How to manage a dog that barks excessively on walks

How to manage a dog that barks excessively on walks

Pet Psychology

Dogs tend to be quite vocal animals as a whole, who use sounds like barking, growling, crying, whining and howling to express their emotions to other dogs and to people, and to communicate with other animals of various species too.

Some dogs are of course a lot more prone to barking than others, and whilst most dogs will bark if they are excited or if someone comes to the door, excessive barking can be a problem in all sorts of situations.

Dogs tend to be the most vocal when at home or otherwise on what they consider to be their territory, because they see this as their own personal space that they will defend from potential approaches, or at least, alert their handlers that someone is coming.

But problem barking can occur in all sorts of situations, and some dogs are particularly likely to bark excessively when taken out for walks, which can make walks not only noisy and stressful for you, but also draw the attention of other dogs and people that you pass out and about too, which can be a little awkward!

Whilst barking on walks is not uncommon, if your dog barks excessively, is highly reactive to stimulus or seems to turn into a completely different animal that is determined to make a lot of noise when out and about, this can be a problem.

In this article we will share tips on what you can do to resolve excessive barking on walks, and outline the most common causes of this type of behaviour. Read on to learn more about how to manage a dog that barks excessively on walks.

Improve your dog’s social skills

Dogs that don’t have great social skills or that find communication with other dogs a challenge will often be those most prone to barking on walks, because the dog doesn’t know how to communicate properly or respond in the appropriate way for the situation in question.

If your dog barks the most when they spot another dog, you will need to work intensively to gradually improve your dog’s social skills and provide them with plenty of opportunities to meet and play with other dogs within a safe, controlled environment.

Once your dog has developed better social skills and is more used to the presence of other dogs, their reactions should lessen.

Expose your dog to lots of stimulus

Dogs may bark due to fear, excitement, overstimulation, as a warning, and for many other reasons besides. Being exposed to new stimulus that is outside of your dog’s frame of reference can often trigger one or more such responses, which may in turn result in barking.

Work progressively with your dog to expose them to new and different types of stimulus, and they will be less reactive when they face them again in future. If your dog is used to facing a lot of different challenges regularly, they will face new ones in the future more calmly too.

Walk more

If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, they are likely to be more of a handful when they do get to go on walks, which can result in excessive excitement and lots of barking.

Ensure that your dog gets sufficient exercise for their age and fitness levels, and use every walk as an opportunity to improve and fine-tune your dog’s skills and responses, and you will find that their behaviour out on walks will improve in general, as well as easing excessive barking.

Try a Halti collar

Different types of collars or harnesses are available for dogs to permit owners to find the best choice, and a Halti collar can be helpful to curb excessive barking, if properly fitted and used.

Halti collars have a strap that passes around the muzzle and controls the nose and mouth, and this can help to curb barking. However, you should never yank on the lead or try to use a Halti to restrict your dog, nor otherwise attempt to check or punish them physically for barking.

Enable free play and off-lead time

Being able to walk nicely on the lead is an essential skill for any dog, and if your dog barks a lot when on the lead, you should work with them to correct this. However, the behaviour of many dogs is very different when confined by a lead than it is when they are allowed to run loose, and all dogs should have some off-lead play time provided for them as part of their daily walks.

You can use this time to let your dog work off their excess energy and calm down a little, which may make them more obedient and responsive to on-lead training afterwards.

Your responses and appropriate reactions to excessive barking

How you react and respond when your dog barks to excess has a large part to play in how your dog behaves, so ensuring that you react in the most appropriate way is vital.

Getting wound up and frustrated, repeatedly telling your dog off or shouting are all counterproductive, and whilst problem barking needs to be corrected, this should be done confidently and calmly, without turning it into a big fuss.

If your dog overreacts and barks like mad, check their behaviour then wait calmly for them to calm down before proceeding. This will frustrate your dog, but if you are consistent, it will teach them that their walk will not continue until they are quieter, and that remaining quiet and well-behaved leads to a more rewarding walk!

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