Ah, that perennial problem. The dog that ignores you. Clearly, he / she is doing it to irritate you, right?
Wrong! What on earth purpose would your dog have for WANTING to put you in a bad mood? Seriously!
Here are 5 common reasons why your dog is not paying you attention when you’re out and about, and what to do about it…
1. Your dog doesn’t understand what you are asking him / her to do.
Do you even have a reliable recall? Test: call your dog to you in the house when you are in different rooms. If you haven’t got that, you’ve got nothing. Your dog needs to understand that when you ask him / her to come, that’s what you want to happen! Wherever you are, whatever is happening, “come here” means “come here”.
2. Your dog didn’t hear you.
This is an interesting one. Because we all know dogs have awesome hearing. But sometimes they seem to go a little “deaf”. It is ENTIRELY POSSIBLE your dog is so engrossed in what is happening, your first request doesn’t even register. Give him / her a moment to finish the amazing sniff / take a pause in the game and ask again. Do not start nagging. No-one likes a nagger.
3. You have previously associated the request with being punished.
Oh yeah. Is that you? “That” person in the park calling your dog, getting crosser and crosser, so that when he / she finally skulks back to you, displaying all kinds of appeasement behaviours, you are so frustrated your TELL THE DOG OFF. For doing what you asked (albeit a bit slowly!). I guarantee you this is NO WAY to improve your dog’s responses.
4. You’re not very exciting.
Sorry. It’s probably true. Do you spend the entire dog walk on your phone? Did you bring a toy? Treats? If you’re not bothering to engage with your dog, how are you going to compete with all the fascinating things that are out there? Start being a bit more fun and your dog will want to be with you.
5. You only call your dog when it’s time to go home.
Predictability is the enemy of excitement. Call your dog to you repeatedly on your walk, and vary what happens every time you do (see no. 4). Put the lead on and take it off again several times, so that instead of predicting “going home time” it starts to precede freedom / a game / a treat.
The bottom line? Walking your dog is not a chore. It’s your quality time together. For your dog, it’s likely the highlight of the day. You get to choose whether you are just driving your dog to the party, or whether you ARE the party. Your dog just responds accordingly. The more you invest, the better the (dog’s) return will be.