4 Free Tips to Get Your Dogs Attention on Walks

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 30, 2024

dogs attention

For this Santa Monica dog training session we worked with 1 year-old Husky mix Autumn, going over how to get your dogs attention on walks.

If you have difficulty getting your dog to listen to you, Id like you to ask yourself; is your dog really excited when this happens? As one of LA’s dog behavior experts, I have found that is often the biggest contributing factor when people try to get a dog to focus. Overexcitement in dogs is one probably of the most common dog behavior problems I’m seeing these days.

There could be multiple reasons for a dog to get so excited it can’t listen; humans reward the dog for getting excited such as when the people come home. In other cases the dog is played with very excitedly, the dog gets to meet every single person or dog they see, or they didn’t get socialized as a puppy and now things become overwhelming.

It can be really frustrated when your dog doesnt listen to you. But it doesnt have to be that way. If you have a dog that doesnt listen, you are absolutely in the right place. We are going to share a number of free tips to get your dogs attention on walks or elsewhere.

I decided to start off by going over a number of dog behavior fundamentals. Many people jump straight to their dog’s behavior problem without first establishing a solid foundation and fundamentals. We got to work, firwst by reloading the marker word and we also introduced a clicker. We went over a hand targeting exercise, discussed the benefit of scent games, the importance of adding rules and structure as well as tricks to develop a little bit of impulse control.

Many people give their dog everything it wants immediately. But if your dog doesnt practice waiting, its hard for them to accept not getting what they want, right now! Dogs need to practice delayed gratification just like humans do. In fact, dogs need to practice any activity or behavior that you want them to do on their own. But most of us give our dogs everything they want right away. But this doesn’t give them the ability to learn to self soothe.

If you want your dog to pay attention to you on walks, in your living room or anywhere else, you have to become important to the dog. Fortunately, rewarding dogs for desired behaviors and marking them are two foundational elements of positive dog training. These are things that we went over repeatedly throughout the session.

How to Get a Dogs Attention

For many dogs, overexcitement is the primary reason that the dog ignores their human. It’s not actually them ignoring you, it’s just that they are overwhelmed with all the other options. And ironically, its often the humans who put the dog into a position where its hard to get the dogs attention.

Many humans confuse excitement for happiness when it comes to dogs. They ask “do you want to go for a walk” in an excited voice over and over and when the dog jumps and dances around, they think that they are making their dog happy. But in fact what they are doing is making the dog so excited that it cant listen.

I share a tip to help fix that problem in many others in the free positive dog training video below. If you need help getting a dogs attention, you’re going to definitely want to check out this video filled with tips to teach dogs to listen.

In a perfect world I would have practice the secret to getting dogs attention inside the apartment. If your dog is too excited to listen before you put the leash on, there is just about a 0% chance of your dog listening once you get outside where the distraction factor goes up dramatically. You need to practice in calm envinonments first if you want a dogs attention when its an exciting or distracting place.

An easy way to do this is to practice the activities that preceed the walk inside first. People never think of putting the dog’s harness on without going for a walk. But this is an excellent way to desensitize them, which makes it easier to get a dogs attention. I always tell my clients to leash or harness thier dog up silently, and to stop the process as soon as the dog starts to show any excitement whatsoever.

It takes time and practice, but eventually the dog stays calm as the harness is attached. One of the reasons this works so effectively is you don’t go for a walk afterwards. That causes your dog to stop associating the leash or harness with a guaranteed walk and you get your dogs attention easier.

You should repeat the process for attaching the leash in the same way that I described in the video. And then you would repeat the process of walking towards the door in stages. Working in small steps and stopping the instant the dog starts to get excited is the key. That’s why you want to practice at times that you’re not planning on going for a walk. You simply stop and go back to whatever you were doing before.

It’s actually quite easy to get a dogs attention on you if you are proactive and practice at a low enough level successfully before you move to a more distracting environment.

I recommended that the guardians practice these exercises first in the home until Autumn can do them easily. Once that’s the case, then they should practice some of the other tips that I cover in the free training video above, while they are in the courtyard outside of their apartment.

Once Autumn can perform well in the courtyard when it’s quiet, they could have one of their neighbors outside. When they are successful with that, they can practice towards the front of the property which is near a local school. Once the dog can perform well in that location, then they can practice when there are people being dropped off or picked up for school.

The biggest mistake people make with this approach to getting a dog to listen is moving too fast. You have to go out the dog’s pace and stop the instant the dog starts to show any excitement or is unable to listen to a basic cue like sit.

I asked the guardians to follow up with me if they have any questions as well as to send progress reports so that I can coach them up and make adjustments when necessary.

To help the guardians remember all of the tips that I covered in this in-home Santa Monica dog behavior training session, I pulled up my phone and recorded a roadmap to success summary video that you can watch below.

Need Behavior Help with Your Dog? Get a Quote for an In Home Session Now

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This post was written by: David Codr