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34 Reasons Why My Dog Doesn’t Listen To Me

My Dog Doesn't Listen To Me

“My dog doesn’t listen to me.” This sentiment is one that many dog owners can relate to, as it can be frustrating and concerning when your canine companion doesn’t respond to your commands. However, there are several potential reasons for this behavior. It’s important to understand that dogs have their own motivations and communication styles, and effective training often involves addressing these underlying factors. Here are some common reasons why your dog might not be listening to you:

1. Rewarding bad behaviors through attention.

Accidentally rewarding undesirable behavior in dogs is a common occurrence and can contribute to why your dog is not listening to you.  Dogs are quick to associate actions with consequences, so it’s important to be aware of how you might unintentionally reward behaviors you want to discourage. Here are some ways people accidentally reward their dogs for undesirable behavior:

2. Repeating the command.

My Dog Doesn’t Listen To Me When I Give Him A Command He Already Know Too many times do I hear “Sit, Sit, Sit, Sit, Sit”. This makes the word ‘sit’ mean nothing. It becomes white noise. It also does not give them enough time to process what the word means. Say it once and wait. If they still do not get it after 60 seconds say it again.

3. Rewarding too late.

You say sit, the dog sits. You hesitate, the dog stands, and you reward. In the dogs mind you wanted a stand. This is especially true with separation anxiety. Your late to rewarding the silence and reward the moment they start barking. They think barking is good. This is not the dog’s fault. Their logic was sound. I barked you rewarded. Therefore, barking is good.

4. Rewarding a dog out of frustration.

Rewarding a dog out of frustration can be a common pitfall for dog owners when they feel exasperated by their pet’s perceived lack of cooperation. In moments of frustration, it’s not uncommon for the phrase “my dog doesn’t listen” to echo through a pet owner’s thoughts. While it’s entirely natural to feel this way at times, it’s crucial to recognize that impulsive or misguided rewards given during these moments can inadvertently reinforce unwanted behaviors in dogs. This phenomenon highlights the importance of understanding the complexities of dog training and the need for patience, consistency, and informed approaches to ensure our canine companions learn and respond positively. In this discussion, we will explore the pitfalls and consequences of rewarding a dog out of frustration and offer alternative strategies to foster effective communication and behavior in our four-legged friends.

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.

If you teach your dog to sit before you open the door, you need to do that EVERY SINGLE TIME. This means when grandma comes to the house you make them sit. It doesn’t matter how much grandma wants to see the dog. Dog’s fail with inconsistency. This is because they live in black and white. They either can run out the door or they can’t. You made it grey. Dogs don’t understand exceptions. So, they make the exception the rule. Again, not their fault.

7. Having a dog learn a new behavior in a group class.

Why doesn’t my dog listen to me” is a common concern among dog owners, and group classes are often designed to address this challenge by teaching the human first and then allowing them to transfer the knowledge to their dog at home. Group dog training classes typically follow a structured approach where the primary focus is on educating the owner rather than directly training the dog. There are several reasons for this:

8. Not teaching the command in a calm environment.

Teaching your dog in a calm environment is essential for effective training because it minimizes distractions and stressors, allowing your dog to focus on learning and responding to your commands.  a calm training environment is crucial for dog training because it reduces distractions and stressors that can interfere with the learning process. By minimizing disturbances like children, TV, other animals, or external noise, you create an atmosphere where your dog can better focus on understanding and responding to your commands, leading to more successful training outcomes. Here’s why a calm environment is crucial for successful dog training, considering various potential distractions:

9. You have not proofed it

“Why doesn’t my dog listen to me?” is a common question among dog owners, and one aspect of effective training that can address this concern is “proofing.” Proofing in dog training refers to the process of teaching a dog to reliably respond to commands and exhibit desired behaviors in various real-life situations, regardless of distractions, environments, or circumstances.

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 out one in each category. 

11. Having an open window near a street or sidewalk.

“Why my dog doesn’t listen to me” can sometimes be attributed to having an open window near a street or sidewalk. When a dog has easy access to a window with a clear view of the outside world, they may become easily distracted and less responsive to their owner’s commands. Here’s why this scenario can impact a dog’s attentiveness:

12. Only giving them walks.

Walking your dog only once a day can lead to a situation where “my dog doesn’t listen to me” becomes a common frustration. Dogs need both physical and mental stimulation to stay engaged and responsive. A single daily walk may not provide enough exercise and mental enrichment, causing excess energy that can lead to distractions and reduced attentiveness during training or commands. To address this, consider increasing your dog’s exercise routine, incorporating playtime, and providing mental challenges to help them stay focused and more receptive to your instructions.

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13. Feeding your dog at the same time every day.

Dogs are amazing at telling time. They will start to beg and whine at the times you usually feed them. This is annoying to most people. To avoid this, you need to change up feeding time. This behavior is so strong that it is beneficial to patients with Alzheimer’s. We give service dogs a treat at the same time a patient takes their pills. After about a month the dog will never let you forget when its pill time.
text exchange between client and dogletics about dogs who are pushy about dinner time

14. Using luring as your main training technique.

Luring is the act of taking a treat and having the dog follow it. It is the most used technique, but it is not as effective as shaping. Many times, luring doesn’t even teach a behavior. It teaches the dog to chase a cookie. Simply put shaping is waiting for the dog to do the behavior (with no verbal or hand cues) and rewarding the dog. Over time you change what behavior you are looking for. You are essentially molding a behavior. Shaping is a great technique but is hard to wrap your brain around.

15. Overstimulating your dog.

Overstimulating environments for dogs can vary depending on the individual dog’s tolerance and personality. It’s important to recognize your dog’s comfort level and limit exposure to overstimulating environments when necessary, especially if you find that “my dog doesn’t listen to me” in such situations. Providing breaks, calm spaces, and structured activities can help dogs manage sensory overload and remain balanced and well-behaved, making it easier for them to respond to your commands and guidance.

16. On leash greetings.

Not allowing your dog to engage in on-leash greetings is essential because it can help prevent leash reactivity, a common issue that many dog owners face during walks when their dog doesn’t listen to them. Leash reactivity refers to a dog’s tendency to exhibit aggressive or overly excited behavior, such as barking, lunging, or pulling, when encountering other dogs or people while on a leash.
Text exchange with a client about a dog who pulls on leash

17. Coming home and being super excited to see your dog.

Dog’s mimic our behavior. When you come home excited to see them, they are excited to see you. This is a great sight to see after a bad day of work, but your 80-year-old guest might not agree. Your dog now believes that anyone who walks through the should be greeted the same way. They even may jump and push the guest over. So, when you say off, they don’t understand why and ignore you.

18. Not using high value treats.

“My dog doesn’t listen to me” can be a consequence of using low-value treats during training. When low-value treats are used, dogs may become less motivated to follow commands as they don’t find the rewards enticing. To address this, it’s crucial to use high-value treats that your dog finds exceptionally rewarding. These treats create a stronger incentive for them to pay attention and obey, enhancing their responsiveness during training sessions. By selecting treats that truly motivate your dog, you can improve their willingness to listen and comply with your commands.

Freeze-dried meats like beef, chicken, lamb, or turkey are often very enticing to dogs due to their strong aroma and meaty flavor.

Many dogs love cheese, and it can be cut into small pieces for training or used as a special treat.

Boiled or baked chicken or turkey breast, cut into small chunks, is a high-value and healthy option.

Sliced hot dogs are a classic high-value treat due to their strong scent and taste.

Liver treats, available in various forms like freeze-dried or baked, are highly appealing to many dogs.

Peanut butter, especially the unsalted and sugar-free variety, can be smeared on toys or used as a reward.

Salmon treats, whether freeze-dried or baked, often have a strong fishy aroma that dogs find irresistible.

Dried fish, such as salmon skin or fish jerky, can be an excellent high-value treat option.

Dehydrated sweet potato slices are a healthy and naturally sweet treat that many dogs enjoy.

Small pieces of ham or bacon can be a highly motivating treat for many dogs.

Freeze-dried fruits like apples, blueberries, or bananas can be a tasty and healthy treat option.

Some dogs enjoy the crunchiness of baby carrots, making them a low-calorie high-value option.

Canned sardines in water (without added salt) can be a highly rewarding treat for dogs who enjoy fish.

Plain, unsweetened baby food in flavors like chicken, turkey, or sweet potato can be used as a high-value treat for dogs. Ensure that the baby food doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients like onions or garlic, which can be toxic to dogs. Baby food is often convenient for training purposes, as it can be easily portioned and carried for on-the-go rewards.

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

“My dog doesn’t listen to me” can be a frustrating experience when your dog responds primarily to your nonverbal cues instead of verbal commands. This can happen when nonverbal signals, such as body language or hand gestures, have been consistently reinforced during training, while verbal cues may not have been as consistently paired with rewards. To address this, it’s essential to maintain consistency in your training methods, ensuring that both verbal and nonverbal cues are reinforced consistently with rewards. Gradually phasing out nonverbal cues while reinforcing verbal commands can help your dog become more responsive to your spoken instructions.
  1. Palm Up, Raise Hand
  2. Pointing At But
  1. Pointing Down with one finger
  2. Pointing down with open palm
  1. Holding Palm Out Like Stop
  2. Spirit Fingers
  1. Patting Side
  2. Walking forward with left foot
  3. Lure motion to side
  1. Pushing into his space
  2. Fingers in air like airplane lander
  1. Luring motion in a circle

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

Dogs are great at picking up our emotions. Therefore, they make great service dogs. However, when those emotions are frustration and stress, they become stressed. A stressed dog is unable to learn when they are stressed according to Linda Michaels, M.A., Psychology.  

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.

Physical punishments like hitting, kicking, or using physical force to correct a dog’s behavior can cause physical harm, fear, and aggression in dogs. It can damage the trust between the dog and the owner.

These collars are designed to cause discomfort or pain when the dog pulls on the leash. They can lead to injuries, fear, and anxiety in dogs and should be used with caution, if at all.

Shock collars deliver an electric shock to the dog when they misbehave. They can cause physical and emotional harm and are not recommended for training.

Shouting at a dog can create fear, anxiety, and confusion. It does not effectively teach the dog what you want and can harm the human-dog bond.

The concept of establishing dominance or becoming the “alpha” in the pack has been debunked by modern science. Dominance-based training can lead to aggression and fear in dogs.

Isolating a dog or putting them in time-outs as punishment can create anxiety and confusion, and it may not effectively address the root cause of the behavior.

Employing tools like shock mats, spray collars, or citronella collars to deter certain behaviors can cause distress and harm to the dog.

Alpha rolls involve physically forcing a dog onto their back to assert dominance. This technique can lead to fear and aggression.

physically hurting a dog by pinching or grabbing their ears is abusive and can cause serious harm and emotional trauma.

Withholding food, water, or attention as a form of punishment can lead to physical and psychological suffering in dogs.ontent

24. Fear of the environment

When a dog is scared, “my dog doesn’t listen to me” is a common concern due to the overwhelming fear they experience. Fear can trigger a strong fight-or-flight response, making it challenging for the dog to focus on commands. In such situations, it’s crucial to prioritize the dog’s emotional well-being by creating a safe and calming environment. Building trust through patience and positive interactions can help alleviate fear and gradually improve their responsiveness to your commands, ultimately strengthening your bond with your dog.

Many dogs are afraid of loud noises such as thunderstorms, fireworks, gunshots, or construction sounds. This fear is known as noise phobia.

Dogs can be wary of unfamiliar people, especially if they haven’t been socialized properly during puppyhood. Strangers approaching too quickly or in a threatening manner can trigger fear.

Some dogs have fear or anxiety around other dogs, particularly if they’ve had negative experiences with aggressive or intimidating dogs in the past.

Visiting the vet can be stressful for dogs due to unfamiliar surroundings, strange smells, and medical procedures. This fear can make them resist or become anxious during check-ups.

The grooming process, including baths, brushing, or nail trims, can be frightening for some dogs, especially if they’ve had uncomfortable grooming experiences.

The noise and movement of vacuum cleaners, blenders, or other household appliances can be unsettling for many dogs.

Some dogs are fearful of car rides, possibly due to motion sickness, previous negative experiences, or the unfamiliar environment of the car.

Dogs may be afraid of children, particularly if they have not been exposed to them during puppyhood or have had negative interactions.

Dogs can be afraid of certain objects or surfaces like shiny floors, stairs, or elevators. This fear may be due to a lack of exposure or a negative experience.

The sudden movement and noise of bicycles, skateboards, or scooters can startle or frighten some dogs.

Some dogs are afraid of water or baths, which can be due to past uncomfortable experiences or a general aversion to getting wet.

Dogs may become anxious or fearful when placed in tight or narrow spaces, especially if they feel trapped.

25. Your dog is in pain

“My dog doesn’t listen to me” can be a clear indication that your dog is in pain. Discomfort and pain can significantly distract dogs, making it difficult for them to focus on commands or training. It’s essential to recognize this as a potential reason for their lack of responsiveness and promptly address their pain through a thorough examination by a veterinarian. Once the underlying pain is treated, your dog is more likely to regain their attentiveness and better respond to your commands, leading to improved behavior and a stronger bond between you and your pet.

  • Unusual aggression or irritability: Pain can make dogs more irritable or sensitive to touch.
  • Withdrawal or hiding: Dogs in pain may isolate themselves from family members.
  • Decreased activity: If your dog suddenly becomes less active or refuses to play, pain could be a factor.
  • Restlessness: Constant shifting or pacing can indicate discomfort.
  • Loss of appetite: Pain can lead to a reduced interest in food.
  • Difficulty eating: If your dog has dental pain or mouth issues, they may struggle to eat.
  • Excessive drinking: Some dogs may drink more when in pain as a coping mechanism.
  • Whining, whimpering, or yelping: Dogs may vocalize when in pain, especially if they move a certain way or touch a painful area.
  • Obvious limping or favoring one leg is a clear sign of pain in that limb.
  • Reluctance to move or climb stairs can also indicate pain.
  • Excessive licking or chewing of a specific area: Dogs may try to soothe pain by grooming or chewing a painful spot.
  • Neglecting grooming: A dog in pain may stop grooming themselves altogether.
  • Arched back: Dogs with abdominal pain may arch their back.
  • Hunched posture: This may indicate pain in the spine or abdominal area.
  • Guarding: Dogs may protect a painful area by keeping it away from touch.
  • Rapid breathing: Pain can cause increased respiration.
  • Increased heart rate: Pain may lead to a faster heart rate.
  • Difficulty or straining during urination or defecation can be a sign of pain, especially in the lower abdomen or hips.
  • Frequent urination or accidents in the house can be an indication of a urinary tract issue.
  • Pinned-back ears: This can indicate pain or discomfort.
  • Tail tucked between the legs: It’s a sign of fear or discomfort.
  • Squinting or blinking: Ocular pain can cause dogs to squint or blink excessively.

26. Your bribe sucks

Sometimes we use food as a bribe instead of a reinforcement. A bribe is when we try to pull a dog away from something to get a prize. However, our prize is usually of less value than what the dog has or is pulling towards. That would be offering a dog $1 dollar bill when they have a $100 dollar bill. This creates a value decision. If your dog does not value what you have more than what he has, he will ignore you. Too many times we try to bribe our dog with kibble. If your dog has a chicken bone in his mouth that is like bribing a millionaire with a one-dollar bill.

27. It's been a while since you gave that command

Dog training is a use it or lose it type of game. If you have not asked your dog to leave something in a month, he most likely has forgotten it. Good news is that once you train a command it takes less time to retrain it. Spend 1-2 days practicing the command and he should be back to normal.

28. The dog's brain 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

The number of repetitions required for a dog to learn a command can vary significantly from one dog to another. Several factors influence how quickly a dog learns a command, including the dog’s age, breed, temperament, previous training, and the complexity of the command itself. Here are some key considerations:

20. You're not patient

Impatience can hinder effective communication and contribute to the feeling of “my dog doesn’t listen to me.” Dogs respond best to calm and patient guidance during training. Rushing through commands or becoming frustrated when the dog doesn’t immediately comply can create stress and confusion. Taking the time to reinforce commands with patience and positive reinforcement can help improve your dog’s responsiveness and overall training success.

31. Your dog can't hear or see you anymore

Blind or deaf dogs cannot hear or see their owners, which can make traditional verbal or visual cues ineffective for communication. This is why they may not respond to commands or cues in the same way as dogs with normal hearing and vision.
Text exchange about why your dog doesn't listen to me

32. You're not bonded to the dog

A lack of a strong bond or connection with your dog can indeed contribute to the frustration of “my dog doesn’t listen to me.” Dogs often respond better to owners with whom they have a close and trusting relationship. When there’s a limited bond, the dog may not feel as motivated to please or cooperate. Building a strong bond through positive interactions, quality time together, and consistent training can foster better communication and willingness to listen, ultimately improving obedience and the overall relationship with your dog.

33. You're not the one training the dog

When multiple people are not involved in a dog’s training, it’s essential to understand the concept of “generalization.” Dogs may struggle to listen to commands from individuals other than their primary trainer because they’ve learned to associate specific cues with the person who initially taught them. This can result in limited obedience in different settings or with different people. To overcome this, it’s crucial for various family members or caregivers to participate in the training process consistently and use the same cues and techniques. Gradually, the dog will generalize the learned behaviors to different situations and individuals, improving their responsiveness and overall training success.

34. Not hiring a private training.

Not hiring a private trainer can contribute to the challenge of “my dog doesn’t listen to me.” Private trainers bring expertise and experience to address specific training needs and behaviors that might be causing the problem. They can tailor training methods to suit your dog’s unique personality and your specific goals. Without professional guidance, you may struggle to identify the root causes of your dog’s behavior issues and may inadvertently reinforce undesirable habits. A private trainer can provide valuable insights and strategies to improve your dog’s responsiveness, fostering a more obedient and harmonious relationship.

4 thoughts on “34 Reasons Why My Dog Doesn’t Listen To Me”

  1. My 9 year old staff will just not do as he is told, if he is told to leave something or do something, the minute I walk out the room he will do it. No matter what it is, I can’t leave him in the garden because he will literally pee up everything including the back door, if I stand there he will only go in one place. He isn’t bothered about wether I let him out, he will just pee or poo in his bed, when I try to tell him off, he growls at me. I’m really at my wits end, this is everyday, all day. I love him to bits but I cant take much more.

  2. I have a problem my Yorkie will not eat dry dog food even if I add a flavor packet to it. How can I get him to eat ? He only wants treats.
    Russo0115@icloud .com

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