Has your Labrador developed an annoying habit of barking at other dogs? Whether it’s whilst out on a walk, at the dog park, or when another dog walks by the house with its owner. This may drive you crazy and cause you to wonder why your Lab barks at other dogs.
Labradors bark at other dogs if they’ve been insufficiently trained or socialized and will be more anxious when on a leash. They also want to protect you and their home as it’s in their nature to show loyalty. Furthermore, when they are excited and want to play with another dog, they will bark.
Training your Labrador to leave this behavior behind should be your priority, whether he’s a young puppy, an untrained older dog, or a rescue who has developed bad habits. So, if you want to know how to stop your Labrador from barking at other dogs, you’ll love this article.
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Why Does My Labrador Bark at Other Dogs?
There can be a few reasons why your Labrador barks at other dogs.
The main cause is due to poor socialization as a puppy and incomplete training. Puppies need to be exposed to many different situations and experiences from a young age. It initially starts with their mother, littermates, and breeder who all lay the foundations – then it’s down to you to continue the socialization process.
A poorly socialized pup will end up fearful, anxious, and aggressive and may display other unwanted behaviors, such as barking and lunging at other dogs when you are out on a walk. It’s not the dog’s fault at all; he merely does not know how to behave.
Along with this, you must train your Labrador puppy from an early age. The recommended time is as soon as you bring your Lab pup home at 8 weeks old. You then need a schedule to work through each part of the training process. Check out my Labrador Puppy Training Schedule to get my month-by-month guide. I’m sure you’ll find it helpful.
Although Labradors aren’t seen as traditional guard dogs such as the German Shepherd, they are still incredibly loyal and want to protect you and your property. If they feel anxious or threatened, they will bark at other dogs as a warning. It’s in their genes, you see. Along with their intelligence, it’s why they are bred to be loyal guide dogs and assistant dogs or work in law enforcement and search and rescue.
As a result, their loyalty is extreme, and they are not afraid to protect their owners from something that appears to be dangerous. It’s in their canine nature to display these traits, along with their loving and energetic nature.
Finally, your Labrador may bark at other dogs in the dog park or field when he is excited and wants to play. You should observe his body language and consider the situation and surroundings. If he has a wagging tail, flopped back ears, relaxed body posture, open mouth, and tongue sticking out loosely, for example, then he is happy.
Related: How to Read Labrador Body Language: 24 Signs Decoded
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How to Stop a Labrador from Barking at Other Dogs
So, now you know why your Labrador barks at other dogs, how do you stop it, especially if it has become problematic, annoying, and embarrassing?
To stop your Labrador from barking at other dogs, distract him with treats or toys BEFORE he starts to bark. Work on obedience training using positive reinforcement and motivate him to focus all his attention on YOU. He will soon learn to stop barking before having contact with other dogs!
Training your dog isn’t something you only work on during puppyhood. In reality, you should continue training your Labrador for at least a few minutes every day, even into adulthood.
When your Labrador becomes too excited or anxious when he sees other dogs, he may bark at them impulsively. Distracting your Lab with treats and enforcing obedience training are the best ways to manage these situations.
The most effective way to stop unwanted barking is to prevent it IMMEDIATELY BEFORE it starts!
Distracting Your Labrador
You can’t stop your Labrador’s excitement when he sees another dog he wants to play with. There are, however, ways to divert your Lab’s attention away from the dog he’s barking and lunging at whilst on the leash.
Here’s how to keep your Labrador distracted before he barks at other dogs.
- Feed him treats as soon as another dog comes into sight – get his attention on you! Before he starts barking at the other dog, you must give him the treat. If you wait until he begins barking, he’ll start to associate barking with receiving treats, which would likely cause him to bark even more. It’s all about the timing! You need to intervene before the barking occurs and encourage your Labrador to look at you. Learning to communicate with your Lab is a continual process.
- Continue to give your Labrador treats. Now, one treat won’t usually do it! That’s why I recommend Zukes Puppy Naturals Training Treats from Amazon. These high-quality, tasty treats are only 3.5 calories each and are perfect for training. The longer the other dog stays in your Labrador’s view, the more he’ll want to bark. Continue to distract him by giving him the treats as he remains quiet.
- Stop giving him treats when the other dog passes by. Refrain from offering treats to your Labrador as soon as the other dog is out of sight. This will help him link the dots a little more and understand why he got treats for being quiet around the other dog.
Keep in mind that you intend to divert your Labrador’s focus away from the other dog. You want your Lab to concentrate entirely on you and the treats to stop him from barking.
Tip! If you’d rather not use commercial treats, it’s fine to give your Labrador tiny pieces of meat or cheese or even chunks of healthy fruits or vegetables.
Learn How to Teach Your Dog to Stop Unwanted Barking…
Praising Good Behavior
Praising your Labrador’s good conduct is an essential part of teaching him not to bark. The more you praise him for his good behavior, the more likely he will repeat it in the future. Here are some of the most effective ways to recognize and reward good behavior:
- Saying “GOOD DOG” after he does something pleasing
- Pet him
- Offer him a high-level treat or some food
- Allow him to approach the other dog and play
Most people understand that they should teach their dog what he shouldn’t do, but they don’t realize that they still need to show him what he should be doing. When he learns that doing good things earns him a reward, he’ll want to keep doing it! This is the whole concept of rewards-based training.
Working on Obedience Training
It can be difficult to keep your Labrador’s constant barking under control. When your dog begins to bark when he sees other dogs, he must first become accustomed to obeying training commands from you before being able to approach the dog with which he wishes to play.
For instance, if he starts barking like crazy when he sees a dog, you can command him “SIT” or “QUIET.” When your Lab sits down and stops barking, you can then allow him to play with the dog that he’s so interested in.
This demonstrates to your Labrador that he does not influence whether or not he sees the other dog. You do! If he demands to play with the other dog by barking, he won’t be able to; if he sits and stops barking, he’ll be allowed to wander over. He’ll soon get the hang of it.
All dog owners should make a concerted effort to keep their dogs from barking and lunging at other dogs. However, putting in the time and effort to train your pooch can be overwhelming, particularly if training is novel to you or you have a stubborn Labrador, albeit uncommon.
There are a couple of alternative methods of stopping or reducing your Labrador’s impulsive and unwanted barking habits. Anti-bark collars might do the trick. However, these are controversial and are only a temporary fix. You can also try simply ignoring the barking and see if this corrects the behavior. Read on to find out more!
Ignoring the Barking
There’s something to be said about the power of ignoring your doggo. When it comes to ignoring your dog when he’s barking, it’s not exactly what you might think. Here’s how you can do it:
- When your Lab starts barking at another dog, stop the walk. Continue to avoid approaching the other dog. Don’t yell at him. Do not respond in any way. Stay completely still, as if you were a statue.
- When your Lab stops barking, continue the walk. Now that he’s fulfilled the behavior that you want continue toward the other dog and progress with your walk.
Your Labrador will soon associate his barking with his walk suddenly coming to a halt and not being able to approach the other dog.
Although fairly controversial, anti-bark collars can reduce your Labrador Retriever’s barking behavior. However, they won’t solve the problem! So, why is this?
Anti-bark collars don’t address the root cause of excessive or unwanted barking!
When the collar detects your Labrador barking, it can spray an unpleasant odor or air or emit a high-pitched sound that only your Labrador can hear. Bark control collars tend to get a bad reputation, but some owners will say that they can be useful for “difficult” dogs, although there is no such thing as a “difficult” dog!
You might want to try the different kinds to see which one works best for your pooch. However, please remember that these collars will not teach your dog proper behavior. Positive reinforcement training is far more effective.
I really don’t agree with them at all – but that’s just my opinion. But if you feel you have exhausted all other options, you might want to initially try the type of collar that sprays either air or a distasteful smell. Please be aware, though, that anti-bark collars are unpleasant for your dog, and they may cause further anxiety, and fear, or cause him to act aggressively.
This study evidenced that dogs trained using aversive methods were more likely to suffer from stress and anxiety than pets trained using rewards-based techniques.
Related: Harness vs. Collar for Lab Puppy: Which is Best?
Your Labrador may eventually realize that barking has these negative effects, which should encourage him to stop. On the other hand, he may start to realize that the collar is the source of his punishment.
When you remove the collar, it’s quite common for dogs to relapse to their previous barking behavior.
Don’t assume that because your Labrador has developed a habit of barking or lunging at other dogs, there’s nothing you can do about it. You should see a difference in around 3 weeks if you work on your training. Here’s a rundown of the most important things you can do.
- Distract your Labrador with training treats before he starts barking at other dogs.
- Praise your dog when he doesn’t bark or stops barking! The moment he stops, offer a treat.
- Teach your Labrador that obeying your commands allows him to play with other dogs.
- Devote lots of time, calmness, and consistency to training your dog.
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