One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is that their dog doesn’t listen outside. They say his name, try to keep him interested but he is just too distracted by squirrels, baby strollers, discarded chicken bones and other dogs.
Sonar never listened to a word I said but, then again, she is deaf so I can’t really blame her for that. But now, my deaf dog stops and checks in every time I ask her to. How did I teach the most distracted dog (deaf to my voice) to give me attention on walks?
I simply stopped walking. I stopped trying to cue her in any other way. I didn’t say her name or tap her back or lunge to get in her line of sight. I simply stopped walking and stood still until she came back to me and sat. Oh,sile the power of body language. As a student of dog behavior, I know, in theory, dogs pay way more attention to our body language than the English language. Turns out, this theory works amazingly well in practice too!
Sonar got it, and got it fast. The first three times I stopped while walking her, I waited silently (it took a couple of minutes) until she turned back to look at me and then I asked her to sit. When she sat, I gave her a treat and immediately started walking again. Second and third time–stopped, waited until she looked, asked her to sit, gave treat, and started walking.
The fourth time I stopped, she looked at me and sat immediately. I haven’t had to cue her again. Now, every time I stop walking she stops, sits and looks at me. I give her a treat (more often than not) and we keep going at my pace and with her much more attentive to me than ever before.
Try this out and let me know what you think!