Teaching a Hunting Dog to Pay Attention and Stop Ignoring His Humans

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 13, 2020

Stanley Pointer mix scaled - Teaching a Hunting Dog to Pay Attention and Stop Ignoring His Humans

For this Omaha dog training session we shared tips to help 3 year-old German Shorthair Pointer mix Stanley maintain awareness of his guardians at times where he is otherwise distracted.

Being from hunting breeds, Stanley is genetically disposed to be very aware of and in tune with his environment. Some people think this means the dog is being disobedient when it doesn’t listen to its handlers to sniff and survey the area visually. But the dog is silly doing what its genetics leads it to do. I knew we needed to figure out ways to get the dog to check in with or be aware of its handlers to improve its responsiveness to human commands.

Before sharing tips on how to get a dog to pay attention to people, I spent a good portion of the session explaining how dogs think, how to communicate effectively, how to demonstrate leadership to a dog, how to add structure to petting and giving attention, the importance of rewarding desired behaviors, how to establish invisible boundaries and how to disagree in a way the dog understands and respects.

I also went over some creative forms of exercise as Stanley is certainly a higher energy dog. Doing the doggy stair master, playing some scent games and adding a dog back pack on walks are all things that will help Stanley. Id also recommend they feed him out of a snuffle matt and use a treat dispensing toy at times he needs direction or is showing he has more energy than we’d like.

Training a dog to pay attention to its humans is super important with herding breeds like Stanley. Asking the dog to do something like a sit, come or down verifies that the dog is aware of the human, helps the dog practice listening to and responding to the handler and allows it to take a break from the thing it was previously focusing on.

This is an easy way to get a dog to pay attention to you. You can learn how to teach a dog to pay better attention to their owners by watching the free positive dog training video below.

The key with this exercise to get dogs to listen better is to space it out. Starting out by asking for a few commands to string out the reward (multiple commands for one treat) is great, but the real work will be calling Stanley back to them when he goes off to do his own thing. At first, calling right away is the strategy. But as they continue, they will want him to get more interested / involved in something else before calling him to them. This will help the dog practice listening and disengaging from things to come back to or listen to his owner’s better. The important thing is to make it a progression; practicing recalls in gradually increasing levels of difficulty. If the get to a point he stops listening and ignores the handler, they need to go back a step.

Practicing the recall or stopping for obedience while Stanley is playing with the neighbor dogs is the next step, and an important one. Once his guardians have conditioned him to come to them or listen in various situations, they can try to go back to the dog park. But exercising him first and ensuring he is calm before entering will be almost as important.

I also walked the guardians through a focus exercise that should help. If they practice every day for a week or two, they should have a focus command word in place.

To help the humans remember everything we went over in this in home Omaha dog training session, we recorded a roadmap to success video that you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr