One reader e-mailed me this question about getting her dog to listen to commands. This may sound familiar to some of you, it’s one of the most common dog problems. Luckily, there’s an easy fix and it’s dog training. Here are my dog training tips.

Your Question:


I have a year-old Chihuahua who is very sweet but not very well-behaved – especially in one major way. She never listens to me or my husband. She seems to ignore every time we call her name, tell her “no,” tell her to “sit,” everything. We try using treats to inspire her, but even that doesn’t always work. We have never worked with a dog trainer, so we could really use some of your dog training tips. How can we get her to obey us?

– Annie

My Answer:


This is a pretty common dog training complaint with dog owners, but it is also a complaint that is pretty easy to solve with dog training. There are two things to keep in mind when you are training your dog: relevancy and consistency. Here’s what that means.

First of all, you have to understand that dogs learn in context. For example, if you always train in the living room, the dog will probably only give you that good dog behavior in the living room. So if you are using treats sometimes, but not all the time, your dog will be confused about when and where to listen to you.

The second aspect of training is probably the most important: consistency. Many dog problems are caused by inconsistent human behavior. Taking the right action each and every time is what will instill obedience in your dog. If you choose to train your dog by asking something different every time and only sometimes offering a reward, it won’t work.

I recommend finding out what is important to your dog. Is it food, toys, affection? Figure that out and consistently offer that reward when you give a command. You should work on training your dog for a few minutes everyday. Master one simple dog training command in many settings, then move on to a new one. It will take time and patience, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a dog who can listen to you every time.

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

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