I’m Pretty Sure I Know Why Your Dog is Ignoring You

So I am pretty sure I have mentioned that I am back to teaching dog training classes at night.

I took a few years off, to play with my own dogs and compete.

Plus for a few years I lived in the country and not too many people want to make an hour or more trek to the country for dog training!  Nor did I have the desire to make the same trek in the opposite direction to the city.

And, I am loving teaching again.

I think most of us dog trainers get a little burned out at some point.

It is easy to train a dog.

It is easy to train just about ANY dog, but humans are much more complicated.

This is why I don’t offer a guarantee (which is frowned upon by the APDT Association of Professional Dog Trainers) they make you sign something that says you won’t offer a guarantee when you go through the testing to get your certification.

It’s not that I won’t make sure that my clients are happy with the training they receive, but I can’t guarantee that they are doing what they should be doing at home!

People are so different, and if I may, so difficult!

Dogs never question or argue with me, once you know and understand the gift and game of communicating with an animal, they are easy to train!

I want to address why your dog is ignoring you!  I think there are 2 major reasons.

#1.  You Have Never Trained Him

The first is pretty obvious.

So many people have this weird belief that dogs automatically come out of the womb knowing our language.

Nothing is farther from the truth, although they are much more adept at learning our language than we are at learning theirs!

And, we are supposed to be the “critical thinking” mammals!

Well, then he can’t be the dog you want until you actually teach him these things!

We don’t expect our children to learn without going to school and being taught, why then do we expect an animal, totally different from ourselves, to understand our commands and our language without teaching?

It is totally ridiculous if you break it down and think about it in those terms!

Remember in order for your dog to listen to your commands you must first work with him and teach him and BE CONSISTENT!

Inconsistency is as good as not training at all!

#2.  Miscommunicationtwo dogs and owner

The second is miscommunication.

Although I often like to compare dogs to toddlers (because they are more alike than you would think), the truth is that they are a different species.

They communicate differently than we do.

Again, they are better at learning our language than we are at learning theirs but there is only so much that another animal who doesn’t speak our language is capable of learning; especially in new situations and under stress.

I get two distinct kinds of people:

The kind that almost never communicate to their dog (more on them in another article)

And the kind that never stop babbling to their dogs…

It seems the middle ground is hard to find.

So here is what it is like to be a dog with an owner who talks too much

溾 鳻嶬 蒮蒛蜙 雗雘雝 藚藦藞 輘 輲輹輴 縸縩薋 鍌鍗鍷 鏹鏊, 犈犆犅 鱐鱍鱕 馺 潬潿 餳駷 嫷 憢憉摮 洷炟砏 葞萴葂, 葮 摬摙敳sit 鞈頨頧 闠鞻, 腠腶 禖穊稯 譖貚趪 痵 饓鶪 彃 謺貙蹖 磻禫穛 躨钀钁蕡蕇蕱 葠蜄蛖 駺駹 down 酳 觓倎 葮 灉礭蘠 裺觨誖 骹麇嚍, 嵷 儋圚墝 芘芛芤 噅尰崺 譀譋 壾 齴讘麡 鵁麍儱 踆跾, 謯謺 釂鱞鸄 逜郰傃 鋱, 箷 譖貚趪 腷腯葹 僤凘墈 攇櫧 垺垼娕 傎圌媔 脬舑莕 趍 炟砏, 鑤仜伒 麷劻穋 咶垞姳 魵 黈龠侺咥垵لَو ضَاق صَدري قِلت مَا أطوَلكِ يَا ليل الله يعينَ اللي مفَارق حبيبَه ..

سَهران ليلِي أناظِر نَجمَة الليل والدَمعِ يسكُب مِن عينِي سكيبَـه ..مَا أنسَاكِ لَو ينسَى الكِحِل سودَ الأهدَاب وكيف تنسَى العِين صَافِي نُظَرهَا 烺焆琀 筡 詏貁, 唲堔 嵷 釂鱞鸄 鸙讟钃 齫儽 撖撱暲 烍烚珜 痯 裌覅 歅毼毹 撖撱暲 鑴鱱爧 榯 媝寔嵒 碞碠粻 鍎鞚韕 毼 畟痄,heel 蔰蝯蝺 厊圪妀 咶垞姳 鮚鴸 摓 轈鄻 譺鐼霺 鴸鼢曘 僣, 誙 婂崥崣 鶊鵱鶆 蓪蔰鳱 鍆錌雔 雥齆犪 賧趡, 詏貁 餀 瀿犨皫 鐩闤鞿 蝑蝞蝢 諝趥 潣 撖撱暲 爂犤繵, 瞂 憢憉 薝薢蟌 藒襓謥, 跬 昢炾 鳱儇嘽 萆覕貹 螭蟅 鑳鱨鱮 舿萐菿 毹 魆 厏吪吙 飣偓啅 鵙鼥 騩鰒鰔 濷瓂癚 抏旲 摓, 笰笱 蔍 鱙鷭黂 荾莯袎私は歩いて学校に通っています。学校では歴史、数学、保健体育、美術などの授業を.蔊蓴蔖, 齖齘goodboy摓 歅毼毹 顤鰩鷎 萰葍萯蓪 瞗穇 醑醏錛 姴怤昢 褣諝趥 絟缾臮 蔊蓴蔖 褁觛 橀, 翣聜 訰貥郪 廅愮揫 墐 瀤瀪璷 嵉愊惵 魆 孻憵, 廑憀慡 韰頯餩 藡覶譒 榱榎 漀 梴棆 榃 箷箯緷 姛帡恦 勯噚嶢, das Wohnzimmer + die Lampe = die Wohnzimmerlampe (the living room lamp)die Haustür  + der Schlüssel = der Haustürschlüssel (the front door key)das Klo + die Bürste = die Klobürste (the toilet brush)die Bank + das Konto = das Bankkonto (the bank accountder Kredit + der Rahmen = der Kreditrahmen (credit line)der Wein + die Flasche = die Weinflasche譾躒 鉾 驐鷑鷩 藒襓謥 紏蚙迻 搋朠 榎榯槄 溛滁溒 腶 涒浘 猒猵睆 塥搒楦 顊顃餭 僣, 餖駜 蝺 烢烒珛 棳棔欿

  • Were you able to spot the “English” commands?  Probably, because I think the eyes are better at catching an anomaly but it was probably a struggle.  The commands, sit, down, heel and good boy are in there.
  • How many of you just skipped the whole thing?
  • Got frustrated?
  • Or just gave up?

Don’t you figure your dog does the same thing?

So he pulls or sniffs or generally ignores you because 90% of the time he has no clue what you are talking about.

Add to that the fact that most people are painfully inconsistent and it makes training with these people even worse for the dog.

I Had a Small Argument with a Client Recently

people with dogsHe is struggling to teach his dog leash manners.

Yet, he wants to teach his dog right and left, along with stop and go, enough, here, back and a lot of other commands that I didn’t even understand the meaning of at the time because there was no real consistency.

Now, first off I must admit that dogs are perfectly capable of learning left and right commands this is how dogs perform in skijoring and carting etc.  although the commands are simplified “Ghee and Haa” and usually pressure is applied to the side of the harness or bit you want the dog to turn toward.

I have even seen a few agility dogs who proficiently use the left and right command while running an agility course.

But when teaching that command are you teaching the dog using his body?  Are you expecting the dog to learn left and right dependent on your body cues?  Are you signaling with the corresponding arm and then which hand are you rewarding with?  Do you always work the dog facing the same direction as you are facing, or can you teach him with his body toward you; essentially making his left your right?

Confused yet?

Now you agility competitors know the answers to those questions but they are overwhelming at best.

Heck, I have a hard time remembering my left from my right sometimes and I am supposed to teach my dog?

It can certainly be done.

But it is also definitely an advanced obedience command.

You should have amazing obedience (or a mind just to work agility or carting etc.) before you decide to muddle your training with this command.

I was trying to explain that your dog should learn to read your body cues and when you turn your head to the left you teach him to take a step or two backward because you are indicating that you are turning left or toward him when he is in heel position.

If you are turning right you signal first with your head, telling your dog to speed up a few paces so that he can maintain eye contact and focus. 

I want to give my dog commands and praise, but I don’t expect my dog to come with the knowledge of the English language.

I want to direct him, but I don’t need to teach him directional commands unless we are competing in a sport that requires them or uses them.

Too much information becomes babbling, and babbling is eventually ignored.

Dogs learn best by reading our body language.

And, that is how I want to help my dog by teaching him to watch my body’s cues.  Head turning left means body will turn left soon, head turning right means body will turn right soon.  He should learn to keep pace with me so that when I stop he stops and sits.  When I say “heel” I want him to move out with me.

I can praise him when he succeeds and help him when he struggles.

But I want to make his foray into basic obedience as easy as possible by using a combination of my language and his language without muddying the waters with too much information that he simply doesn’t understand.

Once his basics are phenomenal, then you can begin to add more complex training to your regimen while still just giving him the basic information and praise that he needs to succeed!

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  1. Laura Womack says:

    Where are you located (for training)?
    Is there an age limit on dogs? Mostly interested in leash walking and the female still jumps when excited. They both are smart dogs and do many tricks —- so I know the problem is me!!


    Minette Reply:

    I specifically am in MD but we have products for people all over the world https://womach.infusionsoft.com/app/storeFront/showStoreFront


  2. Eileen Hanbury says:

    I understand all you say, my black lab is a therapy dog, well behaved but no matter what I do (have tried everything) still pulls on the lead


  3. Mary Campbell says:

    Am I expecting too much too soon from my 11 week old golden? We’ve been doing quite well with click and treat commands, especially “Go to your bed”, and 70% of the time she comes on command. But what do I do with the 30% when she looks at me and actually runs the other way? (We’re outdoors at the time and other things are way more interesting.) I’ve upped the treat value, but she makes a conscious decision to ignore me!


    Minette Reply:

    I don’t allow my dogs to develop this habit. I keep them on leash if I have to, until they realize I am the most important and fun thing in their lives. Only then do I allow them off leash.


  4. Chris W says:

    We adopted a 2 year old mix border collie rescue 6 months ago. She was very obedient – no counter surfing, easy walking on the leash (although continues to be aggressive at other dogs) and no foraging in the bins. In fact we kept her off tether at home when we were out without incident. Recently she has started jumping on the dining room table to steal food, chewing up any plastic bag on the floor and sleeping on the furniture. We tell her no/off leave it and she will if we are around but now she does as she pleases when we are not around. We are wondering why the regression; nothing has really changed at home other than with time she seems to be getting more confident and destructive


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