If your dog won’t pay attention to you, this post will show you a number of reasons why it might be happening and what you can do about it.

So, why does my dog not pay attention to me? Common reasons why your dog won’t pay attention to you are boredom, ineffective training methods, distractions, an issue hearing, depression, or excitement.

There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog might be doing it and it could be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main cause and there is a number of things you can do about it.

Reasons why your dog does not pay attention to you

Below are a number of possible causes and what would make each of them more likely.

Command nagging

The cause could also be something known as “command nagging” which is where you continue telling it to do something even though it did not do it the first time. If you tell it to sit and it doesn’t do it the first time then it’s better to go back a step and to lure it into the sit using a treat instead of repeatedly saying sit.

Ineffective training

If you did train it but it is not listening to you, it might be the case that you trained it the wrong way. When training your dog, it would help to start out in an environment without many distractions and to start by training it to do simple tasks with positive reinforcement training and then to gradually build up to training it to do more challenging things.

Boredom

Another possible cause is that your dog is under-stimulated and it’s resulting in your dog not being able to focus on you. This would be more likely if it does not listen to you as much when it is not able to get exercise. In this case, it would help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

Encouraging the behavior

Another possible cause is that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats, or extra attention, when it does not listen to you, it will likely continue not listening to you because it results in it getting rewards.

Distractions

The cause could be that you have been trying to get it to do things when it is being distracted. In order to avoid this, it is important to give it training in multiple environments starting in less distracting environments and building up to more distracting ones.

Fear

If you punish your dog when it misbehaves, what you’re actually punishing it for often won’t be the same thing that your dog thinks it’s being punished for. If you punish it for running away then it will likely associate the punishment with the last thing that it did which is coming back to you.

Instead, a better approach is to use positive reinforcement training where you reward your dog for behaving in the right way. By doing this you will be able to reinforce its good habits while preventing bad ones.

Also, it might be the case that there is something in its environment that has been causing it to be fearful or anxious. This would be more likely if your dog does not listen to you at a certain time such as when there are certain noises outside.

Excitement

The reason why it does not listen to you could be that it is excited which would be more likely if it does it more in situations such as when you arrive home. In this case, it would help to give it lots of exercise and to follow the other training tips mentioned below.

Ruptured eardrum or difficulty hearing

The reason why it has not been listening could be that there is a health issue such as a ruptured eardrum. This would be more likely to be the reason if it did listen to you before, but it suddenly stopped listening to you. In this case, the best option would be to get help from a vet.

Depression

Dogs can become depressed and it might be the reason why yours has not been listening to you. This would be more likely if it suddenly stopped doing it after a stressful event such as an owner dying.

In this case, it might begin to improve over the course of a few weeks. If it does not, consider getting help from a vet.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.

If your dog has always not paid attention to you

If your dog did pay attention to you before, it would help to consider what else happened when it first stopped paying attention to you. If it started doing it suddenly, it might be due to things such as something causing it to have difficulty hearing, a change in its daily routine or learning that the behavior is rewarded.

If it does pay attention to you sometimes

If it does pay attention to you sometimes, it would also help to consider what is different when it does pay attention to you. For example, if it does pay attention to you, when it doesn’t eat a certain food, the cause could be that there is an issue with its diet.

What to do about your dog not paying attention to you

Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Avoid encouraging the behavior

As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.

Give it sufficient exercise

As mentioned above, a lack of exercise could be causing it to be unable to focus on you. It would help to ensure that your dog is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

Training

It is important to give your dog lots of training so that it learns how to behave and so that it listens to you. The training technique I would recommend would be positive reinforcement training. This is where you reward it for showing signs of doing what you want it to and avoid rewarding it when it doesn’t.

You can watch the video below to see examples of how to make use of positive reinforcement training.

Ensure it is not injured

If it has started doing it suddenly, it has been showing signs of illness or injury or it seems like it could be due to depression, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to rule out medical causes and get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog.

Get help

If you cannot get it to listen to you more, it would also help to get help from a dog trainer or behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see how to train it effectively and safely.

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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.