Why Wont My Dog Listen To Me?

Is your furry friend not listening to you? Then you’ve come to the right place! Before we get started though, I thought you might enjoy this video:

On a serious note though, a dog that won’t listen is a troublesome thing. Here’s what you need to know (and do) to overcome the “My Dog Won’t Listen To Me” dilemma.

Step One: Establish Communication

Talk to your dog. Do you know how much he/she understands? When your dog first comes home with you it is as if he/she has been sent to a foreign country. Dogs know no English, French, Spanish, etc. They must be shown what each word/phrase means – EVEN THEIR OWN NAME! Dogs DO understand “dogspeak” – the tones and body language of canines. The easiest way to get a concept across to anyone (including a dog) is to speak to them in their own language. Since we are unable to bark, etc., the best we can do is use our tone of voice to communicate our desires to our dogs early in our new relationship. With proper training techniques, dogs CAN and DO learn not only English, but whatever languages their owners use.

Why wont my dog listen to me?

Start with your tone of voice. Women have the easiest time with what I call the “Good Dog” tone of voice – the one that is most often high pitched, soft, sweet, and generally in a falsetto. Men have the easiest time with the “Bad Dog” tone – the one that is deep (but doesn’t have to be!), stern, and sometimes gravelly. Men also have the easiest time with the “Command” tone – the one that is neither good nor bad, but has a firm (usually lower) tone. Try telling your dog that he/she is bad using the “Good Dog” tone; then try praising your dog using the “Bad Dog” tone. Watch your dog’s reaction to each. Even if they understand some of the words, they generally react to the tone first.

Many people have a difficult time getting their dogs to obey their “Command” tone of voice. Often it is because they “tell” their dogs in the form of a question: “staaaaaayyyyy?” – with a voice raising at the end of the command. Remember, commands must be firm, short, and to the point, with the tone going down at the end, never letting the word drag on.

Step Two: Basic Training

To start to teach your dog your language, you need to combine the words with an action that shows the dog what you want, and some reinforcement – either positive or negative. Say your dog’s name. Does the dog respond (look at you, wag his tail, move toward you)? Your dog should ALWAYS have a pleasant experience when s/he hears his name – NEVER unpleasant. Some people create a new “Bad Dog” name to use for those bad dog times. To teach the dog his name, position your dog close enough to touch, preferably on a leash so s/he doesn’t move away. Say the name cheerfully and give his ear a tug, or his leash a tug toward you, or move his muzzle in your direction. When the dog looks in your direction, immediately use your “Good Dog” voice and praise and stroke your dog on the head or chest. Practice this until looking at you happens without the tug and continue to practice for the dog’s entire life! It reinforces the communication link between the owner and dog.

Teach other words the same way. Simple one word commands work best. Say the dog’s name (to get his attention – remember that communication link!), follow with a command, and then SHOW him what you want. PRAISE IMMEDIATELY when the action is completed – even if you MADE him do it! Eventually you dog will learn to respond to the command without needing to be shown – but you should never forget to praise!

Step Three: Getting Your Point Across

Sometimes words are not enough when communicating with a dog. Since dogs must learn what each word means, all the other “extra” words are just a bunch of “Blah, Blah” to them! Consider the Gary Larson cartoon that shows an owner scolding his dog, Ginger, then shows what the dog hears “Ginger, blah, blah, blah, Ginger, blah…”.

I have learned that a sort of modified canine language can get a dog’s attention faster than human words. Those of you who have been dog owners probably have already learned just how insignificant the word “NO” is to a puppy. This is especially true if it is said frequently (kinda like kids, in that respect…). the word “no” to a dog is a nice soft word, with no sharp sound to it. Therefore there is nothing in the word to catch a dog’s attention, or to stop them from continuing the action you wish to halt. I find a gravelly, growly “EGH!” (hard to spell a sound but it’s like you are vocalizing while pushing air out of your lungs) can be used to halt activity. Or try “Angh, Angh!” – our sound for no, without saying the word – only say it with a growl, and sharply. That is also a good sound to use! If you are having problems with your dog mouthing you, try a very shrill and loud “OW!!”, which ususally stops them in mid-chew! Their littermates and other dogs use sounds like that to set limits on mouthing behavior.

Praise Sounds…

“Praise Sounds” are harder to create. My dog knows she has done really well when I say one of several words I reserve ONLY for really good work: EXCELLENT! or ALRIGHT!, or PERFECT! I say them very cheerfully, but not with the falsetto “Good Dog” voice. I will often follow any of these words with a beloved scratch on the chest, or an extra-special tidbit (small and chewy, not crunchy) that I use only for extra-special rewards.

Ask Your Dog Training QuestionsStill Have Questions?

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12 Responses to Why Wont My Dog Listen To Me?

  1. Jason September 24, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    My black Labrador Shadow doesn’t stop chewing,when you tell him not to do something he walks away but when we are not around he does what he was told not to do,he is chewing our alarm beams,i dont know how to stop him,please can I have some advice on how to stop this dog from chewing everything he wants to.

  2. Jason September 24, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    Shadow also doesn’t stop chewing tyres,he won’t stop chewing our motorbike tyres and chases after the bikes when we ride them,he also attacks the wheelie bin wheels and the wheel barrow wheels,how do I get him out of this habit?

    • Marley May 2, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

      Do you have a treadmill? Sometimes keeping the dog busy while running the motorcycle or wheelbarrows can stop the behavior. Used more for when they are scared but that might be the reason he goes after such things. like when they attack vacuums!

  3. chelsea October 30, 2014 at 12:43 am #

    My dog copper will not listen when we let him outiside to go potty. I will call him and he will look at me then proceed to do what he wants or just run around. what can I do to get him to listen again? this has beenhappening for the last month or so.

  4. Marcus December 9, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    I cannot tell you how much pain me, my family and the neighbours went through to get our dog to listen and obey. But we got there in the end.

    For me it was vital to get some help from one person who knew what they were doing. I didn’t find a solution checking out lots of youtube videos because there were so many conflicting ideas.

    Love the part about praise sounds. All i have to do is change the tone of my voice and my dog listens.

    Thanks

  5. Savannah December 11, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    Dear Chelsea, This has happened with my Dog Bella, Copper just needs some stern language.
    EXAMPLES:
    “Copper! Come here boy!! Come here!”
    or something.
    -Savannah
    Owner of Mandy and Bella

  6. KoryFyansjim December 20, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Excellent write-up. I absolutely love this site. Thanks!

  7. Robert February 24, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    I have a related question. I have two dogs, a Rottweiler and a golden retriever. Especially the golden retriever obeys pretty well, but now, I’m trying to teach him not to listen to commands we give to the Rottweiler. He doesn’t seem to grasps this concept however. If we give a command to the Rottweiler, the golden obeys as well, and looks pretty confused when we’re not pleased. Do you have some tips to accomplish this?

  8. Paul March 18, 2015 at 6:24 am #

    Hi,

    i am now taking care of my friend’s dog because I am staying at his house during Spring break and he is away for a several days, but he is not listening to a word I say!

    He knows who I am because I have been his house quite a few times, and he would like my feet(….) and keep nudging to me. But when I try to get him out of cage for potty or food, he doesn’t give a crap.

    Please help me!

  9. bob April 30, 2015 at 12:46 am #

    my jack/chi must be super smart,walks next to me off leash just roams less than 50 feet away from me.i call he comes.hold up the leash,he jumps off the couch.he has free roam of the house.i say bed bang he is in the bed.running free at the dog park,i call his name show him the leash,he comes of sits down.

  10. baba March 30, 2016 at 8:26 am #

    Training one’s dog seems to be a complicated task. Yet, educate one’s dog properly is not that difficult, even if you are new at it.

    No need to make your dog a circus animal: a good education will make you and your companion accomplices.

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