How Do I Stop My Dog From Listening To Strangers? – Phoenix Scottsdale AZ Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist
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How do you get a dog to not “listen” to strangers? In other words, how do you get a dog to only respond to your gestures and commands, and not those of a stranger?
First off, it is impossible for dogs to not notice certain stimuli in their environment. Dogs have the same five physical senses as humans: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. And dogs have genetically preprogrammed behaviors that can be triggered through those senses and affect how and whether a dog will obey your commands. Let’s examine a dog’s vision, for example: Dogs can see and recognize faces. Dogs will act differently with people they know and people they don’t know. For some dogs, a strange face is going to make them wary, and that threat may trigger the dog to charge at someone they don’t know. For other dogs, a strange face is going to cause them to want to greet. Dogs can also come to recognize facial expressions. So they are going to behave differently depending upon the expressions on the faces of those they know and don’t know. Dogs can also see the behavior of people, and will notice how a person carries themselves, from child to adult, friendly to threatening, sick / injured to displaying dominance. So, some dogs are going to respond to the behavior of strangers because those behaviors are triggering genetically preprogrammed responses. Those behaviors are not trained, they are encoded into the dog. They act in many ways like commanded behaviors, and since they are genetically programmed, they can, if intense enough, override your trained commands. That’s why it is so harder for a dog to obey around other animals, such as dogs, cats, birds, lizards, snakes. All those animals give off signals to your dog that activate primitive programming that is much deeper into your dog’s brain than your training. Another factor is whether your dog is intact or not (spayed or neutered). Intact dogs have reproductive hormones which oftentimes intensify their response to environmental stimuli. Thus, a dog that has been spayed or neutered is typically more obedient. Ask horse trainers about the difference between training a stallion (an intact male horse) and a gelding (a neutered male horse)… the gelding is easy, and the stallion can be difficult and even dangerous.
Second, the only way to override someone else’s commands is to train the dog sufficiently to recognize and obey your voice, commands, and body language over that of anyone else. That means you must train your dog all the way through Advanced Obedience. It can also mean training your dog in a foreign language, which is what many police departments do with their dogs. I have trained dogs in foreign languages at the request of my students for this very reason. I don’t feel, however, that it is necessary to train dogs in a foreign language in order for them to obey you over anyone else. There is no substitute for Advanced Obedience, and a foreign language isn’t a short cut to obedience. Think on this, too: Related wolves look pretty much the same up close and at a distance. Yet wolves can tell those they know from those they don’t know. Likewise, dogs can discriminate between you and someone else, even if you give the same command at the same time.
Usually when someone is wanting their dog not to “listen” to strangers, they have an untrained or partially trained dog, and they are unreasonably upset that their dog isn’t listening to them.
Don’t expect your dog to obey you around strangers when you haven’t trained your dog to Advanced Obedience. Don’t get angry with your dog. Train your dog.
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Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.
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