My dog knows lots of tricks but won't listen when I need him to!
Heard this today, "My dog knows lots of tricks but wont listen when I need him to!!" from someone whose dog loves to chew furniture and bark non-stop.
This is what I think.
Your dog is always watching you whether you know it or not; your dog does not only pay attention to you when you are training him. Therefore, we need to be mindful of the message we send to our dog and to keep the message consistent.
The message I am talking about is not just verbal commands such as come, no, sit, down--it is how we conduct ourselves, how much self control do we display, how we react to other dogs and humans, and how we react to our dog when he does something right and when he does something wrong.
These unspoken cues mean a lot to our dogs and are used by our dogs to determine where we fit in in the hierarchy of the pack.
Some people have dogs that can do a lot of tricks but are also full of behavioral problems (barking non-stop, separation anxiety, leash reactivity...etc).
This can happen for many reasons but one of the reasons is when the owner is very good at training the dog (using reward to mark the right behavior at the right time...etc) but not good at showing the dog how to respect him as a leader during his day to day interaction when he is not training the dog.
Our dogs want to follow a leader who can control himself, control the dog, and control everything around the dog. If you can meet these three criteria, chances are your dog will be very content and balanced.
Work on showing the dog you can fulfill these criteria. To control yourself means to be calm and stable--do not act like a hysterical, unstable, reactive human. To control the dog can be done through training (place command with long down/stay, structured heeling, teach the dog to wait at doorway, crate training...etc). Lastly, to control everything around the dog is about being your dog's advocate--protect your dog, give your dog space, learn to read and respond to your dog's cut off cues (e.g. when your dog says to you please help me, I dont want to say hi to that dog!).
These three things have to be shown to the dog 24/7 through your day to day behaviour and action in front of your dog; not only when you are training the dog.
Be mindful of your body language, breathing, voice intensity in front of your dog, and make sure you are sending a consistent message.
Being consistent means act the same way in front of your dog all the time. Be calm and confident all the time. Enforce the same rule all the time (e.g. do not let your dog pull you to another dog on the walk one day and then correct him the next), and advocate for your dog all the time.
If you can send the right message and keep the message consistent, you should start to notice great improvement in your dog's behavior as a result of the improved relationship you have with your canine companion.