Help! My Dog Goes Mad When He Sees Other Dogs

Your dog barking is driving you and your friends bananas – right? You’ve done all the training, but Fido still barks his head off whenever he sees another dog. It’s frustrating and embarrassing, especially when you’re trying to walk him in the park or around the neighbourhood. You’d love to let him off the lead, but his reaction makes that impossible. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many dogs struggle with this, and it is possible to curb this canine behaviour. This article will walk you through some easy, effective techniques to help your dog stay calm and focussed when encountering others. With consistency and patience, you can both get more enjoyment from daily outings and help your pooch make some new furry friends along the way.

Understanding Your Dog Barking At Other Dogs

Your dog’s reactivity towards other dogs likely stems from insecurity, fear, anxiety or frustration. It’s a normal behaviour, but needs to be addressed so he can stay calm and focused around other dogs.

Lack of Early Socialisation

If your dog didn’t get enough positive exposure to other dogs as a puppy, he may see them as threatening or scary. Early socialisation helps build confidence and teaches dogs how to interact appropriately. Without it, reactivity is common.

Fear and Anxiety

Some dogs are more prone to fear and anxiety. Loud noises, unfamiliar objects or animals can trigger your dog’s flight or fight response, causing reactivity.


Your dog wants to greet other dogs but hasn’t learned how to do so calmly. His excitement and frustration manifests as reactivity.

Establishing yourself as the Pack Leader

Your dog looks to you for guidance on how to behave. If you’re tense or anxious around other dogs, he will pick up on that energy. Staying calm and confident will help keep your dog focused on you.

With time and practise, reactivity can be reduced by building positive associations with other dogs at a distance your dog is comfortable with, rewarding and praising for calm, non-reactive behaviour, and teaching the ‘look at me’ command to help shift your dog’s focus back to you. Be patient through the process, understand where the behaviour comes from, and work to build your dog’s confidence from a distance. With consistency, his reactivity should subside.

Common Causes of Dog Barking At Other Dogs

Anxiety and Fear

A dog barking, lunging or acting aggressively towards other dogs is simply due to anxiety and fear. Your pooch may have had a scary experience with another dog in the past, or not have been properly socialised as a pup. Whatever the cause, their fearful reaction is a defence mechanism. The good news is, with patience and training, you can help alleviate their anxiety.

Lack of Socialisation

If your dog didn’t get a chance to interact with many other dogs when they were young, they may react badly when they encounter one now. Early positive experiences with friendly dogs are key to learning good behaviour. Don’t worry, socialisation at any age can help. Take your dog to watch other dogs from a distance, give treats and praise to help them associate other dogs with positive feelings.

Territorial Behaviour

Some dogs are naturally inclined to guard their home and family, and may act aggressively to “protect” them from other dogs. It’s important to not reinforce this behaviour by avoiding direct commands like “good guard dog!”. Instead, redirect their attention to you, avoid aggressive language, and reward them when they remain calm around other dogs. With time and training, they can learn to control their territorial instincts.

The underlying cause of your dog’s reactivity is key to addressing the behaviour. With patience, positive reinforcement training, and by slowly exposing them to other dogs in a controlled setting, their mad reactions can become a thing of the past. Stay calm and consistent, set clear rules to discourage aggression, and make encountering other dogs a rewarding experience. In no time, your walks will be stress-free and your dog will be their usual happy self!

Effective Training Techniques to Stop Dog Barking

One of the most important things is to remain calm when your dog reacts. Don’t yell at or punish your dog, as this will likely make the reactivity worse. Instead, use positive reinforcement training to teach your dog alternate behaviours.


When your dog reacts, immediately redirect his attention to you. Say “watch me!” or “leave it!”, then once he looks at you, reward him with a treat and praise. This helps teach him to ignore the trigger and focus on you instead. Practise this each time he sees another dog.


Gradually expose your dog to other dogs in a controlled setting. Have friends with calm dogs meet you during walks, at first at a distance. Give your dog treats and praise to help him associate other dogs with rewards. Slowly decrease the distance between the dogs over multiple sessions. This helps desensitise him to other dogs in a safe way.

Stay Calm

It’s easy to get frustrated when your dog reacts, but you must remain patient and composed. Yelling or punishing will likely agitate your dog more and damage your bond of trust. Stay relaxed, redirect his attention to you, and reward him when he’s calm. He will pick up on your own calm, confident energy.

With consistency and practise, these techniques can effectively reduce reactivity in dogs. Understand that it can take weeks or months of regular training, so stick with it and try not to get discouraged if progress seems slow. Stay positive, focus on rewarding good behaviour, and keep training encounters short and fun. Following these tips will help turn walks with your dog into enjoyable, stress-free experiences for both of you.

Useful Tools and Resources for Managing Reactivity

Training Tools

Some essential tools to help train your dog include:

A front-attach harness or head halter: These give you more control over your dog without injuring them. A harness disperses pressure over their body, while a head halter applies pressure at the back of the head to redirect their attention. Both are very useful for keeping your dog under control in stressful situations.

High-value treats: Carry treats that your dog absolutely loves, like little pieces of chicken, cheese or liver. Give your dog treats when they remain calm around other dogs to help change their emotional response.

A clicker: A clicker is a useful tool for marking and rewarding good behaviour. As soon as your dog notices another dog but remains calm, click and treat. This helps them make the connection between their calm behaviour and the reward.

Online Resources

There are some great online resources with advice and training tips for reactive dogs:

The CARE protocol by Emily Larlham is a step-by-step process for dealing with reactivity using positive reinforcement. It teaches you how to avoid triggers when possible, create distance, reward good behaviour and slowly desensitise your dog.

Victoria Stilwell’s ‘It’s Me Or The Dog’ website has a wealth of information on dealing with reactivity and anxiety in dogs. Victoria is a world-renowned dog trainer and her advice is extremely helpful.

• Online video resources like Kikopup and Zak George offer visual guidance on training techniques like counterconditioning, desensitisation and the ‘look at that’ method. Seeing these methods in action can be very useful.

Reactive Champion’s website provides blog posts, podcasts and online courses dedicated to helping owners of reactive dogs. They share first-hand experiences and scientifically based advice.

• Facebook groups like Reactive Dog Support Group provide support from others in similar situations. You can ask questions, share stories and get advice on dealing with specific issues.

With the right tools, resources and commitment to training, you can teach your dog to stay calm around other dogs and people. Be patient through the process and remember that any progress is good – even if it’s slow, you’re still moving in the right direction.

FAQ: My Dog Still Reacts to Other Dogs After Training

Why is my dog still reacting?

Old habits die hard. It can take time and consistency for your dog to overcome their reactivity to other dogs. Don’t get discouraged—stay patient and stick with the training. Some possible reasons your dog may still react are:

•The sight of other dogs still makes them anxious. It will take repeated positive experiences for them to learn to stay calm.

•The training needs more time. It can take several weeks of consistent training for some dogs to show improvement. Continue using positive reinforcement and rewarding your dog when they remain calm around other dogs.

•The training needs to be taken to the next level. If basic counterconditioning isn’t helping, you may need to do desensitisation training with the help of a professional trainer. This exposes your dog to other dogs in a controlled setting.

•There are triggers you haven’t addressed. Make sure you’ve identified all the specific triggers that cause your dog’s reactivity. It could be a certain size, breed or colour of dog, or even equipment like harnesses. Address each trigger separately in your training.

•The environment is too arousing. Try training in an area with fewer distractions and less foot traffic. Then, as your dog improves, slowly introduce more activity and movement. This gradual process is known as “flooding”.

•You’re not being consistent. It’s important that everyone in your household—and anyone who walks or interacts with your dog—follows the same training approach. If techniques and commands vary from person to person, it will confuse your dog and slow their progress.

Stay dedicated and patient through the challenges. With time and consistency, your dog can overcome their reactivity and learn to remain calm when seeing other dogs. But if problems continue, don’t hesitate to consult a professional dog trainer for guidance. They can evaluate your dog’s behaviour and the training you’ve tried so far, then provide recommendations tailored to your dog’s needs.


So there you have it. Your dog barking and reacting to other dogs is natural. With time, patience and the right training techniques, you can teach them not to go bonkers every time they see another pooch. It’ll take some effort and commitment on your part, but it’s worth it for everyone’s sake. A calmer, more focused dog is a happier dog. And you’ll no longer dread those encounters during every walk or trip to the park. So give those training tips a go, be consistent, reward the good behaviour, and you’ll both get there in the end. Walks will become fun again. Just remember – stay calm, be kind but firm with your furry friend. You’ve got this!