What To Do If Your Dog Doesn’t Listen To You

Posted by Jackie Ly on

Dog tilting their head

Training is necessary for dogs. When they listen to you, they are safer from harm as they obey your commands. 

Whether you have a puppy or an older dog, it requires patience and effort to instill obedience and self-control in your fur baby.

First, know the reasons why they don’t listen to you sometimes– or most of the time.

They are distracted

Your pooch will not listen to you when something is bothering them, or piquing their interest. Like that dinner on the table, or that squirrel running around. Their attention is diverted away from you when something is more interesting or rewarding.

They are over-excited

Dogs start each day with full energy, especially puppies. All that pent-up energy will manifest in their actions– zoomies and bouncing around. At this hyper state, they’re not in listening mode. Most puppies are like this when young.  

They sense your bad vibes

Dogs are very perceptive– they can read your energy. And if they see that you’re angry, impatient, or stressed out during dog training, they’ll be distracted by that. 

They feel stressed when you are, anxious when you are. This causes them confusion and pressure while trying to listen to you.

They are trained in a different place than last time 

A ‘sit’ in the backyard is different from a ‘sit’ in the living room, and a ‘lay down’ on the floor is different from a ‘lay down’ in the grass.

If your dog can do something somewhere but finds it hard to do it again somewhere else, that’s normal behavior. Dogs learn contextually– everything around them greatly affects their learning process. 

They seem inattentive and not listening to you but the truth is, they don’t know how to do things when they’ve never been taught in that place. They don’t have a clear picture of how it works, and they haven’t prepared themselves yet when the context changes.

Another thing is they could be distracted in the new environment. If they’re used to training outdoors with fences, and then you take them somewhere open, they’ll see new things that catch their attention instead of listening to you.

What To Do If Your Dog Doesn’t Listen To You

Knowing the reasons behind your dog’s non-compliance is important in determining what actions you should take to make them listen to you this time. Here are things you can do when your dog doesn’t listen to you.

Stay positive, patient and consistent

As mentioned earlier, dogs are very perceptive. You want them to see you as a calm, happy and confident teacher so they will feel confident as well and motivated to listen to you. Master your energy– stay calm and positive. Believe in yourself and your pup! Praise them when they did something good, and never look angry when they made a mistake. 

The more you are happy with their success, the more they’ll want to try.

Also, be patient. It will take some time before your dog recognizes and retains a command, so stay with them while they’re learning. Set realistic expectations and consider what you’re asking them to do.

With dog training, consistency is key. Dogs like routines, so it’s better if you have set a scheduled time for training sessions. Use the same command ang gestures, and give consistent messages for good and bad behaviors.

Wear out excess energy

If your pooch is buzzing before training, it’s best to go for an exercise first. Dogs can turn to problem behaviors (i.e. not listening) when they have too much pent-up energy. They will not sit still. So let them run, or play fetch with them several times, or take a walk/hike.

Wearing out their excess energy will calm them down, and that’s when they will listen to you. They say ‘a tired dog is a good dog’, and this has never been truer. 

Practice body language

Dogs use energy and body language to communicate. Using only verbal commands during training might not be as effective as using gestures. Your pup picks up your command not because of the words per se, but how they sound and what actions are done with it. 

Use short command words, and say them in a specific tone of voice. Pair a hand gesture that goes with it, as dogs associate commands with posture and body language. This lessens confusion and helps them retain things faster.

Reward them with a high-value treat

Rewards motivate dogs to participate in training. Make sure you have a high-value treat that trumps any distractions your dog encounters. You can also create your DIY dog treat to make them personalized and more enjoyable for your pooch!

Just keep in mind that treats shouldn’t become bribes. You want to develop their obedience and discipline by positive reinforcement, not bribery. Reward them when they show good behavior– whether a yummy treat, a pat on the head or back, or a verbal praise.

Learn the important points of recall

Recall is one– if not the most important skill you can teach your dog. When they learn to come when called, you can protect them from potential harm.

You can start teaching your dog recall when they are still a pup, but you can do it at any stage. Here are some important points to remember when you do recall:

  • Start in a safe place. The first time you let go of your dog, let them roam around somewhere safe and away from danger. You can start in your backyard and install fence systems to keep them from running away.
  • Be patient. It will take some time for your dog to retain command, so be extra patient.
  • Use long leads. If you’re worried they might not return, try using long leads, especially during the early stage of recall.
  • Use one command only. Be consistent with the word you use for command. If you use ‘come here’, that should only be associated with positive things– and don’t overuse them.
    • Don’t let them think they can ignore your chosen recall command. The recall should ALWAYS be successful. Meaning, they should associate the word with going to you. Call them to you by showing a favorite toy or treat. So don’t keep repeating the recall command while they ignore it. 
  • Never associate the recall command with something they don’t like.  Never punish or call your dog just to punish them. Don’t use the recall command for uncomfortable things like medicines or baths, or even the end of playtime, like calling them to leave the dog park or the beach! If they think the recall means something bad, they’ll remember and are less likely to come next time.

Keep training your dog until they master recall. And you can only say that the training was successful if they came back despite distractions.

Timing is important

Give them some time to adjust to the house or new training spot. If they are fearful of something in the environment, or a fellow dog, their instincts kick in and they won’t listen to your instructions.

Assess your dog’s emotional state. You can uplift their mood by taking them to a walk, or giving them treats– give them the attention they need.

Expose them to different environments

Exposing your dog to different places, often called ‘conditioning’, is essential in training your dog to listen to you in all types of situations and distractions.

Have training sessions in different environments where you want them to listen to you– at parks, in the presence of other dogs, in your backyard. This way, they had practice paying attention to you wherever you are. 

Dog training is a must if you want your dog to listen to you. Their listening skills are honed if they are exposed to activities and training sessions that help them learn. Dog Gear offers training collars and fence systems that are useful in dog training– making your sessions safe, effective, and enjoyable. 

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