“Do as I say, not as I do.” True confession here: I don’t know what to do when my dogs won’t listen to me. I am not a very patient person (though I’m always working on that) and sometimes my dogs really push my buttons when they won’t listen. I sometimes raise my voice. In addition to that, I keep foolishly repeating the same thing over and over. “Sit, sit, SIT”. “Luke.” “Luke” “LUKE”.
In further truth, that repetition does no good, but raising my voice with Luke actually does. I know that’s frowned upon in positive pet training circles. However, when I’m trying to get his harness and leash on for a walk, he jumps around in excitement. When I finally get it on, he starts chewing on the harness and leash while I’m trying to get a wiggling Cricket ready. I lose my patience, and honestly, a firm “NO” or “STOP” quiets him down (albeit only temporarily).
It works, yes, but it’s still not my preference. I don’t like having to raise my voice to my dogs.
I like to write from personal experience. On the occasions I’m given an “assignment” to write – whether it be a product review, or a blog hop subject, I like to make it relatable, not just a dry factual post. When we chose our topic for this month’s Positive Pet Training Hop, I was challenged, as you can see from my above experiences.
“What to do when your dog won’t listen to you.” I obviously don’t really have a clear answer for that. I enjoy doing research as well, so I posed that question to google just to see what I’d get, if I could find some inspiration out there. Google didn’t have a lot of clear answers either.
I wish I could tell you that my dogs are so well behaved that this hasn’t been an issue for us, but I’ve already told you how false that would be. I have a beagle and a Labrador retriever mix after all. Their noses, their appetites, and their excitement about activities often trumps whatever words might be coming out of my mouth.
Luke is the first dog I’ve done serious training with, and he’s certainly the first dog that I’ve used positive training with. It’s not that I ever did anything extremely aversive with past dogs, I’m too soft-hearted for that. The truth is, I’m still learning about positive pet training, and I think having dogs is an ongoing learning process for all of us, because each dog is different.
I know that loud voices can scare some dogs, and I am working on not doing that so much. Our golden retriever Moses was very sensitive to being yelled at. If you even raised your voice a little, he would throw himself on the floor, roll on his back, and not move. Any further words were completely wasted on him.
We learned that about him and had to do things differently. However, I’ve learned that a raised voice (not yelling, but louder and firm) gets Luke to listen, and it does not upset him. If you’re a long-time reader, you know that I am very sensitive to Luke’s reactions to things because of his fears. I’ve also said before that Luke has some personality quirks. If I raise my voice at anyone else – say I drop something and curse out loud in irritation – that DOES bother him, he’ll run off into the other room. But if raise my voice AT him – such as when he’s bouncing around with excitement as I’m trying to put his harness on him, or biting at the leash – it doesn’t upset him at all, and he does listen to me.
I use Luke as an example, because Cricket, being so much older, is far more well behaved than her “bratty little brother” (we prefer that fun term over “willful” or “stubborn”; though I do think “opportunist” describes him well too!). She has her moments as well though, like being under my feet in the kitchen, or being out in the yard at night with her nose to the ground and not listening when we’re calling her in. Both dogs can seriously slow a walk down by stopping to smell something seemingly FOREVER. I can stick a treat right in front of their nose and get no reaction when they’re on a scent.
But that doesn’t hold a candle to Luke’s counter surfing. Just the other night he stole a piece of pizza out of the box on the kitchen counter, and completely forgot what “leave it” and “give” meant. When Luke really, really wants something, it becomes a game to him and yelling or anything else isn’t going to work anyway. He bounces off down the hallway all happy with himself, and chasing him down is only going to make him eat it faster.
That brings me to the answer to our question. On the immediate level – what if your dog has something in his mouth that is dangerous for him, or what if he runs away from you on the loose? We’ve had that happen too. Two things have worked for us with both dogs in those instances (as long as what they have, like pizza, is not better than a treat) – using the word “treat” in a happy voice, or shaking a can of treats. Yes, we use bribery, if that’s what can work when we’re in immediate need.
On the long-term level, Google turned me up the same answer, time and time again – MORE TRAINING. I would add MORE PATIENCE, for me anyway. I need to make both Luke and Cricket stand still for their harnesses, or they don’t go out the door. That’s easier said than done, especially if we’re in a time crunch. I’ve had some time free up now, I’m unemployed, so I hope for more walks and more time to work on that.
I would also add MANAGEMENT. I need to not let the situations that bring about the bad behaviors occur. Of course, we need to go for walks, so that doesn’t count. But we need to be more diligent about keeping food out of Luke’s reach (another true confession, I’ve been so preoccupied this week, Luke not only got pizza he got a piece of bread I had out to make a sandwich and half a French toast muffin that was very yummy – I really kicked myself for that one), and we need to always be diligent that gates and doors are closed so no one escapes to run free.
Add training to that – better recall – but the answer isn’t always that easy. We can work on recall all the time in our yard, but we’d better practice on walks and in other places too. But we can’t ever practice the true to life situation where they escape from the yard and “yahoo!” – they get to run free! That freedom can also trump a can of treats, but ultimately when this has happened, they have come back. Therefore, we must be doing something right, but as with all training, we can’t ever stop practicing, or having a plan for when these things happen.
What I want you to take away from this post is to just keep trying, training, and practicing. None of us are perfect, and sometimes the answers aren’t as easy as we’d like them to be. Maybe one day I’ll have one of those perfectly trained and behaved dogs that I see in other places, but I have a feeling that requires more patience than I have.
I also like to keep things in perspective. My hubby gets really upset when Luke counter surfs. It’s not the end of the world if he steals a piece of bread, and it is a tough thing to break him of. Yelling at him is pointless, but keeping things like a whole turkey out of his reach is important. I want my dogs to be happy and enjoy life too…I want to see them excited about going for walks, or playing fetch (Cricket can get out of control barking at me with impatience sometimes). At the same time, I know how important training is to keep them safe, so we’ll never stop working on that.
What do you do when your dog won’t listen to you? I’m looking forward to reading the other posts in this blog hop, maybe I’ll learn a thing or two, and so might you, so follow the links below!
We are pleased to be co-hosting the Positive Pet Training blog hop with Tenacious Little Terrier and Travels with Barley. Pet bloggers, please join us in this hop by posting your positive pet training stories. The hop remains open through Sunday. Our theme this month is “What to do when your dog won’t listen to you”, however, you may share any positive pet training story, whether it’s on our theme or not!
Alix Mitchell says
This is such a good post! More training and more management is always good, but real life happens and gets busy and hectic, accidents happen, and even the most well trained dogs aren’t robots.
I absolutely understand and feel your pain in the pizza situation. Buster is a certifiable kleptomaniac, seriously. He will steal anything and everything on the floor. He is also OCD and has a knack for being brought into a brand new room he’s never been in before and finding anything and everything that shouldn’t be on the floor and running with it. (We once took him to my mother-in-law’s and within 5 minutes of entering the living room with a brown and tan speckled carpet, he found a safety pin that no one else had seen or knew was there.) Oh, and he’s a resource guarder to boot. (Where is my crying laughing smiley emoji?!) Lol.
Luckily, he just likes to hold things or set them down next to him and not swallow them, for the most part. Although, he did have a couple of foreign body scares in his younger years. Needless to say, we taught a “trade” command pretty quick. He’s pretty good with it and reliable, but of course it really depends on whatever the forbidden item he has is and how much he wants it. He is also a smart bugger and realized that essentially stealing items = treats, so that doesn’t help, but what’s he other option? Pry it out of his mouth and get bitten or risk him eating it? Yeah, no. So, at least when he steals things, I’m pretty confident he’ll drop it quickly. So, I too, rely on management heavily for this as well. I think that’s just a part of life with a dog like this, and I think as dog owners, we have to be open to some level of management, because again, dogs will never be robots.
This was a fantastic post! I love learning about Luke’s spunky-ness 🙂
Thank you so much, Alix! We have a trade command too, but like Buster, there are certain things Luke is just not going to give up. Luckily for us, he so far hasn’t picked up anything too scary (like a safety pin – yikes!), and he will trade most things (and my hubby thinks I AM obsessive about keeping things cleaned up!). Weirdly, not tissues though…he is obsessed with those and if you try to get it, he’s just going to chew and swallow faster. On occasion, he will give it up though….guess it depends on his mood. LOL
I agree that management is (or should be) a regular part of life with dogs, any dogs really, but especially those with issues like ours. It saves some sanity and frustration too, I think! 🙂
Jodi Stone says
I can’t tell you how many times I yell at Delilah. But like Luke, it falls on deaf ears. Unless I am furious (she knows that) she will stop what she’s doing and then go right back to it. Being underfoot in the kitchen comes to mind, and she’s also one to twist as I’m trying to get her harness on. The funny thing is when Hubby and I start having a conversation and if it gets heated (not yelling at each other, just animated) Delilah gets SO upset about it. She will shove herself in between one of our legs and we have to reassure her that we are not yelling AT each other.
I rarely yell at Sampson and most of those times are at night when I’m trying to get him outside for his last potty of the day. I’m not sure if he can’t hear me, or choses not to. I’ve taken to grabbing a banana chip and luring him.
I say just keep working on it. As time allows, stop what you are doing to see if that behavior will stop.
But seeing as I have a Lab, I do worry about Delilah eating something…I like to be a positive trainer, but truth be told, if they were in the road and about to get hit, I’d yank them for sure. Same thing if she had something dangerous in her mouth.
I seem to remember Kristine from Rescued Insanity talking about a Kiko pup on youtube and how they had a video about “it’s your choice”, she raved about it for teaching/reinforcing leave it, or give, that might be a help to you.
It’s tough when they get older too, because, like with Cricket, sometimes you can’t honestly be sure whether they really do hear you or not! We suspect Cricket’s hearing is diminished, but then again, she is a stubborn beagle, lol.
I didn’t find the “it’s your choice” video yet, but I did find that kikopup channel and it looks like there are a lot of helpful videos on there, so I’ve bookmarked it to go back to later.
Some days, it just feels like there is so many things to work on with Luke, that I just have to choose my battles one at a time. Right now we’re working on our trick for the Trick or Treat hop, and I think the trick training is really good for him too, so I like to work on fun things at times too. I also think that helps him with keeping focus on me.
Sand spring Chesapeake says
I too loose my patients and yell loudly and if I run and yell ack at them they stop and let me near them so I can take what is usually dead animal parts from their mouths.
Dead animal parts…yeah, that’s always fun, huh? 🙂
Counter-surfing is a tough one to correct, since it’s self-rewarding. Management is the only solution there, for us.
Recently, I got mad at Rob for raising his voice at Leo instead of getting up from the couch to redirect him. It actually led to a rare fight. (Yelling begets yelling. It’s a fact). Then, two days later, I said a sharp “Hey!” to get Leo to stop chewing a hot spot. Rob said, “I thought we don’t raise our voices in this house!” So busted.
Luke will at least get off the counter if we tell him “off”, but that’s only when there’s nothing up there to get (“I was just checking” – LOL. I think you’re right that management is the only solution there
Ha ha, love the conversation with you and Rob, because that sounds exactly like what might happen around here!!
Kavinder Bisht says
I have Gaddi Dog ( Jack), when I take him out he ignores me and he never obey my commands. Please help me to find a better solution.
There are some great posts in this hop that could help you! Follow the blog hop links above.
The Daily Pip says
Ruby doesn’t always listen to us either especially when it comes to eating cat food. I feed everyone at the same time and she eats SO FAST and then immediately runs towards the cat food. I literally have to tackle her (not really, but almost) She ignores “leave it” in these situations. I literally have to just stand in between the cats and Ruby so they can finish eating. She’s so mild mannered in other ways – but with cat food, forget it.
Our cat Sam eats in another room, and when she ate in the same room she was up on the counter (I’m just as happy not to have cats on the counter now though); because there was no way to keep our dogs out of it otherwise. There is something so special about cat food – I think it smells stronger to entice cats to eat more. Guess the manufacturers didn’t realize how much more appealing that would make it to dogs too – LOL.
Tenacious Little Terrier says
Oh patience. Right now, we’re working on a difficult trick that is probably going to take at least months to achieve and it’s sorely trying my patience! Or lack thereof. It’s probably good for both of us in the long run.
We practice recall all the time. In the house, outside the house and whenever he’s off-leash. It’s an on-going process!
You do so great. I don’t think I could even consider taking on a trick that would take months to learn. I’d get bored and frustrated long before Luke would! 🙂
This is one of the hardest questions. Shyla won’t listen if there’s something disgusting nearby to eat (like a carcass or an old bone from one). What I’ve been doing is practicing her cues (but mostly her recall cue) near those things. She’s improved about 80%. A key is to never use a cue if I don’t feel sure that she’ll do it. Instead, I need to get her to me (perhaps with bribery) and put on a long line. Then we practice that cue with the disgusting edible as her distraction.
I do have trouble with getting louder and sounding mad when she ignores me. I’m working hard to change that habit because it makes her less likely to respond to me due to her fears. I do think that the issue of blowing a person off when a dog is loose is one of the hardest to fix but worth working on because you can improve a lot.
It sounds like you are doing great. I’m having issues with just keeping Luke out of the deer poop when we’re on walks, I can’t imagine a whole carcass. I think he’d lose his mind…LOL.
I need to get back to more work on leave it, that’s for sure.
Forest Poodles says
I love that photo of cricket having her voice heard! Patience is tough! I hear ya! Funny, you reminded me of when we adopted D’Art and his previous vet records said that he ate an entire turkey once. He never stole off the counter in our home, but I think that is largely because Teddy knew it was wrong and would put him in his place if he tried!
If only Cricket would tell Luke it was wrong! Unfortunately, she’s just egging him on in the hopes that she might get even a crumb. I think the only reason SHE doesn’t counter surf is because she’s too short! LOL
With Bear Cat, I’ve learned that his not listening is a game. When I say “no,” he has to prove “yes.” I tried ignoring him (when it wouldn’t hurt him to do so … ) and that’s the most success I’ve had. I ignore him on the kitchen counter (I just make sure nothing is left out that he can break or hurt himself with) … and since I unplugged the toaster, he’s left it alone too (this was his favorite game … sticking his paw in the toaster slowly as I watched from the other room) … he used to get outside and I’d chase him in circles on the porch – now I just go inside. I learned that the more I fight, the more he’ll fight. The more stubborn I become … the more stubborn he’ll become. It’s frustrating to no end. Just like children, they have minds of their own. And many times when they act out – there’s a reason – they’re not “bad” – they are just communicating (attention or boredom mostly with Bear).
Luke has some of the same reasons – attention and boredom, and it is hard to be mad at them for that.
I think Bear sounds like he might be a little too smart and intuitive for his own good as well! 🙂 But at least you’re starting to learn some ways to work around that.
Bell Fur Zoo says
I are so much like Luke when my nose is to da ground Mama can yell my name all she wants and I just ignore her. I are also a counter surfer so Mama has to push stuffs way back on da counter so I don’t steal it 😉
Matt (& Matilda)
I knew there was a reason I loved you so much, Matt, it’s because you’re just like Luke (hopefully in the good ways too!). Luke would be happy to show you his Ninja techniques for getting things even when they’re pushed way back. 🙂
Sally Hummel says
Love how human you are!! Consistency in what you’re doing will help a lot…as well as letting the dogs learn that their specific behavior earns them a response from you. Rugby used to bark incessantly when I prepared his meals, so I walked away and made him wait five minutes and I tried again. By the third barking episode ( NOT the third day), he realized that every time he barked I walked away. He started problem solving and learned to be quiet when I prepared his food! You might try that approach with the harness and leash! I honestly think that sometimes our dogs like getting a rise out of us! What else do they have to do in an otherwise boring day? Lol!! Keep trying, Mama!! You’ll get there!! 🙂
I am starting to try that with harness and leash now, and I think Luke is catching on a bit! He’s just so darn excited, but we don’t walk every day either, so I hope now that we’re walking more often, that will help in time too.
One thing about me is that even if I have issues with patience and consistency, I don’t ever give up! 🙂
Monika & Sam says
A significant change by way of distraction usually makes the poodles pay attention. Both are super sensitive to loud voices and don’t like them. In the chaos of trying to put harnesses on, some times I have to stop doing anything to get their attention. They are learning that a calm dog gets rewarded whereas a berserk one must wait until it’s calm. Elsa is making the connection between standing there calmly rather than twirling around like a dervish. My trainer told me a secret once that has helped…make sure there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Meaning they must do what is expected of them without being rewarded for behavior that is not desired. Good luck. I’m learning that Elsa is a ‘talker’ too and one that doesn’t seem to be dissuaded. Trying to work on that behavior. 😇 Like you said, patience is key to training.
I am starting to work with Luke a bit when we’re leaving for walks; making him sit and stay while I put his harness on, or I just stop. It’s probably going to take a while though! 🙂
Patience is the hardest part for me, too! There are some days where it takes all I have not to curl up in the fetal position on the floor and just bawl because I get so frustrated with them. But I love all of your suggestions–bribery is a big one in our house, too 😉
We do what we have to, right?
I’ve certainly been driven to tears myself at times too!
Ellen Pilch says
At least dogs listen sometimes, cats never do 🙂
Isn’t that the truth! 🙂
The Island Cats says
Maybe Luke and Crickett have selective hearing. 😉 We agree with more patience. That’s what it really takes.
Oh, I think they definitely do! I think I’ve gained a lot of patience over the years since we’ve had dogs, though I’ll probably always be a “work in progress”. 🙂
Brian Frum says
Luke is probably listening to you, he just opts not to hear!
Crystal Stewart says
Sounds like selective hearing to me. LOL
Yup, I think you’re both right!!
Melissa K. Clinton says
Bentley and Pierre are never allowed out of our yard off their leashes. They have zero recall no matter how many times we work on it. They are simply ruled by their noses but will come in from the backyard when called.
Since we’ve had beagles, we’ve just gotten used to that routine too. We used to let Kobi off leash occasionally, and always regretted it!
Shadow and Ducky's Mom says
OMD, Jan, you and I are so much alike that I really think our souls are connected! Our patience levels; our younger, “bratty” dogs and older, somewhat calmer dogs; countless other ways. 💗
One way I have found – maybe the only way – that works for me when Shadow and/or Ducky (especially Ducky) do not listen to me is to stop, take a deep breath, and calm down a bit. Then, with a calmer demeanor I approach them with a leash in my hand – clip it to their collar if need be – and ask for either a sit or a settle. Normally with Shadow, she just settles down on her own, which is good since I hate to ask her for a sit because of her arthritis. Ducky? It just depends on how far over threshold she is. If the object of her focus is gone, she’ll come with me willingly; otherwise I have to clip the leash to her collar.
And, sometimes, the best way – with Ducky at least – is to just let her “get it out of her system”, as long as doing so won’t cause any harm.
Luke looks so cute wearing his hooded poncho! He reminds me of E.T. wearing Elliot’s sweatshirt, absolutely adorable!!
Aw, thank you! We’ll be sharing some more of those raincoat photos soon.
I’ve never really used a leash much with Luke inside the house, but I think that could be a handy tool, and I’m going to try it. I have a friend visiting later this month and I think that could be a good way to keep him under control without having to keep him separated, or putting his muzzle on too. Plus I have a hands free leash which could be useful too!
teehe that’s the question whats much more important than the to-be thing of shakespeare LOL. I’ll try to train serious with Phenny (the first time too) and surprisingly he is the pup who fails a lot… either I’m a miserable teacher (no apple for me lol) or I sometimes think that’s purpose… maybe I have a little macchiavelli, who knows ;O)))
I think you enjoy a little mischief around there! LOL. It does give us more blog fodder, doesn’t it? 😉
Mom knows you ask for a behavior once and that is it. If you ask multiple times we learn it isn’t important to respond at the first request if we don’t feel like it. Tone of voice and action are also a big factor in getting us to respond. Our obedience is far from perfect, but it is enough for us as Mom isn’t big on perfect obedience, thankfully.
Yeah, I don’t think I ever really want perfect obedience either. We want our dogs to be at least a little free-spirited!