Why Your Dog Ignores Commands and What I Do Instead

Actively training your dog is what I recommend if you want your dog to stop ignoring you.

Have you ever felt like your dog has selective hearing? We’ve all been there!

So, let’s get to the bottom of the question: Why does my dog ignore me?

I’ve been a dog trainer for decades. I’ve worked with all types of dogs, and a variety of other animals too. And they love to listen to me! Why? Because I speak to them with respect.

In this guide, we’ll unravel the mystery of why your dog ignores commands. We’ll also explore ways to bring back her undivided attention. 

Why Does My Dog Ignore Me Sometimes?

So, why do dogs ignore our commands?

It’s probably because we’re commanding them! Most people don’t like being bossed around all the time either. 

Once of the reasons dogs ignore us is because we command them.

All healthy relationships are built on trust and communication, right? Well, the relationship you share with your dog is one of the most important in your life!

Instead of commanding my dog, I communicate with her. It’s a simple mindset change that makes a huge difference in our relationship. 

I try to understand my dog, and she tries to understand me. We are not perfect 100% of the time, but we’ve gotten really good.

So, How do I Improve My Relationship with My Dog?

With proper training, all dogs can be great listeners.

Think of it this way: children will sometimes ignore people when they don’t know how to express themselves with words. Similarly, a dog ignoring someone is actually one way to communicate effectively.

When I train my dog, we work on our communication. It’s like teaching a child a new word!

And better yet, I learn more about my dog’s body language. Listening to my dog’s body language is like having a conversation. She may not be responding with words, but she’s still ‘talking’ to me.

Training also helps my dog associate listening with rewards. By praising my dog each time she listens, she wants to listen more. It’s simple! Our dogs just want to make us happy.

The Basics: Sit, Stay, Come

My dog understands that she gets rewards for listening. This is the beauty of positive reinforcement.

Going back to the basics is like hitting the reset button on communication. 

Teaching your dog fundamental skills like sit, stay, and come establishes a strong foundation for your relationship. 

The routine of practicing sit, stay, and come builds a language between you and your pup. It’s with this language that your dog can understand what you want.

I recommend practicing sit, stay, and come each day. You can train your dog in short sessions. I like to work just 1 minute at a time! This motivates me to be more consistent with dog training. It also helps my dog pay attention.

Is your dog ignoring you when you train together? Try practicing for just 1 minute at a time.

Why Does My Dog Ignore Me Now? He Never Ignored Me Before

Every dog owner has experienced this before. Your dog's behavior can tell you a lot about what he is thinking.

Does your dog ignore you now more than before? If your dog suddenly starts ignoring you, this could be a sign that your relationship needs some strengthening.

Daily 1 minute training sessions can change your dog’s life. The more you train your dog with respect and patience, the more your relationship will improve.

Do you want your dog to develop command based obedience? This could strain your relationship. I recommend reshaping your goal.

Why? Because commanding and communicating are very different things. Proper training is based on kindness and mutual respect.

This type of training is called positive reinforcement. As a dog trainer, this is the only training method I use.

I recommend working on your relationship instead of command based obedience. You will find your dog ignores you much less.

In the meantime, I have some tips for how to navigate those moments when your dog is ignoring you.

What to Do When Your Dog is Ignoring You

Check Your Environment

Dogs live in the moment. Puppies, especially, might lack the focus to give you their full attention. Keep this in mind if you start to feel frustrated during a training session.

Does your dog listen at home but not so much at the dog park?

Is your dog looking for squirrels or other dogs instead of listening to you? Consider finding a less distracting environment. A dog park, for example is probably not the best place for focused dog training.

Early training sessions are usually more productive indoors. There are less distractions inside your house, and it’s generally quieter too. 

Check Your Tone and Body Language

You might be surprised by how many words some dogs know. The average dog can understand language about as well as a 2 year old child. 

When I speak to my dog, she understands and responds to my words. She also responds to my tone and body language. 

I make sure to speak clearly and kindly. My tone is respectful and positive. I use “please” and “thank you” often. My body language is relaxed and nonthreatening. 

Speak in Complete Sentences

This goes hand-in-hand with my point about tone. Most dogs ignoring commands will respond better to kindness. When we speak in a complete sentence, we communicate respect.

It might feel strange at first, but give it a try! You might be very surprised to see how quickly your dog learns

Be Consistent

Say it with me: Consistency is key! 

I use the same verbal cues and hand signals every time I work with my dog. This helps her understand what I’m asking. If your dog is ignoring you, there’s a chance she is just confused. Be clear and consistent when telling her what you want.

The Importance of Play

Channel your dog's positive energy to create motivation! Play is a cornerstone of positive reinforcement.

I love to make training fun! I incorporate games and activities to keep my dog mentally stimulated and excited to learn each new cue.

I’ve found that if my dog is excited to learn, she is excited to listen. 

Play is also an incredible reward after a dog training session. Remember when I said that the dog park might not be the best place to train your dog?

Well, playing with other dogs can be a great reward for a successful training session. This can help your dog stay motivated to learn.

Final Thoughts

Do you ever find yourself wondering, “why does my dog ignore me?” If so, I recommend being mindful of how you are speaking to your dog.

I encourage you to build a relationship with your dog that centers around communication rather than commands.

Of course we want our dogs to listen to us. They want us to listen to them, too. A strong bond requires listening on both sides. 

It's not your dog that's the problem! It's your relationship. All dog owners can be better at listening to their dogs. Let's be better together.

Consistent, focused training is the best way to improve your communication skills with your dog. Listen to his needs and he will listen to yours. 

My relationship with my dog is one of the most special and beautiful in my life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It is 100% worth the effort to learn how to understand each other.

I also have a collection of free videos that you can refer to. In these videos, you can see me in action with some dogs I’ve worked with. Watch how I communicate with these dogs and see how well they listen

PS- Coming soon! My new dog training book for kids will be released soon. If you are interested in joining our review team in exchange for a free copy of the book, please contact us at [email protected]

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