Dog attention is something that is strived for and is a necessity in dog training classes. We encourage students to precede certain commands with the dog’s name to be sure they have their dog’s attention. Unfortunately, we often run into dog-handler teams where this is not achieved; he calls his dog’s name, and it is as if he were talking to the wall.
One reason for this lack of interest by the dog in his name could be from the owner’s over use of the name. If we suspect this to be the case, we encourage the owner to find a pet name to use around the house in conversations pertaining to the dog and to use the call name only when it is associated with a command. In addition running chatter directed to the dog is to be reduced. It has been our experience that if a dog constantly hears his name with no special attention being required, the dog simply considers it a part of the background noise of his everyday life.
By using the name only with commands and being consistent, the dog soon learns that when his name is used, he is going to be asked to do something and is expecting to do something. Initially when this approach is started, we have the owner ready to reinforce the command since the dog has learned to ignore his name.
We have found regardless of the level of training that using the name only in training or when asking the dog to do something along with reducing the amount of attention directed toward the dog in everyday life has produced a more attentive dog in just a few days. As we reach the level of attention desired, the dog’s name can be used more in daily life, but reduced if backsliding occurs.
While there are many reasons which can account for a lack of dog attention, this approach has helped eliminate one of them.
©1980 W.H. Morrison, III