My dog never listens!
If you want your dog to pay more attention to you than what is in the surrounding, you need to be more than a free vending machine to your dog. If your dog only looks at you as the free vending machine of goodies (food, treats, rides to cool places, supplier of mountains of toys...), and he knows he is always going to get those no matter what, he is naturally going to pay more attention to all the other new interesting people and dogs in your surrounding and ignores you. This is when you have a dog who never comes when called, loves to pull you and jump up on everyone else, drags you to say hi to every dog, barks and lunges when he cannot get there... Your image to your dog is often your own creation. If you want your dog to pay attention to you, please ask yourself, “What image have l created in front of my dog?” In other words, “who am l to my dog?” You are the one who has created this image. If you don’t want your dog to look at you as a piece of background fixture (I.e. a free vending machine), you need to creat a different image. That is why engagement training is so important. Engagement means full attention at all time. It means creating in your dog a strong desire for everything that you have. It is about giving you his undivided attention for every word that you say, every little movement you make. It is what gives you a dog who will always focus on you no matter what. Engagement starts with the owner. Do you totally loose control of yourself once you see your dog? Do you have to hug and kiss your dog every time you see him? Do you have a hard time being away from your dog for 2 minutes? Many owners have become a free vending machine when they keep dispensing free goodies to their dog due to a lack of self control. To build engagement, you need to condition the dog to know that all wonderful things come from you - but they have to be earned and they are earned through paying attention to you. So, if you want to have a better relationship, you need to have better self discipline. You need to spend time in cultivating a new relationship by first exercising better self control yourself. You are a fair and consistent provider. You provide for your dog and you will do so by implementing a reward system whereas he will get rewarded when he pays attention. You can still give your dog treats and affection and so on but those are no longer given out impulsively; they are given out for a reason - a reason that makes sense to the dog. This will help the dog to look at you very differently. You are now someone relevant. You are someone your dog respects. You are someone your dog desires. This new prescription is the first important step in building engagement, which is crucial in getting your dog to pay attention to you even under heavy distractions. Hope this helps. Thank you.