If you’re seeking advice on how to train a dog to ignore strangers, you can look no further. It can be challenging for excited pups to walk right by when they see someone unfamiliar, but reacting to every stranger will be exhausting for both you and your dog. Here’s how to train your dog to stop barking and ignore strangers.
How to Train a Dog to Ignore Strangers
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Why Do Dogs Bark at Strangers?
There are a few reasons why dogs bark at strangers. They may bark in public because they’re excited about a potential new friend and want to greet the person, or they might be concerned or worried about a stranger approaching. Barking at strangers can often be a reaction because of fear or anxiety. Dogs who bark at strangers from their homes or yards may feel the need to be protective of their humans or territory for some reason.
Tips on How to Train a Dog to Ignore Strangers
Training your dog to ignore strangers will make things like public outings with your dog much more pleasant. Enjoying a day in the park or walking down the street without your dog reacting to everyone you see will make being out and about with your dog a breeze. Follow these tips on how to train your dog to ignore strangers.
Socialize Your Dog in a Controlled Environment
Socializing your dog in a controlled environment is a great way to expose them to other people or dogs in a way that won’t cause either extreme panic or extreme excitement. Having a friend come over and work with you in your house or yard and act as a “stranger” to practice with. Since this is someone your dog probably already knows, they’ll be able to focus on the task of following your cues to practice ignoring a person instead of worrying about who they are.
Use Real World Situations as Training Opportunities
Using real-world situations as training opportunities to train your dog to ignore strangers is a helpful and useful strategy. It allows them to practice focusing on you and following your lead even with distractions present. An example of a real-world learning opportunity might be walking them down the street and passing a neighbor or even someone walking another dog. It’s also important to train your dog to ignore other dogs. Since these are the types of scenarios your dog will encounter all the time, it’s a great way to exercise the behavior of ignoring strangers.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Using positive reinforcement is the best way to reward your dog and encourage the behavior you want to continue to see. In the case of training your dog to ignore a stranger, offering a treat and/or verbal praise when they successfully disregard an individual in passing will show them that’s the behavior you expect. Since the reward makes your dog more likely to repeat the behavior, give them the reward as soon as they perform the desired behavior so that they immediately associate what they’ve just done with praise.
Teach Your Dog What to Do When They See a Stranger
Since reacting is something you don’t want your dog to do, it’s important to teach them what you want them to do when they see a stranger. Following the strategy of positive reinforcement, you want to reward the new behavior instead of punishing or scolding your dog’s negative behavior. Teaching your dog to ignore a stranger will be the new behavior that replaces reacting or barking when they see a stranger. Reward your dog for walking past a stranger when you’re out in public, or for staying put when a stranger (or your friend as the practice stranger) walks by the backyard.
Get Help from a Professional Dog Trainer
Getting help from a professional dog trainer to help train your dog to ignore strangers can save a lot of time and frustration. It’s not always easy being a dog parent, and training a dog takes a lot of time, energy, and patience as well as commitment. It’s a huge benefit to you and your dog to get some expert advice when it comes to training.
While you know your dog best, expert trainers like Lisa Gallegos know training best. Lisa works with Pettable Academy to utilize the best strategies for training your dog and provides them to you in an easily accessible format.
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Pettable’s online dog training courses help take the guesswork out of training your dog. Whether you’re working on basic dog training commands or you want to train your dog to be a psychiatric service dog, Pettable’s programs are designed to be self-paced and completed from the comfort of home. Our online courses are created by expert certified dog trainers who are passionate about helping dog owners and their four-legged friends be successful in training every step of the way.