Basic Training

Your Dog Can Hear You!

Megaphone

I don’t yell at my dogs. Ever. At first, people find it strange. But it doesn’t take long before they realize that my dogs listen to me. The first time. And they’re listening because they understand what I’m asking of them, and I’m properly motivating them without the use of force or intimidation. That’s really the basis of a healthy relationship with your dog.

A dog’s auditory system is amazing. While your ears can hear up to 20,000 Hertz, a dog’s ears can pick up frequencies of up to 60,000 Hertz!

So guess what? Your dog can hear you. He can hear you when you’re speaking normally, and he can hear you when you’re yelling the same thing at him over and over.

“Sit. Sit. SIT!!”

Do you feel like your dog is stubborn and you’re repeating everything over and over to no avail? Here are a few tips to help motivate your dog—you may just find that he’s not stubborn; you just needed a new communication approach.

  • Find what motivates your dog. Sometimes you may need to try a combination of motivators.
  • While some dogs are easily motivated by regular dog treats, others may require more high-value food. Try heating up some hot dogs or veggie burger patties. Many dogs won’t be able to resist the smell!
  • Other dogs are highly toy motivated. Whether it’s a game of tug or a throw of the ball that gets them excited, try different toys to see what gets your dog listening.
  • Still nothing? Your dog may simply be motivated by praise.
  • The best approach is a multi-faceted one: use a combination of motivators!
  • If motivation isn’t the issue, your dog may not listen to you because he doesn’t know what you’re asking of him. Make sure you’re clear and consistent, and that your dog actually understands the behavior you’re looking for.
  • If your dog is ignoring you despite these efforts, he may be overstimulated. Dogs that are over threshold in terms of fear, stress, or excitement might just be too distracted to be able to learn.
  • If this happens, take a step back in training and find a calmer environment with fewer distractions where you can build up your dog’s understanding of the behavior you want.
  • Proper motivation and communication isn’t just useful for basic cues; it can also be used to overcome serious behavioral issues. I was even able to stop my dog’s leash aggression using proper motivation and absolutely zero force, pain or intimidation.

Yelling simply isn’t the answer to getting your dog to listen to you. It can damage the bond between you and your dog, and create fear and insecurity that can result in other behavioral issues.

Above all else, remember this: your dog isn’t ignoring you because he’s trying to dominate you or be the “alpha,” or even because he’s “stubborn.” Chances are there’s a communication disconnect somewhere in your relationship, and it’s up to you to bridge the gap.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. I agree that all of these things are important tools to use to make sure your communication is clear (and respectful) with your dog! There’s also the element of them being able to pick up on your thoughts, so if you replay the unwanted behavior over and over in your mind, it’s like reinforcing it for them, even though you are thinking it’s what you DON’T want them to do. Not only your actions and words but also your thoughts have to be “clear and consistent.”

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