Dog Will Not Listen

Dog Behavior Problems: My Dog Will Not Listen

“My dog will not listen. I can’t tell if he’s just stubborn or doing it out of spite!” This is not only frustrating but it can be dangerous if your dog won’t listen.

How your dog perceives his relationship with you can be a huge deciding factor as he processes your commands like “Leave it!” or “Here!” In other words, has your dog known from the beginning who is in charge?

Setting a solid foundation of listening to commands is a critical part of developing your dog’s ideal state of mind. Plus the required dog training and plenty of exercise to constructively manage his energy. Daily exercise helps to clear his mind. This also helps him listen to you better.

If your dog’s needs are not being met every day, he may turn to other ways of satisfying those needs – taking your stuff, playing keep-away – all of which means trouble as you try to reclaim what he took or get him inside when you are trying to leave. Fulfilling your dog’s needs everyday is a must. That’s commitment.

And it’s in that depth of commitment that you will begin to identify the real relationship with your dog that will ultimately create a dog that “will listen” to you when you need him to – because he wants to – not because he has to!


Dog Will Not Listen


Starting off right makes a difference

 How you began your relationship with your dog has an impact on whether or not your dog will listen, or your dog will not listen. There is always an adjustment period in any new relationship – the “honeymoon period” as it may be called.

During this period, in addition to feeling loved, safe and having his needs met, your dog also needs a roadmap to navigate his new life with you. Did you use the honeymoon period to set your ground rules – expectations of how to behave?

If done properly, you would have shown your dog what you expect from him, and you would have taught him how to give you what you expect. On your list of expectations might have been rules like “don’t jump on visitors” and “don’t run out the front door.”

It’s much like raising kids. Mom and Dad set the rules and the kids follow the rules.

If there had been consistent rules and expectations from the beginning then you probably would not be complaining about not listening. This could have been the honeymoon that lasted forever!

But even if you didn’t, it is still not too late.

Older dogs can learn new tricks

Okay, let’s say you didn’t set rules and expectations to begin with or at the very least you weren’t consistent – still no problem. Your dog will not listen for a reason. You just need to figure out why he is not listening. What it is about your relationship or training with your dog that keeps your dog from listening to you.

Here are some things to think about that may help you understand why your dog won’t listen:

  • If you haven’t taught him the command in the first place, he won’t listen. Teach him what you want him to do – first in a distraction free environment (in the house is usually a good start) where learning what to do is the easiest.
  • If there are too many distractions that tend to make you a lot less interesting, he won’t listen. Train him around distractions that are relevant to your needs. An example would be to teach a good down/stay or place command while kids are playing in the house.
  • If your dog won’t come in after getting out of the front door – because he associates something negative with the come command, he may not listen. Train your dog to come “while inside the house first” then outside from the front yard to inside the front door – all on a long line until you get flawless performance around distractions.
  • Always associate positive things with the come command.
  • If your dog has claimed a sense of entitlement about being in charge, he may not listen.
  • If what you want your dog to do (example: come when called) is not trained consistently every day around important distractions, he may not listen.

What to do

Where do you begin to right a dog gone wrong? Here are some of my recommendations on how to start:

  • Set a solid foundation of strong expectations of what to do and when to do it. This doesn’t have to be harsh. The more positive your approach is the better. Just be consistent.
  • Work on dog obedience commands that you need your dog to obey like come, place or down/stay. Pick a select few commands you can get the most out of and train excellent responses to only those commands. You can add more later, but don’t overwhelm yourself or your dog. Remember, spending lots of time is not the critical factor – being consistent is. Work on obedience training 3 times daily for a couple of minutes. Just be consistent every day.
  • Make sure your dog’s needs are met every day; exercise, walking, exploring and interactive games. Meeting his needs every day shows him he counts in your life. Because you do that he is more likely to want to do things “with you” than on his own.

Shared leadership

Set a new pattern of “shared leadership.” This means that there is a mutual sharing of “enjoyed benefits.” You both give enthusiastically to each other what each wants. You want good doggie manners and reliability on commands. Your dog wants – and needs walks, exercise, opportunities to explore new places with you and interactive games with you.

The more you each get what you want out of your newly shared leadership, the less anxiety, stress and dog behavior problems there are to deal with.

I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinion on this.  So tell me below.  Do you have this problem?   I’m here to help.


“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad.  Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog. 

His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.

14 replies
  1. Jim
    Jim says:

    IF I am reading your post correctly, I would say you are being way too strict with him Why can’t he go to his dog bed after a walk. If you get a good sit from him before you put the bowl down, why do you make him wait before he’s allowed to eat. If you have a nice, well mannered dog I personally would not be that rigid with him,

  2. Joey
    Joey says:

    I have a just under 2 year old pit/mastiff mix. I have had him since my boyfriend got him at 3 months and we’ve been training him since then. He gets a good amount of exercise (15-30 minute walk every time he uses the bathroom and play in house). We train him with everything commands before treats/food/water/play/walks, everything just so there’s no slack. And they people that want to baby him or not reinforce the rules are not allowed near him so that’s not a problem. He knows what he has to do and what he must do to get what he wants but recently he’s been doing some real puppy behavior, and yes I know technically he is still a puppy. Sometimes he doesn’t like or constantly whines when he doesn’t get his way (either not getting food fast enough or when he wants to go to his bed after walks). Like I said we do his commands every day so he knows whining and not listening won’t get him anything. If I’m feeding him and he whines while I’m preparing or giving him commands I lift the bowl and don’t put it down until he stops. Same with coming in the house he waits at the bottom of the stairs until I say come but sometimes he becomes a brat and whine non stop or try coming before I say so which results in us having a stalemate until he starts cooperating. Sometimes this can last for an hour and half. I don’t hit, there’s irritation in my voice but I don’t yell, and I ignore him when he whines until he stops and starts to losten. He’s really good and trained well and definitely listens even when at the park or around other dogs but then sometimes gets in these moods. Is this normal? Am I doing something wrong?

    Sorry if this is really long

  3. Jim
    Jim says:

    Hire a positive reinforcement trainer with minimum 10 years doing this for a living. You need to figure out what is going on with your dog and fix it as he is over the top stressed. Locking him in his crate is adding to that but I understand the opposite. Either way your dog’s life need to change so he can live IN it.

  4. Desiree M Mendoza
    Desiree M Mendoza says:

    I have a really hyper active German shephard Humsky mix. Big dog but he’s only nearly 2 years old. Be still thinks hes a puppy and will tear up the house when we are away at work. We’ve tried Kennel training him since he was a pup but hes found a way out every so often to the point we put locks on all sides of the cage. We get home and hes knocked over the trash and chewed up cables, peed and poops in his crate when he DOESNT escape and even worse, he doesn’t eat some days. He cowers when we get home even though we dont abuse him, almost as if he knows what he did was wrong. He doesn’t know hes big so when he interacts with children he knocks them down and I worry he wont be able to interact socially like he should. I am at my wits end here.. We love this dog to Death and he cries when one of us us not around, I fear were doing something wrong but we’ve tried all the techniques. Help

  5. brenda molloy
    brenda molloy says:

    I have a 6 year old Yorke and he has decided not to listen to me anymore. I used to just say bed and he wud get up and walk to bed. Now wen I say bed he gets up and goes under the sofa and won’t come out. Have tried everything but nothing works.

  6. client care
    client care says:

    Hate to tell you this, but the issue is you – not the dog. He’s working you beautifully. If he doesn’t do what you ask IF IF IF HE TRULY KNOWS WHAT YOU ARE ASKING—then you simply say nope and walk away. The reality is we actually TEACH our dogs how to treat us and listen to us. No harshness, no yelling, no physical punishment. It’s all about structure and earning and asking for what they want from you.

  7. Jessica Michelle
    Jessica Michelle says:

    My pit bull is full blooded. He is about 1 year and 7 months old. He knows exactly what im saying. He knows what to do. He does everything I say but the problem is i have to repeat myself atleast 5 times before he will do what im asking him. Its like he wants to be the boss. I think its very disrespectful. But if I have dog treats he will do what I ask the very first time. He slept and stayed outside when he was with his old owner before me. I feed him more. He has everything he needs with me. Hes spoiled now with me and lives inside. He doesn’t even like sleeping on the floor now when he use to sleep on the ground. Maybe that is the problem, maybe hes too spoiled here. I don’t know but someone please give me some advice because I don’t how much longer I can take this. Ive never had a dog to treat me like this before.

  8. client care
    client care says:

    Jolene: Very FIRST thing I would say is quit punishing your dog!. It solves nothing and makes behavior worse and impacts his relationship with you. You have written in before I believe. Good dog behavior is created by more than giving him chew toys. You have to work his mind, establish a great relationship with you. There is way too much to cover here and you are welcome to do live video coaching with me – rate is $125/hr At a minimum, hire a positive, professional dog trainer with at least 8 yrs experience. Something is not right here and you need to figure that out

  9. Jolene
    Jolene says:

    I have a 8 month old chiwawa jack Russell mix and I’ve been training him ea day; we have come to an understanding of how to speak ea others language-most of the time. I’ve used positive reinforcement to train him; and he does well with it-he’s highly intelligent. He’s got a very high energy level and as I’ve got a lot of physical issues there are times I can’t keep up with him so I make sure he has all he can want in the bone/toy department; along with a lot of love and attention from me. The problem is he has over the last 7 months eaten almost all my shoes! It doesn’t matter what I give him or how I’ve punished him; I can’t trust him to be n a room alone for more then a minute as he chews up anything he can get his teeth on. He KNOWS it’s bad behavior; example I went to restroom I wash hands and come back to living room-maybe 2 mins total-and he’s chewed up something else-with his toys and bones laying all around! He puts his ears back and runs into his ‘home’ space before I even say anything-so I KNOW he knows it’s wrong; yet he does it anyway. It doesn’t matter how high I put things up-he can jump and does up and down all furniture and regular reaching over 3 shelf just to reach toilet paper which he also eats regularly. I’m at my wits end and I don’t want to put him in a cage all time; it’s not fair to him or I and I feel that he will never stop this wrong behavior-I’ve tried all kinds of methods and tricks I learned online and in obedience school. He listens to my commands; comes; sits etc but won’t stop chewing up all my belongings-and some are family heirlooms others-I’m at the point I’m giving him away I can’t handle this anymore. If u have any suggestions pls help!!

  10. client care
    client care says:

    Julienne: There are many many tips and “how to’s ” in this exact article. In fact there is pretty much the exact fix for your problem. Re-read the article and take it step by step.

  11. Julienne
    Julienne says:

    I am ready to get rid of my 2yr. Pom, he does not listen at all when people come over. He trembles he gets so excited. When my husband and I come in he Does listen. He listens most times to my other commands. Can you help me PLEASE, I can’t stand much more.
    Julienne Melchior

  12. Sharon Bell
    Sharon Bell says:

    Bentley is a reactive dog. He wants to attack most dogs. He loves some dogs and adores people. I’m afraid to take him on walks and to the vets where we encounter other dogs. What can I do? I’ve tried classes but really believe my Maltese and I need professional help. He’s not even allowed to interact with other dogs when he is boarded. I worry that he’s missing out on so much fun, as am I.

  13. Michael
    Michael says:

    Kinda like kids is right. But then people today let their kids run the show so no surprise their dogs won’t listen

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