So you think your dog is ignoring you?
It’s easy to assume that our dogs are choosing to ignore us in certain situations. We slap the disobedient label on them and we feel frustrated because ‘they should know better’. However the truth here is that your dog is not ignoring you, he or she is actually just distracted. Dogs are faced with so many different distractions all the time. Just think about your regular trip to the park, there are lots of exciting distractions for your dog including squirrels, trees to smell, other dogs, kids playing football or a river to jump into. Try to imagine it from a dog’s perspective; it would be like asking a 12-year-old child to sit a difficult maths exam in a lively circus tent full of performers. Training your dog doesn’t stop as soon as you graduate from puppy school or finish your programme of one-to-one lessons. If you want your dog to listen to you in all kinds of situations then you must continue to train your dog to do this. Just because they know sit in your living room, that doesn’t mean that they’ll sit in every environment unless you have trained them to do so.
TIPS 1. Write a list of what you think distracts your dog; rate them as not too distracting to very distracting. Begin training with the lower distractions first and only progress when you are happy that you’re dog is listening and responding well.
2. Take a selection of treats out with you of different value. Giving your dog variety will keep them interested and more willing to work.
3.What makes your dog tick? Once you find it then use it. It may not be a piece of chicken, you may have to use higher value treats such as chopped up liver. Sometimes it’s best to give your dog a smaller meal so that they are still interested in food during your training session, or even better use their meal to reward the during training.
4. For some dogs food isn’t always the best tool to use to keep their attention. If your dog is more toy orientated then maybe a squeaky ball or a tug toy will be your best tool.
5. Teach them to pay attention to you: looking at you always results in lots of yummy treats or a fun game.
6. Train! Train! Train! Turn your walks into fun training opportunities. Set yourself little challenges for you and your dog to complete.
7. Play! Play! Play! It’s all about interactive play with your dog; teach them that playing with you is more fun than chasing other dogs or rolling in fox poo. I recommend that you read Craig Ogilvie’s Interactive Play Guide to help you learn how to get the best out of playing with your dog.