Hey Bartender! (or how Dog Training is like ordering a drink at a bar)

I’m standing at a bar and want to order a round of drinks. What do I need to do before I order?

Get the bartender’s attention!

But the bar is busy and other customers are also competing for the bartender’s attention. One is a cute girl. Another seems to be the bartender’s friend. I don’t have these advantages. How can I get the bartender’s attention on me and away from them?

I need him to notice me!

I lean a little further forward over the bar. I hold my wallet out in plain view. I politely signal for him just as he is passing near.

It worked! I have the bartender’s attention. The bartender impatiently points at me and asks what I want. I’ve momentarily forgotten the order and hesitate. The bartender moves on to another customer.

Crap. Now I have to get his attention again. Once I get it, how can I keep it this time?

I need to give the order clearly and quickly. It might also be wise to tip him well so that he might notice me sooner and be more patient taking my order next time.

Giving useful, clear information and tipping generously establishes me to the bartender as someone worth paying attention to — even when competing with the allure of serving cute girls and old friends.

Unrelated but cute photo.

Replace “bartender” with “dog”, “order a round of drinks” with “ask your dog to do something”, and “customer” with “distraction” and you’ve got dog training.

I’m standing with my dog Benny in a park. I want Benny to “Sit” reliably when I ask him to. He already “Sits” reliably at home, but usually ignores me at the park. What do I need to do before I ask Benny to Sit?Get Benny’s attention!

But the park is busy and interesting sights, sounds, and smells are also competing for Benny’s attention. There is the smell of dog pee over here. A squirrel is over there. People are talking behind us.

How can I get Benny’s attention on me and away from these interesting things?

I need him to notice me!

I get myself in his peripheral vision. I make a “strange” noise.

It worked! I have Benny’s attention. Benny looks at me to see if I’m worth his attention. I say “Sit” but Bill has already turned his attention back to the pee smell.

Crap. Now I have to get his attention again. Once I get it, how can I keep it this time?

I need to ask for the Sit more clearly and quickly. It might also be wise to give him a generous amount of treats so that he might notice me sooner and be more patient listening to my “Sit” request next time.

Giving useful, clear information and treating generously establishes me to Benny as someone worth paying attention to — even when competing with the unquestionable allure of dog pee and squirrel chasing.

Maybe this is easier said than done. I can teach you some tricks. But I’ll give you the main secret right here:

APPRECIATE YOUR DOG’S ATTENTION AND NEVER TAKE IT FOR GRANTED.

“Hurry up and order”

Thank your dog sincerely for simply giving and maintaining attention. Treat generously to reinforce your appreciation. Establish yourself as someone worth paying attention to no matter how exciting the rest of the world might be.

More dog behavior stuff at 4000dogs.com

Take the Four Minute a Day Dog Training Challenge

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.