My friend and our four dogs were enjoying our day at the beach when an older man began to bark at our dogs. For some reason he thought it was quite funny. The shyest of our dogs was scared. Luckily, her owner is a trainer and has worked hard on her shyness and she was able to ignore him. In my irritation, I wondered "why do people bark at dogs?" It seems like such a rude thing to do from a dog's perspective. Generally, it will be kids that do this. You would think that this would just about never happen, but it has happened to my dog at least five times in his 4 years. So, yes, pretty rare but still something that he has experienced and something I would like to teach him is nothing to worry about.
The fact that this happened reminded me that it would be a good idea to purposely socialize our dogs to this kind of behavior and that I should add the tip to our dog socialization article. You can teach your dog that being barked at is nothing to worry about by asking a friend to bark at your dog and then feeding your dog treats. Make sure your dog is not frightened by this. If your dog is frightened start out with the person making less noise or being farther away. I also think that we need to communicate people that this is not an appropriate way to communicate with dogs.
So, I suggest two things: First, teach your dog that people barking at him equals treats. Second, if someone barks at your dog please ask them not to do that to dogs as it confuses them and give them a treat for complying <grin>
Jess Rollins, Owner and Dog Trainer
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