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Distracted in Public


Getting your dog’s attention in public.


We’ve all been there. You’re at the dog park or on a dog beach and your pooch is having fun. So much fun in fact that they forget to listen to you. No matter how much you try to call them back, or correct them when they are misbehaving, they just won’t listen to you. This confuses you because they are so good at home.


Leadership spill

A leader always leads. Your dog will not give you attention in public if you are not the leader. This is because dogs operate on a social hierarchy. Even within your family group, you may notice your dog respects some humans more than others. Once you have established yourself as the leader, you need to maintain that position at all times. Feed your dog after you. Enter doorways before them. And make them move for you instead of stepping over them. You might feel mean doing this, but dogs have a clear understanding of what those signals represent.


“You talking to me?”

If your dog isn’t paying you any attention when you call, they may not realise you’re giving them a command. Your dog may genuinely believe that when you give commands in the living room or backyard, it just applies in those instances. Moreover, dogs can be easily distracted, and so need to learn commands during varying levels of distraction. You have to train them to listen when you’re out in public and around other people.


Look / Watch Me.

Getting your dog's full attention is an important part of dog training. The command ‘look’ or ‘watch me’ is designed to get your dog to focus on you. It is useful for times when you need your pet to pay close attention. It can also be used for diverting a dog's attention away from things. Say your dog’s name, followed by the command ‘look’ or ‘watch me’. If your dog doesn’t look at you straight away, you can get their attention by whistling, clapping, and so on. Once they look at your face, give them lots of praise and happiness.


Party on dude!

Another reason your dog might be ignoring you in public is because you usually only call them when you want them to stop having fun. Either to go home or leave a stranger alone. If this is the case, then the last thing they want to do is come to you so you can end the fun. A way to get around this is to call them to you randomly when you’re out in public. Reward them as usual, and then let them go back to their fun.


Every time your dog ignores you in favour of a distraction, then your dog is practicing ignoring you. That’s not a behaviour you want them to learn. Conversely, every time your dog does what you ask, they are learning the value of focusing on you. This keeps you both safe and others around you happy.


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