You’re Not Listening To Me!

Megan Great Dane July 15“Make it worth my while and I will.”

Dogs are simple souls; they do what works. If, every time you speak to your dog something good happens, then he’s going to start listening out hard! Quite often, people interact with their dog solely to nag him or tell him off. Do we wonder he doesn’t want to listen?

This doesn’t mean that he’s demanding or difficult – rather that we tend to expect instant, blind obedience to our every whim without considering our dog. If someone came to your home and you wanted to offer them a seat, I can’t imagine you’d say, “Take a seat. I said, take a seat. TAKE A SEAT. Sit in that chair NOW!”

No! You’d offer them a seat, then give them time to make their way across to the chair and sit in it.

So, how about extending the same courtesy to your dog, who really and truly only wants to live a quiet life? Instead of, “Rover! Rover!! Rover, get over here! Sit. SIT. Siddown. SIT!” try “Rover!” (wait for Rover to respond by looking at you) “Good boy. Sit.” (wait for Rover to lower his butt to the floor) “Nice!” and administer a favoured reward.

Be Clear, and Only Say It Once!
Clarity without repetition from you will result in a dog who listens because when you speak it actually means something. The more you repeat yourself, the less your dog will respond. If he has one opportunity to get his reward, he’s going to pay attention and grab that opportunity!

Keep in mind that dogs don’t come with our values installed. We have to teach them. So if your dog is not doing something you want him to do, ask yourself, “Did I actually teach him this?”

Action Step

Try this simple game over the next week, and check out the improvement in your dog’s response to you:

1. Say dog’s name once.
2. When he responds (that can be anything from raising an eyebrow to hurtling towards you and crashing into your legs), reward him with something good.
3. Repeat at every opportunity.
4. Enjoy your dog.

What should the reward be? Well, what does your dog like?

It could be a tasty treat, a scratch behind the ear, a smile and a dance (from you – but he may well join in!), getting his lead to go for a walk, tossing his ball for him …

Let him tell you what he really likes, then you have a way into his soul.

Beverley Courtney, author of the forthcoming book “Calm Down! Six Steps to a Relaxed, Calm and Brilliant Family Dog”, lives in Worcestershire with her four dogs, cat, hens and many tropical fish. She mainly works with puppies and “growly” dogs, always looking to build the bond between dog and owner. Get your copy of Top Tips for Turning Your Wild Puppy into a Brilliant Family Dog – a step-by-step guide to changing the things you don’t like about your dog to the things you do like.

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