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Activating dogs’ listening devices.

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Does your dogs also have those cute accessories on the sides of their heads? Some of them stand up, some are floppy, different sizes and colours.   Intended for listening, but seem to only work occasionally?

Obviously, you can’t send your dog back to the factory to repair or reset their ears, but I will share some tips on how to get them working again.

First of all, you need to answer a couple of questions.

What word or sound do you use to call your dog?

What does your dog associate that word or sound with?

After how many repetitions of you calling your dog does he come or pay attention to you?

What is in a name?

A dog’s name, is merely a cue for the dog that he must pay attention, something is going to happen. That something could be something he loves, or something he does not like.   If you look at it from your dog’s point of view, how do you think your dog feels about his name?   It’s easy to find out. Say your dog’s name and watch his body language, does he seem excited? Does he offer appeasement behaviours? Does he have one foot out of the door already? If it’s the latter, you are dealing with a poisoned cue.   In his case when the dog hears his name (a specific cue), he has negative associations with it, and he tends to move away from you or ‘ignore’ you instead of coming when called. A dog’s name should only ever mean ‘Pay attention to me, good stuff is coming your way’.

White noise

When we constantly repeat a cue, that the dog does not hundred percent understand, our cues become white noise. In modern science based training, we train the behaviour we want first, when we are sure the dog understands what behaviour we want, then only do we add a verbal cue. We do this so that we do not overwhelm the dog with too much information at once.

Sometimes, dogs will learn to only respond the third or fourth time you repeat a cue. We want our dogs to respond the very first time we give it.   Basically, we need to stop nagging our dogs.

Reflex to name

To teach your dog to pay attention when he hears his name is super easy.   All you have to do is repeat saying the dog’s name and pop a yummy treat in his mouth.   Soon he will expect a treat after hearing his name and look up. Once he looks up, you can give him the treat.   If your dog is comfortable with looking in your eyes, you can say his name and wait for his eyes to meet yours, then give him the treat.   This can be a regular fun game you play with your dog for 3-minutes a day. Add distance and distractions bit by bit as your dog is getting better at this game. (credit: Steve Mann)

 Recalls

Oi, a nightmare for many dog owners. Getting your dog ‘back here!’

Recalls are probably one of the easiest things to train, it needs a lot of repetition and a lot of rewarding. Our dogs generally like to come towards us, you can use this opportunity to teach them the word for the behaviour they are already doing. This is called capturing. As your dog is walking/jogging running towards you, you can say here (heee-ur) and reward with cuddles, praise a game, etc.

If your dog is close by, you can just call him for no specific reason and reward him for coming to you. Once you have a nice solid recall from every room in the house, take it to your porch, then your garden, and then on, on leash walks.

With most behaviours, we fade the food rewards away, but with the recall I would suggest you keep food rewards handy, as this is the one behaviour you want solid and not forgotten.

By Tersha

Team Leader

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