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My dog doesn’t listen to me. How do I change that?

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

Most of my daily work in training is solving really big challenges. For example, I am working with one particular dog who was fairly well trained previously, but that all changed when he was pulled away from trying to make a nest of baby bunnies his dinner. What this one moment in time did was turn into regular food aggression with this dog to the point of turning on and trying to bite others around while he was eating. We needed to try to solve this new negative behavior challenge to keep everyone safe around this large 150-pound dog.

We’re solving this by involving the owners in correcting aggressive behaviors and ensuring the dog is listening to them during other activities – on walks, at the dog park, in the house. And when he begins to become aggressive at meal time, we’ve used a method that surprises the dog called “bonking.” This method doesn’t hurt the dog. It’s literally a white towel rolled up and duct taped on both ends and in the middle. As the dog lunges with aggressing, he’s lightly “bonked,” and this white towel takes him out of his focus on the negativity and corrects the behavior. The issue is ensuring we’re doing this regularly. It’s taken a couple of weeks, but I feel confident that this dog is going to be an A-plus student with his owners who are steadily working with him (and me for now) to change behaviors.

I know you’ve probably heard that “there are no bad dogs; only bad owners.” The truth is that for a dog to be trained, the bond with the owner is critically important. First and foremost, you need to ask yourself how your bond is with your dog. Do you spend the necessary time with the dog outside of the occasional pet and feeding and watering? Are you taking your dog on walks and trying to teach the dog basic commands? If so, that’s a start. So what do you do if you believe your dog still isn’t truly listening?

Ensure you’re bonding and have bonded with your dog by spending time with it. And then, start from square one, going back to the basics. Let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no. Keep your commands short. Reward good behavior with verbal praise or small treats. And then let your no be a definitive no with a method of correction, whether it’s a stern “no” showing you’re displeased or perhaps a “bonk,” or a gentle vibration reminder of a training collar.

There are some unique questions and cases. For those, please reach out, I’m happy to help! Contact me any time:

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