What to Do When Your Dog Won’t Listen

Frustration or extreme excitement can also make it difficult for a pet to pay attention. Training can best progress in these situations by changing the baseline emotion and helping your pet to relax, which may involve the recruitment of a behavior professional, such as a veterinary behaviorist.

Control Yourself

Both humans and dogs have a limited supply of self-control, according to a study done at the University of Lille Nord de France, and can suffer from what has been deemed “self-control depletion.” Just as humans are less able to exercise self-control when they are mentally fatigued, dogs may be less able to respond with proper judgment when they have been required to display self-control for an extended period of time.

In the study, two groups of dogs were brought into a room where an aggressively barking and growling dog was caged. One group had been allowed to freely roam in a large kennel for 10 minutes before they came into the room; the other group had been asked to do a sit stay for 10 minutes first. The second group of dogs — the ones that were required to exercise self-control in the sit stay — spent a longer time in close proximity to the aggressive dog than the dogs who had been freely roaming.

For pet parents, the lesson is that your dog has a finite ability to perform behaviors requiring extreme self-control. It is essential to keep training sessions short and only give your dog limited self-control exercises at a level at which he can be successful.

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