For many dog owners, it can seem like a huge struggle to get their canine friend to realise that strangers don’t need to be scary! While there is always importance in the old adage, “stranger danger”, it can make life challenging as a dog owner if your dog is forever getting distressed when someone new turns up.
As such, teaching your dog that strangers aren’t scary is something which should be a priority for many of us – and today, we will help you learn how to gently encourage your dog to embrace meeting new people, so that he doesn’t need to get stressed when someone new shows up on the doorstep!
Should I Teach My Dog That New People Aren’t Scary?
For some people who own a dog that is nervous around strangers, the thought of “correcting” this behaviour might be one which raises questions. Should you teach your dog that strangers aren’t scary? Surely some wariness of new people could be a good thing for a dog to have, you might even point out.
Well, this is true; you don’t necessarily want your dog running straight over to the first person that calls. However, having a dog that gets anxious or distressed when meeting new people can also be a huge challenge in our social lives, both for you and your dog.
Teaching your dog that strangers aren’t scary is important both for his sake and yours. Indeed, a happy, confident dog will be a lot healthier and lead a better life overall than one which is forever stressed by meeting new people! As a result of this, it is important both for you and your pooch that you take steps to provide reassurance about meeting new people so that it doesn’t represent such a major challenge, the next time your new neighbours come round!
How to Teach Your Dog That Strangers Aren’t Scary
If your dog is nervous around strangers, taking your dog to any sort of social events can be a real struggle. Indeed, with so many people in a gathering, your dog could quite easily get overwhelmed and incredibly stressed out – but how can you go about combatting this? How can you teach your dog that, new people aren’t scary after all and are actually people who just want to give your dog a cuddle?
Tip 1: Provide a Safe Space
If your dog gets scared by meeting new people then making a safe space in your home can allow your pooch to leave a stressful situations, if needed. Forcing a dog to accept new people may only lead to more stress, but allowing a dog to come to terms with new visitors on their own from a safe space will be a lot gentler and easier for your dog, and more effective in the long run too.
Tip 2: Make Sure Your Visitors Know to be Calm
For a dog who is scared of new people, nothing is more scary than someone who immediately rushes over for a cuddle. Therefore, always let people know that your dog is nervous around new people; this will let them know to act calmly and quietly around your dog, thereby reassuring your dog that strangers aren't scary.
Tip 3: Treats!
Though you don’t want to feed your dog too many treats, it’s safe to say that the way to a dog’s heart is through the stomach (well, and maybe cuddles and massages too). So, offering treats when new people turn up can be a great way to help your dog learn that new people = treats, which in turn can create positive thoughts and behaviours when meeting new people.
If your dog is particularly stressed, giving a treat can also be a great way of concealing calming supplements (such as CalmDOG by Petvitals) which will further help relax nerves and provide reassurance that strangers aren’t so scary after all.
Tip 4: Obedience Training Works Wonders!
If your dog knows basic commands such as “sit” or “stay” then these can be used, along with gentle encouragement and reassurance and treats, to teach your dog that strangers aren’t something to be afraid of. If you notice that your dog looks worried, tell it to sit and then praise or treat it accordingly, all the while introducing the new people slowly.
Tip 5: Don’t Give Up!
It can be easy to lose hope when trying to train your dog to accept new people, however, this is a slow and gentle process. Trying to force a dog to accept new people will probably just make your pooch more stressed; however, taking things slowly and using positive reinforcement methods will be the best approach to help them learn that strangers aren’t all that scary, after all.
Don’t panic – with time, patience, and treats, your dog will soon learn that strangers aren’t scary!