Do You Need to Train Your Dog to Listen to You or Come when Called?
There are lots of reasons your dog isn’t listening to you. Usually it’s because there’s something more interesting going on over there somewhere else, and/or they’re just not convinced you’re worth listening to. While you can’t control everything that’s going on in the environment around you, you can change your dog’s perception of you, making yourself someone worth listening to. Here are a few steps to implement immediately to begin to change your dog’s perception of you:
Quit talking to your dog incessantly. If you make small talk with your dog, it’s going to be less likely he’s able to pull out the relevant information, like “Come” and “Leave it.” Zip your lips.
Start using body language. Start speaking his language, body language. Don’t want him to bolt out the backdoor as soon as you open it? Block him with your body or pull the door shut on his nose. He wants to counter surf? Wordlessly spray him with a water bottle. When you stop talking to him and start taking action instead, he will realize it’s beneficial for him to be attentive to you because you might have some information for him that will help him maintain his own comfort.
Don’t ever ever ever ever EVER use “come” unless you can make it happen, at least to start with. Cardinal sin in dog training is giving a command that you don’t mean and/or cannot reinforce. They’re the same thing, because if you can’t “make” it happen after you issue it, it translates into “optional” for your dog, rather than required. Once he sees that he can ignore any command, but especially “come” it’s going to be almost impossible to get him to recall reliably. Starting today, if you want to be in a position to call your dog to come to you, you must put him on a leash or a line so that you can “make” it happen if he tunes you out.
If you make the mistake of calling him to come and he ignores or evades you. You have to calmly and persistently pursue him and follow through until he DOES come. Even if you have to go get him and bring him to where you called him. At that point, you must praise and reward him, not punish him.
Don’t call him to come away from something fun or towards something unpleasant, at least to start with. Your dog will learn really fast to NOT come if you start using it to get him to come into the bathroom for a bath, or to leave the dog park where he’s having fun. Refer to the previous tip and don’t call your dog to you in these situations, not until you’ve had the chance to get lots of enthusiastic repetition and reinforcement of this command, like coming for dinner, for treats and for play.
Don’t ever punish your dog for coming to you. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people I encounter that call their dogs to come to them to dole out punishment. I.e., they find an accident on the rug and call the dog over to rub his nose in it. It’s a great way to teach your dog to never come to you – it totally erodes trust.
Teaching Your Dog to Come on Command
We include the recall and attentiveness training in all of our training programs. Check out our different dog training options and contact us if you’d like help getting your dog to listen to you and come when called.
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