training such as clicker training can work wonders if done right. Since Clicker Training reinforces only the behavior that you want, there is no punishment involved or negative reinforcement, hence no negative feeling or hatred is developed towards the handler or trainer, and you will have an ever happy and content dog always willing to get trained from you. Clicker training method can be applied on any dog irrespective of the it's breed, temperament, size or age.

The barking problem can be corrected in the following way,
  • When your dog starts barking at other dogs on the street, just IGNORE it (and never try to correct it by leash popping which will only scare the dog and is nothing but negative reinforcement), and immediately walk in a direction where there is minimum distractions, and as soon as it focuses it's attention on you, click and treat him immediately. Never allow the bark to continue for long as it is reinforcing for the dog. You can even reward in the form of praises or with it's favorite toy, but a yummy treat works much better. Repeat the process and be consistent.
  • By doing this repeatedly your dog will gradually associate the treat/praises(positive reinforcement) with other dogs and you will see the habit faltering over the next few days..
  • Now when your dog remains silent even for a couple of seconds while looking at another dog on the street, click/treat immediately. 
  • Then in the next step, try to slowly raise the duration in seconds till he's supposed to remain silent and "no treats" for breaking it. But if he remains silent for that set period, click/treat him immediately.
  • By doing this exercise repeatedly over a period of time you will achieve your goal(may in couple of weeks or more or may be quicker than that), and your dog will finally learn that it is quite natural to see other dogs on the street and there is nothing bark about it.
  • The key is to remain patient and consistent and never to loose your cool on your dog.
The same training steps can be applied if your dog has the habit of running away at will to play with other dogs in the park if he's off leash. As long as he's not aggressive with other dogs or a troublemaker, wait till he comes back to you. When he's back click/treat him immediately, but if he's not comfortable with the whole park atmosphere and starts barking at other humans and dogs, you should never let him off the leash until he's fully trained using the above steps.

The clicker training method might not always work effectively esp. in the park, since playing with other dogs is equally rewarding for the dog and in some cases far more rewarding than the treats that you offer. So in that case you must be smart enough to give him more yummier treats which can hold the dog in it's spell without running away. But it's always recommended to train him on leash if your dog has never been introduced to the park environment before.

Watch this interesting video

Thank you for reading my post ! If you liked it please do not forget to share it with your friends and also  leave your valuable feedback as a comment. I will be discussing the remaining behavior problems in the upcoming posts. Till then, Happy Petting !

1 comment:

  1. Very nicely written. Thanks for taking the time to discuss about this topic.

    Kind Regards,

    Elayne Taylor
    Housebreaking aPpuppy