I explain that actually, he only listens when you act and you only act when you’ve become irritated.
Example: You’re sitting on the couch and your dog is nosing the trash. You say, “Stop it.” He doesn’t. You say it again. He doesn’t. You say it with anger as you get up. He stops.
- You think this is proof he only responds when you get angry.
- I think it’s proof you are acting when you are angry.
Simple unintentional cause and effect.
A dog, your dog, any dog can, will and would prefer to be taught without anger. Anger slows learning down, on both sides of the equation, but it can be such a long-trodden internal road that it can feel like a necessity when it is only a habit.
If you want to get off this emotional merry-go-round here’s what you do:
- Remember your dog, any dog, can learn to respond to the softest whisper or gentlest touch. They can feel a fly land on the tip of their ear and hear a biscuit box open from two floors away, they feel what is happening and they hear it. If they do not respond it is because they either do not understand, are confused or are concerned.
- Everything your dog knows about “commands” was taught by us humans, maybe by you. Everything you like about his response and everything you don’t, we taught. So, um….lighten up a little.
- Pretrain gentle follow throughs. When all is calm, pretrain your dog to respond to gentle pressures and touch so you can calmly cause what you want to happen to happen. I recommend my 7th book, My Smart Puppy, for this.
- Shhhhh. If you get quiet you will often stay calmer. Repeating commands can trigger us humans to feel like we are being ignored and that doesn’t lead to calm training.
- Say it/do it. You can make things more complicated than that but you won’t make it more effective. Say it then follow through. Calmly, quietly, quickly.
- Use it often. The more productive practice the more progress. True in all things. True with dog training. So link listening to you with everything good in his life and your dog will learn to listen.
- Reward immediately and sincerely.Smile, touch, treat
- HAVE FUN! Really. Find the joy. Play. Because the more fun you have the further you will be from anger. And that’s the goal as we retrain you.
The anger/action link up is a learned one. It can be unlearned. Using a quiet voice, having a way of following through and then following through quickly and calmly will soon make “my dog only listens when I get angry” a problem of the past.