Having a Labrador that is ignoring you can be a frustrating and stressful experience. This post will try to help you to figure out why your Labrador might be ignoring you and how to get it to stop.

So, why is your Labrador ignoring you?

There are a number of possible reasons that your Labrador could be ignoring you. The most probable is that a lack of exercise is causing it to be hyper and to be unable to pay attention easily.

Other possible causes include a lack of training, solely communicating with words, being in a new location, depression, not giving it enough attention and using the wrong training methods.

And, what can you do to get it to pay attention to you?

There are a number of things that you can do. The main ones are to give it lots of exercise and attention, to give it lots of training, to use positive reinforcement instead of punishing the wrong decisions and to train it in multiple different locations. 

There are actually a number of possible causes of your Labrador’s lack of attention. The best way to get your Labrador to start paying attention to you will be to employ a number of different techniques at the same time and to tailor them based on the cause of your Labrador’s lack of attention.

Reasons Why Your Labrador Is Ignoring You

Below are a number of reasons why your Labrador might be ignoring you and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.

Labradors understand actions more than words

The first thing to consider is that Labradors don’t understand words in the same way that we do. If you try to communicate with your Labrador solely through words then you’ll have a hard time getting anywhere.

Instead, Labradors are better at understanding emotions and actions. If you’re trying to teach your Labrador to sit then it would be easier to initially lure it into sitting using a treat than to simply try telling it to sit without any other kind of direction.

Lack of training

If you have not given your Labrador any training then it will not know how it is meant to behave and what it means when you ask it to do things. Instead, it will behave the way that it feels like behaving which is unlikely to be the way that you would like it to behave.

This is why it is important to make sure to give it lots of training so that it learns how to behave and what you want it to do when you ask it to do things.

Excitement

The reason why it ignores you could be that something has been causing it to get overly excited. If something is causing your Labrador to get overly excited, such as someone being at the front door, then it will be less likely to listen to you.

To fix this it’s important to train your Labrador to be well behaved in these situations and to give it lots of exercise so that it has a chance to expend its energy.

Not enough exercise

Labradors generally need a lot of daily exercise in order to be fully stimulated. When they do not get enough exercise it can be more difficult to keep their focus on you. Not getting enough exercise would be more likely to be the cause of it not listening to you if it listens to you more when it has gotten exercise.

Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day as healthy adults.

You’re in a different location

If you’re able to get your Labrador to listen to you in one location but you have trouble getting it to listen to you in another location it could be due to the additional distractions.

Additionally, dogs can, sometimes, have a hard time generalizing training from one location to another. Just because your Labrador knows that “down” means that it gets rewarded at home doesn’t mean that it knows that the same will apply when it’s at the park.

To fix this you can try re-doing the training at the different location. You’ll probably find that it is much easier the second time around.

Lack of trust

It could be that you have tricked your Labrador in the past and it has caused it to become less responsive to your command.

For example, you might have been tapping on its food bowl to get it to come inside when it’s not actually time for its dinner.

Overtime doing things like that will teach your Labrador that doing what you say won’t necessarily be rewarding for it so it doesn’t listen as much.

To correct this it’s important to employ lots of positive reinforcement training where you reward it with treats for doing the things that you want it to do.

You’ve been rewarding the behavior

The cause could be that you have inadvertently trained it not to listen to you. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention when it does not listen to you then it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

Instead, it would help to avoid rewarding it for not listening to you, to reward it when it does listen to you and to use positive reinforcement training to get it to learn how to behave.

Ruptured eardrum

The cause could be that it has damaged its ear drums and it cannot hear you as well. This would be more likely if it has started ignoring you suddenly. If you think that this might be the case then the best thing for you to do would be to take it to the vet and to get it checked out.

Depression

Labradors can get depression and it might be what’s causing yours to be less responsive.

If your Labrador has suddenly become unresponsive after an event like losing its friend, changing homes or a change of owner then it could be the cause.

Here, you can try giving it lots of attention and exercise but you might also want to get help from a vet as well.

You’re command nagging

It could be that you’re asking too much of it. This is known as command nagging to pet trainers where you keep telling it to do something that it has not been taught to do. Such as telling it to sit repeatedly instead of going back to the start and teaching it to sit from the beginning.

It’s important to remember that your Labrador can only respond to you the way that you want it to if it knows that’s what you want and that it will get it what it wants. This is why it’s important not to make large jumps in what you ask of it when you’re training it and to take it in small steps instead.

Not using positive reinforcement

It could be the case that the training method you have been using has not been appropriate.

An effective way to get your Labrador to listen to you is with the use of positive reinforcement. This is where you reward your Labrador when it does things that you want it to do. This is why many trainers like to train their dogs by giving them treats or access to a toy when it does the training exercise the right way.

How to get your Labrador to stop ignoring you

Below are some options you have when getting your Labrador to start listening to you more.

Give it training

A good way to get your Labrador to listen to you more is to spend more time training it. By doing this you will not only be able to teach it to listen to you in certain situations but you’ll also get it used to listening to your command which will make it more likely to stop what it’s doing when you tell it to.

You can watch the video below for some tips on how to train your Labrador to come when called using positive reinforcement training.

Exercise

It is also important to make sure that your Labrador is able to get enough daily exercise. If it does not get enough exercise it will make it more difficult to keep its focus on you. Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day as healthy adults.

Regain trust

If you have been trying to trick your Labrador into behaving the way that you want it to in the past then it would be a good idea to change your approach.

Instead of tricking it you’ll likely find that it is much more effective to train it in small increments using positive reinforcement.

Seek professional help

If you are unable to get it to start listening to you, one option would be to get help from a dog trainer or behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see why it is ignoring you and how to get it to listen to you.

Be consistent

When training your Labrador, it is important to be consistent. It is not likely that you will be able to get it to change its behavior drastically with just one training session. But, if you are consistent with the training, you should be able to improve its behavior over the course of weeks and months.

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Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.