Dog Tuning You Out?

 I see this all the time at our dog park.  

The dog, let's call him Buddy, is off the leash, walking in the grass and through the trees, sniffing around and exploring.  The owner, let's call him Jim, is walking along the path.  Buddy is moving in the same direction as Jim, and is consistently about 20 feet from him.  All is how it should be.

Then why is it that I hear Jim call Buddy over and over again for no reason?

"Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy........"

Now, Buddy is not doing anything wrong.  He is aware of Jim's location and is within direct line of sight at all times.  So why does Jim feel the need to call Buddy's name over and over?  Does Jim want Buddy to come to him?  Doesn't look that way. Is it because he expects Buddy to walk right beside him?  Probably not.  Is it because Buddy is not looking at him?  Maybe.  Does he NEED buddy to look at him?  No.

And yet the calling continues.

"Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy........"

It's like Jim is the proverbial nagging wife, and Buddy is the beer swigging, football watching husband who completely ignores her.

"Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy........"

Unfortunately all Jim is doing is teaching Buddy to tune him out.  If he suddenly has a reason for calling Buddy over to him, he will get no response.  Furthermore, Buddy no longer has to see where Jim is, because he can hear him.  This allows Buddy to wander farther away.

"Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy. Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy.  Buddy........"

I hike with my dogs all the time.  I let them run all over the forest, and chase squirrels and bunnies.  There are many times when I don't see them or hear them.  But they hear me.  They hear my foot steps.  How do I know?  Because I've never seen two more concerned faces running towards me at top speed as I did the day I had to stop to adjust my sock and re-tie my shoe.

So resist the urge to call your dog's name repeatedly.  Recognize that you are doing it for your own comfort and not the dog's.  And don't worry, your dog knows where you are and will not let you get away.  After all, you're the one who serves up the delicious meals, and yummy treats!


The Teacher's Pets said...

Your advice is exactly what all of us need to hear over and over (ha! ha!) and I hope many dog owners will stop repeating themselves while on their hikes!
Even as a professional pet sitter I catch myself calling my coonhound's name way too many times and I'm sure Daisy would appreciate it if I'd just hold her leash a little better than usual!

Life With 5 Dogs said...

I think some dogs actually do tune you out because they are doing something that the are not suppose to be doing! Such as jumping up on the counter to grab the bag of treats.

K9friend said...

You're so right. Another one is the..."Sit...sit...sit...SIT" routine. Not the best way to teach a dog, or anyone else for that matter.


Miley said...

Another very well put post. :)
I'm not sure if I have seen this, but I do know that us dogs won't come when you want if you humans are ALWAYS calling us...

When I had my holiday on the farm, there were many new smells, lots of other dogs, and EVERYTHING was new. It was the first time I was allowed of my leash away from home. Although, Sarah let me run up to 30m (98 feet), then she would call my name. I would turn and RUN to her, she would praise me, and I would be allowed to go off again. She just did this so I would come back when needed and so I wouldn't go to far.

I love your blog, and think that all these grreat message's should be more heard to other dog humans.

Cuddles and licks,
Love Miley xxx

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