My Dog Ignores Me

Your Dog Training Questions: My Dog Ignores Me

One reader e-mailed me this question about getting her dog to listen to commands. This may sound familiar to some of you, it’s one of the most common dog problems. Luckily, there’s an easy fix and it’s dog training. Here are my dog training tips.

Your Question:


I have a year-old Chihuahua who is very sweet but not very well-behaved – especially in one major way. She never listens to me or my husband. My dog ignores me every time we call her name, tell her “no,” tell her to “sit,” everything. We try using treats to inspire her, but even that doesn’t always work. We have never worked with a dog trainer, so we could really use some of your dog training tips. How can we get her to obey us?

– Annie

My Answer:


This is a pretty common dog training complaint with dog owners, but it is also a complaint that is pretty easy to solve with dog training. There are two things to keep in mind when you are training your dog: relevancy and consistency. Here’s what that means.

First of all, you have to understand that dogs learn in context. For example, if you always train in the living room, the dog will probably only give you that good dog behavior in the living room. So if you are using treats sometimes, but not all the time, your dog will be confused about when and where to listen to you.

The second aspect of training is probably the most important: consistency. Many dog problems are caused by inconsistent human behavior. Taking the right action each and every time is what will instill obedience in your dog. If you choose to train your dog by asking something different every time and only sometimes offering a reward, it won’t work.

I recommend finding out what is important to your dog. Is it food, toys, affection? Figure that out and consistently offer that reward when you give a command. You should work on training your dog for a few minutes everyday. Master one simple dog training command in many settings, then move on to a new one. It will take time and patience, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t have a dog who can listen to you every time.

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

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4 replies
  1. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:


    What’s normal is that “every” dog is different. Having a very complacent dog for half his lifetime and him being the only dog in your life for that long may take some time for him to connect tohyour other dog.

    I’d start doing some obedience training — just simple sits and downs with both dogs. If you can, train before mealtimes when they are most hungry and use high value food treats (like grilled chicken) that only come out when they are together. I would also take these special treats on walks with you and any other activities they do together.

    He’s got to know that when he does things with her “suddenly good things happen!”

    The critical thing is, “what you decide to use as high value food treats has got to be really special.” So, choose wisely.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Nancy H.
    Nancy H. says:

    I have 2 dogs. An 8 year old male shih tzu and 5 year old female cockapoo. The shih tzu has been with me from puppyhood, the cockapoo I got a year ago from a shelter. What’s happened is that the shih tzu has never warmed up to the cockapoo and ignores her virtually all the time. Once in a while he will glance at her; that’s about it. Once or twice in a whole year, he has sniffed her nose. Other than that, nothing. He acts as if she’s not there. She has tried to play with him, interact with him, but he rebuffs her and she has more or less given up. They do not growl, bark, or show any hostility toward one another. On walks they are fine, even sniffing the same things, their heads together. At home, they are usually in the same room. He has his dog bed, she likes to sit/sleep on our sofas and chairs. My shih tzu has always ignored other dogs on the street, and seemed indifferent or avoidant to other dogs when we pass them on our walks. I thought it would be different if I got a second dog; that they would become friends. My question is, is this normal? Is there anything I can do to get the shih tzu to interact with the cockapoo? Thanks!

  3. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:

    You’ve have one smart dog, he has you trained well. You must train on a leash to keep him in the classroom and you must begin to use variable treating. I believe I wrote an article
    on that which you can probably find by putting the words “food treat” into the search box on the home page. Also training must always be fun and done in short sessions of 2 to 3 min
    per session multiple times a day. Hope this helps

  4. Connie Lorraine
    Connie Lorraine says:

    Thanks for such a wonderful site! We have found it very informative and appreciate all the work you have put into the advice you give! Wonderful! We have a question however concerning our 2 year old Australian Shepherd (Murphy). He is a great dog and we love him very much! He has already learned 3 commands (sit, speak, down) a few months ago. Our problem is he doesn’t seem to want to try any other command. He immediately does his commands, expecting a treat but will pay no more attention to learning another command even if snack is offered. What can we do to get over this hump? Your advice would be appreciated! Thank you!

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