Active Ignoring

Published Thursday, May 14th, 2015 by Erin Kramer

Active Ignoring…what is it and who should use it and how to get started?

WHAT IS ACTIVE IGNORING?
Active ignoring is exactly what it sounds like, it’s making a choice to actively ignore your dog when they are pushy, demanding, hyperactive, or over stimulated. By interacting with your dog on YOUR terms you teach them that you are in charge of that interaction and you, over time, end up rewarding calm and polite behaviors.

WHO SHOULD USE ACTIVE IGNORING?
Active ignoring is great for dogs who are high energy, demanding, pushy, or needy. Encouraging your dog to occupy themselves appropriately can be a wonderful thing and sets your relationship off on the right foot. As an added bonus it often stops “velcro dogs” from continuing to develop separation anxiety as well as stops dogs who are pushy to play from invading your space. Dogs who are calm and mellow do not require active ignoring typically.

HOW DO I GET STARTED WITH MY DOG?
Step one is to be very aware of what behaviors you are rewarding (yes you speaking with your dog, petting, them or otherwise interacting with them is a reward!). If your dog is acting too hyper, jumping up, nudging you, barking at you, pawing at you, constantly bringing you toys etc….that’s a good time to simply show with action that you will not engage with them. Don’t speak to them, simply turn your body away and show you will not be forced to interact. At first they may get frustrated, but when they eventually give in, that’s a great time to call them over and then interact with them (on your terms). And don’t forget that you also get to decide not only when the interaction starts, but also when it stops!

For those dogs out there who love life and want to demand a lot of your focus and attention it’s not about denying them that love and affection, it’s simply about making good choices as to when you provide it. The more your dog’s demanding for attention works, the more they will continue to be pushy! So think carefully about instead rewarding calm and patient behavior in your pup!