What To Do If A Dog Only Listens To One Person



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This is quite a common complaint amongst dog guardian couples and families, they say that their dog only listens to one of them. It will only respond to or obey one person and ignore the other person or misbehave when the other person is not there.

The good news is that this common issue can be resolved quite simply by returning to basic training; positive reinforcement training works best long-term.

What To Do If Your Dog Only Listens To One Person. Luna, the grey and white Siberian Husky, with one eye, wearing a black harness, standing on a rocky outcrop with some bushes in front of her, and the sea in the background.

Whilst it is true that the dog may bond more with one person in the family, that doesn’t mean that it won’t listen to all of them. It is also possible to accidentally train your dog not to listen to you, but this can be resolved with time and patience.

However, there are common factors about why the dog only listens to one person.

  1. One person spent more time training the dog.
  2. One person is more consistent with the training.
  3. One person spent more time walking the dog.
  4. One person mainly feeds the dog.
  5. One person mainly looks after the dog, grooming and vet visits.

The first three on this list are the main ones. The person who has done the majority of training, being consistent with the training, and taking the dog out will have built a more solid and trusting bond with the dog than someone in the household who hasn’t really spent as much time with the dog. You do have to be very honest with yourself, have you been consistent?

Likewise, someone who is inconsistent with training will not have reinforced what they want the dog to do. In fact, if they give up when the dog doesn’t do as it is asked, they are actually teaching the dog not to listen to them. The dog learns that they don’t really want them to do what is being asked, so they don’t have to listen to that person.

How Dogs Learn To Listen

Dogs are really quite clever, they don’t speak our language but are able to learn some of what we say to them and what we are asking them to do. Training is a bit like a language translator. To have a happy cooperative dog living in your home, positive reinforcement training works best. This means that your dog will learn to behave in an acceptable way without fear of pain. A happy dog will also be more open to learning more.

By rewarding behaviours that you want, you encourage your dog to pay attention to you, which equals watching and listening to you. Something to bear in mind is that some dogs respond better to hand cues than voice cues. If your partner uses hand cues as well as verbal cues with your dog, it may be responding to this.

Science has also discovered that dogs respond very well to upbeat happy vocal tones, just like babies and toddlers do. It has also been discovered that they have an increased endorphin level when ‘baby talk’ tones are used. My dog can’t resist a happy laughing sound, I tend to use this tone for recall. My husband had to change his tone to get her to come back to him, she just wouldn’t recall for his normal tone. I found it hilarious, we call it his nanny voice.

Some women also note that their male partners get better responses from their dogs. The difference in male/female tones also plays a part in how well dogs listen. Male tones tend to have a more direct force, which can be perceived as aggressive. Your dog may be responding to this out of fear response, even if your partner has never hurt your dog. This also supports why so many dogs are afraid of men.

Building A Relationship With Your Dog

The better the relationship you have with your dog, the more they will want to listen to you. After all, I don’t particularly want to listen to or take orders from someone I don’t really know, like, or am afraid of, so why should my dog?

Building a trusting relationship with your dog is the best way to ensure that your dog listens to you and responds when you need them to. If you are the person who doesn’t get listened to, it’s up to you to work on the relationship.

Training games can be fun and rewarding for both of you, and it’s the easiest and quickest way to build a good relationship with your dog. Spend some quality time doing training games with them, rewarding the successes they achieve. However, you must be consistent with the training and not give up when the dog doesn’t do what you ask.

Just remember, don’t reward the dog for ignoring you, positive reinforcement doesn’t mean that it’s permissive. Go back and ask your dog to do something simple that you know they can do. Always end the games on a positive note, even if that’s a sit cue that you can reward.

Try not to let your partner intervene either. If you ask the dog to do something and it doesn’t, don’t allow your partner to give the same cue and reward the dog when it complies. This is actually reinforcing your dog to ignore you and only listen to the partner.

Instead, take a deep breath and try a different approach, change your tone of voice, including a hand cue that your dog knows. Dogs don’t always transfer training well, so it may be that you go back to the very basics of dog training.

Training Your Dog

When training your dog, it’s important to be on the same page as everyone else in the household. As a family, we all went to training classes with our dog. We made sure that we all took part, and all used the same cues. It took time for us all to become consistent with the training. This made a huge difference.

Consistency is the keyword here. You have to be consistent with the training and rewards. It’s easy to throw your hands up and give up when it feels that your dog is being stubborn and deliberately not doing what you want. They aren’t being stubborn or trying to be dominant, they may not fully understand what you are asking of them.

When this happens, stop, breathe and go back a step. Don’t reward them for not doing as you asked, don’t shout at them either. Just go back a step and ask them to do something you know that they can do. A happy dog will be more willing to try again. A fearful dog will be too scared to try. You may need to break the instruction into smaller steps for your dog, so that it will understand.

The idea behind the training is to build a relationship with your dog. A good relationship is built on trust and wanting to be with that person. Even five minutes a day of playing training games will be beneficial, and you will notice a difference. The games in my article Games To Play With A Husky Puppy can be used to help any dog breed focus on a person. They are simple and fun.

Getting Your Dog To Listen – My Thoughts

Like all good things in life, you get out of it what you put in. And having a good relationship with your dog is no different. Taking the time to train your dog builds a good relationship and teaches your dog to listen to you and respond when you need them to. Your dog can learn to listen to more than one person, but you have to teach them how to do it.

It may well be that you have both been consistent with the training and split the walking and taking care of your dog, but the dog just prefers one over the other. This is nothing to take personally, the dog is just naturally drawn to that person. The best way to look at this scenario is that your dog likes the person that you chose to be with.

I hope that you found this article helpful.

Before you go, you may find these articles interesting:

Should I Neuter My Dog

10 Dogs Without Health Issues

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