The most common thing I hear from owners is “my dog doesn’t listen to me”. Over the last 15 years of training here are the 32 reasons why your dog won’t listen to you.
1. Rewarding bad behaviors through attention.
2. Repeating the command.
3. Rewarding too late.
4. Rewarding a dog out of frustration.
Owners will request their dog to do a command. The dog will not do the command. They will repeat the command and the dog still won’t do the command. The owner gets frustrated and rewards the dog. This reinforces doing nothing. Instead, give an easier command like sit, and reward. At least you are rewarding a correct behavior.
5. Using “Good Boy” as the marker word.
A marker word is the word we use to tell the dog they did something good. The problem with ‘good boy’ is that we use it all the time. The marker word is a promise. When I say this word, it means what you just did was correct, and you get a reward. If you say it without rewarding. You are breaking the promise of the marker word. We say good boy without rewarding the dog all the time. Usually for something mundane as looking cute. A better word is “YES”.
6. Not being consistent with rules.
7. Having a dog learn a new behavior in a group class.
8. Not teaching the command in a calm environment.
9. After a dog has learned the behavior you must teach the command in various environments.
This is called proofing. Dogs are very contextual animals. I sit in the kitchen, with mom, when the cat is upstairs. Once you change any part of that environment, they have no idea what you are asking. You must teach them to sit in the kitchen, bedroom, yard, around dogs, around cats, around people, at the pet store. However, this only happens once the learn the command (see problem 8).
10. Leaving out too many toys.
Many owners buy their dogs tons of toys which is great. But you should rotate them. Dogs get bored and toys will not stimulate them if they are always available. Lack of stimulation causes bad behaviors in dogs. A dog who is not mentally simulated is a dog who acts out. Leave 5-7 toys out per month and change them out.
11. Having an open window near a street or sidewalk.
12. Only giving them walks.
Dogs need mental stimulation that is not food based. You should be trick training your dog at least 3 times a week to meet their mental goals. A mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog. I have a 3-year Aussie who has been on bed rest for a month due to an agility injury. After the 3rd week she was getting into the garbage, food bags, and chewing everything she found. She is a highly trained dog. This has nothing to do with training but instead had to do with mental stimulation. Therefore, I started doing trick training with her. This resolved her bad behaviors.
13. Feeding your dog at the same time every day.
14. Using luring as your main training technique.
15. Overstimulating your dog.
16. On leash greetings.
17. Coming home and being super excited to see your dog.
18. Not using high value treats.
High value is human food. It is not high-quality dog treats. It’s is cheese, steak, hotdogs, chicken and so on. You should use high value treats until the dog is listening on a consistent basis. Then you can switch to high quality dog treats.
19. Making recall (come) a bad thing.
Too many times we recall our dog, leash them, and leave the fun place. The dog learns over time that “come” means stop the fun thing. Instead, occasionally call them and release them back to what they are doing. Therefore, they don’t have to choose between the fun thing and you. They get both (occasionally).
20. The dog only understands the non-verbal cue
21. The dog is too young or not trained enough
We ask too much out of puppies. If your dog is under the age of 1 they are not deliberately ignoring you. They just don’t understand what you want. That would be like asking a 6-year-old to drive a car. Just because they have seen you do it does not mean they can do it. Even owners with adult dogs expect too much out of them. Unless you have put hours of work into training your dog might not understand what you are asking.
22. You are being too emotional
23. You are being too adverse
Adverse techniques can include, yelling, hitting, e-collars, pinch collars and much more. When a dog’s basic needs are not met, they cannot learn according to The Hierarchy of Dog’s Needs. This topic explains cognitive needs of dogs. Linda Michaels, M.A., Psychology developed it.
24. Fear of the environment
25. Your dog is in pain
A dog cannot learn if they are in pain. Their cognitive functions are distorted when they are in pain. This could include dogs with medical conditions, physical conditions, or just upset stomachs.
26. Your bribe sucks
27. It's been a while since you gave that command
28. The dog's rain is turned off
This is also known as being in ‘panic mode’ or above ‘threshold’. A dog in panic mode pants a lot, jumps, and is overexcited. A dog in this mode cannot learn. Have you every chased a dog running in the street. You know that is the worse way to get them to come back to you because you are playing chase. Yet you do it. It’s because you were in panic mode and not thinking straight.
29. Not practicing enough
Training takes weekly practice. If you are only practicing once every couple of weeks your dog is not going to learn the behavior.
20. You're not patient
Dogs need time to think. Speed will come with time. You might need to say ‘sit’ wand wait 30 seconds before they sit. Next time they will sit within 25 seconds, and then 20, 15, 10, 5 and so on. Give them time.
31. Your dog can't hear or see you anymore
32. You're not bonded to the dog
If you are not bonded to the dog, he/she is less likely to listen to you. Start feeding the dog, playing, and taking them on walks. This will make them more likely to listen to you.
33. You're not the one training the dog
Dogs have a hard time translating skill across people. If you are not the one training, they may listen perfect to mom but not you. This is because they have never learned to listen to you. Start training the dog with mom and you will see a huge difference.
34. Not hiring a private training.
Group training is great, but it is not designed for practicing. YouTube Videos are bad at showing adjustments based on how each dog learns. Each dog is different they might need an extra cue. Or they might need a baby step before completing the task.