When your dog ignores your commands, it isn’t just frustrating—it can be dangerous to his health. Not only does snubbing your instructions show a lack of respect for you as his pack leader, but your dog’s failure to follow commands can put him in danger of being hit by a car, eating something hazardous, or engaging with an aggressive animal. There are a few reasons Fido might not be paying attention that aren’t immediately obvious.
If you’re having trouble communicating with your pet, try removing excess energy from the equation. When a dog is riled up, he’s more easily distracted and less likely to pay attention to your commands. Exercising him daily helps relive pent up energy, and speaking in a calm, assertive tone can let your pet know you mean business. This is important as dogs are pack animals and are most likely to listen to their owners when they perceive them to be pack leaders. Frenzied or uncertain speaking conveys to your dog that you do not have the situation under control and he may try to take matters into his own hands. If you’re not sure what kind of energy your commands are giving off, ask a friend or family member to observe your interactions and offer feedback.
Of course, failure to follow commands could also mean your dog doesn’t understand what you’re saying. It takes hundreds or even thousands of repetitions to master a new skill, and Fido may need to re-up his training before he’s nailed a trick. To make sit, stay and come even clearer, incorporate a unique hand gesture with each command. Body language is one of the most important ways dogs communicate with each other and this could help clarify what you’re asking. Practice commands using the same verbal and physical cues each time, offering treats and praise as rewards.
Communicating requires attention, so note your dog’s emotional state if he’s having trouble listening. If fireworks are going off, your pet may be too scared to register what you’re saying. Likewise, if your dog is busy claiming his territory from a passing pup, he may not listen to your command. If fear, dominance or another emotion is keeping your dog from being an A+ listener, it’s important to address these underlying issues. A professional behaviorist can offer help if you’re struggling with this.
There’s often more than meets that eye when dogs fail to listen to their owners, so it’s important to take a step back and examine why your pet might not be listening. Whether he’s distracted or having trouble understanding the command, your pet likely wants to please you and just needs some help along the way.