If you’re like most dog owners, you probably want your furry friend to be well-behaved around strangers. After all, it’s not uncommon for dogs to bark or even lunge at people they don’t know. But this behavior can be dangerous, both for your dog and for the people they’re interacting with.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to train your dog to ignore strangers. With a little patience and consistency, you can help your furry friend feel more comfortable around new people.
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DMT dog training
The perfect training method to ignore strangers is DMT dog training. DMT stands for distraction, mark, treat.
DMT dog training works as followed:
Whenever your dog is distracted by a stranger, mark the behavior with a clicker or a verbal cue like “yes” or ”sit”. Only when your dog ignores the stranger give your dog a treat.
The key to this method is to only mark when your dog is paying attention to the stranger and treat when your dog turns the attention towards you.
Eventually, your dog will learn to ignore strangers in 3 levels.
First level (no cues learned yet): When you start with DMT training, your dog has not associated any cue with the act of ignoring strangers. So you will start by marking any time your dog barks/lunges at a stranger. When your dog stops barking/lunging your reward your dog with a treat.
Second level (Ignores strangers on command): Your dog will associate the mark with a positive stimulus (the treat). This wil make your dog ignore strangers based on the mark/command.
Third level (ignores strangers automatically). Your dog will learn that when he/she stops barking/lunging to a stranger is rewarded with a treat. This will make your dog independent from you to ignore strangers.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when using the DMT method:
- Be sure to click or mark the behavior as soon as your dog starts paying attention to the stranger. If you wait too long, your dog may not understand what they’re being rewarded for.
- Only give your dog the treat when they turn their attention back to you. If you give the treat while they’re still paying attention to the stranger, they may think they’re being rewarded for that behavior.
- Be consistent with your commands and rewards. If you vary too much, your dog may become confused and less likely to respond to the training.
Conditioned Emotional Response training
CER training, or Conditioned Emotional Response training, is a method that is based on the principle of Pavlovian conditioning.
In essence, CER training works by teaching your dog to associate strangers with positive experiences. Every time your dog sees a stranger, you’ll give them a treat or praise them for good behavior. Over time, your dog will learn to associate strangers with positive experiences and be less likely to bark or lunge at them.
This training method is very similar to DMT training. The difference is that, with CER training, you’re not just rewarding your dog for ignoring the stranger. You’re also rewarding them for good behavior around strangers.
Another key difference is not using a marker like a clicker or a verbal cue. Although this may seem easier to train, it will be more difficult for your dog to understand the connection between the stranger and the positive experience.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when using CER training:
- Be sure to give your dog the treat or praise as soon as they perform positive behavior. If you wait too long, your dog may not understand what they’re being rewarded for.
- Only give your dog the treat or praise when they’re calm and not paying attention to the stranger. If you give the treat while they’re still excited or anxious, they may think they’re being rewarded for that behavior.
- Like DMT training, consistency is key. If you vary too much, your dog may become confused and less likely to respond to the training.
- This method may take longer to train than DMT training because you’re not just rewarding your dog for ignoring the stranger. You’re also rewarding them for good behavior around strangers.
What to avoid when your training your dog to ignore strangers
Now you have 2 training methods that you can use to teach your dog to ignore strangers. But there are a few things you’ll want to avoid if you want your training to be successful.
Teaching your dog to ignore strangers doesn’t have to be difficult. By using the DMT or CER training methods, you can teach your dog to associate strangers with positive experiences. And by avoiding common training mistakes, you can set your dog up for success. So what are you waiting for? Start training today!