You can train your dog by teaching it to sit in a fixed spot when meeting a stranger. You can also play “ignore” with a friend and treat the dog afterward. Another way to train is to maintain distance from strangers, or you can play distraction so that your dog stays away from strangers.
It is pretty normal for dogs to bark at strangers or run up to them. But this gesture is not always friendly, especially if the other person is terrified of dogs. Besides, if not controlled or trained, this behavior can worsen over time. That’s why many people wonder how to train my dog to ignore strangers?
So how do you make your buddy behave? I have prepared this article to guide you through a few simple steps to train your dog to avoid strangers.
Related Reading: How To Train A Dog To Speak That Won’t Bark?
How To Train Dogs To Ignore Strangers?
I always wondered how to train my dog to ignore strangers and found a few very effective methods. You can also try the following and see if that helps train your dog.
1. The Distraction Method
Whether at home or outside with your dog, always carry treats and the dog’s favorite toy. When you notice the dog is approaching a stranger or going to bark, use the toy as a distraction to keep the dog busy. Then you can offer treats as a reward.
2. The Attention Method
It would be best to begin this at home and practice calling your dog by its name. Once your dog responds to your attention, reward them. Do it for a few days until your dog gets used to this. It will help divert your dog’s attention from strangers when you do it around people.
3. The Ignore Method
You can ask a friend to come over, and when the dog acts up upon your friend’s arrival, both of you should ignore the bark. Do not even look at the dog and wait for them to calm down.
And once your dog calms down, let your “stranger” friend reward them with treats. If the dog barks again, withdraw the reward and repeat the process after the dog calms down. You can try it with a few friends until it takes effect.
4. Sit And Stay Method
You need to practice this at home with your dog. Use your focus words like “sit” and “stay” to make your dog sit and stay in its spot. Then give your dog treats for behaving. Once the dog learns to follow this command, you can make them stay away from strangers and ignore them.
5. The Prevention Method
Do you leave your dogs inside the house when you are not at home? If you do, you can close the curtains and blinds before you leave. Preventing the dog from seeing the mailman or delivery guy can slow down the barking habit.
6. Take Trips
Dogs can be triggered by strangers if they are not used to them. Taking a trip to the city is highly effective. Seeing so many people will make your dog excited. But at one point, the urge to greet strangers will become tiring, and the behavior will fade slowly.
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Things You Should Not Do When Training Your Dog
Training any animal is not easy, especially around the beginning. Some owners mistake doing things that they should never do when trying to change the dog’s behavior. So here are a few things that you should not do if you want to train your dog to avoid people.
Your paw buddy is much like a human baby. You cannot teach the dog a new thing without being patient with him or her. As an owner, it is your job to be patient through the journey and not give up. You both need time to get used to this new habit.
Do Not Yell
Never yell at your dog if he/she is barking at a stranger or approaching them excitedly. Fear can trigger them in various ways. And it will make training them more difficult and can also trigger their aggressive behaviors.
Do Not Punish
As pet parents, we often use a little “punishment” to prevent them from doing things. But you cannot always do that. Punishing dogs when they approach strangers can end up making them afraid.
Do Not Pull/Force
It is a mistake to think that you can pull your dog by force if they are trying to approach a stranger. Doing such a thing often makes them more excited and causes more damage than good.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How can I keep my dog from approaching people while off-leash?
If your dog is not trained and gets excited upon seeing strangers, it will be nearly impossible to control them when off-leash. But if the dog is trained and follows your command, you can make the dog sit or stay calm and give him treats afterward.
Q. At what age do dogs start barking at strangers?
A dog’s natural impulse makes it bark at strangers from a very young age. But it becomes a habit or automatic reaction by the time the dog turns 5-8 months old. If they are not trained on time, they pick up the habit and bark on instinct.
Q. How do I calm my dog down around strangers?
Rather than calming the dog around strangers, it is best to calm it before the situation. For example, if you are having someone new in your house, you can keep the dog in a crate. You can put the leash on him/her to maintain distance from the guests and offer rewards for staying calm.
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As a dog parent, it is not uncommon to wonder and ask how to train my dog to ignore strangers. Animals act on instinct, and many of them act around strangers often. Your job is to ensure it does not turn into a habit, and the best way to do it is to train the dog.
But remember that nothing will change overnight. You need to give the dog as much time as needed to change the habit. Don’t forget to give the dog treats as rewards to encourage good behaviors.