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My Dog Is Too Friendly With Strangers: 5 Reasons + 5 Tips

Why Is My Dog Too Friendly With Strangers

You’re having a stroll with your dog in the park.

It‘s all fun and games…

Until they rush to some strangers and start jumping at them.

“Here we go again…”

And you can’t help but ask yourself,

“Why is my dog too friendly with strangers?”

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • The friendly dog breeds.
  • 5 reasons why your dog is over-friendly with strangers.
  • Easy commands you can use to control your dog’s behavior.
  • 7 tips on how to make your dog less friendly around unknown people.
  • And many more…

Why is my dog too friendly with strangers?

Your dog is too friendly with strangers because they show positive body language. It can also be that they use a high-pitched voice in interacting with your dog. When you don’t feel threatened, your dog can sense it and act relaxed as well. It can also be due to breed or lack of training.

5 reasons why your dog is over-friendly with strangers

#1: Breed

Some dogs are very sociable and fond of people.

These dog breeds seem to like everyone. It’s because of their gentle temperament and patience with people in general.

That’s why you don’t worry about your dog getting in trouble when you walk in the park. A good dog on a leash doesn’t try to escape and bark at strangers they meet.

It also adds up when they’re brought up to be playful and friendly. And they had plenty of socialization when they were puppies.

If that’s the case, you’d sometimes see them licking people they like. Or, not showing threatening behavior that warns strangers to back off. 

PetMD says you’ll know that your dog’s happy based on their body language.

When you see their tails wagging while meeting a stranger, then they’re happy. Also, their posture is not tense or stiff. And their eyes are soft without a fixed gaze.

Some of the stranger-friendly dog breeds include:

  • Boxer.
  • Poodle.
  • Beagle.
  • Papillon.
  • Shih Tzu.
  • Cockapoo.
  • Irish Setter.
  • Bull Terrier.
  • Greyhound.
  • Skye Terrier.
  • Field Spaniel.
  • Border Collie.
  • Boston Terrier.
  • Basset Hound.
  • French Bulldog.
  • Golden Retriever.
  • Labrador Retriever.

#2: High-pitched voice

Sometimes, we automatically talk to dogs in a high-pitched voice. Whether it’s your furry baby or dogs you meet in the street.

And you’d also wonder how canines perceive it.

Well, I’ve got good news for you. 🙂 

A study revealed that dogs’ brains respond based on the person’s tone of voice talking to them. The reward centers in your dog’s brain get activated when a person uses baby talk.

In the study, the dogs were happy to greet the happy-sounding people. But reacted negatively to those who talked with deep voices.

Scientist Alex Benjamin also did speech tests with 69 adult dogs in his study. 

These dogs engaged more with people who used high-pitched tones and dog-related content. Compared to those who used adult-directed speech with no dog-related content.

“What does it mean?”

For example, “You’re a good dog” is dog-related content. Dogs find it more engaging as you use a high-pitched voice.

“I watched a movie with a friend” is not dog-related content. Less likely that they’ll engage when you use adult-directed or neutral speech. 

In other words, you have to combine a positive intonation and dog-related content. So that you could receive a positive response.

It helps make your dog feel happy when a stranger uses baby talk while interacting. 

#3: Body language

Dog's Friendly To Strangers Who Show Good Body Language

Did you know that dogs understand human body language?

They use these cues to find out more about our physical well-being. Plus, to detect any changes in our mood. 

It’s not a problem for friends or strangers who know how to act around dogs. Especially when they have a furry friend themselves.

Then it’d be easy for them to approach your Fido.

Based on body language, canines can perceive a person as a friend or enemy. Therefore, they’ll inspect one’s gestures, postures, and unintentional movements.

There was a study that focused on the responsiveness of adult dogs to strangers. Its goal was to observe how they’ll react to both threatening and friendly approaches.

The team tied the dogs to a tree with a leash. 

They exposed 15 dogs to a friendly approach. In which the stranger came close at a normal walking speed. Her body was in an upright position, and spoke to them in a friendly manner.

The other 15 were exposed to a threatening approach. In which the stranger came close with her upper body slightly bent. And moved in a halting manner. There was also no verbal interaction.

In the friendly episode, most of the dogs performed passive or social behavior. 

It was different during the threatening approach. In which more than half of the dogs were avoidant and aggressive.

This could explain why your dog’s friendly towards strangers. When a stranger shows good body language, your Fido will not feel threatened.

#4: Your dog’s untrained

Are there times when your Fido shows overexcitement around strangers? And you found yourself having a hard time controlling their behavior? 

If yes, then your dog might be untrained. It could be the reason why it’s almost impossible to restrain them. Or at least calm them down.

As a result, they’d act out of their instincts. Then they become unstoppable. 

It’d be of no use giving commands to not do certain things around strangers. Because your pooch won’t know how to execute them.

That won’t be a problem with dog lovers, as most of them won’t mind dogs being hyper around them. 

But what if the person gets mad? Or is afraid of dogs?

When your dog’s untrained, it could be dangerous when you’re not around. Or, don’t pay attention while they’re playing outside.

Strangers might take advantage of your dog’s trust and do something bad. Whether it’s stealing your dog for money or using them for dogfights.

Warning: Friendly and untrained dogs are less likely to show aggressiveness. Even to protect themselves.

Your poor dog wouldn’t know that these strangers have bad intentions. Sometimes, they’d even be the ones to rush to them to make friends.

Check out also: 17 Hyperactive Dog Symptoms + 11 Tips To Calm Down Your Dog

#5: You don’t feel threatened around the stranger

When you’re relaxed around a stranger, your Fido will sense that there’s no threat. In that case, they won’t show signs of aggressiveness. 

They’re able to pick up on it through their excellent sense of smell. Scientists say that their sense of smell overpowers our own. They can detect many odors in parts per billion.

Yup! That makes them capable enough to sense human hormones. Which means that they can detect our emotions. So they’d know if we’re scared, happy, or sad. 

For example, when you’re happy, your body releases feel-good hormones oxytocin. Our dogs can detect the change and can tell what our mood is. 

They can also sense negative emotions such as fear and stress. These create a surge of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. And your dog will catch it even before you realize it.

Sometimes, their actions towards strangers depend on what they perceive that you feel.

Do you feel happy and relaxed? Do they sense that you’re in danger?

Their instinct would tell them how to react. Most likely aggression towards the stranger when you’re scared. And friendliness when you’re pleased.

How do I make my dog less friendly with strangers? 7 tips

#1: Teach your dog obedience

Teach Your Dog Obedience

You don’t want your dog to follow or listen to every stranger they meet.

So the best way to protect your dog is to train them to listen to you.

Teach your dog to respond to commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay’.

Do this at home where there are little to no distractions. 

Once your dog learns the commands…

Try training in public environments. Such as dog parks or anywhere where there are distractions. It’ll take time but it’ll pay off.

When your dog shows excessive excitement towards a person, use the ‘sit’ command.

Give simple instructions to the person to not pet your dog unless they’re sitting.  

This will help create an environment for your Fido to behave properly.

You can also teach your dog to stay in a place using the ‘stay’ command. So to prevent them from rushing to other strangers.

Don’t forget to continue training at home. Reward them with treats when they follow. 

Here are some things you should remember in training your pooch. These will help you succeed in making your dog listen to you.

Be patient

Training your dog requires determination, effort, and time. 

Remember that they learn at different paces. Some dogs could master the commands or cues in a couple of weeks. While others need more time. But that doesn’t mean they’re incapable. 

Be consistent with the commands

Have consistency in your training method. Your pooch may get confused when you use different commands. 

Stick to one word only when you want them to do a specific action. Use it as a constant cue. 

For example, if you want your dog to hug you, use only the “hug” command. Not “cuddle” or “come to me” as other alternatives.

Also, don’t teach more than three verbal cues in one training session. Teach one or 2 at a time. In this way, they’ll easily learn to execute every word individually. 

Be generous with your affection

While doing the training, don’t only focus on them learning the commands. Or on the final outcomes alone.

Make sure you give your Fido lots of attention and praise for trying. Positive reinforcement will help them boost their confidence. 

Let them know that they’ve been a good boy/girl. In this way, they’ll also enjoy every training session. 

Make training a habit

To make the training more effective, make it your daily routine. But remember to keep it short. Otherwise, your dog may become too tired or bored.

Your goal is to train your Fido for at least 30 minutes every day with a 10-15 minute interval in between.

#2: Stop your dog from pulling on their leash

Avoid creating tension on the leash just to stop your dog. This is dangerous because it can hurt your Fido’s neck and damage their trachea when it’s too much.

But how to teach them to walk on a loose leash? And prevent them from getting too excited around strangers?

First, teach your dog to sit. This will keep them in place when you give the cue. 

Teaching the ‘sit’ command:

Step 1: Keep your dog in a standing position. Then hold a treat in front of their nose. 

Step 2: Move your hand over their head. Your Fido’s head should follow the treat and their bum should go on the floor.

Step 3: After your doggo sits, give praise. Repeat a few times.

Step 4: Then add the verbal cue “sit”. As they learn they’ll be receiving treats when sitting, they’ll hold the position for longer.

After your dog’s got the hang of it, move to…

Teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash:

Step 1: Lure your dog with a treat to get them at your side. Then take a few steps forward. 

Step 2: Then stop walking and use the command “sit”. Give them praise when they follow.

Step 3: Repeat and increase the number of steps in between stops. So that your Fido will learn that walking on a loose leash is about sticking by your side. 

Step 4: Change your direction. Go either right or left. If your dog sits every time you stop using the “sit” command, reward.  

Step 5: If your Fido creates tension on the leash and tries to move forward, stop walking. Stand still. In this way, they’ll learn that pulling makes the good stuff stop. 

Step 6: When your dog makes eye contact with you and sits, reward.

Step 7: If you’re confident after a lot of practice, do the training with a friend. He’ll act as the “stranger” you’ll meet with your dog while walking.

Step 8: Give a reward when your dog sticks by your side while strolling. When you feel that your dog’s creating tension on the leash to approach the stranger, use the verbal cue “sit”.

Keep rewarding your dog for a job well done.

Learn more about loose-leash training from dog trainer Zak George in this video:

#3: Teach proper greeting behavior

Follow these steps to teach your Fido proper greeting behavior. 

Make sure that they’re on a leash. It’s important to have someone who’ll play the role of a stranger. It could be your friend whom your dog never met. 

Step 1: With your dog on a leash, instruct the “stranger” to approach your dog. Make sure he’s holding a treat. He should stop still out of the leash range. 

Your Fido may try to pull towards the “stranger” to get the treat. Wait until they stop trying. Then, when your dog sits, the “stranger” should give the reward. 

Repeat several times.

Step 2: Repeat the previous step. Only this time, slacken the leash. Observe if your dog’s able to sit without pulling the leash tense. 

If they did, it means they’re getting the hang of the behavior. And you’re ready to move forward.

But if they’re still pulling the leash before sitting, repeat step 2. 

Step 3: Repeat with different people. So that you can prepare your Fido for meeting strangers outside.

Step 4: Do the step off-leash. But do this first in environments with minimal distractions. For example, in your backyard. If your Fido’s doing well, move to places with a lot of people gradually.

#4: Don’t reward jumping behavior

Friendly dogs tend to jump on strangers out of excitement. 

What you can do to lessen this behavior is by not rewarding them. First, get someone who’ll play the “stranger”.

When your dog jumps at him, he should not make eye contact. Instead, he should turn his back on your Fido.

Be patient until your pooch stops doing it. Then he should reward your dog with praise and attention for a job well done. 

Every time your dog jumps up, he’ll need to ignore them. Repeat until they learn that jumping is not going to work.

Do this tip at home with families or other friends when they come over. 

Your friendly dog may approach and jump at them again out of excitement. But before they do, instruct the person not to give attention until it stops.

Note: It’ll be more effective when your dog experiences it with different people. Your furry friend will learn that it’ll only get attention from people when it stops jumping.

#5: Train four on the ground 

You can teach your pooch to keep their paws on the ground when greeting people outside.

Make sure to bring treats to manage your dog.

During meetings, place some treats on the ground. Do this to prevent your pooch from jumping at strangers.

AKC says these steps can help lessen the jumping behavior of your dog when meeting a stranger.

Step 1: Have someone approach your dog. Make sure that your Fido’s on leash.

Step 2: Place treats on the floor before the person gets to your pooch.

Step 3: Let your dog eat the treats off the floor. Then have the person greet your dog.

Step 4: Before your dog finishes off the treats, instruct the person to back away.

Step 5: Repeat the previous steps. This time, continue placing treats on the floor to extend the greeting.

Step 6: Once your pooch keeps feet on the ground, let them greet the person. Then place the treat on the floor.

Step 7: Repeat several times until your pooch understands the rules. Feed fewer treats until the greeting is the only reward.

BONUS TIP: Teach your dog to bark on command

Some furry parents want a protective dog. And it’s a sort of problem when their dogs are too friendly with strangers. 

But teaching them to bark on your command can draw away a strange person. 

Here’s how you can teach your dog to bark:

Step 1: Start by showing your dog what they desire. For example, their favorite toy. Then wiggle it around and hide it behind your back.

Step 2: If they bark in protest, praise them or give treats. Repeat the process a few times.

Step 3: Then add the “bark” cue before hiding their toy. If they bark again, continue giving them treats.

After praising them for barking a few times, they’ll start to learn what you want them to do.

Step 4: Now, use the “bark” command without hiding their toy. Or not doing anything that frustrates them. If they bark, reward.

Step 5: Try your pooch with help from a friend who’ll act as the “stranger”. While you’re walking with your dog, they should meet you.

Step 6: Use the “bark” command. If your doggo barks, give praise for a job well done.

You should also teach your Fido to stop barking on command: 

Step 1: While your dog’s barking, get their attention. Try to hold up the toy or treats.

Step 2: After the barking stops, reward. Give them the treat.

Step 3: Repeat for few times. Then wait for a little longer periods of silence before rewarding them. 

Step 4: Add the cue word such as “hush” or “quiet”. While your doggo’s barking, say the command while holding up the treat.

Step 5: Give your Fido the treat when the barking stops.

Step 6: Practice the cue frequently.