Getting your dog’s attention requires patience and the right approach. There are things to do, and there are things to definitely NOT do to get his attention. I’ve already covered what you should do when your dog won’t listen in a previous post. Today, I want to talk about what NOT to do when getting your dog’s attention, or at least attempting to. These things absolutely do more harm than good, and they’re more common than you’d think.
Things Not to do When Getting Your Dog’s Attention
As I said, the following no-no’s are quite common among dog owners, and that’s because we all tend to fall into the trap of viewing our dogs as furry humans with four legs. That’s just not true. They have an entirely different way of viewing the world that based on instinct and drive rather than cognitive function. That is such an important thing to remember when we’re trying to get our dogs to pay attention. They are hardwired to be always on the alert for anything interesting, as it could be a source of food or danger.
1. Don’t Yell
It’s all too easy for us to lose our tempers. Remember, dogs DO NOT have the brain power that we do. They don’t look at the world the way we do. Losing your temper does nothing to get your dog’s attention. It only serves to make them fearful, and they won’t understand why they’re being yelled at, anyway.
2. Don’t Hit – Ever
Getting your dog’s attention should never involve abuse. And it’s always abuse. Here’s why. While we all know that kicking or seeking to physically injure an animal on purpose is abuse, what many of us don’t understand is that any physical correction with a dog is abuse. Even if you’re not trying to hurt your dog. Even if you don’t hurt your dog. Spanking isn’t something a dog understands. Any sort of physical correction, no matter the intent, is abuse in their eyes. They don’t understand the correction, and it fosters fear – sometimes aggression, as well.
3. Don’t Sabotage Yourself
When you need to get your dog’s attention, the last thing you want is to derail yourself with distractions. For example, if you’re having a training session, you don’t want to be in a place full of distractions like other dogs, toys, or food. You should be the center of your dog’s world. Train in a distraction-free zone inside your home. Don’t train outside where other critters can also be a distraction. Remember, dogs are hardwired to to check out anything that could be interesting or dangerous, so limit those things to the best of your ability.
4. Don’t be Wishy-Washy
The inability to commit is one of the biggest problems owners you can have with getting your dog’s attention. Remember, getting your dog’s attention begins with training, and training only works if you commit to a plan. When you don’t stay consistent or you give in on any level with your dog’s training, you are setting him up to fail.
5. Don’t Indulge Him
This one is hard. SO hard. I’ve had dogs my entire life, so I know this. However, it’s also one of the most important factors in getting your dog’s attention. Do. Not. Indulge. Him. Of course you love him, and you want him to know that, but don’t give him everything he wants all the time. If he has everything he could ever want, why on earth would he pay attention to that little treat or toy in your hand for training? He already has way cooler, stuff. You gave it to him. Remember? LOL
6. Don’t Expect More Than He Can Give
Perhaps the biggest no-no in getting your dog’s attention is expecting more than he can give. Keep training periods short, especially if your dog is very young or very active. Don’t expect ANY dog to get the hang of commands immediately. They need time for conditioning to set in. Remember, you’re training a dog, not a human. It takes time and patience.
Always Remember the Don’ts of Getting Your Dog’s Attention
We’ve discussed how to get your dog’s attention for training in other posts, but I think the things you shouldn’t do are just as important as the things you should. Always remember that your dog cannot and will not think like a human, and always remember the don’ts of getting your dog’s attention. If you do that, you’ll be far ahead of the game.