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Active Ignoring…what is 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 when affection and attention are given. This way you end up rewarding calm and polite behaviors instead of rude ones. Active ignoring doesn’t mean you don’t give your dog all the love, attention, and cuddles you both love. It just means you time them to ensure you are the one offering those wonderful exchanges.

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.

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 instead of words) 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 give them affection. 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 what they crave. Instead, it’s simply teaching them that good manners get them what they want. 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!

The How and When of Giving Your Dog Affection

dog affection

Affection is an important part of the human dog bond and when thoughtfully utilized, can be beneficial for both dog and owner. However badly timed affection can worsen problems, build over stimulation, reward inappropriate behavior, and create instability in some dogs. Want to learn a few simple tips to help ensure you are giving your dog the affection they need? Read on…

WHEN
Lets start with discussing when affection/attention should be given. If most or even some of the time that you are giving your dog affection is when they are in an excited state of mind (think you just got home from work or always in the middle of high energy play time) you are actually conditioning your dog to stay in that excited state. It would be like giving them a treat every time they started to get excited. For a medium or high energy dog, this can create issues ranging from hyperactivity to jumping on guests, separation anxiety and even an inability to control their own impulses.

In addition, if you have a dog who is pushy or demanding for affection/attention and you pet them when they show those behaviors, you are not only rewarding them for acting pushy, you are creating a dynamic where you give into them regularly (and then we have to ask, who is training who??). You might not even notice how demanding your dog is being for your attention but if you really step back and watch their behavior you might be surprised. If your dog constantly brings you toys expecting you to play whenever they feel like it, or if they bark at you, invade your space regularly, nudge you repeatedly and have mastered the begging look, chances are you have been rewarding these pushy behaviors. And even though they can be quite cute, your dog’s pushiness can send them the wrong message about who is in charge which can spiral into other problems.

HOW
So how do you solve these issues? It’s pretty simple! For over excited dogs, get in the habit of ignoring them when they are too excited (for each dog this can be a little different but typical signs of over excitement are fast movements, tail wagging uncontrollably, barking/whining, jumping up, zoomies, and inability to hold still). So yes when you first get home and your dog is SO excited to see you, it’s best to simply ignore them until they have a chance to calm down, as difficult as that may be. The more you do it, the more it will become second nature to you and your dog.

Also remember to not give in to pushy behavior! If you dog demands something from you, ignore them or tell them no and stand your ground. Then when they give up, you can call them over and give them what they wanted because now it’s on your terms not theirs!

The important point to realize is that, once you get started, you actually can give your dog the same amount of affection and attention so long as you do it when they are in a calmer state of mind and are not being pushy about it! Doing so ensures you have the same close relationship while also assisting your dog to be well mannered and stable.

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* Please Note: Tug Dogs is unable to provide re-homing services or requests for training outside of Northern California.