Strategies For When Your Dog Won’t Listen
Let’s admit it, we all pretend to not hear things on occasion.
I remember as a child trying to perfect this into an art form. ;)
After all, if I didn’t hear my mom say she needed help bringing in the groceries, I didn’t have to help.
I think the average dog is more willing to listen than the average kid.
Because dogs are simple people.
Sure, your dog may not always listen, but the reason is probably different!
Why Your Dog Isn’t Listening
1. He is Excited
How hard is it for you to listen to random and mundane things, and focus, when you are excited?
I mean, TRULY excited!
Remember back to the last work day before you left on vacation.
Remember the last day of an old job before you started a new job.
Or, just an event that you were excited about.
I, personally, am an avid Bon Jovi fan and let me just tell you that I am worthless the day of a concert.
I know this about myself, so I take the whole day off in preparation!
Your dog is no different.
If he is excited, it is hard for him to focus!
The big difference is that dogs get excited all the time! Which is one of those things that help us to find them endearing, however, it leads to having a difficult time listening.
You'll need to work on managing your dog's overexcitement and train him so that he can listen to you regardless of his excitement level.
2. He is Distracted
Although this problem sounds similar to the one above, I think this one is a little easier.
Yes, distractions can lead to excitement, and then you have to deal with both, but one doesn’t always equal the other.
A dog can be “low level” distracted.
Imagine that if he is paying specific attention to something else, he is going to have trouble listening to you.
It is best to distance yourself from the distraction so that you can get his attention.
You need to make yourself more interesting than whatever is distracting him. Otherwise, he won't focus on YOU!
3. He Doesn’t Understand
I know this sounds silly, but you would be surprised at some of the things I hear when I am out training.
“Get Down, Sit Down, Lay Down”
Heck, I end up being confused.
Make sure your commands mean ONE thing, not several things.
Give a command ONCE, and then help your dog to comply.
But make sure he understands what it is you are asking of him.
4. You Never Really Taught Him
You would be surprised at how often “not teaching” your dog is actually the problem!
People assume that dogs come hard-wired with human rules and regulations.
Nothing is further from the truth.
Dogs love to do naughty things because naughty things are fun!
So, if your dog is fence fighting, pulling on the leash, and stealing your things, you should ask yourself if you have actually ever taught him not to do those things.
The best trick for dealing with a dog that has selective “listening” is to train often! The more you work on your dog’s obedience training, the more he gets used to listening to you.
If you aren’t asking him to listen, often it will be even more difficult for him to listen when he is excited and distracted.
Yes, you can take him to a separate space and try to decrease his excitement or level of distraction, but if you proactively train for three short 10-minute sessions a day, you will see a dog that is more apt to listen, because you are giving him the skills that he needs!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.