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Getting your Dog to Listen

A common and very fundamental dog training issue is when dogs simply won't listen to their parents. How can our dogs progress, learn and grow if they aren't paying any notice to the training that will get them there?

Dominance and punitive methods only serve to damage you and your dog's relationship by breeding mistrust and fear, and certainly get us nowhere nearer to our goal of a focused and aware dog. Being a source of positivity in your dog's life will make you important to them, as positive associations with your presence increase the likelihood of you gaining their attention when you need it.

There is a large difference between "obedience" and "cooperation", "commands" and "cues", and it's important to make the shift towards a reward based encouragement rather than enforced discipline.

Using rewards for desirable behaviours makes your dog feel good, and this will play a large part in seeing the same behaviours more often in the future. Start off with high value treats to motivate your dog to learn (fresh chicken, sausage, cheese, ham etc) until they are responding reliably, then reduce to intermittent rewards.

Food isn't the only reward that is effective in gaining your dog's attention, and it's your dog who decides what is most reinforcing for them, be that toys, play, praise or just a good head scratch. "Life rewards" such as going for a walk, playing with their friend or sniffing their favourite lamppost are equally as effective.

You can also switch up rewards and reinforcement so that your dog doesn't know what's coming next, or even use a combination of reinforcements for extra impact.

Rewarding your dog for good behaviour will make learning fun for them, improve their confidence and strengthen your bond. The key to cooperation and compliance is trust and motivation and the more exciting and valued you are to your dog, the more she will listen to you in every situation.

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