Feeling frustrated because your furry pal won’t listen when you call? Here are some reasons as to why they might not be responding to you.
Below are some of the most common reasons as to why your dog dosen’t listen to you:
- Your timing is incorrect
- The treats you give them aren’t very motivating
- You’ve been mistreating or abusing your dog
- The training process isn’t engaging or exciting enough
- You’re training them at the wrong place
- You have trouble remaining consistent and committed
- You’re not spending enough time with your dog
- You’re not speaking the canine language
In most cases, a dog being unresponsive is the owner’s fault. It can be disheartening when you put so much time into training your dog and nothing comes out of it, but don’t take your frustration out on your pooch! Let’s take a look at the reasons mentioned above in detail. Hopefully, with the things you learn from this article, you’ll develop a better understanding of your dog’s behavior and be able to correct it.
Table of Contents
1. Your Timing Is Incorrect
Positive reinforcement is a great tool to teach your dog tricks, but it only works if you do it at the right time. If your dog does something you want it to more often, you have a very limited amount of time to reinforce that behavior (2 seconds, to be specific).
Your feedback needs to be pertinent to the action they just performed. If you miss that 2 second window, your dog isn’t going to learn that behavior. Unlike us, dogs live in the present. They don’t dwell on the past or the future, so you have to be quick when you’re trying to teach your dog something.
Many dog owners have a tendency to punish their dogs when they do something undesirable. For example, if you have to spend an extra hour at the dog park because your dog refuses to come to you when you call them, you’re going to be angry when they finally do come to you and you’re probably going to yell at them.
Your dog will associate you reprimanding them with what they are doing in the present, i.e., coming towards you, and this is going to make them less likely to come next time. So remember, you have to teach your dog to associate your feedback with what they are doing in the present. You have to be fast if you want them to be more responsive.
2. The Treats You Give Them Aren’t Very Motivating
If you’ve been giving your dog treats that take a lot of time to chew, your dog is going to have a hard time remembering what the treats were for by the time they’re done chewing. You should always reward them with treats that are small and easy to chew.
If your dog is spending too much time chomping on the treat, then they’re going to get distracted easily. You have to experiment with different treats to see which ones work best for your dog.
Different dogs are motivated by different things, so closely monitor their behavior and see what gets them going. Just remember to provide positive reinforcement instantly, so your dog doesn’t forget why you’re rewarding them.
3. You’ve Been Mistreating or Abusing Your Dog
I know it sounds horrifying and unimaginable, but it happens. People lose their temper when their dogs don’t listen to them and they end up abusing and yelling at them. It’s a shame, because dogs are lovely creatures who, just like humans, get nervous and sometimes completely shut down when they’re abused.
When dogs are abused on a regular basis, they become stubborn (and rightly so, I’d say), and they get defensive, sometimes even attacking the owner. Many people seem to believe that negative reinforcement can be good for their dogs, but this is a misconception. Punishing your dog is going to have detrimental effects on their behavior and it’s only going to cause them to become withdrawn.
As mentioned above, positive reinforcement is one of the best ways of teaching your dog desirable behavior. It should go without saying that if you’re not kind and compassionate to your dog, they’re not going to want to be around you.
If you lose your temper easily, then consider giving yourself a break when your dog doesn’t listen to you. If they’re not learning when you’re in a good mood, they’re not going to learn when you’re angry, either.
4. The Training Process Isn’t Engaging or Exciting Enough
Does your dog get excited when you begin the training process? If not, then you might need to switch things up a little. Think about it, why would your dog want to learn anything if the training process is monotonous and dull? You can’t tell them to sit and give them a treat for it every single day and expect them not to get bored. At some point, they’re just going to lose all motivation and energy to do what you tell them to do.
Engage in different activities with your dog and assign different rewards for each activity. Don’t let the training regime become predictable – add something new to it every week, if not every day, so it doesn’t feel like a chore (to both you and your dog).
5. You’re Training Them at the Wrong Place
Thinking of training your dog at the dog park? Well, think again. There’s an abundance of distractions at dog parks and if your dog doesn’t listen to you at home, where there are no distractions, then there’s a good chance they won’t listen to you at the park, either.
Whatever it is you’re doing with them, it has to be infinitely more interesting than your surroundings, otherwise they’re going to get overstimulated and as a dog owner, you probably already know how difficult it can be to calm a dog that’s overly excited.
Start the training at home and gradually introduce some distractions so that your dog can get used to having other things around them when they’re being trained. Once you feel like they can handle distractions without losing their focus and concentration, you can take them wherever you want!
6. You Have Trouble Remaining Consistent and Committed
Having a dog can be exhausting sometimes and training them can wear us out, especially when they won’t listen to us. Having a schedule or a plan can do wonders when training your furry friend becomes too daunting. You have to learn to commit to your plan and remain consistent.
If you don’t like your dog sleeping on the sofa, get them off of it. If you don’t want them to be around your other pets because they show signs of aggression when they’re near, keep them away from them.
Whatever you decide to do, you have to stick to it, otherwise, your dog is just going to keep forgetting the lessons you’re putting in so much effort to teach them. Consistency is the key to making your dog become a disciplined and well-mannered member of the family.
7. You’re Not Spending Enough Time With Your Dog
How do you expect to form a meaningful bond with your dog if you don’t spend enough time with them? It’s true that dogs are man’s best friend, but without giving them the love and attention they deserve, you’re never going to be able to get them to do anything for you.
This is connected to the previous point. If you’re not consistent with training your dog, then you’re not spending enough time with them. You spend hours and hours playing with them one day, and the next, you don’t see them at all because you’re too busy working or browsing through your Instagram feed (or both if your work involves browsing through Instagram).
The fact of the matter is that you have to spend a healthy amount of time with your dog if you want them to listen to you. The more attention you give them, the more responsive they will be.
8. You’re Not Speaking the Canine Language
Dogs don’t understand our words, but they do understand our body language. The canine language is based on visuals. There’s a world of difference between how humans and dogs experience the world.
Dogs communicate through gestures – the movement of their tails, ears, eyes, etc. If you’re constantly telling them to sit, but they don’t respond, then you need to change the way you communicate with them.
Dogs mostly learn by watching us and if you do nothing but talk to them, they’re not going to be able to understand what it is you want them to do. Focus on your gestures when you’re teaching them a command and don’t just repeat words they’re not responding to, because at the end of the day, our words are just noise to dogs. With time, you’ll be able to get them to do things without even saying a word!
Having a dog who doesn’t listen to you can be tiring, but dogs are intelligent creatures, so there’s always a good reason behind their unresponsiveness. A lot of the time, it’s because of the owner. If you truly love your dog, spend some time figuring out why they’re not responding to you.
Are you not spending enough time with them? Perhaps you need to make the training process more exciting for them? Or maybe there are too many distractions in your surroundings? These are only some of the reasons why your dog might not be listening to you.
As long as you’re gentle and compassionate to your dog and you use positive reinforcement to teach them, you’re probably good to go. However, if you think you’re doing everything right and they’re still not listening, then maybe you should seek the help of a professional dog trainer.
Hi! My name is Hamza, I studied Japanese in Tokyo for a year and just moved back to Pakistan. I spend most of my time playing and writing about my pups Milo and Yuki.