How to Get Your Dog to Listen Better

Jack Russell dog walking - Get Your Dog to Listen Better

Are you having a hard time getting your dog to listen?  According to expert dog trainer, Michele Meyer, there are five easy ways to improve your dog’s attention.  Below are some of Michele’s tips to get your dog to listen better.  

How to Get Your Dog to Listen Better

The first step to get your dog to listen better is to make sure you have their attention. If they are not paying attention, they will not hear you tell them other cues like sit, stay, come, etc. So how do we do this? Did you know your dog’s name is a cue? And there are things that we do on a daily basis that affect how reliable our dogs will be at responding to their name.

Our first tip to get your dog to listen better is to play the name game. This is a really easy way to teach your dog that they should look at you when you call their name. It also makes it really fun for them so that they are motivated and eager to respond. Throughout the day around the house and on walks, just call your dog’s name in a really fun voice and when they look at you say “yes” and then give them a treat. Start in close proximity to your dog but with practice, you should be able to gradually be further from your dog when giving the cue. Try to do this at least a dozen times a day. It only takes a few seconds at a time so total training time is less than a minute a day.

Our next tip to get your dog to listen better is to not use their name with corrections. It’s important for your dog to view this cue (their name) in a positive way. If they associate it with being in trouble or you not being happy, then they will want to avoid you…and not because they are being defiant but because it is the appropriate thing to do. Dogs avoid other angry dogs to diffuse conflict so if your dog thinks you are upset…they will think they should avoid you.

Another way to get your dog to listen better is to not overuse their name which will water down the cue and teach your dog to ignore it. Try to remember that your dog’s name is a cue and means to look at you. That might sound obvious but a common occurrence I see when working with families is people saying their dog’s name for many other reasons. They might say their name when they want them to sit or stay and not realizing that they are not clearly communicating what they want. So try to only say your dog’s name when you want them to look at you and then wait for the next cue. If you do not then tell them what you want next, their name can become desensitized (blah blah blah). How many times would you keep responding to someone calling your name if when you responded they didn’t say anything else to you?

To get your dog to listen better, it’s important to separate their name from the other cues. We usually only say someone’s name to get their attention initially but don’t keep repeating their name if we are already engaged in conversation. Try to apply the same with your dog. Say your dog’s name to get their attention initially instead of putting it ahead of every cue. In other words, try not to always say “Rover sit, Rover down, Rover stay”…but instead just “sit, down, stay” once your dog is already engaged. When your dog is distracted…say their name first to get their attention but then wait until they look at you before giving the next cue.

Tip #5 to get your dog to listen better is to consider your dog is confused on what you are asking of them. This is often the case in families due to the canine and human communication gap.

There is much more we can do to get your dog to listen better in our training programs. Just get in touch and tell us about your dog.

Related article: 5 Quick and Easy Ways to Have a Better Behaved Dog