Teaching a dog to ignore distractions like other dogs is important for teaching obedience. How can you teach a dog to ignore other dogs?
To teach your dog to ignore other dogs, you will need to train them to make eye contact with you and walk politely on a leash. This training will help you get your dog’s attention when they start to become distracted by other dogs.
In this article, I will give you the exact steps that you need to follow to teach your dog to ignore other dogs. We will discuss why this training is necessary, as well as how to communicate to your dog when it is okay for them to socialize with other dogs. Finally, we will talk about how to control your dog while on walks. This will be important for you to have a handle on during walks where your dog will be tempted by other dogs.
I have owned and loved dogs for my entire life. I understand how frustrating it can be to have your dog become fixated on another dog while out for a walk. In certain situations, your dog needs to be able to turn their focus from distractions toward you. I have researched and taught dogs to do this, and I hope that I can pass on some information to you here.
How Do You Teach Your Dog To Ignore Other Dogs?
Teaching your dog to ignore other dogs is an important part of obedience training. Other dogs are a huge distraction and can cause your dog to forget or ignore your commands if they are particularly interested. By teaching your dog to ignore other dogs while out and about, you can keep your dog from annoying other walkers, interrupting training, or getting into a fight with another dog.
The process for teaching your dog to ignore other dogs involves teaching a few habits. Specifically, you will want to teach your dog how to pay attention to you and how to walk politely on a leash. With proper training, your dog will be able to pass by other dogs without reacting, which is the ultimate goal.
Start Training Away From Other Dogs
The most important part of this kind of training is to do it away from other dogs. You will want to be sure that you can gain your dog’s attention when there are no distractions before adding other dogs to the equation. Start your training inside your home or in an enclosed private yard if you have access to one.
Teach Your Dog To Pay Attention To You
You will want to start by teaching your dog to pay attention to you. The most important part of this step is teaching your dog a command that indicates that they should look at you. Once your dog is paying attention to you, you can give them any other command that you want. This will be essential to master for when you bring your dog around distractions like other dogs.
To teach this command, you will need to give your dog positive reinforcement when they look at you. You can do this by holding a treat up to your face. When your dog makes eye contact with you, give them the treat and praise. Continue doing this until your dog makes eye contact with you before looking at the treat.
Once you get to this point, you can start to pair the action with a command. You can choose whatever you like as your command. Whatever you choose, be sure to give the command as you hold the treat up while continuing to give positive reinforcement when they make eye contact.
Keep practicing this until your dog does the command without needing a treat. Then, you can practice giving the command in different environments and around distractions like other dogs and people.
Teach Your Dog Polite Leash Walking
Next, you will need to teach your dog how to walk politely on a leash. Once they learn this and have mastered the command for paying attention to you, they will be able to go out in public without being distracted by other dogs.
To teach your dog to walk politely on a leash, you will just give them the command to pay attention to you while you are walking. As you are walking with your dog, keep them on a tight leash so that they are right next to you. Carry a bag of small treats and give one to your dog every few minutes. This will keep your dog close to you and looking toward you for treats.
If you notice your dog getting distracted by anything, give them the command to pay attention to you. Once they turn and make eye contact with you, give them a treat and plenty of positive reinforcement.
It may take a lot of practice for your dog to walk politely on a leash. Be sure to practice these techniques and training during every walk that you take with your dog. With time, your dog will instinctively walk next to you and look toward you during walks, even without treats.
Practice With Distractions
Now that you know you can get your dog’s attention and you know that they can walk politely on a loose leash, you can practice your training while around distractions. Do this by taking your dog for walks in different locations. Make sure you have multiple routes that take you through different environments so that your dog can get used to all kinds of distractions.
Some examples of places to practice include:
- Routes that have a lot of other dogs. This is the best way to have your dog practice ignoring other dogs. Dogs have a way of communicating with each other that makes them want to approach each other. If your dog can continue ignoring dogs when there are a lot of them around, then they are showing success in their training.
- Routes through parks with other animals like bunnies or squirrels. Small animals like bunnies and squirrels are very distracting to dogs, especially breeds with a high prey drive. If your dog can ignore these types of animals, then they will be much more likely to ignore other dogs as well.
- Routes through cities or urban areas with a lot of other people. Cities have so many unique smells and things to be distracted by. If your dog can make it through a walk in a crowded urban area without getting distracted, then they will be sure to ignore other dogs while out and about.
The more distractions your dog encounters while walking, the better they will be at ignoring them.
Why You Need Your Dog To Ignore Other Dogs
Teaching your dog to ignore other dogs is an important part of obedience. A big part of this training is teaching your dog to pay attention to you as their owner, which is important for teaching them other commands and practicing recall. This helps your dog become better trained and safe.
Some dogs do not react well to other dogs. While out and about, if your dog comes across a dog that doesn’t like yours, your dog should ignore them. If your dog decides to lunge at an unfriendly dog, they could get into a fight and end up injuring each other.
Ultimately, it is best for both you and your dog if they can ignore other dogs while out on walks. This shows that you have a strong bond with your dog and that they listen to and respect you.
How To Teach Your Dog When It Is Okay To Socialize
Generally, your dog should understand at this point to ignore other dogs while on walks. They will probably understand that while they are off-leash at a dog park, they can interact and socialize with other dogs.
There are times, however, while out and about that it is okay for your dog to socialize with another dog while still on a leash. The important part of this interaction is that your dog knows to ignore the other dog at first. You want your dog to have some social interaction with other dogs, just when it is appropriate. Therefore, you should find a way to let them know it is okay to socialize with another dog while out on a walk.
While on a walk with your dog, practice polite leash walking skills. Give them treats and communicate with them so they know to stay by you and not get distracted. If you pass another dog on the sidewalk that you want your dog to ignore, simply have them look at you and give them a treat while passing.
If you come across a friendly dog that you want your dog to socialize with, simply stop walking and don’t give your dog the command to look at you. They may stop for a moment and wait for you to give the command. When you don’t give the command after a few moments, they will realize that it is okay for them to socialize with this dog. Let them sniff each other and play if they want. When it is time to continue your walk, give them the command for looking at you, then continue.
Like everything else, it may take time for your dog to learn that this behavior is okay. The more you practice, the more comfortable your dog will become.
How To Control Your Dog While On Walks
When you start this training with your dog, they will not know how to walk politely on a leash. They will likely get distracted by other dogs, people, and unique smells. In the training steps, we recommended keeping your dog on a tight leash to keep them close to you. Some dogs will understand quickly that they shouldn’t pull on the leash. Others, however, will not understand this right away.
If your dog is pulling hard on the leash that is attached to their collar, your dog could end up hurting themselves. By putting a lot of pressure on their neck, your dog could cause a major injury. Many people in this situation will choose to get a harness for their dog to take the pressure off of their neck. We do not recommend buying a collar that hurts the dog when they pull, as this can lead to further injury rather than helping the situation.
A traditional harness has a leash attachment on the back of the dog, while the harness wraps around the dog’s front shoulders. Harnesses are difficult for your dog to get out of, and don’t hurt your dog. For some dogs, the harness provides a way for them to pull even harder. Since the leash is attached closer to the dog’s center of gravity, they can put more of their strength toward pulling. You may need to use some strength to hold your dog when they are wearing a harness, but at least they are no longer hurting themselves.
If your dog is continuing to pull very hard toward distractions while wearing a traditional harness, you may need to consider an alternative. One option is a harness that clips in two locations. You will need a double-ended leash to use with this type of harness. The first end of the leash attaches to the dog’s back, just like with a traditional harness. However, the other end of the leash attaches to the dog’s chest.
When your dog wears this kind of harness, you have much more control over them. If you pull on the end of the leash that is attached to the front of your dog, you can easily stop them and force them to turn toward you. One of my dogs is extremely easily distracted while on walks. We are still working on learning polite leash walking. This harness and leash combination has helped me gain control of my dog when a collar or traditional harness would not have worked.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright