Why Doesn’t My Dog Listen to Me?

Having trouble getting your canine companion to listen? Think they might have an obedience issue? Find out why your dog isn’t listening to you below!

May 16, 2024By Nikita Hillier
why doesnt my dog listen to me

Having a furry companion really is one of life's greatest joys. But what happens when your dog doesn’t seem to be listening to you? Don’t worry.

It is a common frustration among pet owners, but understanding the reasons behind your dog's behavior can help to improve communication and even strengthen your bond with your pet. In this comprehensive guide, we will take a look at the various things that can contribute to your dog's lack of responsiveness and provide training tips.

Lack of Motivation

dog on lead training with owner
Image Credit: Eddie Trainor on Unsplash

Just like humans, dogs have their very own motivations and preferences. While this can be frustrating at times, it is important to remember that just like you, your dog is an individual. Remembering that will work wonders for you, your dog, and your training program.

While some dogs eagerly obey commands in exchange for treats, other dogs may be more motivated by play or praise when you offer it to them. If your dog isn’t responding to commands, you should offer different rewards to see what motivates them most. This may include interactive puzzle toys or DIY dog meals.

You can try treats, positive encouragement, and words of praise, too. When you are able to find the right incentive, you can make training your dog much more enjoyable and effective for both you and your furry friend. It is a great way to encourage motivation!

Breed-Specific Stubbornness and Independence

dog looking at trainer during training session
Image Credit: Destiny Wiens on Unsplash

Some dog breeds are more stubborn and independent than others. Certain breeds, such as the Afghan Hound, are cat-like dogs and hear commands as suggestions.

Dogs with this disposition can be very challenging to train. This can cause a lot of frustration and annoyance for owners, but it is important to remain calm and work with them. With a lot of patience and consistency, even the most stubborn of dogs can learn to listen and obey.

As noted, positive reinforcement can go a long way in improving your dog’s listening skills. If all else fails, you could connect with a dog trainer.

Lack of Training

short haired dog looking at trainer during training
Image Credit: Reed Shepherd on Unsplash

One of the most common reasons that a dog may not listen to you is simply because they haven’t been properly trained to listen to your commands. It is so important to understand, know, and remember that dogs don’t instinctively know how to respond to your commands. Even the most intelligent dog breeds aren’t mind readers!

If your dog isn’t listening to you properly, it may simply be because they don’t understand what you’re asking of them. Investing time and effort into training your dog using positive reinforcement techniques can help to improve their responsiveness and strengthen your bond.

Whether you have had your dog since birth or you adopted them from a shelter, lack of training can be a big issue that many people overlook. Remember: getting a dog is a big commitment! Make sure you have the right energy, patience, and time to train your pet properly.

Your Dog Is Easily Distracted

black and white dog doing agility training
Image Credit: Murilo Viviani

Many dogs are easily distractable. This is especially true in environments with lots of different sights, sounds, and smells. If your dog isn’t listening to you or you’re having a hard time getting their attention, it could simply be that they’re too focused on something else.

Take a moment to sit back and reflect. What is going on around you? What can you see that might be interesting to your dog? Are there dogs nearby running around?

Stepping into your dog's brain and seeing things from their point of view can definitely help you empathize and get on their level. When training your dog, it could be a good idea to start in a quiet, distraction-free environment and gradually increase the levels of distractions. It’s a good idea to up the distractions as your dog becomes more proficient at obeying commands.

Using high-value treats or toys can help keep your dog's attention during training.

Your Dog Is Fearful or Anxious

dog jumping through agility hoop
Image Credit: Andrea Lightfoot on Unsplash

In some cases, a dog could be ignoring your commands because of the fact they’re fearful or anxious. This is especially common in certain breeds (such as Dalmatians) or dogs rescued from abusive situations.

It’s super important that you always approach training with dogs that are fearful or anxious in a sensitive and patient way. Reacting in any negative way to your dog can send you backward in training and betray their trust.

You can increase your dog’s confidence by exposing them to new situations in small doses. This may include taking them to outdoor cafes, on long walks, and on day-long hikes. Associate new experiences with verbal praise, treats, and toys. Soon enough, your dog will leave their days of fearfulness behind and start listening to you.

The Power of Positive Reinforcement and Professional Training

german shepherd looking at owner during training
Image Credit: John Tuesday on Unsplash

While it can definitely be frustrating when your dog isn’t listening to you, it is absolutely essential that you approach training with consistency, patience, and positivity. Using good positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, treats, and play can work greatly to help motivate your dog to listen to you and obey commands.

On top of this, if you’re having any trouble or would like extra help, a professional trainer can make a huge difference. Make sure you choose a dog trainer who specializes in positive reinforcement methods and can provide valuable guidance and support. This is especially important for challenging canines.

With persistence, patience, and the right approach, you can build a strong and trusting relationship with your canine companion. This relationship will be based on clear communication, trust, and mutual respect.

Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!