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Why Won't My Dog Listen to Me?

Whether you have just adopted a new family member, a young pup or a seasoned adult, you may discover that your furry friend doesn’t listen to you or respond to your commands. So what do you do to correct this situation?

There are many reasons why your pup is unresponsive to your commands and you first need to pinpoint the reason before you can correct the problem. If you have a young pup under three months of age, you should know that at this age they are typically very accepting and curious of all things in life, including people, sounds, new surroundings and other animals. This is an ideal time to start training with your pup, taking him on walks, going to different places and meeting new people.

Once a pup turns four months old or so, they tend to become more aware of their surroundings and can be skeptical of meeting new people or going to new places. They may also become frightened of certain things that didn’t bother them before. If you’ve done training with your pup and his response to commands hasn’t been good, he may be going through a period where he is rebelling or is frightened and, just like a young child, will see how much he can get away with. This is when you have to be firm with your pet and not let him get away with things and under no circumstances reward him for bad behaviour.

If your pup has not yet been spayed or neutered and is more than six months old, they are maturing sexually and their hormones will be raging. Thus your pup will follow their instincts and may not want to stay as close to you, but instead try to go where they can satisfy their urges and choose not to listen to you.

So now it’s time to go back to basics with your training. Don’t yell at your pup as this will only frighten him. Instead use a calm, happy voice and, if necessary, a good quality treat. You should do your training on leash in a controlled area such as your backyard, or an empty area in the park. Be consistent with your training, giving both oral commands and hand signals, and you should strive to spend at least 20 minutes, twice a day training until your pup “gets it”. You should also be sure that your pup “understands” what you are saying to him. If every member of your family is using a different “word” as a command, or using a different “hand signal” your pup will only become more confused and not understand what you are asking him to do. So be sure that everyone working with your pup is on the same page and the training is consistent. You should always try to use one word commands, and don’t keep repeating the command.

If you have an older dog and he seems to stop listening to you and not responding to your commands, it could be caused by a number of things which need to be dealt with first. If your dog can no longer sit and stay in a spot like he used to, it may be that he is in pain and doesn’t like being on a cold floor and has possibly developed some arthritis in his joints. If your older pup looks a little confused when you give him a command, it’s possible that his hearing or sight is not as good as it used to be and he may not hear you or be able to see a hand signal as well. All these things should, of course, be assessed by your vet and the appropriate medication or treatment prescribed to help alleviate the underlying issues.

If your pup is not listening because of distractions, you need to go back to square one and work with your dog first indoors, with limited distractions, and then increase the distractions and move outdoors. Consistency is key and, if you don’t get consistent behaviour as you progress with a number of distractions, take a step back until your pup understands.

Another reason your pup may not listen to or obey your commands can be due to fear. For instance, you may ask your pup to “sit” or “stand” at the vet’s office and he won’t comply. The reason is probably due to fear and, in this case, you shouldn’t get upset with your pup but instead try to comfort him and reassure him that he will not be hurt.

The last reason your pet may not listen to you is that his training hasn’t been sufficient or been done properly. You may need to start again at the beginning to teach your pup basic commands and skills and work your way up from there. If needed, take things slowly and let your pup learn at his own pace. If you are patient and consistent, you will see results.

So remember, in all likelihood your dog will not intentionally try to disobey you or not listen so look for the reason and then fix it. If you aren’t able to find a reason for your pup’s behaviour, first have him checked by your vet for any underlying health issues and, if there are none, consult a professional trainer to help you.


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