Monday, May 27, 2013
There's no getting around it, some dogs are quite good at ignoring their owner! It's frustrating when you try to get your dog's attention and he keeps on doing whatever it is he's doing. Here are five reasons why your dog might not be paying attention to you:
Lack of Proper Training
How we train a dog matters, and can make a difference in how they respond to us. If you don't take the time to teach your dog how you want him to behave, you can't expect him to know what you want. Yelling, kicking, hitting or any unfair punishment won't teach a dog how you want him to behave. As responsible pet owners, it's also our job to make sure we put valuable or important things up out of a dog's reach, and provide a safe and secure area in the home where he can wait when we're away from home.
Poor Timing During Training
Most dogs respond to treat training and praise during training sessions. Poor timing (when the reward is late) can mean the difference between a dog learning a command or not getting it. My dogs love CANIDAE TidNips™ treats, especially Keikei. As soon as she sees the treats, she's ready for her lessons. To be effective when giving a treat reward or praise, it has to be given immediately after compliance by the dog. You only have a window of about 3 seconds where your dog can associate the treat with the command. If the dog misses the connection between the two, he won't understand what you want him to learn. If you are teaching your dog to sit, the second his behind hits the floor, give him his reward. When you call him to come, as soon as he's in front of you, give him his reward.
Not Understanding Body Language
Dogs learn not only from our verbal words, but also from watching our face and body language for cues. A dog's knowledge of body language is so refined, they understand what we want by signals we give with our body and tone of voice. If you have an understanding of the body language of dogs and are aware of the signals you are giving your dog, it can help get your point across. It's possible you are being ignored because your pet doesn't understand what you are asking him to do.
For example, if your dog continues to jump up on you and isn't listening to your down command, turn your side to him. Fold your arms so he can't touch your hands, don't look at him and don't speak to him. If he follows you as you move away from him, turn your back to him. If he continues, calmly walk away from him. He knows what that means. Your body language tells him everything he needs to know. Work on his training, but don't neglect your body language to help him learn.
Dogs are no more perfect than we are, and mess up once in awhile. The come command is one of the harder commands for owners to teach a dog. Not because the dog doesn't understand the command, but if he is punished for coming, he learns not to come. Punishment to a dog can include being called inside when they're not ready to stop playing.
My Husky was an escape artist. She could slip out of her collar or pen in a matter of minutes, and race off into the woods for a run. When she ran off, I was both angry and concerned because there was no way to find her once she disappeared into the woods. She always came back after an hour or so of freedom, and I greeted her not with anger, but with praise. I didn't want her to learn she'd be punished for coming back home. Thankfully, I eventually found a collar she couldn't slip out of, and fixed her pen so she couldn't escape.
Something Else is More Interesting
Make it worth your dog's time to pay attention to you. If your dog is barking excitedly at squirrels playing in the trees, he's distracted and you need to give him a really good reason to listen to you. What you are offering him needs to be more fun than barking at squirrels. If you're calling him to come inside, give him a few minutes of your time and play catch or tug of war with him before taking him in. You don't want him to associate coming and the end to his fun by going inside right away. Show him you can be fun, too.
If your dog ignores you, take a step back and consider what you may be doing wrong. Sometimes it's just a matter of making some minor adjustments to get your dog’s attention. Be positive, stay consistent and add a dash of fun to his day.
Top photo by Dane Khy
Bottom photo by Alan Porter
Read more articles by Linda Cole