meeting strangers


Experienced Member
My dog is afraid of strangers. She will bark and lunge at them if they are to close. :msniwonder: This is a real problem on walks. How do I get her to be more comfortable with strangers? Does anyone have any ideas?
thank you Debby and Belle (3 yr. old lab mix)


New Member
My dog is having a similar problem too! She's great at home, but when ever I bring her out she's terrified of coming close to people and constantly hides behind me. She's a 4 month old yorkie poo.

Jean Cote

Staff member
Is your dog aggressive towards other people or is she doing this out of excitement and trying to meet new people?


Experienced Member
Belle's bark is loud and scary to fend people off but she has never bitten or even come close. But yes, I would say her bark tends towards being aggressive.
I think she is more scared of people and wants them to go away. When she actually meets people she is o.k. Debby and Belle


New Member
I would get some willing strangers and shape my dog for more acceptable behaviours. Perhaps initially it will just be not barking, not backing away - but eventually hopefully shaping the pup to walk up and touch people independently (while that person is standing still).

I would also recommend the book "Click to Calm" (it is great!).


New Member
My dog used to have this problem also but what i would do is have my friend help me by bring her dog out to the park and i would bring mine. Then I would keep my dog close to me on her leash. When she would start to show aggresion in her posture or her eyes i would tug her a little and say no and make her sit. I would keep saying no and make her sit again every time she showed ANY aggretion what so ever.. when she sat down and relaxed her posture i would give her a treat and say good. Just keep repeating that as you walk toward the other dog. If it gets to out of hand then i would stop but as long as you can manage your dog then i say keep pressing forward. With a little practice, some time, and some good volunteers she will be wonderful at making friends!


New Member
My dog has the same issue as he is reactive by nature, but he has made a lot of improvement. We've greatly cut down on the situations that still trigger him to bark and lunge at people (it used to be all the time!!). I basically followed the methods described here:

Basically it is desensitizing and "classical counter conditioning"

Identifying what the threshold is that your dog can tolerate without going nuts. And then staying at or below this threshold and giving him really good rewards (easiest is to use food). This gradually makes the dog associate seeing people with pleasant things. Then gradually bring him nearer the people but still staying below his threshold, and repeat a ton of times. At the same time try to prevent situations where he gets freaked out again (if people want to approach your dog, for now tell them no or only on your terms so you can control your dog's reaction) Over time (could take days or weeks or months, depending on the dog and your situation...) the dog's threshold improves and he gets more comfortable being around people. Then you can have people start to give him treats directly.

Very similar techniques are demonstrated in this video by Sophia Yin (author of "How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves, and veterinarian):


New Member
This sort of desensitizing is exactly what my dog trainner is teaching me to do with Duke. It is a very slow process, but the rewards are tremendous if you stick with it.

I've learnt that the most important part of this is to let the dog see whatever it is that scares them, but find the spot that is his 'safe' distance, where he can look but not lung or bark. The other that I often find difficult is to not tighten the lead up automatically when you see anything that could be scary for your dog.



New Member
My dog gets hyper excited with people and other dogs. She whines, cries and almost barks. She appears aggressive, but truly she just wants to play. There was a lost dog in the neighborhood that found his way to us. Once I let them be together they played solidly for 24 hours, until I located the owner. I live in a small community but pretty much keep to myself. I need to find ways to socialize my Destiny. I did bookmark the link above and will look into it.

Also, my dog has zero interest in treats unless she's at home with nothing else going on. The vet even tried Braunschweiger, which she loves, but she just looked at it and then away. This makes training a bit more difficult.

Thanks for this post!


Experienced Member
very nicely handled by leslie mcdevitt in control unleashed and turid rugaas' books. i too had/manage the same problem. these dogs need to get out, get exercise, and get exposure. the more good experiences u can create the better it will get. i just sometimes sit on the front porch and people watch from a safe place click/treating calm behavior. do something every day even if small, be positive and more more exercise.