Occasional barking is natural for any dog, it’s his way of communication. But excessive barking is annoying for you and will eventually become stressful for the dog, as he’ll feel his attempts at communication are being ignored. Barking when meeting new people and dogs is particularly irksome, as it can trigger the other dog into barking and it can be threatening for people, even if your dog means well. With a combination of distraction and kind conditioning, you can fix this problem.
Identify the Cause
Introduce Lucky to a dog. If possible, do this with a dog Lucky has already met before who is calm and passive.
Observe Lucky’s body language. His barking may be due to sheer excitement at meeting new people, in which case his tail will be wagging, his posture will be relaxed and he’ll have an alert expression. If he’s barking because he’s nervous or anxious, he’ll typically hold his tail stiff and pointed outward, while avoiding eye contact. His barks may be accompanied by a growl. Once you’ve identified the cause of the barking, you’re better placed to fix the problem.
Look for triggers. For example, Lucky may only bark if the other dog sniffs him, or if the dog’s owner pets him. Knowing the triggers lets you anticipate when Lucky is about to bark, enabling you to issue corrective measures just at the right time.
Hold a treat in front of Lucky’s nose. Let him get the scent.
Move the treat up and away from his nose, then behind his head. Lucky will follow the treat with his nose.
Say “sit.” Continue to move the treat away from his nose as you say this. To get a better sniff of the treat, Lucky will eventually sit down for balance.
Release the treat once his backside hits the floor. Lavish him with praise and fuss. The key is timing the release of the treat so it happens just as he sits. With sufficient repetition, Lucky will learn that when he sits, good things happen. Practice this command daily. With sufficient repetition, Lucky will sit on command, without the treat.
Take Lucky for a long walk. A hyper dog is much more prone to bursts of excitement.
Put him on a leash and walk him to a prearranged meeting place where he’ll meet and greet a dog. As you’re walking him, give him verbal praise. This verbal praise is a positive stimulus for Lucky. You can correct his behavior by removing this stimulus.
Start the meet and greet. Observe his body language and look out for potential bark triggers. If you suspect Lucky is about to bark, make him sit. This distracts him from what he was about to do. When he sits, give him a food treat as a reward. If he ignores the command, remove the verbal praise he was already getting. If he continues to bark, use the leash to guide him away for a time out. Repeat the meet and greet until Lucky learns that passive behavior has positive consequences, while barking and becoming excited has negative consequences.
Items You Will Need
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.