How do I train my dog to be calm around strangers?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

To train your dog to be calm around strangers, there are several steps you can take. I’ll provide a detailed explanation of each method below:

1. Calm Both of Yourselves Down: Dogs can pick up on their owner’s emotions, so it’s important to stay calm and relaxed when encountering strangers. Take deep breaths and use a calm tone of voice, as this can help to alleviate any anxiety your dog may be feeling.

2. Distract Them: If your dog tends to get anxious or excited around strangers, try distracting them with a toy or treat. This will redirect their attention away from the stranger and onto something positive. Gradually decrease the reliance on treats as your dog becomes more comfortable.

3. Isolation Works: If your dog becomes overly anxious or aggressive around strangers, consider keeping them in a separate room or crate when visitors come over. This allows them to observe from a safe distance and gradually become more comfortable with the presence of strangers.

4. Leash as the Last Option: Using a leash can help you maintain control of your dog in situations where they may become anxious or reactive. However, it’s important to use a leash as a last resort and not rely on it as a long-term solution. Leashes can sometimes amplify a dog’s anxiety, so it’s best to work on training and socialization to address the underlying issue.

5. Keeping Control of Things (Not Your Dog): When introducing your dog to strangers, it’s essential to have control over the environment. This means setting boundaries and managing the situation to ensure both your dog and the stranger feel safe. For example, you can ask the stranger to approach slowly and avoid making direct eye contact with your dog, as this can be perceived as a threat.

6. Work on Their Greetings: Teach your dog a polite greeting behavior, such as sitting or staying calm when someone approaches. Practice this behavior with friends or family members first, gradually building up to encounters with strangers. Reward your dog for remaining calm during greetings to reinforce the desired behavior.

7. Reinforce Good Behavior: Whenever your dog exhibits calm behavior around strangers, be sure to praise and reward them. Positive reinforcement, such as treats or verbal praise, can help to reinforce the idea that being calm around strangers is a positive experience.

Remember, training takes time and patience. Be consistent in your approach and gradually expose your dog to different people and situations. Seek the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist if your dog’s anxiety or aggression persists despite your efforts.

I hope these tips help you in training your dog to be calm around strangers. Good luck!