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Why Your Dog Doesn’t Listen To You



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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Do you ever feel like your pup isn’t listening to you? Does it seem like they don’t understand what you’re trying to tell them?

If so, you’re not alone! Many people struggle with getting their dog to obey commands and follow instructions.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the top reasons why your dog might not be listening to you and provide practical tips for improving your pup’s obedience.

This article contains:

Key Takeaway

  • Your dog may not be listening to you due to factors such as lack of consistent training, distractions in the environment, underlying health issues, or not understanding your commands.
  • Getting your dog to listen involves consistent training, clear communication, positive reinforcement, and creating a distraction-free environment conducive to learning.
  • Creating a good dog listening environment requires starting with low-distraction settings and gradually increasing distractions, consistent usage of commands, positive reinforcement, and building a positive association between your dog and certain behaviors or environments.

Why Your Dog Doesn’t Listen To You

Why Your Dog Doesn't Listen To You

Your dog may not listen to you due to reasons such as ineffective training methods, high energy levels, miscommunication, territorial behavior, physical health issues like deafness, or being overwhelmed by distractions.

Ineffective Training Methods

Ineffective pressure or methods in training can lead to a dog not listening to their owner. Overuse of certain techniques without proper reinforcement or positive feedback can confuse the dog and result in non-compliance.

High Energy Levels

Dogs with high energy levels may find it difficult to focus on commands. They might be more interested in playing or exploring their environment, thus ignoring the instructions given by their owner.


Sometimes, dogs may not understand the commands given by their owners. This is often due to miscommunication where the words used are just words to the dog and they do not associate them with specific actions or behaviors.

Territorial Behavior

Some dogs may choose to ignore commands when they are in their own territory. They feel secure at home and may show more independent behavior, choosing to do what they want instead of following commands.

Physical Health Issues

Physical health issues like deafness, particularly in older dogs, can cause them to not listen to their owners. In such cases, owners need to rely more on visual cues to communicate with their pets.

Overwhelmed by Distractions

At times, dogs may be overwhelmed by distractions and therefore not listen to their owners. This could be due to a variety of factors such as a desire to play, the presence of other pets or people, or even the smell of food says PetMD.

How to Get Your Dog to Listen

Getting your dog to listen involves using high-value rewards, maintaining patience and consistency, paying attention to your tone and body language, teaching life-saving commands like “come”, and respecting your dog’s space while also insisting on respect from them.

Use High-Value Rewards

Using high-value treats or other items your dog loves, like a favorite toy, can effectively get your dog’s attention and encourage them to listen. This reward system creates a positive association between obeying commands and receiving something they enjoy.

Maintain Patience and Consistency

Patience is key in getting your dog to listen. It takes time for dogs to understand and consistently respond to commands. Along with patience, consistency in the way you give commands and reward your dog is crucial to reinforce their learning.

Pay Attention to Your Tone and Body Language

How you say a command can impact how your dog responds. Dogs are sensitive to tones and may react differently based on how a command is delivered. Additionally, dogs are adept at reading body language, so maintaining consistent and clear physical cues can help your dog understand what you want.

Teach Life-Saving Commands

Commands like “come” can be life-saving in certain situations. It’s essential to ensure your dog understands and responds to such commands promptly. Regular practice and reinforcement can help teach these vital commands.

Respect Your Dog’s Space While Insisting on Respect

Respecting your dog’s space can help foster a trusting relationship, making it more likely for your dog to listen to you. At the same time, you should insist on respect from your dog. This includes having your dog listen and respond to you, and setting boundaries for their behavior.

How Do You Discipline a Dog That Won’t Listen?

Disciplining a dog that won’t listen involves understanding and addressing the underlying issues, using positive reinforcement, providing consistent training, ignoring bad behavior, and gradually increasing distractions during training.

Understand and Address Underlying Issues

Your dog’s disobedience could be a result of various underlying issues such as fear, anxiety, or health problems. Understanding these issues and addressing them can significantly improve your dog’s responsiveness to commands.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is an effective way to discipline your dog. Reward your dog for good behavior and obedience with treats, praise, or petting. This encourages your dog to repeat these behaviors in the future.

Provide Consistent Training

Consistency is key when disciplining a dog. Ensure you use the same commands and rewards each time to avoid confusing your dog. Regular training sessions can also help reinforce the learned behaviors.

Ignore Bad Behavior

Ignoring your dog when they display bad behavior can be an effective form of discipline. For instance, if your dog jumps on you for attention, simply turn away and ignore them until they calm down. This teaches your dog that they will not get what they want through such behaviors.

Gradually Increase Distractions During Training

Start training your dog in a quiet, distraction-free environment. As your dog gets better at following commands, gradually introduce distractions. This helps your dog learn to listen even in distracting environments.

Overcoming Specific Challenges in Dog Listening

Overcoming specific challenges in dog listening involves identifying and addressing the underlying issues, using high-value rewards for recall training, managing triggers, understanding your dog’s fears, and employing proven mindset shifts during training.

Identifying and Addressing Underlying Issues

The first step to overcoming challenges in dog listening is identifying any underlying issues that may be causing disobedience. This could include behavioral problems or physical conditions such as deafness. Once identified, these issues should be addressed with patience, understanding, and appropriate training methods.

Using High-Value Rewards for Recall Training

High-value rewards can be particularly effective in recall training. By reserving special treats specifically for this purpose, you can encourage your dog to respond more enthusiastically and consistently when called.

Managing Triggers

Understanding and managing your dog’s triggers is crucial to improving their obedience. Keeping dogs in the ‘learning zone’ and preventing them from becoming overwhelmed by their triggers can help them overcome problematic behaviors.

Understanding Your Dog’s Fears

If your dog exhibits fear or anxiety, it’s important to approach training with patience and realistic expectations. Switching to private training sessions or employing other methods designed specifically for fearful dogs can be beneficial.

Employing Proven Mindset Shifts During Training

Adopting the right mindset during training can also help overcome challenges. Implementing proven mindset shifts can assist in dealing with extreme training challenges and improving your dog’s behavior.

Creating a Good Dog Listening Environment

Creating a good dog listening environment involves providing a calm and quiet space, maintaining consistency in training, using positive reinforcement, and setting clear boundaries and expectations.

Provide a Calm and Quiet Space

Dogs can become easily distracted by noise and activity. Providing a calm and quiet space for training can help them focus on your commands. This could be a specific room in your house or a quiet spot in your yard.

Maintain Consistency in Training

Consistency is key in creating an environment conducive to dog listening. Use the same commands and signals every time you train your dog. This helps your dog understand what is expected of them and reduces confusion.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement creates a positive association between obedience and rewards, making your dog more likely to listen. This could be in the form of treats, praise, or petting. Remember to reward your dog immediately after they follow a command so they associate the reward with the correct behavior.

Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations

Setting clear boundaries and expectations helps your dog understand what behaviors are acceptable and what aren’t. This could include rules like staying off furniture or not jumping on guests. Make sure all family members enforce these rules consistently to avoid confusing your dog.


Q: Are certain dog breeds more likely to ignore commands?

A: Yes, some dog breeds are known to be more independent and may have a tendency to ignore verbal commands. However, with proper training and consistent reinforcement, any dog can learn to listen and obey.

Q: What should I do if my dog has excess energy?

A: If your dog has excess energy, it may be harder for them to listen and focus. Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day to help reduce their energy levels.

Q: How can I teach my dog to listen to me on a leash?

A: Teaching your dog to walk on a leash and listen to your commands requires consistent training. Start with short, controlled walks and use positive reinforcement to reward your dog for good behavior.

Q: Can my dog understand my body language?

A: Yes, dogs are highly observant of human body language and cues. They can pick up on subtle changes in your posture, facial expressions, and tone of voice, which can affect how they respond to your commands.

Q: What are some reasons why my dog may not be listening to me?

A: There could be several reasons why your dog is not listening to you. It could be due to distractions, lack of training, fear, or even medical issues. It’s important to assess the situation and address any underlying causes.

Q: Should I hire a professional dog trainer to improve my dog’s listening skills?

A: If you’re struggling to train your dog or you feel like you’re not making progress, hiring a professional dog trainer can be a great investment. They have the knowledge and expertise to address specific training challenges and provide guidance.

Q: How can I make sure my dog listens to me at the dog park?

A: When at the dog park, it’s important to have control over your dog. Practice recall commands in a controlled environment before going to the park. Keep your dog’s attention with treats or toys and reward them for listening.

Q: What should I do if my dog suddenly starts ignoring my commands?

A: If your dog suddenly starts ignoring your commands, it could be a sign of a bigger issue. Rule out any medical problems and consider consulting with a professional dog trainer to help identify the cause and provide guidance on how to address it.

Conclusion and final thoughts

In conclusion, understanding why your dog doesn’t listen to you is a learning process that requires patience and consistency.

Reinforcing positive behavior with rewards and ignoring undesired behavior are key principles of training.

Additionally, being aware of the environment in which your pet behaves can help eliminate distractions and improve the chances of success.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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