If you have a puppy, you may be struggling to understand why they may bark at other dogs. Is it something to be concerned about? And, how should you react to your pup? What can you do about his barking if you want him to stop? Here’s everything you’ll need to know.
So, why does my puppy bark at other dogs? Young puppies often bark at other dogs out of excitement: for example, if they want to play or interact. Sometimes puppies bark when other dogs are near because they are concerned about being in close proximity to other animals. They are attempting to soothe their anxiety or fear around the other dog being too close for comfort.
As you can see; barking is therefore an indicator of both positive, and negative emotions.
It is for this reason that you need to observe your puppy closely.
Try to get a feel for the context and circumstance when they do bark at other dogs; seek out their body language and other accompanying behaviors.
That way you’ll know for sure how to respond (which we will cover in due course).
But before then, let us explore the reasons for barking, to begin with, in further detail
Reasons Why Puppies Bark at Other Dogs
The main reasons why puppies bark at other dogs is because they either want to interact with them or alternatively make them aware of their presence as they are actually worried about them.
Your Puppy Wants To Approach The Other Dog
Your puppy may be very excited about seeing other dogs, and he may want to get closer to have a play or interact in other ways.
Puppies often love making new friends, and many of them can be missing their littermates and their mothers.
The younger the puppy, the more likely it is that he’ll be missing his siblings and his mom.
If you notice your puppy looking to play or interact with the other dog, it could be that your puppy has learned that games with other dogs are more rewarding than games with people.
Therefore, if you hold him back from approaching another dog, he may bark in frustration.
Think of small children who see other children playing: they often want to join in.
Your Puppy Is Worried About The Other Dog
It could be that your puppy is worried about the other dog.
Your puppy could be anxious or fearful, in which case he may bark to try to make himself feel better about the close proximity of another dog.
If your puppy is worried, you will often see other behaviors along with the barking, such as:
- Running away
Is It Normal for My Puppy To Bark At Other Dogs?
It is normal for puppies to bark at other dogs, especially if they are younger than 6 months old.
Young puppies who bark at other dogs usually do this out of fear, and this behavior can lead to snapping and biting.
If your puppy learns that being aggressive is in his best interests, he will continue this behavior until you train him to accept alternatives.
Younger puppies will often bark at other dogs to protect resources.
If they live with other puppies or older dogs, they may feel the need to bark to keep their share of food, toys, etc. Defending food is particularly common if there’s a scarcity of resources.
Puppies who are over 6 months old don’t usually bark out of aggression or fear as much as younger ones.
These puppies will more often bark because they want to play or interact with other dogs.
Some Breeds Bark More Than Others
Some dog breeds do bark more than others, such as:
- Terriers (Fox Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, West Highland Terriers, Cairn Terriers)
- Lhasa Apsos
- Miniature Schnauzers
- Doberman Pinschers
If your puppy is one of the above breeds, it may be harder to get him to stop barking, as sounding the alarm is more in his nature!
However, an active dog who is content, confident, and well-trained will be less likely to bark, no matter what breed he is.
What To Do If Your Puppy Barks At Another Dog
How you should respond to your puppy barking at another dog depends on the reason for it.
Nevertheless, these are the approaches to take in either context.
If Your Puppy Wants To Play Or Interact With The Other Dog
If your puppy is barking out of frustration because he wants to play and make a new friend, you’ll want to teach your puppy that playing with people and with toys can be fun, too.
You’ll need to restrict all games with other dogs for a while and teach your pup to enjoy people games and appropriate toys.
Take your puppy elsewhere for his walks – avoid dog parks for the time being. Spend quality time with him every day: let him know that you are great fun!
If you have another dog at home, you’ll have to restrict interaction between the two dogs as well.
You want your puppy to understand that he can have fun without being around other dogs all the time: this will help him grow in confidence, and he’ll be happier overall in the long run.
Once your puppy prefers games with you rather than games with other dogs, you can then teach him good manners and appropriate behavior around other dogs.
Training most puppies to behave well usually involves treats (to start with) and a firm (but kind) hand.
If Your Puppy Is Barking At Another Dog Out Of Fear Or Anxiety
If your puppy is barking at another dog because he’s anxious or afraid, perhaps running to hide behind your legs or running away, this usually means either:
- Your puppy hasn’t had enough socialization with other dogs, or
- Your puppy has had bad experiences with dogs in the past
If you notice a lot of fearful behavior in your puppy, you may wish to contact the breeder and ask if your pup had any negative experiences with other dogs before coming into your care.
To help build your puppy’s confidence, let him feel safe by introducing a ‘circle of safety’ around him.
Ensure your puppy has a safe zone in the house: a place where he can go to rest on his own, without anyone interacting with him.
Your puppy will appreciate having a safe zone that is calm and relaxing and where no humans – or animals – will interfere.
If you want to play or interact with your puppy, do this outside their safe zone.
Dogs instinctively seek out safe places to rest without predators: this is why you’ll see dogs turning around in a circle before settling down.
They are simply checking their surroundings.
Introduce your puppy gradually to other dogs – dogs that you know are kind, calm, and friendly.
Allow him to interact with calmer dogs first to build his trust and sense of safety.
And in the meantime, it may mean walking away or staying clear of places with a lot of large or confident dogs.
How Do I Stop My Puppy Barking At Other Dogs?
Here are some things you can do to stop your puppy from barking at other dogs.
Ensure Your Puppy Is Properly Socialized
Your puppy will need to be socialized from a very young age. He will need to get used to meeting a wide range of dogs of all different sizes, appearances, and personalities.
The crucial window for socialization for puppies is from 3 to 12 weeks old.
If your puppy hasn’t had interactions with other dogs at this age, he is more likely to lack confidence and perhaps bark more or show other signs of aggressive, fear-based behavior.
He will see other dogs as a threat, and you will have to work hard to build his confidence.
Try Reward-Based Training
One way that you can train your puppy not to bark at other dogs is using reward-based training.
Most puppies are eager to please, and they respond better to positive reinforcement rather than any kind of punishment.
If you’re out on walks with your puppy and you notice another dog approaching, try distracting your puppy by changing direction.
You could turn around and start walking away from the other dog, hopefully before your puppy notices – don’t wait till your puppy reacts.
You could also try calling your puppy’s name, using a treat to lure him to you. With repetition and rewards, your dog will learn when to come to you, when to turn, etc.
You could run or walk backward as you face your puppy: this keeps your puppy’s attention on you rather than the other dog.
Another trick is distracting your dog with a squeaky toy or another favorite toy.
Desensitize Your Puppy To The Presence Of Other Dogs
You can use the following method to get your puppy used to the presence of other dogs so that he isn’t tempted to bark:
- Get a friend to stand with their dog out of sight of yours – or far away so that your puppy won’t bark.
- As your friend and their dog approach, begin feeding your puppy treats, as long as he’s quiet.
- When your friend and their dog disappear from sight, stop feeding the treats.
- Repeat this process several times, trying to go slowly and at your puppy’s pace.
What To Avoid
Avoid telling your puppy to be quiet when he barks: when you do this, it sounds to the puppy like you’re barking too!
Don’t let your puppy get bored with training sessions: keep them positive and upbeat so that he stays engaged.
Make sure you don’t have some family members training your puppy in their own way: consistency is key to avoid confusing your puppy.
Everyone needs to use the same commands and cues every single time.
It is very common for puppies to bark at other dogs. Especially unsocialized puppies under the age of 6 months.
In fact, it’s very common for puppies to bark at almost anything, including you.
Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that puppies may bark for both positive and negative reasons.
If you can differentiate the two, and proceed appropriately in response, you’ll find that your walks are generally much more enjoyable.
For you and your pup alike.
And in the meantime, just be mindful and wary when your puppy is around another dog. Don’t leave them alone together.
Besides, puppies can provoke older dogs which can result in an attack.
Even if it’s unintentional.
Have other questions about your puppy’s behavior and tendencies? Well, my following guides may be of help:
- Why Does My Puppy Cry On Walks?
- Why Does My Puppy Follow Me Everywhere?
- Why Does My Puppy Bark At Me?
- Why Does My Puppy Sound Congested?
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.