Dog Training is Exactly Like Ordering a Drink at a Bar

Stevedog behavior

dog training

I’m standing at a bar.  I 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 clearly.  I politely call for him just as he is passing near.

It worked!  I have the bartender’s attention.  The bartender impatiently points and asks me 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.  I should also tip him well so that next time he will notice me quicker and be more patient taking my order.

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.

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.  I should also give him a generous amount of treats so that next time he will notice me quicker and be more patient listening to my “Sit” request.

Giving useful, clear information and treating generously establishes me to Benny as someone worth paying attention to — even when competing with the 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.

 Thank them profusely for simply giving and maintaining their attention. Treat them generously to show your appreciation.  Establish yourself as someone worth paying attention to no matter how interesting the rest of the world is.


What do you all think?  Do you find getting your dog’s attention to be the hardest part?  What differences or similarities between dog training and ordering a drink from a bar did I miss?  Would love your feedback!