Weird one for you: My dog barks at me when I play Ring Fit Adventure. To be honest, he barks at people passing by in the street, the doorbell, other dogs, but usually he leaves us in peace when we watch TV or play games. I don't know why this one bothers him, but it has made the game unplayable for me.
You have written in to the correct Joyconjurer: I was a professional dog trainer for years.
I see a number of red flags here, and I want to ask about a thousand questions. How old is the dog? What is the dog's history? Does the dog eat people food? Does the dog sleep in your bed? Does the dog pull when you walk them? Does the dog eat all of their food at once or do they leave some in the bowl? Does the dog jump on people? Has the dog ever bit, air snapped, or growled?
You might look at that list and think it has nothing to do with a dog barking at Ring Fit Adventure, but dogs are complex. Like people, their behaviors aren't rooted in one specific thing but the result of various overlapping systems, experiences, personality traits, and quirks. It is hard to solve a specific problem without diagnosing or treating the systemic roots of that problem. Because dogs have limited lingual-brains, they communicate their needs through action, body language, and how they retain or rescind ownership of space. In fact, most of what we think of as bad behavior in dogs is rooted in anxiety, which can stem from a variety of seemingly independent factors.
Most of us love our pets and want the best for them. We recognize their importance to the texture of our lives, but because we don't "speak dog," we are often oblivious to the ways our animals may be suffering. This is not at all meant to shame! The fact is, we don't live in a culture that prioritizes understanding our pets or one that makes the resources to do so widely accessible.
Additionally, society often signals that our dog's behavior is a reflection of us. This makes us slow to engage with a problem because our brains suddenly equate our dog's issue with the idea that we're "bad owners." Our brains would rather avoid and dismiss the idea. "Sure, the barking whenever someone passes by the house is annoying, but it doesn't seem dangerous or like something that needs attention." We put it off or simply don't engage. Once more I want to stress: this is normal and not something to feel guilty about.
Now that you have some information, though, you can act!
Your dog could be barking at you for playing Ring Fit Adventure for a number of reasons: If they are a rescue and suffered abuse, something about your movements might remind them of the abuse. They might think of the ring as a toy to play with, or they might not understand their role in your household, assuming they are in charge of toys and be upset that you seem to be in charge of this one. It makes me wonder if they bark at you when you pull out one of their chew toys or when you feed them. All of this could be a sign of latent aggression, which is something you definitely want to start managing.
Of course, all of that is speculation. I'm not present to witness the behavior first-hand, and I don't have all of the data. My main recommendation would be to seek out a professional who can meet the dog, gather the data, and formulate a plan of action. Barking at Ring Fit Adventure is a symptom of larger issues and not something you should ignore. That I can assure you.
I understand that resources are a problem for many of us, and as such, I invite you to write me back and answer my initial questions. If the issues seem manageable, I can suggest some possible tactics to help reduce your dog's overall anxiety and hopefully treat this problem. If I hear more that raises alarm, I might still direct you to find a local trainer.
I invite everyone to take a moment and think about your pets, without shame or self-blame. I'll be available in the comments for additional questions.
As always, you can also send your quandaries to [email protected]. I look forward to hearing from you!