How to Teach Your Dog to Ignore Other Dogs On Walks

Imagine this:

You and your doggo are walking along the sidewalk in peace and relaxed. Suddenly, another individual is coming your way also walking with their doggo. Your buddy saw his buddy and starts to bark excitedly and lunges toward the other dog.

Not only does this type of behavior is rude and inappropriate, it could lead to someone or someone’s buddy becoming seriously injured. Also, you surely do not know how the other dog will react with your buddy’s enthusiastic greeting and can return an aggressive behavior.

Now, let us look at it from a different perspective:

You and your doggy are walking along as above, however, this time your dog just calmly walks by your side totally ignoring the other pair as they also walk by on their side of the sidewalk.

Isn’t this a much better scene?

You can experience such scenario as long as you are willing to invest time in training your pup to ignore other dogs on walks. You can easily teach a canine friend of any age to behave in this manner as long as they are old enough to master basic commands.

You should teach your buddy to ignore other as young as possible, preferably when training him to walk on a leash. However, you can also train older dogs to behave in walks but will take a little longer. No matter what age your dog is, learning to behave while around other dogs can save him and the other dog from any serious injury or fights.

Training Your Dog to Ignore Other Dogs

There is no need for much supply when it comes to training your buddy to ignore others. Instead, you’ll need a lot of time to for walks every day and it is recommended if it is more than once a day.

You only need 4 things for this training:

  • Leash for walking
  • Treats for rewarding
  • Time for at least 2 – 3 15-minute walks each day
  • LOTS OF PATIENCE

Here are 3 methods to train your dog to ignore other dogs on walks:

THE ATTENTION – REWARD METHOD

  • Before going out for a walk, call your dog by his name. Give him a treat if he looks at you.
  • Repeat the process several times around the house for the next few days until he always looks at you when calling his name.
  • Try a distance walk first. Start walking your pup at a distance from other dogs. Now, when he notices them, call his name. Give him a treat if he looks at you.
  • Using the same method, start your way closer to other dogs. Give him a treat if he behaves or moves further back if he does not and start again.
  • Keep working closer until both of you can pass by others up close without you having to worry about your dog misbehaving.

THE FRIEND METHOD

  • Ask help from several of your friends and have them agree to bring their dogs over for a training session.
  • In a large area, put your dog on a leash and stand beside him.
  • Have your friends and their dogs line up with a space of 20 feet apart.
  • One by one, ask your friends to walk their dogs past to where you and your dog are standing.
  • Each time your dog lunges and barks at other dogs, tell him “NO” and command him to sit. If he does, then give him a treat.
  • Keep the line going for a training session of around 30 minutes every day or at least several times a week. Once your dog has mastered this, you can now take him to walks in a public space and expect the same behavior.

THE NUDGE METHOD

  • Take your dog out for a walk.
  • Keep calm and relaxed as you walk. Your dog can sense this and shall behave in the same manner.
  • If your dog sees another dog and starts to lunge towards them, do not try to pull his leash since this will make him pull harder.
  • Instead, gently nudge your dog to the side using your knee in order to distract him. Give him a treat if he settles
  • If he does not back down, then you can make a sharp tug on his leash while calling his name. Give him a treat, if he behaves.
  • This method should take a few weeks, so you need to be patient in order to fully accomplish the behavioral change you want to teach him.

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38 thoughts on “How to Teach Your Dog to Ignore Other Dogs On Walks”

    1. It all makes sense. But I continue to have trouble with my Schnauzer. Treats don’t really work with him. He seems to be getting a little better each time when I walk him but still barks and lunges at other dogs. Is there something else I can try?

      1. Keep yourself between your dog and the other dog. They feel the need to be more protective otherwise. When approaching another dog, tell your dog what you want BEFORE it happens. Say his name to get his attention, and tell him no barking, or heel. Repeat it until you pass. Stop and give him so much praise and attention when he behaves. If he lunges, immediately tell him to sit, and stand over him until the dog passes. I find that just communicating with your dog before the event, and praise alone is a great motivator.

      2. See if you can find something he really likes. A friend of mine, whose dog isn’t very food oriented, uses roast beef to get his attention. But yes, I have a Husky, so I know how stubborn a dog can be!

      3. Make sure your treats are really high value, find something your dog absolutely loves – kraft singles are what works for mine 😍

      4. I also find this is the case with my Schnauzer……is this particular to the breed? I previously had a Westie, and these methods worked perfectly with him

        1. We’ve always had schnauzers and they are definitely known for lots of barking and being very protective, so I believe it is specific to the breed. We currently have 2 schnauzer puppies and training them not to bark outside has been challenging. they are so smart and pick up things easily except for not barking. Our trainer had us using a loud shhh noise, with our voices and/or a pet corrector spray. But the spray doesn’t work for one and the other, it scares her to death, that even a soft shhh scares her…and when we just use our voices to say shh, if they are in full barking mode outside, they do not hear it. so I’m personally not a fan of that method. I’m definitely going to try the method described in this article.

      5. Our trainer had us cut a small hole in the top of a water bottle and carry it with us. Every time he started to lunge then I would squirt him or squirt just in front of him. It worked very well for a dog bit motivated by treats.

      6. I’ve learned that dogs are mainly motivated by three things: food, praise, and play. All dogs are different though and one of those things usually grabs the dog’s attention more than the others. If food is not working for your dog, I would try play next. Bring his favorite toy with you next time and only take it out if you are rewarding the dog for good behavior. Bottom line is that all dogs are different, and it will take a little bit for you to understand how your dog is. Good luck!

      7. Sandy, what I learned when your dog wants to pull, lunge or act a fool you should walk away from the situation. Turn around and start walking in the other direction. If they have calmed down then turn around again and resume your walk. As with any training it may take some time.

    2. This is so har with a #135 Great Dane, we have up the treat to a higher treat value, but still continues to lung at other dogs on a walk

  1. I have found that if my dog can sit at a distance and just watch the other dog that keeps him calmer, like walking AND behaving at the same time is too much. I agree with the other commenter to get your dog’s attention before he gets worked up. And instead of saying his name to get his attention I make a little clicking noise. He’s gotten much better using this method (make sure the treat offered is a really good one), but it does take a while.

  2. Hello Thanks a bunch for this article I am struggling so much to keep control of my young Labrador when we meet other dogs on a walk, he just doesn’t seem to pay any attention to me but other times he is fine. I’m going to try the method with the a couple of my friends fingers crossed it works. I also stumbled across a review of this dog training course and a wandered if anyone has used or heard of it, it sounds really good and I was thinking about buying it but I want to make sure it’s worth it first.
    https://sites.google.com/view/about-my-pup/the-best-dog-training-course

  3. This article was not written for owners of a chihuahua. My dog is the worst she barks at every dog that comes her way and lunges at them. It is so frustrating and annoying. We call her name and offer treats but sometimes she ignores this and continues to terrorize the neighborhood. 😫😩

    1. My chihuahua is the same – a nightmare and so far nothing works – he loves his treats in the house but won’t entertain anything as a reward when we are out

    2. Same for my Cavapoo.

      Once she gets spun up about another dog (or a person, she just wants to meet and greet everyone), there’s NOTHING that can get her attention. She goes completely psycho.

      The other problem is that I would have to ALWAYS carry treats with me, basically in my hand. She then focuses 100% on the treat and won’t do anything else until she gets it – including running through her repertoire of tricks. If I keep them in a bag, she goes into “get treat” mode if I put my hand anywhere near it. The only thing that takes precedence of “get treat” mode, is “meet and maul stranger” mode.

      She’s a very smart dog – but also very impulsive and high-strung, and basically – once the impulse is triggered, there’s no way to interrupt it without overwhelming physical restraint.

  4. I taught my dog to ignoring other dogs by saying mind your own business as we approached other dogs and shortening the leash to where she was right by my side, side opposite the other dog.. before we were close to the passing animal. I would continue the short leash and say again if she would look or gesture towards the other dog in any way to mind her own business. It worked well and didnt take long. I suppose you could use any que word or words.

  5. My pointer-pit mix is very headstrong and would lose his mind when he was around other dogs. I broke him of this habit by stopping, making him look at me and saying “Slow.” Then we walked closer to the other dog with me saying “Slow” over and over while keeping him on a short leash. When he passed without barking and flipping around, he got his fav treat – a nugget sized piece of grilled chicken. After about six months, he reached the point where he wouldn’t react even if the other dog lunged at him. It’s so much nicer to walk him now, in all kinds of settings.

  6. My dog is not listening to my commands. When i tell him to sit he continues to bark and even tries to bite. i am worried that i will have to put him down.

      1. agreed, and also, please please find a different owner. There are people who live in situations who can deal with a dog whose behavior is not “perfect”. As an example, I’d look to people who rescue wolfdogs, who definitely need a lot of special care. Far better than putting a dog down.

    1. See if your dog likes a laser light it worked for my dog that is not food oriented. He is so obssesed with it that I can take him anywhere as long as he can chase the little red light he doesn’t care about anything else. It what I use for reward he also responds to clickers. You need to find his reward not all dogs respond to food first and foremost sometimes a special toy works best. And this dog will need a serious amount of exercise. Please try to rehouse before putting down. You can get a cheap laser light at dollarama doesnt cost a lot give it a try. Good way to mentally stimulate your pet.

      1. Please don’t use laser lights on animals! It’s not good for them- you can research the effects

        I’ve rescued and fostered many dogs and you can tell which ones were effected by the laser light people used on them 🙁 for example- the fear aggressive full grown German Shepherd we had to adopt is insanely crazy about shadows and cannot settle her brain with shiny objects because she can’t catch them. I even had to take all my dogs tags off their collars for her 🙁 it’s so sad, causes destruction and very dangerous!

    2. My suggestions would be try taking your dog on more walks/runs. The dog might have a ton of energy and is acting out because of it. It will be easier to train too if the dog isn’t so hyper and distracted.
      Also, all dogs have a pack mentality. This dog might think he is the dominant one in your family. You need to find ways to show this dog that you are the dominant one in the group by being more stern. If this is difficult, then I would recommend a dog trainer to help you with the dog’s training.

    3. I train dogs and rehabilitate them from physical injury or surgery. Dog training is a science, but good trainers are creative and have a toolbox full of tools to help them apply the science. Until you’ve watched a trainer work on your dog you are not getting the whole picture. Dogs constantly communicate consciously and unconsciously. Having the ability to read those signs is key to controlling the environment. Proximity is the next variable. If your dog is reacting then you are too close and are not training the dog properly. If any of this information is new to you then your dog is perfect!! It is an huge mistake on a dog owners part to give up on the dog.

    1. I would definitely work with one dog at a time with this. If you bring the two dogs that go crazy on a walk together, then they are just going to feed off each other’s energy and act even more insane. Take one dog on a walk at a time.

  7. Our 7 month Welsh terrier lies down on the ground when another dog approaches and will not move. No high value treats will distract her or take her focus off the other dogs. She’s super friendly and loves other dog’s and only wants to play. But we can’t seem to break the habit. Any advice or previous experience of this would be much appreciated!

  8. My male dog is 2 yrs old and 90 lbs. he gets away from me whenever I take him out to the back yard and has jumped over the fence several times when he sees another dog. I don’t dare take him in a walk but I know he only wants to play with other dogs. He’s never attacked another dog or person since I’ve had him at 5 months old. I don’t know where to begin!!

  9. I have a husky beagle mix. She pulled so hard on a regular collar/harness that I could no longer walk her myself. I finally tried a harness where the leash attaches on the chest. It’s been a Godsend. If she starts to pull it turns her towards me and she focuses on me. When I see another dog coming I step on the leash as close to her as I can without pulling her down and she cannot jump at all. We both watch the dog pass and then I praise the heck out of her and give her a treat. This is working. She can walk by dogs on the opposite side of the street calmly with just a “leave it”. What I’d really like to know is how to get her to stop jumping playfully at my cats. They don’t see it as fun. She’s actually my daughters dog and will be moving out in a few months but until then I have to keep them separated.

  10. For large hard to control dogs a front harness can be helpful a gentle leader works like a horse harness and works wonders. I am 5ft tall so not big and I’ve been able to walk large dogs with poor leash manners with this device. Also multiple short walks a day to set behaviors will net the best results.

  11. Thank you my dog is very agressif to other dogs, it is a Lhassa Apso and I have tryed all your method with no succes, today I tried to stop him and he bit me, I really do not know what tod do. He is a fantastic dog at home, but When an other dog is close or on the other side of thae street I ca not control him. Also he necer look at me or in the eye. What can I do.

  12. how does anyone ever train a pug let alone 3 on a walk one starts and the rest follow suit also how do you cope and train the youngest {4 years old} how not to bark at dogs behind a fence he about pulls me along because they are so strong the other 2 out grew it but i do not know if i can hold on that long haha

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