Doggers ignore their owners for all kindsa reasons, and sum of them might surprise our readers:
- They is distracted wif sumping else more interesting, like a skirrel in the yard, or the neighbors are out, etc.
- They doesn’t wanna give up doing what they wantsa do for what the Uprights wants them to do
- There’s not enuff paycheck to convince the dogger to do what the Upright wants
- They’re off leash sos they doesn’t hasta do what the Upright wants.
- They is past their threshold for reactivity, sos they can’t listen because they is all stressed out, over-excited, etc.
When I was a new dogger to the Mama, I had already learned that I didn’t hasta do what she wanted, so we hadda start slow and undo sum stuff what I had already learned.
One common fing in all of those items on my list, is that doggers gots stuff to do, just like Uprights does! We fink our stuff is important, just like Uprights does! And, we is just lil doggers wif small brains what doesn’t understand the big picture of safety, and Uprights gotsa leave on time for work, and stuff like that.
If you remember one fing today, just remember that your lil dogger is trying the best that he can! He’s really trying, and he needsa has you understand that and help him to have success! The Mama will tell you how to make that happen!
This issue is probably one of the most frustrating experiences for a dog owner: a dog who just won’t listen! However, most of the time, I think owners really have put their dogs in a situation where they will likely fail. Look at the reasons that Rugby gave for why dogs don’t want to listen to their owners.
Typically, when your dog won’t pay attention to you, it’s most often when the dog is off leash, so they are a free agent, and your dog knows it!! When your dog is off leash, you have zero control over what he’s doing, and you can’t “make” him do anything he doesn’t already want to do. Do yourself a huge favor, and put a leash on your dog before you ask him to comply with anything!
The common denominator in all of Rugby’s examples is that the dog is distracted! Expecting a dog to ignore distractions and focus on their owners is a long process. Dogs don’t generalize things easily or quickly, so it’s very difficult for them to understand commands and focus in the midst of distractions.
Systematic introduction to distractions is the key to success. When the dog understands how to focus on their owners, with no distractions, and then they are taught to focus through small distractions and increase to bigger distractions, they will be able to generalize that focus over time. Two commands that are helpful here are “Leave it” and “Watch me.”
When I teach “Leave it,” part of the signal that the dog gives is that he must break focus with what he wants, in order to look at me from either a sit or down….whatever position the dog chooses. It’s really a very important part of the process to help a dog learn to break that focus and look at his owner/handler! As long as your dog is looking at the source of his focus, he is going to do what he wants to do, and he’s not paying attention to you.
One thing that works right along with teaching distracted work, is watching your dog’s threshold with the distraction. The further the distraction, the more likely your dog will be able to focus on you. As your dog learns how to focus on his you, the threshold can be reduced gradually over time.
Remember that all distractions are not created equally. You really need to know your dog and what trips his triggers. I like to start focus work with things that don’t trigger a dog at all. That way, he can practice and learn the correct behavior that you want from him before you start distracted work. It really makes things go faster by the time you add in distractions.
The other thing that comes along with distracted work, is the paycheck that you offer your dog for his work. When he is working with no or low distractions, he likely won’t require a high value treat. However, when I want Rugby to focus on me when the neighbors are out in their back yard, I know I have to pull out a super high value treat because of the proximity to our yard, and the movement and sounds the neighbors are making. A low value treat just won’t do it.
- Be sure your dog is on leash when you start focus work.
- Start your work with training “Leave it” and “Watch me.”
- Your initial training should be with no distractions at all.
- Systematically add distractions little by little as your dog learns and becomes consistent with his responses.
- Consider your dog’s threshold to the distraction, and be sure the distraction is far enough away as your dog is learning.
- Make sure your paycheck matches up with the work you expect from your dog.
And remember Rugby’s sage advice: Your dog really IS trying to get things right! He’s trying so hard to figure out what you want him to do! Help him in the process by following my suggestions, and you’ll be off and running with a dog who can’t wait to listen and focus on you!
I’m really excited to have joined a wonderful Positive Pet Training Blog Hop! What that means, is that you’ll see some additional blog icons at the bottom of this post. This month our Blog Hop Theme is all about what to do when your dog won’t listen. You can click on the additional blog icons if you’d like to know more about this subject from a different blogger.