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Why Dogs May Not Listen to Their Owner

Updated on April 30, 2015

Make sure your dog is paying attention to you when you ask a command

Why is my dog not listening? Stubborn dog solutions, copyright, Adry
Why is my dog not listening? Stubborn dog solutions, copyright, Adry

Table of Contents

1) How to get your stubborn dog to listen

2) 5 reasons why your dog may not be listening

3) 3 reasons why it's not always the owner's fault

4) Further readings

5) Comments

How to get your stubborn dog to listen?

If your dog turns a deaf ear every time you give him an order there obviously may be something pretty wrong going on. The reasons for such lack of discipline may be several, but most of them stem from the fact that owners must have good leadership skills in order for a dog to seek guidance and respond to special commands. Fortunately, there are several strategies owners may resort to so to make Rover more interested in you, rather than that pole he has already sniffed hundreds of times.

Why Doesn't My Dog Ever Listen to Me?

The answers as already stated may be various, but in a dog's mind they are all plausible explanations. However, recognizing what you are doing wrong is the first step to getting your dog to finally listen to you. Some times, the solution to the problem is easier than thought, other times, much effort and patience will be needed, but eventually all dogs are trainable, given the owner is capable of delivering precise and consistent commands. Following are some common reasons why Rover may decide to turn his deaf ear on you.

5 Reasons Why your Dog may Not be Listening

You are not Worthy of Attention

Your dog may have a hard time seeing you as worthy of attention, because there are so many more interesting stimuli around you. As desperate as this situation may sound, there are many ways as you can become more interesting. Play games with your dog, use treats to reward your dog, make yourself interesting more than anything else. This will help you bond with your dog and make you more salient than anything else.

You are Not Being Consistent

Some times this take a bit of self analysis. Do you ever find yourself telling your dog to get off the couch, but then if the weather is too cold, you find yourself allowing him, ''just for once''? Well, dogs tend to generalize and do not understand inconsistency. If you tell him''off '' all the time and then allow him every now and then, he will simply think that your training has loop holes and that therefore he can get away from trying to get up at times, because perhaps it's his ''lucky day'' where you will welcome him on the couch with open arms.

♦ You Never Reward

Would you ever work for free? Neither would your dog. If you never let your dog know he did a great job in responding to your command so quickly, by praising and perhaps giving him that tasty treat, he will have lost all his motivation to please you.

Your Give Treats Incorrectly

Wait! Didn't you just say that dogs need some treats to obey? Well, give then incorrectly and that day that you will run out, your dog will look at you and think: ''What? No treat? I will strike from now on until you get that pocket re-filled''. Indeed, most dog trainers will tell you to taper off with treats once dogs have learned the command and replace them with verbal praise and a pat. Treats can still be given every now and then but a dog should not be bribed to perform a trick because of that slice of hot dog dangling in front of him. Read more about dog bribery.

You Give Commands at the Wrong Time

While obedient dogs will likely obey at any time, dogs that have just started obedience training should be put up for success by asking him commands when he is most likely to respond. For instance, you are trying to teach your dog to come to you when called. Since this is a new command, it is best to ask him to come to you when he is alert to you and attentive. It would be putting him up to fail if you asked him to come to you right when he is smelling that interesting spot or nibbling on some grass. Only later as he advances in training you may call him under distractions.

3 Reasons Why it's Not Always the Dog's or Human's Fault

There are also some circumstances where a dog may not listen because he is just not into it at that time. The reasons for this may be various and must be kept into consideration before admitting of dealing with a highly stubborn dog. Here are some circumstances to keep in mind, where it is not only the owner's fault.

♦ Your Dog is a Teenager

Just as human teen- agers go through that rebellious stage, dogs will too. Expect this to happen somewhere from six months up until three years of age in large breeds. This is testing time in a dog's eyes and the most likely time dogs are abandoned in shelters. If you keep up with your training this phase will eventually pass and the light after tunnel will eventually shine.

Your Dog is Anxious

It is difficult for a dog too worried about his surrounding environment to listen to your orders. If you dog listens well in the house, but once outsides appears to be anxious and easily frightened from noises and sights, then this will be make it difficult for the dog to tune up with your requests. Such dogs need commands to be slowly incorporated in gradually more challenging areas until they seem relaxed and able to focus. Clicker training and agility are highly recommended to allow such dogs to gain some confidence in themselves.

Your Dog is Not Feeling Well

Just as humans may have their days where they are not productive, dogs may as well have their ups and downs. Always keep in mind this possibility since dogs are unable to communicate with owners verbally. A vet visit is in order if a dog appears to be too lazy or highly stubborn, there may be joint problems, back problems or other health concerns.

As seen there are several reasons why your dog may not be listening to you. Knowledge is ultimately power, so if you think you know why your dog is turning his deaf ear to you, start working on it and sooner than later, with lots of patience, consistency and rewards, you can own a dog that will be eager to please you, regardless if your pocket is full of tasty treats or empty.

Don't see any possible reasons why your dog is not listening? For a more comprehensive version of this article, read my updated article "why is my dog not listening to me?


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    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Excellent hub, I must talk dog talk, every dog I have had in my life has always listened to me, why you ask? Because I pay attention and listen to them. We can communicate...I was a dog in my other life. Thanks for sharing

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      These are great guidelines for training dogs. Love the picture! Every dog seems to have a different personality and interests. I've found that dogs who've been "on their own" lost and then adopted seem to be eternally grateful for their new home. Their obedience and desire to please is usually the strongest. Thanks for an interesting article.

    • Norah Casey profile image

      Norah Casey 7 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Nice hub, alexdry! My dog is 10 months old and is completely in her teenage phase. As a younger puppy she earned her Canine Good Citizen certificate on the first try, learned how to do many tricks, and only had three accidents (she was practically born house broken).

      And then.... she grew up! Many people don't realize that dogs have teenage angst just as humans do. It really is a trying time, but with some patience anyone can survive it.

      Thanks for the info!

    • Enelle Lamb profile image

      Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California'

      Great hub! I can see our problem is consistency LOL...daddy has some bad habits ;)

    • Abbie Marshall profile image

      Abbie Marshall 7 years ago from The Coast of Northern New England

      Thank you! We have a lovely 1 yr old dog, who wouldn't hurt a soul, but, has some bad habits, the worst of which is that he doesn't listen to our commands. He's learning, but, he has a way to go.

      What resonated with me is giving him a treat. He's big on love, so we thought that rewarding him with lots of praise and petting would do the trick, but, maybe actually giving him treats would be best.

      Also, I know we aren't consistent. We have 3 kids (one a baby) and we can get busy and forgetful. We actually noticed this recently and have begun trying to really focus on what we're doing with him, and we can already see a difference in his progress.

      He is a lovely dog, and with some training will be amazing. But, you're right, he's still a youngster, may be for awhile yet.

      Thanks for your great hub!