One of the most common complaints people have with their dogs is that they dog does things on there terms or only when their owner has treats for them, and they want to know how to fix that. While training a reliable recall with your dog probably the most important command, This my not entirely solve the issue. Yes we can make the dog come to you but ask your self does your dog want to come to you? Are you the most important thing in your dogs life or is there some other stimulus that your dog would rather be with. new sights, sounds, dogs, odors, people, all can have value to our dog. If the dog values new experiences more than being with their owner you are always going to compete for their attention. So when you are on a walk or at the park and having trouble keeping your dogs attention ask your self, “What is my dogs Favorite thing right now?” If the answer is not you or coming from you I would suggest you have a relationship problem with your dog not necessary an obedience problem.
So how do you become the most important thing in your dogs life? Below are several tips you can use to help the sun rise and set over your shoulders in the eyes of your dog.
1. Make them earn it.
We have all heard the phrase “Nothing in life is free” and so it is with our dogs. Our dogs should realize that all good things they have in their life come from you. And they need to earn every thing they have or it looses its meaning. Everything a dog values comes in one of seven forms:
How you handle these seven rewards will dictate what kind of relationship you have with your dog. It is important that they understand that all of these thing s come from you and that they are not entitled to any of them. If your dog know that all things good come from you than it is hard for you not to be the most important thing in their life. On the other side if they have unlimited access to all or even some of these things they start to loose their meaning and other forms of these rewards that come from other people or animals will start to have more meaning. There is a lot more to say about these 7 rewards that we will address at a later date, but for now start making your dog earn all of these things. Even if it is just doing a simple sit command before you feed them will go along way in helping your dog realize that you are the source of all good things in their life.
2.Less is more.
We often times want to give our dogs everything, we give them toys, treats, affection and attention just for being with us. But all of the toys in the world loose their meaning if the are just sitting around on the floor waiting to be chewed on or put away. Your dog would rather have one dirty sticky slobbery ball or tug toy that YOU use to play with him than every toy in the isle at your favorite pet store. Your dog know that when you have their toy in your hand that they are going to get your undivided attention. Another example is when you go to to your favorite dog park you think you are giving your dog unlimited freedom to run around off leash and play with other dogs. Well if your walking your dog and he is always wanting to go play with other dogs instead of being with you your frequent trips to the dog parks may be the cause of this. Your dog dose not realize that your are allowing your dog to be free. instead he looks at you like a chaperone at a high school dance, and ignoring you is part of the game. The bottom line is that your are better off to spend 20 minutes doing some type of engaged activity with your dog rather than an hour at the dog park, letting your dog run free while you are looking at Facebook and catching up with the Saturday morning coffee crowd at the tables.
3 Flirt with your dog
I don’t mean to sound creepy or anything but just like any other relationship you need to let your dog know that you appreciate their attention. Every time that your dog looks at you acknowledge it. Even just a simple smile or happy change of expression will let your dog know that they are important to you. You can even go as far as giving them a treat when they voluntarily come to you, I do not suggest this as a long term strategy, but it can be an effective way to get your dogs attention in the short term while you are starting to restructure your relationship. If your working at your desk and your dog starts demanding your attention, do not get mad and send them away, instead redirect them to an appropriate activity and reward them for doing it. For example instead for coming up and tossing your arm with their nose while you are typing, Have your dog sit, or lay down them reward them for their compliance. If you notice your dog sitting before they nudge you acknowledge them before they have a chance to show you any unwanted behavior. If you can reward the dog for doing the right thing the first time you won’t have to correct them from doing the wrong thing after they become bad habits.