Are You Sending Your Dog Mixed Messages? 5 Tips to Get Your Dogs Attention


What Your Dog Sees

For years dogs have been noted to only being able to see in black and white, but last year Scientist Jay Neitz from the American university carried out experiments on dogs to test whether they could see in color or not. 

He discovered that while human eyes have three ‘cones’ that detect color and can identify red, blue, green and yellow light; dogs only have two.

This means dogs can distinguish blue and yellow, but not red and green. Read more.

So everything is NOT in black and white for your dog. And you, as the owner and trainer can easily be sending your dog mixed messages. Not just in the way they view color, but in the way they view what you are trying to say to them.

For instance if you tell your dog to get down from the couch… they’ve heard you say “down” before, so they may think you are telling them to “lay down”.


TIP  ONE: As a trainer I use the word “Off” when I want them to get off from someone or something. If I want them to lay down, I use the word “Down”. We may confuse our dogs if we aren’t using distinctive commands.

TIP TWO: Dogs learn in one or two words, not complete sentences. Although some dogs seem to listen to us jibber and jabber and even know, hear, and obey our every command, most other dogs don’t and won’t. So when I’m training my dogs, since I have four, I use their name followed by a one word command. “Snickers Sit.”

TIP THREE: Dogs are visual. When teaching commands, it is an excellent idea to use hand signals as well as verbal commands. Recently I had the opportunity to work with a Pitbull pup who was deaf. He had mouthing issues and his owner didn’t know how to teach him not to bite or how to get him to come, sit, and lay down. After one session this eight-week old puppy had learned the word “NO!” and not to bite, as well as come, sit and down, just by using distinctive hand signals.

TIP FOUR: Dogs can be calmer and less excitable if we remain calm and less excitable. For instance, if you don’t want your dog barking, jumping, and crazy when you walk in the door, don’t get them all excited and act excited to see them. Instead, calmly walk in, ignore them for the first 5-10 minutes and then, when they are settled and not paying attention to you, go find them and pay attention to them.

TIP FIVE: Dogs who get free treats have no reason to obey their owners. Instead of just giving your dog a bone or treat, ask them to do something: come, sit, shake, lay down, stand on their hind legs, sit pretty, dance or do something. Dogs want to receive affection and admiration from their owners as much as they want treats. Whereas a dog that gets free treats, all the time, will become overweight, disobedient, and stubborn.

Lisa Freeman is an award-winning author, speaker, and AKC Evaluator, Dog Trainer, and Certified Pet Therapist from Owosso, Michigan. She is a bully expert and specializes in behavioral modification in both people and dogs. She began rescuing dogs and people over 13 years ago when an abused, runaway pup charged under her van. Since then, she’s founded three non-profit organizations to bring hope, help, and healing to all. For more information log onto:




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