Does your dog look at you with a blank stare when you tell him to “sit” or “stay”? Few things are more frustrating than a dog that just refuses to listen. It’s easy to think that our dogs are just doing it out of spite or secretly plotting against us. The truth is that our dogs refuse to listen to us for one of two reasons: training problems or medical issues.
Is Your Dog Hard of Hearing?
Jokes aside, your dog may have a medical condition that’s causing a problem with his hearing. Some dogs are born with congenital conditions that make them deaf. Others may become hard of hearing because of head trauma or something as simple as an ear infection. Some dogs also lose their hearing as they age.
Scheduling an appointment with your vet is a great first step. They will examine your dog to look for any reasons for his hearing issues. If there is a medical issue, they can recommend a treatment plan to try and resolve the problem. Make sure to have a small dog carrier when you bring your pet to the vet so he or she will feel comfortable.
If a medical issue is not affecting your dog’s ability to listen, the issue is likely a behavioral one. In this case, some good old fashioned dog training should do the trick.
Start with the Basics
There are five basic commands that your dog should understand: sit, stay, leave it, heel and come. Make sure that your commands are clear and concise. Always use the same word when training your pup to avoid confusion. One or two word commands tend to work best. Using the same tone of voice and body language is also important.
Reward! Reward! Reward!
Use positive training methods with food rewards to teach your dog to respond to you. If he obeys you when you command him to do something, and there’s a tasty snack for him when he does so, he’s much more likely to do it again.
Doing as you ask has to be more fun for him than ignoring you; otherwise he won’t leave what he’s doing to answer your call.
Be Persistent with Training
Training should be an ongoing thing. Even after your dog has mastered the five basic commands above, you still need to continue using these commands regularly. Without regular training sessions, your dog will forget what he has learned. Training sessions should be short and sweet, and end on a positive note. Even five minutes daily will make a difference to how your dog responds to you.
Find a quiet place to train your dog. Although it may be tempting to bring him to the park for training, the sensory overload may be too much for your pup. Between the sights, sounds, smells and people, he will find it incredibly difficult to pay attention to you. After your dog has mastered the basics, you can slowly start introducing distractions, such as other dogs and people. Again, keep rewarding him for obeying you in the presence of these distractions. You need to be much more interesting than anything else in his environment.
Consider Hiring a Professional
If you’ve given the training your very best shot and are still not seeing results, you may want to consider hiring a professional for help. We all experience challenges while training our dogs. Sometimes, it’s more effective to call on a professional for help, even if it’s just to see where you’re going wrong. It may be something very basic and easily remedied. If not, then they will create a customized training plan for your dog and provide you with the guidance you need to successfully manage your furry companion, and improve his “hearing”.