Barking outside on the street at other dogs, people, cyclers, cars ….
When a dog barks a lot outside, again it is important to identify the triggering situation. If it is not possible to avoid it, it is necessary to find a way to work with it.
Outside this may not immediately address the barking itself.
It may be necessary to work on other issues first in order to limit the barking.
For example, if a dog barks a lot at harmless things it perceives as a threat, habituation may be the key.
That means trying to confront the dog repeatedly with the triggering situation in a training environment and gradually raising the bar until the dog gets used to the trigger and does no longer perceive it as a threat.
If the dogs barks at other dogs or people because of dominance, the dominance it the issue that needs to be addressed, not the barking.
This is a topic for a different essay, but in short: You probably already guess that I am not the one who follows the traditional “pack and alpha dog theory” recommending to control dominance by submission.
In fact I think submitting a dog can be quite damaging for the dog-owner relationship, if the dominance is caused by insecurity – which is often the case.
Just as some kids in school, some dogs decide to go forward instead of backing out of a situation they perceive as intimidating or threatening as their way of dealing with their fear, stress and anxiety.
Looking at it from this angle probably already explains, why using additional pressure may not be the best way to handle the behavior.
Being a firm, but also friendly and trustworthy leader is vital for such dogs.
Again also in these situations some people like to apply aversive methods (submission, force, intimidation), because that usually delivers more immediate results. It may be working in some cases. But it may just as well lead to unexpected reactions and trigger even more aggression. And – again and most importantly – it can damage the dog-owner relationship so much more than it is able to help.
Regaining a dog’s trust after it felt being let down by its owner or being treated unfair can become a very long road to go.
Some dogs only bark at others from behind fences or when leashed. Often this goes along with pulling and excitement.
When dogs are pulling and barking on leash, the problems to address are often also insecurity or protective behavior, in many cases impulse control and in some cases proper basic leash walking.
When dogs play “Django ON leash” often the owner is part of the triggers. Once the individuals on both ends of the leash become a team, learn to communicate and the owner learns to be confident and in control of the situation, not only pulling but also barking usually ceases pretty quickly.
Firm but fair leadership, an owner who does not need physical force to correct the dog and acts as a strong partner, will lower the dog’s impulse to be in control of everything and encourage the dog to start relying on the guidance of the owner.
I will post another essay about dominance issues in maturing and adult dogs soon. So far maybe you find some helpful information in this essay: The aggressive puppy – do I have an aggressive dog?
Last but not least:
If you live in an apartment building wall to wall with neighbors and have a dog that barks quite a lot, making some friends can be very helpful.
An occasional apology in the hall along with the information that you are already working on the problem and maybe even a quick personal introduction of your dog (if it’s friendly towards people) can break the ice and raise more empathy for and patience in the given situation. This may take some pressure off of your shoulders. Give it a try. 🙂
After all, dogs are dogs and no machines, and sometimes … they bark. And there are situations in which the barking alert can be really helpful. The factor we need to get a hand on is how long and how often they bark.