Why Your Dog Isn’t Listening When You Talk

Posted in Training Tips

I was in Boca Raton last Monday with a new Home Dog Training client and his Chow Chow named Lady.  My client called us out to help train Lady because she thought Lady didn’t want to obey her or listen to her.  Lady would jump on my client and the more she tried to get Lady to stop, the more Lady persisted.  The same was true with pulling on the leash, stealing food from the counter, getting on the furniture, not coming; and the list goes on and on.  I got there expecting to find a horrible and spoiled dog.  After just a moment or two, I saw something totally different and understood exactly what the problem was.

home dog training chow chow

The biggest problem that most dog owners have with their dogs isn’t the fact that the dog is misbehaving.  That is a secondary issue.  The real problem is that they just don’t know how to properly talk with their dog.

Dogs and people are different, but we both have one very important thing in common.  We are both social, pack animals.  We need a sense of belonging; being a part of “us”.  With this need comes the requirement of communication.  Without communication, we can’t successfully be a “we” and function as an “us”.

So, let’s agree that both dogs and people both have the need to communicate.  After thousands of years, both dogs and people have become pretty good at communication.  The issue is that dogs are really good at communicating with dogs and people are really good at communicating with people.  When we start to try and cross the line where dogs are communicating with people and people try to communicate with dogs; we run into a snag.

This is the real issue that my client was experiencing with Lady.  It wasn’t that Lady didn’t want to do what her owner wanted, she couldn’t understand what her owner wanted.

My goal, as a dog trainer, was to teach my client how to talk to Lady in a way that she understood.  When she had the ability to do that, Lady would obey and all those “bad behaviors” would be a thing of the past.

The great news is that the solution is really quite simple.  Both dogs and people use the same tools for communication.  We both posture to show displeasure or happiness, talk for focus, and use passively physical things to get focus and attention when things become difficult.  The difference between dogs and people is that we place a different emphasis on these different tools.

People put most of their communicative effort in talking.  We have languages that we speak.  We can be very eloquent and use different words and phrases to bring out the exact nuance of what we are trying to communicate.  Dogs, on the other hand, use their body language as their main form of communication.  They use height to indicate leadership or passivity in order to communicate proper pack structure and individual rank.

We (people) need to re-balance our communication tools when we wish to talk with our dogs.  We need to focus on our body language and lower the importance of our speaking. Instead of yelling “No!!!” at our dog when they are doing something wrong, we should stand up to show our rank and our dog’s need to give us focus and respect.

If we start to go “crazy” when we get mad at our dog, he will see that as an adrenalized, possibly playful act and he will react in kind.  He will get “crazier” in response to our inappropriate body language.

When our dog has our slipper in his mouth, our first instinct is to chase after him for the slipper.  Our “human” mind is acting in a way of wanting to catch him.  Our dog’s mind sees an adrenalized animal quickly approaching him.  He sees this as an aggressive or playful, physical (body language) act and he will run in the other direction either because of his “flight or fight reaction” or wanting to play “follow the leader”.  We continue to run and heighten the inappropriate physical communication.

Crazy world, isn’t it?  So what do we do?  We must employ a few simple “body language” tools that will clearly tell our dog to obey us and give us respectful focus in anticipation of our command and direction.  Here are some simple steps:

  • Don’t go nuts. Always stay calm and still.
  • Don’t approach your dog or make sudden moves. This body language can be interpreted as an aggressive or playful act.  In either way, it will adrenalize our dog and probably have them escalate the bad behavior.
  • Stand tall. THIS IS A BIGGIE.  Height is dominance.  Dominance requires focus and respect.  Being dominant does not indicate that you are mean or dangerous.
  • Feel confident in your actions. When you feel confident that you will prevail and win, it portrays an “invisible” body language your dog will clearly understand.

When it gets down to it, you think you are doing nothing.  You are really just standing tall, calm, and not moving.  But, take a moment and think about it.  When you were in grade school and looked at your teacher in the front of the room, that is what they were doing.  You naturally gave them focus and listened.

Once you understand how your dog communicates, they are willing to listen.  We are happy to answer all your dog questions.  Just call us at (954) 424-017.  You can also learn about many dog training subjects by reading our regularly updated Dog Training Blog at Best Dog Trainers Boca Raton South Florida.  There is a great web site with all our contact information at Dog Training Help Center Boca Raton South Florida. You can even text us directly through your Smart Phone.

I have written a lot more Dog Training articles at Original Dog Training Tips from Home Dog Training Boca Raton South Florida and Dog Training Documents from Home Dog Training Boca Raton South Florida. All my articles are based on real life training sessions.

Robin and I are thrilled to be your South Florida dog training professionals in Boca Raton for the last twelve years.  We love visiting the local Vet Hospitals all over Broward County.  They are always telling their clients about our dog training services.

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