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Is Selective Hearing In Dogs Real?

My dog listens well at home but not away from home. My dog comes running when I whisper the F-O-O-D word but completely ignores me when I shout his name at the top of my lungs. Can you relate to this?

You may think that our dogs have selective hearing but they simply just do what is most valuable to them at that time. For example at home, getting a treat may be most valuable, but in a dog park, playing with other dogs may be more valuable than getting a handful of treats. Or following a new scent is much more exciting than coming to you.

“It’s not like dogs purposely decide not to listen. It’s often owners who are being inconsistent causing dogs to sometimes listen and sometimes not.”

Adrienne Farricelli, Dog Trainer & Author

As many dog trainers will tell you, the key to successful dog training is being consistent and realistic with your expectations. Proof your dog’s training through the Three D’s – Duration, Distance and Distraction.

What about this – My dog wakes up at the soft sound of chips opening and lead moving but sleeps through a telly.

According to a new study, it turns out that dogs can tune out specific noises (ie. background noises), just like people at cocktail parties. This is often called “the cocktail party effect.” The study finds that dogs can recognise their names in noisy conditions.

Just like their names, our dogs are able to recognise ‘familiar’ sounds and react to ‘unusual’ sounds, even from far away, especially the ones that are high value or posing a threat to them. I guess, in this instance, our dogs do have selective hearing.