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Why doesn’t my Labrador listen to me?

Why doesn’t my Labrador listen to me?

If your Labrador won’t listen to you this post will show you why that might be the case and what you can do to get it to be more responsive to you.

So, why won’t my Labrador listen to me? Possible reasons are that it needs more training or that you have been training it the wrong way, it could also be that it is fearful, needs more exercise, there is an issue with its diet, a medical issue or you might have inadvertently rewarded the behavior.

Your Labrador might not be listening to you for a number of different reasons and it could be the result of a combination of causes. However, there are some things you can consider when trying to figure out the exact cause and there are a number of things you can do about it.

Why your Labrador isn’t listening to you

Below are a number of common causes and what would make them more likely to be the main cause.

Fear

If you punish your Labrador when it misbehaves, what you’re actually punishing it for often won’t be the same thing that your Labrador thinks you’re punishing it 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.

There are also other problems with using punishment as a training method. It can lead to things like depression, aggression, destructive behavior and can cause it to become distrustful of you.

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

You haven’t trained enough

If you have not given your Labrador much training then it will be much less likely to listen to you since it will not know what it is supposed to do. It will also likely behave in a way that it feels like behaving which is unlikely to be the way you would like it to behave. This is why it is important to give it lots of positive reinforcement training.

A lack of exercise

Labradors can require a lot of exercise in order to be fully stimulated. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to be very energetic and to pay attention to you less. Generally, it is recommended for Labradors to get at least an hour of exercise per day when they are healthy adults. If yours is not getting that much, it would help to make sure that it does start getting more exercise.

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.

You’ve been rewarding it for ignoring you

It could be the case that you have inadvertently trained it to act that way by giving it things that it wants when it does it. 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 reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it misbehaves.

You’re command nagging

The cause could also be something known as “command nagging” which is where you repeatedly tell it to do something such as to sit despite it not doing 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.

Ruptured eardrum

It could be the case that there is a medical cause such as a ruptured eardrum. This would be more likely if it did listen to you in the past but it suddenly stopped doing it and if it has started behaving abnormally in other ways as well. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

Depression

Dogs can become depressed like people can and it could be the reason why your Labrador has not been listening to you. This would be more likely if it stopped listening to you suddenly after a stressful event. Possible causes would be having recently moved, having recently changed owners, having recently lost one of its friends or having not been shown any affection.

It’s distracted

If it does not listen to you in certain locations, the cause might be that it is distracted. When training it, doing so in multiple environments would likely help so that you can train it to listen to you when there are other things going on around it.

Training it the wrong way

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 Labrador, it would help to start out in an environment without many distractions and to start with simple tasks and then to gradually build up to training it to do more challenging things.

How to get your Labrador to listen to you

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

Exercise

As mentioned above, it is important to give it daily exercise so that is less energetic and so that it is easier to keep its focus on you.

Training

In order to get your Labrador to listen to you, it is important to give it lots of training. 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 an example of how to make use of positive reinforcement training.

Take it to a vet

If it has stopped listening to you suddenly and it seems like there might be a medical cause, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so you will be able to rule out medical causes.

Get help from dog trainer or behaviorist

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

Things to consider

Don’t expect sudden changes

When training your Labrador, it is important to be patient. It is unlikely that you will be able to get it to start listening to you with just one training session, but you can get much better results if you stick with it over the course of weeks.

Don’t punish

If you punish your Labrador, it will likely not know why it is being punished and it could cause it to develop feelings of resentment. Instead, it would help to give it lots of positive reinforcement training.

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