Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why Does My Dog Not Listen to Me? Reasons & How to Solve It

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove


It can be frustrating when your pet doesn’t listen to you. Especially if it’s running away or doing something wrong. Most pets are eager to please their owners and try to do what you ask them to, but it’s not unheard of to encounter the occasional bad apple. More often than not, there is some reason your dog is not listening. Especially if it did what you asked before, and it is now demonstrating a new behavior.

Join us while we explore the different reasons your pet might not be listening, as well as some things you can do to correct the behavior.

Divider 1

My Dog Doesn’t Listen to Me, What’s Wrong?

Here are a few reasons why your dog may not be listening to you:

1. Your Dog Can’t Hear You

Deafness in dogs is something that can affect many dog breeds in their old age, but deafness can occur at any time in life. If your dog stops turning its head when you call it and is sleeping through loud noises, it may be time to get its hearing checked by a medical professional.

2. It’s the Breed

There are many stubborn dog breeds, like the Dachshund, Boston Terrier, and Chihuahua, that are notoriously difficult to train. If you have one of these breeds, the problem probably doesn’t lie with you but with their natural instinct to be stubborn.

3. Something Is Bothering Your Dog

Many times, when your dog won’t listen, it’s because it’s overwhelmed with something else. Of course, it could be the desire to get your dinner, but if there’s something wrong, getting to the bottom of it will improve your pet’s quality of life as well as get them back to following commands.

Image Credit: Ella_87, Pixabay

Divider 8

How to Get Your Dog to Listen to You:

Now that we’ve looked at some reasons why your pet might not be listening, let’s discuss some tips on how to get a dog to listen.

1. Patience

The first thing you’re going to need when trying to get a dog to listen to you is a lot of patience. If your dog senses that you’re unhappy or that you don’t want to be there, it will not want to participate in your training sessions. It can take some dogs thousands of tries to learn some commands, so you need to remain patient day after day until your pet comes around or retains the command.

2. Stay Positive

Staying positive is equally as important as the last tip. Dogs respond well when they know you are happy, so it’s important to shower them with praise when they get something right and never look upset when they get something wrong. The happier you get when they succeed, the more they will want to try.

3. Stay Consistent

Your dog has a very good internal clock and is very schedule-based. Dogs get stuck in a routine and don’t like change. In fact, a change in family routine, like a new member moving into the home, can often cause a dog to have health problems or a change in behavior until the dog adjusts to the new routine.

If you want your training sessions to go smoother, scheduling that at the same time each day is critical to its success. If you miss days or change the time, your dog will get confused and lose interest in the training, especially if it’s during a time when they normally do something else that they enjoy.

french bulldog training outdoor
Image Credit: Nannycz, Shutterstock

4. Watch Your Tone

When trying to get your dog to follow your commands, it’s important to use an even tone with your voice. Never shout or yell commands frantically because it may confuse and distract the dog from what you are trying to teach. Your pet may mistake your tense voice as a cry for help and ignore your command.

5. Watch Your Body Language

Another thing you should pay attention to while you are training your pet is your body language. It’s easy to forget that dogs can’t understand most of the words you are saying. Sometimes your pet may take clues from your body language to figure out what you are asking of them. Always make sure you are paying attention to your body language when giving commands to make sure you are not sending any mixed signals that might confuse your dog.

6. Burn Off Excess Energy

Overexcited dogs can be difficult and disobedient because they are too excited to sit still long enough to listen to your commands. A great way to deal with this type of dog is to run them or do some other exercise to let them burn off the excess energy. Once your dog is tired out, it is much more likely to listen to your commands.

7. Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Moods

If your dog is feeling anxiety from a change in family routine or a new family pet, you may need to give it some time to get used to the circumstances before they are ready to resume following orders. You can try taking your pet for extra walks or provide some extra treats to help improve their mood. Giving them plenty of attention can also help ease the situation.

woman taking a beagle dog for an afternoon walk at the park
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

8. Change the Environment

If your dog is stressing from environmental issues, like the introduction of a new pet, you can try to take the dog out of the environment for a short time to resume your training sessions and reduce anxiety for them. To get your pet out of the environment, you can try going to a local park or walking trail.

9. Check Your Expectations

Sometimes it’s important to take a step back to make sure we are not expecting too much from our pets. Unrealistic expectations can cause a great deal of anxiety for your pet if it feels it cannot satisfy you, and it may retreat or try to avoid you. It’s always best to do simple commands until your dog is well accustomed to the training routine.

10. Try Bribes With Treats and Toys

If none of the tricks so far have been successful, you can try to bribe your pet into following commands. Treats are usually the best bribe, but special toys that your pet likes can also be successful.  You will need to be careful with bribes, however, because your dog can come to expect them and become even harder to train.

11. Puppy Classes

One final tip on how to get a dog to listen is to take them to puppy classes, which are especially important if you are training a dog to be an emotional support or therapy dog. Puppy classes can help you get on the fast track to a better behaving pet. The trainers in these facilities are often willing to share tips and tricks specific to your dog after they have had a chance to work with it, and this can usually lead to the best results in the shortest amount of time.

dogs with owners at dog training class
Image Credit: Elena11, Shutterstock

Divider 3

Wrapping Up

If your dog is especially bad and you can afford it, puppy classes should take care of the problem very quickly. You will also learn some valuable tips that you can use for all of your future pets. If puppy classes are not an option in your area, you will need to rely on the rest of the tricks outlined in this list. The first three—patience, staying positive, and staying consistent—are the most important.

If your dog doesn’t listen to you, we recommend setting aside 5 to 15 minutes per day for training. Make sure you can commit to being there every single day at the same time and stay positive for the entire session. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see a change in your dog right away. Stick with it and your dog will come around. Once your pet follows orders in the training sessions, they will always follow them.

Featured Image Credit: Zontica, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database