If your dog barks when other dogs bark you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do to get your dog to stop doing it.
So, why does my dog bark when other dogs bark?
If your dog barks when it is near the other dogs it would be likely to be due to things such as excitement or warning them not to come near it because it thinks they are being threatening.
Whereas, if your dog barks when the other dogs are not nearby, it would be more likely to be due to things such as to alert them of its location, to warn them not to enter its territory or it might be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by rewarding it.
There are many reasons why your dog might bark when other dogs bark and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are also a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main cause.
Why your dog barks when other dogs bark
Below are some common reasons why your dog might be barking when other dogs bark and what would make them more likely to be the main causes.
The reason why it does it might be that it is excited. This would be more likely if it does it when the other dogs are not being threatening and if your own dog shows signs of excitement in its body language. Signs of excitement could include wagging its tail, licking and having wide-open eyes. It would also be more likely if it does it when the other dogs are dogs that it has played with in the past.
To let them know it’s location
Wolves and dogs, in the wild, will howl to tell other members of the pack where it is or to scare off other predators that are entering their territories. In the case of your dog, it might be the case that the barking is to alert other dogs or members of its pack of its location or to alert other dogs of possible danger. This would also be more likely if it also starts howling as well.
To warn them not to enter its territory
Another possible cause could be that it is warning them not to enter its territory. This would be more likely if it tends to do it when it is at home or when the other dogs are approaching it or yourself. It would also be more likely if it starts showing threatening body language when barking such as showing its teeth, a curled nose, pulling its lips back and a stiff tail.
To warn them not to approach it
Another possible cause is that it considers the barking of the other dogs as being threatening. This would be more likely if it does it when the other dogs are showing threatening body language and if your dog is showing threatening body language towards them itself.
Encouraging the behavior
The cause might be that you have been encouraging the behavior by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, treats or toys when it does barks when other dogs bark, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it does not bark when the other dogs bark, to avoid rewarding it when it does and to try to redirect its focus onto something else.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out why it has been barking when other dogs start barking.
If it barks at all dogs
It would help to consider if it barks at all dogs or if it just does it to some of them.
If it only barks when smaller dogs bark, it might be a sign that it is doing it due to having a strong prey drive which would be more likely if it is a larger breed such as a Siberian Husky or a German Shepherd.
Whereas, if it barks when larger dogs bark, it could be because it is feeling threatened and it is warning them not to come near it which would be more likely if it shows threatening body language itself.
If it barks at all dogs when they bark, it could be due to any of the reasons mentioned above.
When it first started doing it
If it did not always bark when other dogs barked, it would also help to consider if anything else happened when it first started doing it.
If it started doing it suddenly, it might be due to another dog mistreating it resulting in it being much less trusting of other dogs now.
What is different when it does not do it
If it does not always bark when other dogs bark, it would also help to consider what else is different when it does not do it.
For example, if it only does it when the other dogs are out of sight, it might be doing it to let them know where it is and to warn them not to come over to where it is. Whereas, if it does it when the other dogs are being threatening, it would be more likely that it is warning them not to approach it.
What to do about your dog barking when other dogs bark
Below are some things you can do about your dog barking when other dogs bark.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that you have been encouraging the behavior by giving it things it wants when it does it. Instead, it would help to reward it when it does not bark to stop rewarding it when it starts barking so that it learns that barking when other dogs barks does not get it rewards.
Try a growl class
If there is a growl class in your area, it might be an option to take your dog to one of them. Growl classes are special classes for dogs that have a habit of barking that are designed to get them to learn not to bark around other people and dogs.
Teach it to listen to your command
It would also help to train your dog to be more responsive to your command. By training it you will be able to get it to listen to your command and it will be easier to control your dog when it misbehaves.
Get help from a dog behaviorist
If your dog becomes aggressive when it is barking at the other dogs, it would help to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see what has been causing it to do it and how to get it to stop barking safely.
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