How Can I Get My Dog To Listen To Me?
Why Won't My Dog Listen To Me?
Hi there, we have a 10 week old cocker spaniel and he will not listen to a word we say. In his first week in the house we have managed to toilet train him and he was able to 'sit' and 'stay' and he will play fetch very well.
This week it is like he has changed personality! He has started ignoring the sit commands and will run off with his toys. I have been persevering with training and we play a lot so he doesn't get bored. We feed him after we eat and he exits rooms after us.
This is my first cocker and I feel like I am missing something. I am being very patient but he isn't interested in food rewards very often and I am running out of ideas!
Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)
This happens to all of us at some point and it's often difficult to understand as a new owner why your puppy won't listen to you.
You feel you've done all you can, you cuddle him, you feed him, you cuddle him you take care of him, you cuddle him, you exercise him, you cuddle him, and you've done all the training that everyone recommends - so why won't your Cocker Spaniel listen to you?
I don't know much about you and your puppy (other than what you've already told me), but my best guess is that you're probably paying him too much attention.
I know he's only 10 weeks old and is adorable - who wouldn't? But if you give him too much love and affection without him having to lift a finger, he's going to be spoilled.
Dogs are like children, spoil them and they misbehave and dogs that get too much attention, easily, will become difficult to handle and lose respect for their owners. Think about it. In your dog's eyes you're behaving submissively - he's wrapping you around his little finger, or should that be paw?
Pack leaders aren't submissive. Give him attention and cuddles by all means, but not every five minutes of the day. (Easier said than done whey they're so cute!)
Does your dog listen to any other members of the family or is it just you he ignores. If he listens to your partner (for example) ask yourself why. Does this person project themselves more as a leader and fuss less over your dog?
I don't think your cocker spaniel sees you as pack leader and he's now just doing his own thing. He's not respecting you and you need to get your 'relationship' with him back on track.
If this is the case, as well as turning down the 'spoiling', you might like to try the following:
- 10 weeks is very young and he will still need lots of training. Just because he has learned to sit doesn't mean he will continue to do that for you each time you ask. You must reinforce all the commands you've taught him and make sure you train him in different places and situations to strengthen each command. For example, train him in the garden, in a different room, and later train him with a few distractions around him.
- The next time you ask your dog to sit and he ignores you and walks away, go and get him, bring him back and make him sit. This will help to teach him that he needs to listen to you and that he won't be allowed to get away with ignoring your commands.
- When you give those commands, keep it short and snapppy. Don't 'sing-song' them or drag the word out, don't shout, just say the word 'Sit'. You're not asking him, you're telling him. (This may come across harsh but it's not really - it's for his own good (and your sanity!)
- Make sure that all members of your family are using the same command words and that they also don't allow your pet to get away with ignoring them.
- There's no such thing as a free lunch! Make your dog work for everything he gets, I promise you, you'll soon see a difference in his behavior. As I mentioned earlier, dogs are just like kids, spoil them and they will misbehave.
What do I mean when I say 'Make them work for everything'? Well, ask him to sit before you feed him or better still hand feed him for a couple of weeks and make it a game. Hide a few pieces of his kibble and get him to sniff them out. Before you play with him, or allow him a different toy, call him to you and ask him to sit or lie down. Teach him that nothing in life is free and that if he wants something from you, he will need to work for it - he will need to listen to you and act on what you say.
The more you spoil your Cocker Spaniel, the more he's going to disrespect and ignore you - he may begin to challenge you and develop behavioral problems as a result.
- Routine: Puppies love a routine. It helps them to feel settled and safe. You might want to set up a routine for him something like this one here
- Exercise Him: walk him or get him to run around in the garden. Don't forget he needs some mental stimulation too, training, sniffing out treats, etc.
- Discipline Him: don't let him get away with being naughty otherwise it will just esculate.
- Cuddle Him: save the cuddles for the end of the day or before nap times.
I sincerely hope this helps and would love to hear how you get on.
Good luck Jennifer!