Taking your dog out for a walk or to play at the dog park can be a lot of fun. But if your dog just won’t seem to leave other dogs alone and constantly invades their personal space, both activities can be an issue. Whether your dog hates other dogs or likes them a little too much, barking and lunging against the leash can turn the trip into a real trial. And it may not make you too popular with your fellow pet owners, either. If your dog just can’t get near other dogs without flipping out, you must learn how to train your dog to avoid other dogs. Or, at the very least, to keep their cool around them.
How Can I Train My Dog to Ignore Other Dogs?
Several tried and true dog training methods encourage your pup to stay away from other dogs. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.
As you may have already figured, tugging on your dog’s leash doesn’t do much good. After all, from your dog’s perspective, the presence of those other dogs is of the utmost importance. If you don’t recognize how important it is, then your dog probably feels the need to show you. The knee method may be more effective than tugging on the leash. Just follow these instructions:
- Bring along some of your favorite dog treats when you take them for a walk.
- Keep your dog on a short leash so you can quickly get close when you need to and not use a retractable leash. That would backfire on you.
- When your dog reacts to another dog, put your knee against their body, on the side closest to the other dog.
- Apply gentle pressure with your knee, redirecting your dog away from the stranger dog. Your dog is used to you tugging on the leash, but body contact is a very different thing. Dogs are primed to respond to physical contact, which is a more effective way of getting your dog’s attention.
- Once your dog settles down and starts paying attention to you instead of the other dog, it’s treat time!
This training may take a few weeks before your dog starts behaving better around other dogs. Just have some patience, and you should eventually see the results you are looking for. Once you do, you can start giving your dog a little more leash when walking.
The “Watch me” method is an excellent alternative to the Knee method but is less ideal for dogs with trouble focusing.
- Get some of your dog’s favorite treats.
- Take your dog outside into your backyard, where there will be some distractions, but not too many.
- Whenever your dog starts barking at a squirrel, follows an exciting scent, or does anything else that fills their attention, give the “Watch me” command.
- If your dog turns their attention away from what they were doing and toward you, reward them with a treat. Do not punish your dog if they don’t respond the way you want.
- Keep this training up for a few days until your dog reliably starts paying attention to you at the “Watch me” command.
- Once you feel comfortable that your dog has the basics of this command, it’s time for a more significant test. Put some treats in your pocket and take your doggy pal for a walk. Stay close to home at first, and try to go through areas where you’re unlikely to run into many other dogs, like the dog park.
- Stay watchful. You need to recognize the moment your dog first notices another dog before they start reacting to that other dog.
- Once you recognize that moment, give the “Watch me” command and take out a treat.
- Keep repeating this process until your dog shows that they can walk by other dogs without getting too worked up.
- Once you reach that point, take your dog for longer walks and to places where there are more dogs.
This method might get faster results, though it requires assistance from your dog owner friends!
- Invite a bunch of friends with dogs for a little get-together to help train your dog.
- Have everyone stand in line with their dogs by their sides, on short leashes.
- Put your dog on a leash.
- Walk your dog past the row of other dogs. Alternately, have the other dogs brought up to your dog one at a time.
- Every time your dog lunges or barks at the other dogs, say “No,” and make them sit. Once they sit and stop barking, give them a treat.
- Keep doing this for about half an hour or so.
- Repeat the process a few times every week.
- Once your dog starts consistently behaving at these dog parties, try taking them out for a walk to test how well they do with strange dogs in the real world.
You can take action before taking your canine companion around other dogs that don’t involve training methods. Let’s look at some alternative strategies that can help your dog not be as bothered by other dogs.
If your dog is overexcited, it usually means that they are a high-energy dog. If you are going to a playdate or the dog park, try taking your dog for a walk, jog, or run first. This way, they can get rid of excess energy before coming into direct contact with other dogs.
Learning your dog’s threshold is a great way to understand how close they can be to a dog before losing all focus. Staying just beyond this point and keeping their attention is a great way to keep your pup’s focus on you – not the exciting, strange dog in the distance. Over time, move closer to the other dogs while keeping your dogs attention on you by playing with them, petting them, and giving them positive reinforcement. This will help your dog understand that simply being in close proximity to another dog is not a reason to lose their minds.
Getting Professional Help
If you’ve tried different training methods and your dog isn’t improving, it may be time to call in a professional. Dog training isn’t easy; some dogs are especially difficult to train, especially if you have a hyperactive or aggressive dog. A professional dog trainer may be able to succeed even with the most problematic cases. It shouldn’t cost too much, and you’ll end up with a calmer, happier dog who is much easier to take out in public.
Alternatively, you can train your dog yourself with some instruction. Consider this free workshop from the K9 Training Institute, which has some great free tips on addressing dog behavioral issues. (Sponsored Link.)