Training a Big Dog to Stop His Fear of Strangers

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: February 6, 2018

In this Omaha dog training session we worked with Bentley, a three-year-old Black Mouth Cur who needed training to stop fear of strangers.

When I first arrived Bentley was nervous to greet me. He immediately started barking, which was his way of telling me that he was uncomfortable with me in his house and he wanted me to leave. But I did something he didn’t expect, I didn’t make eye contact with him or try to pet him. I just stood still until he relaxed and felt comfortable enough to smell me without barking. Only then did I move into the rest of the house.

I wanted Bentley to feel comfortable around me, which is why I allowed him to initiate contact and learn more about me through smelling. Actually, he came over to smell me several times before I ever petted him. When I did pet him it was clear that he was comfortable with me giving him affection because I had built up trust. That is the same concept behind the Behavior Adjustment Training method or BAT which you can see in the video below.

As you can see in the video above it took a couple of attempts to help Bentley calm down when greeting someone at the door. But as he practiced he started to learn how to relax and approach people as he felt comfortable. That is the main goal of this exercise: allow Bentley to approach when he is ready!

To help Bentley continue this good behavior the guardians will want to set up as many intentional visits with people who are willing to help Bentley through this training. Remember, patience is key here! Allow Bentley to make his own choices so he is comfortable greeting new people. Over time he will continue to feel more confident and greet people more quickly. We wrapped up this dog behavior session with Bentley’s Roadmap to Success video, which you can watch below.

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