Ever had a dog that just would not listen? "Hey, Ellie, come on girl! Look what I have!” Squirrel! Her head turns away and she is either distracted from your voice or she hears your voice but there is something of more interest catching her attention. She could be shy or mad. I hear this all the time, "My dog won't listen!" Well, let's see if we can change that together.
First, ask yourself what does your dog like? Think about this for a second, because this needs to be something your dog really (and I mean really) likes to the point of "Oh! Oh! Pick me! Pick me!" kind of excitement. This is what we call their reward. No one thinks to ask the dog what they like. There are a lot of assumptions made, and I see people waste money buying toys or treats they think their dog will like. My advice is to listen to your dog.
Second, we take the reward they really like and we get their attention. Whether it is a squeaker toy, yummy salivating (cause drool to hit the floor and make that a hazard for you) tasty treat, or just a plain old doll, it doesn't matter. It could even be a wrench as long as we get that response of "Oh! I love you because you have what I really like!," we are in business. So, while Fido/Fidoette is eyeballing their treat that is the center of their attention, speak to them and say, "Fido! Look at me!" Draw their attention with the treat to your face by pulling the treat up next to your face. Keep talking saying, "Look at me!" We are looking for that moment when their pupils lock with yours. When this happens, immediately give them their reward. Repeat as often as they stay interested but don't over do it. If they stop trying, don't make them sit and stay because just like the children they are, they can become rebellious and pouty too.
This training is designed to assist in confidence building. The more your dog can look into your eyes the more they can read and understand what it is they are being asked to do. If anyone ever wants to if know a confident dog is in their home, all they have to do is say the dog's name and if that dog should look into your eyes and not falter. If that happens, then they are very confident.
I would also take a moment here to caution you as well. This article is not for anyone who wants to walk up to a dog they do not know and attempt this. The end result might place them in the ER for a dog bite. Anyone attempting this training should know the dog and the dog should know them.
Notice to all who want to train their dog: March is already here and I am taking sign-ups for dog training for the month of April. The available days I have are Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays. If anyone is interested, give me a call.
By: Joel Allen