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Bark Bytes… Why Won’t My Dog Listen To Me?

Do you ever wonder…”Why won’t my dog listen to me?”  The simple answer is because the dog doesn’t understand what you are saying and you could be confusing your dog.

The foundation of our behavioral is all about communication – voice tones and body language.  For thousands of years, this is how dogs have communicated with each other.  Dogs behave consistently in response to certain triggers.  Unfortunately, it is often humans causing the problems when inconsistent commands are issued or rules are not consistently applied.

Just remember that your dog really wants to please you.  But if you are not communicating clearly, he just doesn’t know how.

Why Your Dog Doesn’t Listen

When your dog is not listening to you it may be because you are confusing him by using inconsistent commands and failing to praise his success.  For instance, you may say “no” to your dog, your partner may say “stop” and your children may simply call his name.  All of you use different voice tones, some being high pitched and others being low.

There may even be different rules throughout your household.  Some of you may allow your dog on the couch, some don’t, or you find yourself not correcting your dog when you are tired.  Some may sneak him table scraps yet you don’t want him begging at the dinner table.  Some may allow him to jump up, some may only discourage him when they’re in nice clothes or the dog is muddy.  All of these inconsistencies result in a very confused dog!

Getting Your Dog To Listen

You must use simple, clear and consistent commands, and always follow with praise.  Want your dog to sit?  “Sit” is the command followed by “good boy” with everyone in the family using the same command.  Don’t alter the phrase by saying “you need to sit” or “sit down please”.  You will only confuse your dog with too many different words.  If you have a puppy and your dog doesn’t know what “sit” means, then you can use some gentle manual pressure to place your dog in the sit position, accompanied by the word “sit” and then praise when he sits.  Your dog will quickly catch on to the idea.

Do not get into the rat race of giving your dog a treat every time he sits or he will begin to expect it.  Not only will your dog become overweight from all the treats, but you’ll have to carry treats around in your pockets at all times.  Treat training can produce short results.  You are trying to get your dog to listen to you forever and a day!

Also remember that the dog’s name is not a command.  So, if you are calling your dog by shouting his name over and over again, your dog will hear what you are saying but not understand what you want him to do.  He may come to you or not.  He may come to you this time if he thinks you have something for him, but this command may not work outdoors with interesting people, dogs and smells.  Decide on a recall command such as “come” and use it consistently whenever and wherever you want your dog to come to you.  Don’t forget the praise so that he understands he is doing the right thing.

Your dog will listen to you once you learn to communicate with him clearly and consistently.  Write down your commands so that everyone in the family follows them.  Don’t allow variables to creep in.

Once your dog has mastered the basics of obedience training and responds to “come”, sit” “stay”, etc. you can move on to more advanced behavior training.

Thanksgiving Foods Your Dog Should Avoid

·      Turkey Skin and Undercooked Turkey Meat

·      Stuffing and Gravy

·      Green Bean Casserole

·      Turkey Bones

·      Bread Dough and Cake Batter

·      Mashed Potatoes

·      Walnuts and Macadamia Nuts

·      Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Pie

Vicki and Richard Horowitz, of Woodbridge, are dog behavioral therapists and trainers with Bark Busters, one of the world’s largest dog training company.  For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit

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