Being a dog owner can be both fun and rewarding but also challenging and upsetting.
To develop an easy way of life with your four-legged friend, they need to be well-trained and well-behaved.
So, it can be confusing and frustrating when your dog ignores you during training!
This post will answer the question – why does my dog ignore me?
So let’s jump right into the answers…
Ten Reasons Why Your Dog Ignores You
- You haven’t trained your dog correctly.
- Your dog is unwell.
- Your dog can’t understand you.
- You’re rewarding your dog at the wrong time.
- Your rewards are boring.
- You don’t spend enough quality time with your dog.
- You’re teaching obedience at the wrong time.
- You’re inconsistent with lessons.
- You lose your temper too often.
- You give them too many commands.
Let’s take a closer look at all the possible reasons why your dog may be ignoring you and then look at how to resolve these issues.
1. You Haven’t Trained Your Dog Properly
While it’s one of the more obvious reasons, it’s crucial to mention that some dog owners haven’t spent enough time instilling the proper habits in their dogs.
You may assume that dogs naturally understand humans since we’ve lived and worked together for so long.
But sadly, this idea is flawed, and it’s sometimes easy to forget that dogs see the world from a wholly different perspective than humans.
Dog training helps socialize a dog and integrate them properly into the world of humans.
And without proper training, you can’t expect a dog to obey or even understand your commands.
Additionally, each dog benefits from a training method that adapts to its unique personality.
For example, if your dog is enthusiastic and energetic, you can afford to spend 30 or 60 minutes a day on training.
However, if your dog finds training difficult and frustrating, you may have to split training into five-minute chunks, so you don’t overwhelm them.
You might just need to give your dog lots more training until they understand what you want them to do and stop ignoring you.
A properly trained dog is much less likely to ignore your commands.
NOTE – Click here to read our post looking at: why cant dogs talk like humans?
2. Your Dog Is Unwell
If your dog typically listens to your commands but seems to be more distracted or unresponsive lately, your dog may be sick.
Pay attention to whether your dog ignores only specific commands or seems reluctant to listen to anything you’re saying.
For example, if your dog refuses to sit or roll over but still comes to you when called, it may be suffering from tummy issues that make the other commands uncomfortable to follow.
If you find other signs of poor health, such as being in pain or a general lack of energy, consider taking your dog to a vet.
Your dog may be sick or injured, which might be why they ignore you.
Additionally, your dog may be ignoring your command because it’s uncomfortable.
For example, your dog may be uncomfortable sitting due to pain in its hips, so commanding it to sit may be ignored.
NOTE – You might want to take a look at this post asking the question: why is my dog not excited to see me anymore?
3. Your Dog Can’t Understand You
While dogs may comprehend certain sounds (like their names or specific commands), it’s helpful to remember that dogs can’t speak or understand human language as humans can.
Instead, they understand us through sounds, hand signals, and changes in body language.
So, if you haven’t adequately ingrained a specific command, it’s difficult for your dog to obey and respond correctly.
For example, if your dog still hasn’t perfectly learned the term ‘sit,’ with its accompanying hand signals, saying,’ please sit so I can pet you,’ is too confusing.
You want to focus on basic training so your dog understands simple commands.
And once it does, stick to the commands you taught so it can understand and carry out your orders.
Using different terms or changing your body language every time will make it hard for your dog to follow.
If you don’t want your dog to ignore you, you use the same simple commands each time you tell it to do something.
NOTE – click here if you want to learn signs your dog is scared of you.
4. You’re Rewarding Your Dog at the Wrong Time
Unlike humans, who can make sense of our past and imagine the future (to a certain extent), dogs live fully in the present.
And if you aren’t in the present with them, it can be hard to teach them the proper behavior.
Let’s say you’re teaching your dog to sit. When you give the command and your dog sits, it’s imperative to provide a treat immediately after your dog performs the desired action.
By doing so, you will teach your dog that the act of sitting is rewarded with a treat.
If you delay, your dog won’t make the connection between good behavior and the reward that follows.
As such, your dog will likely ignore you the next time you prompt it to follow a specific command.
Another example would be getting angry at your dog at the wrong time.
For instance, if your dog makes a mess in the living room, it’s imperative to reprimand it while it’s making the mess.
If you decide to shout at your dog after making a mess, it won’t associate your scolding with their negative behavior.
As such, your dog may choose to ignore you to avoid being yelled at again.
Reward and discipline your dog as soon as they exhibit the target behavior.
Otherwise, you will confuse them, making them more likely to ignore you.
NOTE – Click here if you would like to know the answer to the question: do dogs know what their owners’ names are?
5. Your Rewards Are Boring
Having an effective reward system is vital for practical obedience training.
When you’re teaching your dog to obey specific commands, rewarding it for behaving correctly will instill the proper habits.
However, the training and rewards must be exciting enough for your dog to stay enthusiastic and motivated.
If your rewards are boring, it will lose the motivation to listen to commands during training.
You may need to experiment with different rewards and praises to see which works best for your dog:
- Treats like small but tasty dog biscuits or chopped-up chicken.
- Playtime with your dog’s favorite chew toys.
- Enthusiastic praise and petting.
If you’re feeding your dog treats, it’s best to avoid something that takes too long to chew and swallow.
You want your dog to gobble down the treat quickly and look to you for more, so you can repeat the training exercise quickly.
Additionally, a treat that’s difficult to chew probably isn’t such an enticing reward and may deter your dog from wanting to pay attention to you.
And while treats can significantly improve the speed at which your dog learns specific commands, the occasional praise will solidify these commands in your dog’s mind.
Let’s say you give your dog a treat three out of five times they obey a command.
You must praise and offer encouragement whenever your dog performs the order correctly.
Praising and petting at the right time can help your dog quickly learn that particular behavior is desirable and will help win your attention.
Use tasty treats and lots of enthusiastic praise during training to make your dog much more likely to pay attention to you.
6. You Don’t Spend Enough Quality Time With Your Dog
You can follow all the advice in the world about getting your dog to obey you.
But your training will not be as effective if you don’t spend lots of quality time with them.
Dogs are social creatures that require strong bonds to live and enjoy their lives.
And as a dog owner, you must create a loving, homely space for your canine.
But aside from a loving home, your dog needs you to spend significant periods with them.
Think of your canine relationship like any other relationship in your life.
You can’t expect much from the people in your life without spending time and investing emotional energy in your relationship with them.
Similarly, you can’t develop a strong bond with your dog if you haven’t carved out time in your day to spend with it.
And, if your dog doesn’t share a strong bond with you, it won’t care much about your feelings and desires.
By bonding with your dog, you can begin to be a friend to your dog, who will be interested in pleasing you.
Spend quality time bonding with your dog, and they are much less likely to ignore you.
7. You’re Teaching Obedience at the Wrong Time
One of most owners’ biggest misconceptions is that their dogs should listen to them at every waking moment.
And while properly-trained dogs do (for the most part), there are times when they prefer to do their own thing.
What’s important is that they obey when you need them to.
The best way to ensure your dog is obedient is by setting aside time each day for training.
Shorter but more frequent training sessions are more effective than less frequent, longer ones.
At first, if you try to teach your dog to obey when it’s playtime or when you’re at the park, don’t be surprised if it chooses to ignore you.
You need to pick a quiet and calm environment for the early stages of training, so they don’t get distracted.
When your dog is at a park, surrounded by lots of people and other playful dogs, there are more exciting things to grab its attention than your treats or praise.
Teaching your pup to “sit” or “stay” when its mind is distracted is sure to backfire.
Once the commands have been learned, you can try disciplining in more challenging environments, like the dog park or where lots of activity could distract them.
Start by training your dog in quiet and calm environments.
This will make them much less likely to ignore you.
Then, once they are trained to follow a particular command and behavior, you can try getting them to do it in busier areas.
8. You’re Inconsistent With Lessons
Consistency is a critical factor in obedience training, and you want to ensure that the verbal and non-verbal cues stay the same throughout the training period.
If you use a different command each time you want your dog to sit, it will get confused, so you can’t blame your pup for ignoring you when you give an order.
Similarly, moving your hands or body differently every time you want it to perform a specific behavior could lead to misunderstanding, causing your dog to ignore you.
It’s crucial to keep the same composure so your dog understands your intention. Once the behavior is learned, you can switch up the environment or the commands a little, and your dog should still be able to follow.
For example, if you stand up and face your dog when teaching it to sit, you must teach it in the same manner every time.
If you decide to sit and teach sometimes and lie down at other times, your dog may get confused and choose to ignore your command.
Consistency in body language and verbal communication with your dog is essential if you want them to understand and obey your commands.
Note – This video has some excellent basic tips to help you better train your dog:
9. You Lose Your Temper Too Often
Dogs pick up on emotions quickly and tend to mirror them or exhibit specific emotional responses based on the situation.
If you lose your temper during obedience training, your dog will immediately pick up on this and be affected.
If you find your dog averting its gaze or looking away when you give a command, this is likely due to them being scared of your temper.
Dogs often look away or ignore their owners when they’re anxious or worried about their owner’s temperaments.
If you got angry in the last couple of training sessions, your dog will assume you’re mad now and avoid engaging with you.
Remember that dogs understand cues and the responses that follow.
So, if you got angry when your dog didn’t sit properly the last five times you asked it to, you can bet that your dog is worried about you exhibiting the same behavior.
As such, it will avoid looking at you or paying attention to your requests to avoid provoking you.
If you can avoid getting angry or frustrated with your dog during training, they are much less likely to ignore you and much more likely to do as they are told.
The goal is to entice the dog into good behavior, not scare it.
10. You Give Them Too Many Commands
Sometimes dog owners fall into the trap of giving their dogs far too many commands.
They talk far too much to their dog when training or commanding them to act a certain way.
This results in the commands sounding like background noise to the dog, which they ignore.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Could this be the reason why your dog ignores you?
If so, this excellent video has some great advice on how to command your dog during training correctly;
Just click, and the video will start to play:
More Useful Tips On Why Your Dog Might be Ignoring You
You can also check out this short but really helpful video for more interesting advice on why your dog ignores you.
Just click the image, and the video will start to play:
Final Notes On Why Your Dog Ignores You
If your dog is ignoring you, then the chances are it is because you are not training or communicating with them in a productive way.
Changing how you behave with your dog gives you a better chance of them paying attention to you.
If all of the advice above doesn’t help, the next step would be to hire a professional dog trainer and ask them to help you solve this behavioral problem.
That’s the end of this post looking at the question – why does my dog ignore me?
Please feel free to comment below, and thanks for visiting The Factual Doggo.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!