How to Train Your Dog to Ignore Other Dogs

How to Train Your Dog to Ignore Other Dogs
Hard difficulty iconHard
Time icon4-8 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

First, let's set the scene: you and your pup are walking along the sidewalk and everything is peaceful and relaxed. Suddenly, up ahead another person is coming your way with their pup. Your dog starts to bark excitedly and lunges towards the other dog. Not only is this type of behavior unseemly, it could lead to someone or someone's furry friend becoming seriously injured.

Now let's look at it from a different perspective. You and your pup are walking along as above, but this time your dog calmly walks by your side as the other pair walk by on their side of the sidewalk. Doesn't this seem like a much better scene? It can be yours as long as you are willing to put in the time to train your dog to ignore other dogs. You can teach a dog of any age to behave in this manner as long as they are old enough to have mastered the basic commands. 

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Defining Tasks

In this case, you are training your dog to behave in a specific manner under certain circumstances rather than teaching him a new task or chore. While you may need to use some form of command word in the beginning, the intention is for your dog to ignore other dogs without having to be told. This is a very important behavior for your dog to learn as you need to be able to take for walks without worrying about his behavior. If you can't do this, it becomes far too easy for your dog to not get the exercise he needs.

You should teach your dog to ignore as young as possible, preferably while you are training him to walk on a leash. But at the same time, you can train an older dog to behave on walks, it might just take a little more time.  No matter what age your pup happens to be, learning to behave around other dogs could save him from serious injury or worse if he ends up in a fight.

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Getting Started

Not much is needed in the way of supplies when it comes to training your dog to ignore other dogs. But more than anything else, you will need the time to go for walks every day and preferably more than once each day.  But you will need these things:

  • Leash: For when you go for a walk.
  • Treats:  For when your dog behaves.
  • Time: Time for two or three 15-minute walks every day.
  • Patience: Your pup is going to get it wrong at first, be patient and never punish him for getting it wrong

Remember, training your dog to ignore other dogs is more about time and patience than anything else. Also, the more you jerk on the leash, the more excited your pup will become. The calmer you remain, the more quickly your pup will calm down and back off. 

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The Attention and Reward Method

Most Recommended

10 Votes

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Most Recommended

10 Votes

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1

Before you go

Before you go out for a walk, call your dog by his name. If he looks at you give him a treat.

2

Repeat the process

Do this several times around the house over the next few days until he always looks up at you when you call his name.

3

Distance walks first

Start walking your dog at a distance from other dogs. Note when first notices them and call his name. When he looks at you, give him a treat.

4

Slowly get a little closer

Start working your way closer to other dogs using the same method. Rewards if he behaves, move further back out if he doesn't and start again.

5

Keep going

Keep working closer until you and your dog can pass by others at close quarters without your having to worry about your pup misbehaving.

The Nudge Method

Effective

6 Votes

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Effective

6 Votes

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1

Go for a walk

Start by taking your dog out for a walk around the neighborhood.

2

Remain calm

As you walk, remain calm and relaxed. Your pup can sense this and will behave in the same manner.

3

No pull

If your dog starts to lunge towards another dog, do not pull on the leash, this will only make him pull harder.

4

Nudge him

Instead of pulling on the leash, anticipate the behavior and using your knee gently nudge your pup in the side to distract him. If he settles down, give him a treat.

5

Sharp tugs are better

If he doesn't back down, you may need to give the leash a short sharp tug to get his attention while calling his name. Reward him for good behavior.

6

Keep trying

It can take a few weeks for your dog to fully accomplish the change in behavior you are trying to teach him, be patient, it will happen.

The Friend Method

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5 Votes

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1

Talk to a friend

Have several of your friends agree to bring their dogs over for training sessions.

2

Bring your pup in

Find a large area where you can put your pup on a leash and stand with him.

3

Conga-line time

Have your friends line up spaced about 20 feet apart with their dogs on leashes.

4

Ready, set, go

One by one, have your friends walk their dogs past where you and your pup are standing.

5

Each time he lunges

Each time your pup lunges towards the other dog tell him "No!" and make him sit. When he does, give him a treat.

6

Keep the line going

Keep the conga-line moving around in a big circle for training sessions of at least thirty minutes each day or at least several times a week. Once he has mastered this, you should be able to take him for walks in public and expect the same behavior.

By PB Getz

Published: 10/19/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Baldur

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Leonberger

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Eight Months

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Question

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So I have a 8 month old Leonberger puppy, he was always very friendly with other dogs and people, but now that he is in his adolescence, he is more excited. It became a real problem because he ignores everything, people,cars, motorcycles…. But dogs oh man he loves them, and he pulls a lot only for going to meet them, he even barks and cry. I know that he should be desensitized but everyone fear him, and we don’t have other dogs to help him. Everyone says that he eventually near his 12 month he will calm down, but I don’t know, he seems too much over excited.

Aug. 16, 2022

Baldur's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, You are correct that he needs to work on desensitization, but that can be hard to do when you don't have others to practice with. In cases like these, you usually need to work with a trainer who has access to lots of other dogs, like a training group that does board and train also, has multiple trainers on staff with their own dogs to desensitize him around, or a class such as G.R.O.W.L., which is specifically designed for dogs who are reactive or aggressive with other dogs, to desensitize and socialize them with each other in a structured environment with safety measures in place. It doesn't sound like he is aggressive, but it does sound like he may be reactive - which looks like aggression but once pup is close to the other dog they are happy and fine. A G.R.O.W.L. class will be your least expensive option if there is one in your area, compared to private or board and train. You can also work on structured obedience, so that he will listen to your commands better when distracted too. Structured obedience even at home an help build respect for you in a calm way, so he is also more likely to respond to you while in public places. You will need to start the exercises at home and work up to distractions like people and dogs gradually, a bit at a time, instead of just instantly trying to get him to Come around another dog on day one. Prioritize the Heel training with the Turns method, Come, Leave It., and Quiet also. Heeling with the Turns method - starting somewhere dog free at first and gradually working up to distractions as he improves: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Leave It method - which can be started with treats, then better food, then toys and movement - until pup works up to enough self-control to practice in real life situations. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Come - I would do this exercise in a fenced area since pup is strong and reactive, eventually working up to also practice the Premack Principle on a long training leash. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-to-come-when-called/ Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Watch Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zeZrOPzO-c Energy will often decrease with age but reactivity doesn't usually resolve itself with age. It's best addressed as early as possible for the best outcome with training and resolving it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Aug. 18, 2022

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amiri

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Xl bully

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4 Months

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Question

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when children or dogs are walking or running past she lunges to chase and play and if i dont allow her she starts barking and going crazy

June 30, 2022

amiri's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Carly, I would work on teaching Leave It and Desensitize to kids and other animals. I would see if your can recruit a friend with a nice dog, start with the other person having that dog just stand still a few feet away, work on getting pup to look at you and away from that dog, then reward. In the video below you will see pup being rewarded for not reacting to the skateboard; in your case, reward for pup ignoring the other dog. As pup improves, have your helper start playing with their dog, slowly at first, pausing to help pup look back at you and ignore the excitement of their game. As your pup improves, work up to the helper playing things like fetch or practicing stay and recall with their dog, so the dog is running back and forth. Work up to this slowly, over several sessions, to pup can gain the attention span needed to focus on you instead of the other dog. Once pup is good with the other dog running around, recruit a different friend or a family with kids to practice the same thing with the kids running around or another dog moving around, starting again with the helper and dog simply standing nearby and working up to running. Desensitizing to movement example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpscjDrz8tg&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=46 Pulling on leash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfYjZTr_XeI&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=41 Leave It from the beginning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re66qOiso28&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=31 Using Leave It in public: https://wagwalking.com/admin/training_guides/trainingguidequestion/13340/change/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

July 1, 2022


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