It is often noted, especially in a couple, that the dog listens to one partner more than the other. If this is your case, then this article is for you! Let’s review a few causes and see what strategies could be interesting to use to face this issue.
The Dog Learned More From One Than The Other
Sometimes we use the same word to ask our dog something, but he will listen to one person and the other he will not… You have certainly experienced this situation before! You call your dog, but it does not come, your spouse calls him and hop!… here he comes running! Frustrating you say?!
What you have to understand is that the dog relies much more on the characteristics of a person to listen to the word learned. It is not based on the word itself! When the dog only listens to the person who taught him, then it is because he has become accustomed to a host of details specific to the person: the position of the body, the distance to the dog at the time of the request, the action taken, the moment when the action is taken, the intonation, the speed of speech, the sound volume, etc. These are all the little things the dog uses to listen. So the partner who doesn’t do all these little things properly is not going to be listened to.
However, when there is a clear difference, then it is possible to suspect that the dog may not have learned the word correctly. Mistakes in your teachings, at first, may have prompted him to focus on the wrong elements to listen to you. If it depends on where you are, what you’re doing, how you say it... If your dog comes back “but it depends” on this or that condition, then it is probably to be expected that your spouse will likely not succeed. This is different from learning a word to be heard sustainably in spite of the conditions.
If you have used a learning process knowing what you were doing and are sure you have done well, then you can look at the other common causes presented in this article.
Learning Something New
The fact that your dog learns a new “order” with the person who the dog never obeys, no matter which one it is, even “give the paw”, this will help him to adapt to her or her; and he or she will also adapt to him. He’ll learn that listening to you is rewarding. If you are the person your dog listens to, what often solves the problem is to show your spouse how you taught your dog certain things . In this learning context, the partner has the opportunity to quietly observe important things.
How you reward your pet, what you expect from it, and what you consider to be “perfect” or “less successful”, etc, your spouse will simply have to reproduce what he or she observed. This is the perfect opportunity to say, “Don’t forget to do this”, or to correct that or whatever. This is really the best way to do it.
Very often, when a dog only listens to one person from the couple he or she is living with, it is the person who taught him or her everything. To listen, the dog relies on details specific to the person. However, if it depends too much on certain conditions, the dog may not have learned anything per se.
Cause of Complicity What we call complicity between a person and a dog comes from a variety of things, not only from who feeds them. When a dog spends significantly more time with one person in the couple, it creates a whole dynamic, based on a verbal and non-verbal language for the person. And the dog then has markers that tell him what to do, just by observing the person who always does the same things at the same times without necessarily realizing it, who also rewards behaviors in an involuntary way (example: laughing at certain things).
The spouse who is not listened to may think that it is a lost cause since he or she cannot spend as much time with the dog. But there is an effective way to fix that.
The spouse who is not listened to can have the privilege of the best playtime with the dog. Even if he or she spends less time with the dog, this time becomes very high quality for the dog. Quite often, the spouse who spends the least time with the dog does not do much interesting (for the dog) when he or she is there, because there is nothing left to do (eating is done, walking is done, playing with the ball is done…), or we have this impression. Playing has many benefits ! It allows you to create a connection very quickly.
More Meticulous Behaviours
Sometimes, when a dog clearly listens more to a person of the couple with whom he lives, while both people are almost as involved, it is enough for one of the two spouses to be more meticulous in his behavior with the dog to be obeyed more.
- He or she has a congratulatory word much more often when the dog has listened to him, already there is a success marker – some people don’t have one – ( good boy or girl /yeiii/supeeer…), and this marker is used right at the right time (when the desired behaviour occurs, not five minutes later, for example).
- He or she tries more things to be listened to, gives up less quickly, takes the time to get closer if the dog is too far away, tries more “tricks” until they are successful, etc.
- It is clearer for the dog because it is more consistent: do not deviate from the rules he or she has set for himself – it depends less on his mood of the moment and more on the attention paid to the dog’s behaviors.
There are many other examples to give. Some will naturally be more meticulous, making them more «readable» for the dog. That being said, those who are less able can certainly make progress in this area. These are mostly things that are learned. Very concrete things happen over time.
Also, if your spouse seems to have a “feeling” that you don’t have with your dog, remember that a dog doesn’t have the same relationship with everyone in the same household. It is better not to take a link as a model and invent your own relationship to the dog!
With the same dog, each person will have a unique relationship. A dog does not quite bring the same things to us all. Each person also brings different things to the dog.
Man seems «naturally» to be obeyed
Stereotype…But it Applies
Sometimes the dog behaves more «wisely» in the presence of one or the other of the partners. For example, he jumps on one and never on the other; he only pulls a leash with one of the two.
In the case where the man appears to be quite clearly in the role of the “authoritarian parent”, even if he does not grumble any more than his partner, does not punish any more and would not harm a fly, there are two main factors to explain some of the dog’s behaviour; some men combine the two and may naturally seem more intimidating.
Watch out! This also depends on the dog itself, especially on its socialization to humans when it was small and even possibly before joining you.
- The male voice: genetically, the vocal cords (and the anatomy of the mouth/trachea) of men and women are different. This is not the case for all dogs, but many are more intimidated by the voice of a man than a woman. Except in exceptional cases, men have more serious voices. Among the most commonly advanced explanations is the fact that dogs have a different hearing from ours and perceive more things in people's voices. Low voices “resonate” louder and may seem more impressive to a dog (without even screaming). It makes the bass voices more «resonant» (if you do singing or music, it is easier to understand).
- The physical: not all dogs are more intimidated by the more imposing physique and not all men have more imposing physique than their spouse. Well, with that being said, some dogs are much more intimidated by tall/large men than by others; the more a man imposes physically, the more these dogs seem to react. This may explain why some dogs are more obedient with the gentleman than the lady.
We could probably study other factors involved in this intimidation factor, sometimes very unintentional, more cultural factors, differences in behaviour between men and women, but it will become too complicated. Let’s stick to the genetic parameters. Having the right energy (the one the dog needs to learn and then listen to on a daily basis) helps to be listened to better. To put it simply, more distracted and slow dogs need a more “dynamic” person; energetic dogs have a hard time learning if their masters are energetic themselves. So, in a couple, it is sometimes enough that one has the energy that corresponds to the dog’s energy, and the other not, for there to be an “imbalance”.
Generally, when a dog listens better to a person in a couple, he either learns everything with that person or he spends a lot more time with him or her. Combine the two and you get an “excluded” partner. Admittedly, some exclude themselves and sometimes also, things are clear from the start, only one of them wanted a dog!
In some couples, one person is more meticulous than the other. It may be partly natural; it’s personality, character, feeling closer to animals… but it’s rarely just that. The person has often informed themselves more in the subject, is more familiar with dog education techniques or is more aware of what they are doing, has already identified why sometimes requests are not obeyed, has taken the time to study details, takes the time to observe, analyze, and realize certain errors… So we can also remedy this problem.
In couples where the man seems «naturally» to be better obeyed, it is not uncommon for the gentleman to be just more intimidating, but it also depends if the dog is intimidated (it does not have the same effect on all dogs).
Finally, energy is one of the most important characteristics of a dog. The energy makes dogs very different from each other, from «cool» dogs to «nosey» dogs.
Sometimes in a couple, one of the two partners just naturally has the right energy with his dog. Commands are listened to more because it is quieter or on the contrary, it is necessary to be more dynamic with this dog. Again, the one who is not being listened to can adapt; a lot of people have to work on this aspect and manage to make great progress.