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Why Doesn’t My Dog Listen To Me?

What To Do When Your Dog Doesn't Obey Cues

Are you tired of nagging your dog? Do you wish your dog would listen the first time you asked them to do something?

All dogs will, at some point, refuse to respond to a cue that they already know. There are many reasons why a dog might seem to ignore a cue. All of these reasons can be navigated through training.

You really can train your dog to listen to you anywhere, anytime. Though dogs, like humans, are imperfect, they have an incredibly acute sense of hearing. You do not need to repeat yourself or raise your voice to get your dog to listen better… you just have to get inside their head.

No Need To Repeat Yourself

Does it seem like your dog doesn’t take you seriously until the third time you repeat a cue?

If you have a habit of repeating yourself, your dog might form a habit of delaying their response.

Increase the chance that your dog will listen the first time by making sure you get their attention first. Go back a few steps in your training. Teach your dog to look at you when you say their name, and heavily reward them for making eye contact.

Is Your Dog Actually Using Calming Signals?

Dogs “talk” to us using body language. Many of their signals are very subtle.

When your training session has run a bit too long, or your dog is otherwise tired, frustrated or confused, they may not behave as you would expect. They may also pick up on your frustration and feel as though they don’t know how to please you.

Dogs use calming signals to ease tension in social interactions between other dogs – and with their humans.

You might catch your dog sniffing at nothing in particular in the grass, yawning or avoiding eye contact instead of responding to your commands.

They’re not actually ignoring you. They’re feeling uncomfortable. These are all signs that your dog needs a break. Allow them a chance to explore their surroundings and just “be a dog” for a moment.

When you start up with training again, begin with easy cues. If you’re trying to recall your dog, get closer to them. Offer tastier rewards and more praise. Make sure your dog is having fun – then challenge them to more difficult cues, or more distracting situations.

Get Your Dog To Choose You

No matter where you are, no matter how many squirrels are running around, you can teach your dog that you are the funnest thing in the world.

Make sure your food rewards are truly tasty. Offer bigger bites in more challenging environments, such as when you’re somewhere noisy or there are many distractions.

Your style of training is just as important as your choice of rewards. Make everything a game. If you’re not having fun, your dog isn’t either.

Are Your Expectations Reasonable?

Some dog owners make it look so easy! You might find yourself comparing your dog to those in videos, in movies and in public. The truth is, dogs who seem to always listen to their owners have had hours and hours of practice. They’ve gone through all of the obstacles, mistakes and trials that you have with your dog.

You might be putting your dog in situations that they are not prepared to handle. It’s not unusual for some dogs to become totally unmanageable when let off-leash in an unfamiliar area if they haven’t truly earned your trust through consistent recall training.

This is one of the biggest mistakes dog owners make – letting their dog bite off more than they can chew. The first time your dog is off-leash and ignores you, it’s self-rewarding; they get to enjoy another few minutes of sniffing instead of having to go home. Every other time after that, they build up a habit of choosing the environment over you.

Practice recall in a safe, fenced-in area. Do not only call your dog when it is time to go inside or stop playing. Call them frequently, give them treats, and make a game of it. You can even play hide and seek to help your dog learn that returning to you is a good thing.

What It Really Means To Socialize Your Dog

Socializing your dog is vitally important to helping them learn to listen in any environment, even if they are confronted by a squirrel, another dog, or an interesting human.

Most people think that socializing your dog means to allow them to make friends with everyone. While it’s nice for your dog to be friendly, socializing just means teaching your dog to tolerate a broad range of people, animals and environments.

You want your dog to be familiar with, say, men in hats, and even enjoy being around them, but what you need is for your dog to be exposed to enough people during training sessions so they continue to obey your cues – no matter what.

Dogs Struggle With Generalizing

Your dog has learned to sit politely before you serve each meal, but now that you’re at the park, they seem as though they’ve never heard the word “sit” in their life. What gives?

When you give your dog a cue, they’re not only listening to the sound of your voice, but your body language, the background sounds and smells in their environment, and so many other subtle signals all around them.

Teaching “sit” in one way, one place, is just not enough. Teach “sit” when you are standing in front of your dog. Teach “sit” when you are next to your dog, or across the room. “Sit” at the park. “Sit” at the vet. “Sit” with a whispery voice. “Sit” with a hand cue. On the grass, on the driveway, and on the tile floor. “Sit” until your dog really knows “sit”.

You won’t necessarily have to generalize every cue so extensively. Your dog can get better and better at listening to you in different situations.

Call For Backup

Working with a trainer is the fastest, easiest way to make progress with your dog. A dog trainer doesn’t just train your dog. Using science-backed methods, we help you understand your dog’s mind and help you communicate with them better. These results improve your bond with your dog in ways that last a lifetime. Contact Healthy Houndz today for private dog training in North York and Toronto.

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