“Why dogs don’t listen” is a constant dog training question I receive. Guardians want their dogs to listen when called whether in the home and or on a dog walk; owners don’t like being ignored. How can I get my dog to come or to listen to me? When I see the interaction between the dog and the guardian I can almost tell instantly what is occurring. Often even while hearing the complaints of my clients, their dog is in the middle of jumping on them, doing something they shouldn’t be doing or misbehaving in general. The client responds to the dog by yelling come, bad dog and no, multiple times with no other follow up, instruction or praise. This is an instant way to form a frustrating relationship and a debilitating bond between you and your best friend.
The dog sometimes ceases doing what the owner was yelling about and then persists to do something else the owner does not approve of. Hence the dog with “no” for a middle name. 🙂 I digress, that is for another post.
When observing the relationship and dynamics between the dog and human, in many cases it is apparent that there is a lack of dog training and bond between them. How humans interact with other humans does not necessarily work with canines. That is, demanding the dog come, scolding the dog or yelling at the dog when they come or not praising them when they are doing something small and beautifully correct like coming, sitting quietly, staying…etc. any and all of these former situations would condition the dog to not come when called rather than to come. One should be using positive reinforcement when dog training as this conditions your dog to think that you are the center of the universe and makes positive association between you and your best friend. There are numerous ways to accomplish this, most notably celebrating (even if you’re not happy with his behavior previous to your calling him), when he comes to you. If you are upset or in a bad mood, don’t use the word come or his name before scolding him. You will risk forming a negative association with those words.
It seems very logical that the more your best friend wants to be around you and finds you interesting (more so than sniffing another dog’s bum or eating grass…etc.) the better off your relationship will be.
Start training you dog. Bring high value treats (food or toys) to the park with you and outdoors in general where there are more distractions and enticing things and celebrate eye contact and coming to you when called. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” should be replaced with “celebrate the small stuff”. Making these small changes will improve your dog’s recall and your relationship immensely.