give one's attention to a sound.
"evidently he was not listening"
synonyms:hear, pay attention, be attentive, attend, concentrate on, concentrate on hearing, give ear to, lend an ear to;
an act of listening to something.
The phrase "my dog won't listen to me" is probably the most common one I come across when working with owners and their dogs. This is often followed by words like "stubborn", "pig headed" and "disobedient". But in most cases the dog is 'listening' but is simply not tuned in to the owner.
What do I mean by tuning?
Here's an example for you. I have horses, most of which weight over 500kg. One thing you learn with horses is that if you want them to co-operate, take their cues from you and enjoy their experiences with you, you cannot use force (although some would disagree but that's a whole other blog). It takes daily positive interactions, regular handling and grooming, groundwork and a clear plan of what you intend to do each time you ride. If I get on one of my horses its because I have already assessed his mood, how he feels in that moment in that environment and only when I am satisfied he is relaxed and trusting of me. But it always starts with 'tuning' him in to me before we head off. With 500kg underneath me I know that he can easily out power me. The last thing I want is him making a decision whether something is a threat or not, and reacting poorly in any way. So the 'tuning' at the very beginning of our ride is critical and will dictate how things go, how he responds and how much he listens and trusts me.
With dogs it is absolutely no different, whether they are nervous, reactive or over-exciteable, if they are not 'tuned' right from the start then I guarantee you will have problems on your walk.
So stop and think, what state of mind is your dog in before you leave the house, before you even clip the lead on?
This is where it all starts. If you cannot calmly get your dog to stand still on sit in order to clip a lead on to your dog in your home then why on earth would you think your dog would listen to you out of the house?
If the moment you open the front door and your dog nearly pulls your arm out of your socket on the lead, then it clearly tells me your dog is not 'tuned' in to you. I see people being dragged down the street by a small dog? Your just the annoying person on the end of the lead preventing them from getting where they want to go quickly enough.
You must go back to basics.
Patience and focus must be taught
If you have skipped teaching your dog these fundamental basics because in your mind you feel you must get your dog out for his walk, then I'm afraid you too lack patience. Let go of your ideals. I know you want the perfect companion to take long walks along the beach and who hangs on your every word, but it simply doesn't just happen for the majority. Your dog needs to be educated consistently on a daily basis. And yes you will have some good days and bad days but get over it an move on. Tomorrow is always another day and before you know it your dog will offer you the behaviour you want before you have even said a word.
If you tune in to your dog more then I guarantee your dog will tune in to you more. You cannot have one without the other.
My golden rule with a dog is always that: "IF I STOP YOU STOP"
If I stand still will the dogs stand still next to me on a short lead and not move around or sniff anything? Or will they stop on a long line at a desired range when I stop?
If you want to get your dog to listen you must:
1. Minimise the opportunity to rehearse unwanted behaviour
2. Maximise the opportunity for them to get in right
3. Practise, practise, practise
4. Set achievable, realistic goals
5. Always be calm and positive in your approach
Go on, give it a try. Tune your dog in to you and you may be surprised with the results.