Imagine this: you’re trying to have a nice dinner with your family, but your furry friend just won’t sit still.
They’re begging for scraps under the table, barking at every little noise, and just generally causing chaos.
You’ve tried everything you can think of to get them to calm down and listen, but nothing seems to work.
Sound familiar? If you’re struggling to get your dog to pay attention and obey your commands, you’re not alone.
The good news is that with some patience and the right training techniques, it is possible to teach your dog to listen and behave.
Here’s the gist of it:
To improve a dog’s listening skills during training, trainers suggest using high-value treats, positively using the dog’s name, providing sufficient exercise, incorporating hand signals, paying attention to the dog’s emotions, and using a long lead. These strategies can address issues such as lack of motivation, negative associations, excess energy, reliance on body language, emotional distress, and feeling constrained.
In this article, I’ll cover the most effective strategies for getting your dog to pay attention and obey your commands.
Whether you’re a seasoned dog owner or new to the game, the tips I’m about to give you will provide a solid foundation for raising a well-behaved pup.
Ready? Let’s begin!
The secret to a dog’s heart is through their stomach! Using high-value treats can help your dog listen to you and make training a much more rewarding endeavor.
Not all treats are created equal: a “high-value treat” is what dog trainers refer to for food items that your dog finds absolutely irresistible! For some pups, it’s a stick of mozzarella cheese; for others, it’s freeze-dried organs or jerky!
Whatever food you find that your pup goes absolutely nuts for then becomes your high-value treat. Use this during your important training sessions to help keep your dog interested and focused on you. A dog will be eager to please if the reward is so tasty!
The next big key to holding an attention span is to never use your dog’s name in a negative light. Although it can be easy to forget when you’re angry at your dog, using their name in a scolding manner means that they will have a bad association with it.
This can easily circumvent training efforts where you use your dog’s name to get their attention, call them back in a recall, or offer praise. As such, you should be saying your dog’s name in the best of ways only; such as when they do a trick correctly, look at you, or come back when called!
Sometimes a young dog’s brain is simply too wired to listen well! A significant problem for more athletic breeds such as the border collie or Siberian husky, not providing your dog with enough exercise stimulation can make listening a lot harder. It’s not the dog’s fault either, they’re just wired to need to release pent-up energy, and if not given an outlet, everything else becomes that much harder.
When creating a schedule or routine for your dog, add plenty of exercise and playtime to ensure that Fido has a great release for his physical needs. Training, listening, and overall behavior should improve tremendously when this is implemented.
We, humans, are very verbal-oriented, but animals are not. The majority of animals on this earth rely heavily on body language and not on verbal cues, with dogs certainly not being an exception to this rule.
As a result, a dog actually does better listening with hand signals and hand cues than the dog does with verbal commands!
If your pup is having difficulty picking up on verbal statements, incorporate some hand signals into the training routine. You’ll be surprised at how well hand signals work!
Alongside this, hand signals are better for commanding your dog to do something from a distance where it may be hard to hear you.
Science has long proven that dogs feel very similar complex emotions to us, such as happiness, stress, grief, and anxiety. Being mindful of your dog’s emotional state is key to good training and a happy and healthy life for you both.
Sometimes, a dog is having a hard time listening, not because they aren’t interested in you but because something is causing a level of distress. Maybe a routine changed that is making your pup anxious? Maybe something scary happened, and they need time to process it? Or maybe they’re grieving something?
Putting together the clues of what happened when your dog stopped listening to you can help you mitigate the problem and get right back on track.
A great training method and listening technique for your pup is to invest in a long lead when training. A long line is a massive leash that allows you to ensure your dog can’t go too far or do something they shouldn’t be doing. It is so long and light that your dog will likely not even feel like they are on a leash.
Every time your dog is not listening to you, the long lead will stop them from doing something they want to do (like bolt). Your dog will learn that misbehaving doesn’t lead to the desired result and can help them stop ignoring you. Long leads are also key to teaching your dog to return when called and walking off-leash!
There are actually commands you can teach your dog that encourages them to listen to you, believe it or not!
Training your dog to either “watch me” or “touch” helps ensure that your pup’s attention is back on you, especially if they’re being distracted by something else.
Training either of these is fairly simple, especially if you use a high-value treat like the one mentioned in the first tip.
Every time your dog looks at you, say, “Watch Me” and offer a treat. You’ll be amazed at how quickly Fido picks up on this! With touch, you will take your hand and place it at your dog’s nose while issuing the command and giving a treat. Every time your dog touches their nose to your hand, a treat is granted.
Having your dog either make full eye contact with you or touch their nose to your hand will be what makes sure that the attention is back on you, ready to listen.