How to Train Your Dog to Be Calm Around Other Dogs

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Dogs are pack animals. They are highly social animals that crave the attention and company of others, especially others of their own kind, so it is natural for your dog to get excited around other dogs. But what happens when your dog gets so excited he becomes completely out of control around other dogs? A dog that barks, whines, jumps at, or runs at other dogs may not be welcome with the other dog. This can put your dog in danger of being attacked if the other dog does not want their personal space violated. Another issue that can develop occurs when excitement morphs into aggressive behavior, especially where fear and anxiety are involved, as is often the case with hyperactive, excited dogs. Pulling back on a dog that is trying to reach another dog just creates further tension, which escalates the behavior, as does yelling, which just adds to a negative energy level and excitement. Punishing your dog can create a negative association with other dogs, and lead to unwanted behaviors. How do your stop out of control behavior and teach your dog to be calm around other dogs?

Defining Tasks

When your dog sees or approaches another dog, you want him to behave in a calm, friendly, confident manner. It is natural for him to be interested in the other dog, but not to rush into the other dog’s space, or vocalize excessively, which another dog may perceive as threatening, and can result in aggression. Teaching your dog to be calm around other dogs and making meeting other dogs a pleasant experience may take some time and insight on your part, to address the underlying causes for your dog's excitement. Many dogs who get overexcited are actually anxious, and addressing anxiety issues may need to be part of training your dog to be calm. The methods used to gain control over your dog's behavior and socialize them are useful in many situations, and are well worth investing the time in so that your dog can interact safely with other dogs and in a variety of other situations.

Getting Started

You will need to be able to restrain and redirect your dog during training. Because an excited dog pulls when around the object of their excitement, in this case another dog, using a front clip harness that will help protect your dog’s neck during training may be advisable. You will also need to find other dogs to help teach your dog to be calm when in the presence of another dog. Find a mature, calm, well-balanced dog to help. A young dog is liable to respond to excitement with excitement, an unsure dog could become aggressive when approached by an over-excited dog and will not be beneficial to training. Have treats available to provide positive reinforcement for calm behaviors. During training, avoid letting your dog have access to other dogs when not in a training session, so that exited behavior does not occur, and is not reinforced.

The Calm Reaches the Goal Method

Most Recommended
7 Votes
Calm Reaches the Goal method for Be Calm Around Other Dogs
Step
1
Meet
Have a friend with a calm dog offer to assist you. Arrange to have your friend and their calm dog meet you while out on a walk. Put your dog on a leash and go for your walk to the arranged meeting place.
Step
2
Stop
When you see your friend and their dog from a distance, ask them to stop while your dog is still calm. Ask your dog to sit/stay.
Step
3
Retreat
Have the other dog approach.When your dog gets up and starts to act excited, your friend and the other dog should stop, turn around and walk away.
Step
4
Continue
Wait until your dog is calm again. When your dog is calm and sitting, your friend and the other dog can approach again. As long as your dog stays calm and sitting, the other dog can approach closer. If your dog gets up and acts excited, repeat step 3.
Step
5
Repeat
Repeat over a number of days until your dog learns that sitting calmly means the other dog will come over, while getting excited means the other dog will leave.
Recommend training method?

The Teach Sit and Stay Method

Effective
3 Votes
Teach Sit and Stay method for Be Calm Around Other Dogs
Step
1
Teach sit & stay or down & stay
Teach your dog to sit and stay or lay down and stay. Practice on and off leash.
Step
2
Trigger
Have a calm dog come over to your house or yard, or meet you on a walk. Put your dog on a leash prior to the dog entering the house or yard.
Step
3
Command
When the other dog enters, give your dog the down/stay command, use the leash to pull them to the side, not back, to direct them if necessary.
Step
4
Reward calm
When your dog is obeying the sit/stay or down/stay command, and is calm with the other dog present, give your dog a treat. Repeat in multiple sessions with different dogs, over several weeks, until your dog learns to calmly sit and stay or down and stay when a dog enters their home or yard, or when he encounters another dog on a walk.
Step
5
Reward calm with goal
After your dog is calm, call your dog over to meet the other dog.
Recommend training method?

The Teach “Get It” Method

Least Recommended
1 Vote
Teach “Get It” method for Be Calm Around Other Dogs
Step
1
Provide treats for get it command
Put treats on the ground in front of your dog’s nose and say “Get it”.
Step
2
Move reward
Start dropping treats beside you, and then behind you, and giving the “Get it” command, so your dog learns to look for, and get his treats behind you. Use a loose leash, do not direct your dog let him find the treats. Do this repeatedly until it becomes automatic for your dog to go look for treats behind you when you say “Get it”.
Step
3
Expand
Move the “get it” game to more distracting environments-- go outside. Perform the get it game frequently on walks.
Step
4
Introduce another dog
Have an assistant with a calm dog approach you. When you see the other dog from a distance, provide the “get it” command and give treats, your dog should move behind you to get his treats, this distracts him from the other dog, teaches him a different behavior rather than getting excited, and puts you between the other dog, which is the object of excitement, and your own dog, which will further distract your dog. Provide lots of high quality treats in small amounts to distract your dog and keep him focused on the get it game and not the other dog.
Step
5
Increase stimulus
Gradually move the “get it” game closer to the other dog, providing treats to distract your dog, and providing an alternate behavior, so he does not get excited by the other dog, but remains focused on his “get it” treat game. Repeat this exercise over several weeks, until your dog starts to look for his treats as soon as he sees another dog, and does not direct his excitement at the other dog.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Cooper
Cavapoochon
11 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Cooper
Cavapoochon
11 Months

When on a walk my dog barely listens to us and when he sees another dog no matter how close or far away he goes bonkers and becomes overly excited. What kind of training do we need to help us sort this as I’m scared he’s behaviour will get him attacked

Add a comment to Cooper's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Bella
Bull Terrier
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bella
Bull Terrier
4 Years

My dog is the most loving dog I just got her, she is great with people and kids. However, she may sometimes go crazy when she encounters another dog, she crys, screams or even barks. I try everything to calm her down. What steps should I do to help with her?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell her fear. First we reduce her fear around new dogs, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at other dogs to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear other dogs because of genetic reasons, lack of socialization, fights when they were puppies, or any scary (to the dog) interaction with other dogs. Sometimes having low thyroid levels contributes to unwanted canine behavior. During this time, avoid any punishment for reactivity. Doing so will make her concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate other dogs with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what she is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram her opinions of other dogs. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage (or somewhere out of the way if those two options aren't possible) with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time another dog comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at her (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell your dog "watch me" every time you see another dog approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see another dog, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with the other dog. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

Add a comment to Bella's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Rolly
German Shorthaired Pointer
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rolly
German Shorthaired Pointer
4 Months

For the first two months of having the puppy, we were in a remote area and so he didn't have opportunities to meet other dogs and people. We've now moved into the city and he gets very excited when seeing people and other dogs during our walks. He jumps up on people and invades the other dogs' space without saying hello first. I am working with him on the sit and stay commands at home and the sit command when outside, so that I use that technique when it's time for him to properly meet dogs. My issue is, that because i live in a city, it is very hard to avoid running into other dogs outside and getting close sometimes too. What would be the best course of action in this case, until he masters the commands and I can work with those? Would crossing the street to avoid other dogs, and keeping him away from other dogs at the park until then be counter-productive?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello! So the purpose of the sit and stay in these scenarios is to give their brains something else to do, as well as desensitize. Making the people and other dogs less exciting is the goal. So crossing the street isn't going to set you back. And I actually recommend starting at a farther distance, and then working your way closer to the stimulus as long as your dog is exhibiting calm behavior.

Add a comment to Rolly's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Jack
pitbull
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Jack
pitbull
3 Years

How do I teach Jack to listen to me in all situations?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
689 Dog owners recommended

Hello Vanessa, First, know that when it comes to obedience, training build on itself. There is Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Obedience. Basic is where dogs are initially taught the meaning of commands - but the training is usually practiced in just calmer environments like the classroom, your home, or yard. Intermediate is where pup practices the same commands primarily taught in Basic, but its practiced around distractions intentially - gradually working up to more and more distractions, like parks, a few people, crowds, other dogs, cats, small animals, food, ect...There training is still done on leash or on long training leashes though. Advanced Obedience is most of the same commands practiced around distractions but working pup to doing them around distractions off-leash though the use of fences and long training lines, gradually phasing out the need for a leash as pup improves. To have the type of reliability you want you need to look into teaching Intermediate and then Advanced Obedience - both require a lot of intentional practice, going places with pup to practice around distractions, using long training lines to enforce your commands consistently from further away, and hundreds of repetitions. One of the easiest ways to learn how to do this is to join a basic, then intermediate, then advanced off-leash training class. These classes still require you to take pup places to practice and do lots of repetitions but they will teach you in a hands-on way how to train pup while also showing pup the ropes. When choosing classes or looking for a trainer, if you go that route, look for someone who does off-leash level advanced obedience too - even if your dog is just needing basic to get started - that trainer will teach basic and intermediate with the goal off advanced in mind though, so the training builds on itself well. You can teach yourself to train pup, following trainers on Youtube who demonstrate and do off-leash training is one way to learn, articles like wagwalking.com/training can also help, especially for basic obedience - initially teaching the meaning of commands to pup. Here is one example of teaching a command as a basic level and progressing to advanced - with come: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Jack's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Freddie
Miniature Schnauzer
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Freddie
Miniature Schnauzer
2 Years

My dog whines really bad when he sees another dog

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Your dog needs to learn new behaviors to quell his fear. First we reduce his fear around new dogs, and then we begin adding cues such as “watch me” or “sit.” Research tells us that most leash reactivity is caused by fear, not by aggression. Dogs bark and lunge at other dogs to warn, “Go away! Go away!” Dogs fear other dogs because of genetic reasons, lack of socialization, fights when they were puppies, or any scary (to the dog) interaction with other dogs. Sometimes having low thyroid levels contributes to unwanted canine behavior. During this time, avoid any punishment for reactivity. Doing so will make his concerns even bigger. Dogs learn by making associations, and you want your dog to associate other dogs with pleasant things — never punishment. The first step is to reframe what an oncoming dog means to your dog. From a safe distance — your dog determines the distance, not you — have your leashed dog view another dog. As the new dog comes into view, drop a lot of enticing meat treats just in front of your dog’s nose. Ignore any hysterics for now, but back up and create more space if your dog is unwilling to eat. This part is hard for humans — I understand. It helps to see your dog’s behavior for what it most likely is: fear vs. disobedience. The training reinforcer MUST be a great one, such as real meat. It is critical that the appearance of the new dog causes meat to fall from the sky. When the other dog is out of your dog’s view, all treats stop. We want your dog to predict that other dogs near him means that YUMMY FOOD will appear! As you are reframing your dog’s opinion of seeing other leashed dogs, be careful where you take your dog, and be protective of what she is exposed to. One fight can create a reactive dog. Consider not walking your dog for 30 days as you reprogram her opinions of other dogs. Instead, sit on your front porch or in your garage (or somewhere out of the way if those two options aren't possible) with your dog on leash, and practice treating every time another dog comes into your dog’s line of sight. During this time, engage your dog’s mind with mind puzzles, obedience work, and fun stuff like games in the house or yard. You know you have made great progress when your dog sees another dog, and he turns his head away from the once-threatening dog and looks into your eyes, expecting a treat. Once your dog is looking at her (former) trigger and then looking expectantly up at you for a treat, you can begin to put this skill on cue. Tell your dog "watch me" every time you see another dog approaching. Your end goal is for your dog to see another dog, and remain calm, looking at you for guidance. And this will be either continuing your walk, or being allowed to interact with the other dog. Please let me know if you have additional questions. Thanks for writing in!

Add a comment to Freddie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd