When your dog refuses to listen to you, it can be really frustrating. Sometimes, it can even feel like your dog isn’t listening to you on purpose, which makes you even more frustrated. However, dogs are not spiteful beings and they definitely don’t do things to ‘get back at you.’
Thankfully, I know just what you need to do to change your story from my dog won’t listen to my dog loves to listen!
Yes, I’ve cracked the code on this one and the answer to the question – how do you make your dog listen to you? – might not be what you expected!
Reframe your thinking!
The first step is easy. You don’t need any tools or training equipment for this one. All you have to do is reframe your thinking to help develop a deeper understanding of your dog and your dog’s way of thinking.
It’s easy to see the surface of a situation as it unfolds. For example, maybe you called your dog to come in for the night. Your dog clearly heard you but instead of trotting over like the good dog you know he is, he didn’t respond and continued sniffing around the perimeter of the fence. Or, maybe you asked your dog to stop barking, and they just barked even louder.
You can look at both of these situations (and many others) and think that your dog must be ignoring you on purpose. It’s so obvious, right? I mean, look at them, they’re even glancing back at you every so often to make sure you know that they are ignoring you – clever pup!
However, this is not the case. Your dog is not ignoring you on purpose. Like I mentioned above, dogs are not spiteful or vindictive. They don’t go out of their way to cause you stress or frustration. To understand why dogs behave the way they do (including why they don’t listen), you have to reframe your thinking about what is really happening when situations like this occur.
You need to meet your dog where they are and then find a way to get back on the path towards being attentive and responsive.
Listen to your dog
At times it may seem like your dog has selective hearing, but again, that’s not the case. Dogs have a keen sense of hearing and can hear a lot better than we can!
To get your dog to listen to you, you’ve got to listen to your dog. You need to be present and work on creating a circle of trust and safety between you and your dog. This is key if you want your dog to listen to more than just your commands and cues.
Developing trust by listening to your dog when they’re agitated, frightened, happy, excited and so on, and letting them know that you hear them and that their feelings are valid, is what you need to do to build trust.
Why your dog is ‘not listening’ to you
The most common reason that explains why your dog isn’t listening to you is because your dog’s needs are not being met.
It can be a single need that’s not being met, or a few needs that have accumulated together over time. Whatever the case, your dog feels like you’re the one not listening to them.
Sometimes your dog doesn’t listen to you because they are busy doing their own thing. Maybe they were tired or stressed, and focused on something else, which is why they were not able to listen to you in that moment.
Understanding this is where the reframing of your thoughts comes into play. Instead of jumping to conclusions and assuming that your dog isn’t listening to you on purpose, try and see the situation from your dog’s perspective.
What are they doing? What are they focusing their attention on? What could explain why your dog isn’t listening to you? Once you start to reframe your mind like this, it will help you to pinpoint exactly why your dog isn’t listening.
Reframe your thinking from ‘why is my dog not listening to me?’ to ‘what can I do to help them?’ Maybe they need help to calm down after an encounter with another dog that sent them into a barking frenzy. Understand that your dog is trying to communicate something. Remember, dogs can’t talk. Dogs communicate with behavior and it’s up to you to dig deeper to understand what your dog is communicating with you and what you can do to make sure your dog’s needs are met.
Are you being a good role model for your dog?
Role modeling is so important. Your dog soaks in everything you do, and your actions tell them so much more than you might think.
I understand that in times of high-stress, it’s easy to get carried away by your emotions. When your dog doesn’t listen, you may feel like you have to correct your dog. Or, maybe you take it up a notch and you bribe your dog to listen with treats or mild forms of blackmail (you know, things like, if you don’t walk quietly by my side, you’re not getting any leftovers later, etc.)
This type of reaction comes from a place of annoyance and frustration and it’s not very effective. Bribing your dog now won’t make him listen to you tomorrow. When you react to your dog’s behavior like this, you create a disconnection between you and your dog – which is something that you definitely do not want.
If you’re here reading this post, it’s because you want to create a Brilliant Partnership lifestyle with your dog. This means you have to step into the role of a role model and become a guide for your dog.
Pay attention to how you interact with your dog!
Your interactions with your dog can make or break your relationship. If you continue to badger your dog and bribe them to listen to you with treats, you’ll form a transactional relationship. This is not what you should strive to achieve with your dog because it lacks the loving connection and bond you can build through the partnership lifestyle.
Viewing your interactions with your dog as a lifestyle is what will help you turn things around with your dog. It takes practice to become actively aware of your interactions with your dog beyond playtime and cuddling on the couch. Listen to the tone of your voice when you speak to your dog – do you sound angry? Agitated? Or, are you speaking calmly?
To make your dog feel like a valued member of the family, you must learn to listen to them and make sure that their needs are being met. Instead of saying to your dog, “Why can’t you just do this thing that I’m asking?” Instead, reframe your thinking, and say, “I can see that you do not want to do this thing right now. So, how can we figure this out together?”
Make a plan
You and your dog are partners. You must take the time to engage with your dog. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Take baby steps and do one thing at a time. A good example is when your dog is so excited about going for a walk that they’re jumping up and down like a spring.
The first step is to calm them down long enough to get their leash or harness on. Once that is done, you need to walk to the front door and connect before you take a step outside. When you’re outside, see if you can take the next step together, and 10 steps after that.
By taking baby steps, you make progress without it being too overwhelming. It gives you time to work out how you and your dog are going to work together as dancing partners in life.
You and your dog are on an adventure of discovery together. Planning to engage with your dog and experimenting together to try and find a place where you two can meet as partners is, what I believe, the secret to forming a loving and connecting partnership for and with your dog.
So, the next time your dog doesn’t listen to you, remember to reframe your thinking. Think about how you can connect and make a plan that will help bring you both closer – even if you have to take it one baby step at a time.
If you’d like to work with me and learn how to create a partnership lifestyle for you and your dog, you can request an invitation to join us in the Brilliant Partners Academy when the doors open for the next enrollment!
You can listen to everything I talked about in this blog post over on my podcast – Enlightened By Dogs. It’s episode 109, which you can listen to here.
Watch a short video trailer of the episode below: