Barking dogs – Is a training class the answer?
My dog barks at other dogs, would a class help him?
Sadly, the answer is not straightforward. The most important question to find the answer to is “why does your dog bark at other dogs?”…
Possible reasons include:
- My puppy is excited when he sees other dogs. Most puppies are keen to socialize and whilst the “bunny hop” is commonplace (two paws is quicker than four, right?), some breeds are very vocal and barking can occur through both frustration and excitement. Trainers who run Puppy Classes are normally well prepared for such situations, however it is best to let them know in advance if you are concerned that you make disturb others.
- My dog is a frustrated greeter – this can occur in dogs that missed out on early socialization in the critical period between 8 and 20 weeks old or dogs that have infrequent interactions with other dogs and therefore simply “overfill” with excitement to say hello and play. In this instance, you should consult your trainer in advance to ensure they are able to provide the necessary space and assistance to enable your dog to focus in a class environment. Some “pre-class” work may be required to lower excitement levels.
- My dog is fearful/nervous – barking at other dogs on lead can be a sign of fear reactivity. Unfortunately, the signs in some dogs look very similar to a “frustrated greeter” which often leads owners to think being around dogs in a class environment will help. Without careful planning and preparation, it can make things worse. Dogs with fear reactivity need to be fully assessed by a qualified trainer or behaviorist who will be best placed to advise on whether a class environment is suitable.
- My dog is aggressive – again, a qualified trainer or behaviourist would need to be consulted to find the root course for the aggressive behaviour. General obedience classes are unlikely to be of any benefit to a dog displaying aggression in the presence of other dogs, however they may be a goal to set at the end of a behaviour modification programme. A qualified trainer or behaviourist will be best placed to advise on how to help your dog overcome his aggression
If you have any uncertainty, the best thing to do is to contact the trainer in advance of the first session so they can discuss options/offer advice on how best to proceed.
Louise Burton IMDT
Hilton Dogs Training Academy
Vet recommended puppy and dog training services
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