About authors

Image of partner

Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Your dog won’t listen to you? Here you get possible reasons why your dog does not carry out a signal or does not do what you want.

Can he hear you?

The first question is whether your dog is deaf or has a hearing problem. This can be the case especially with older dogs or animals with a genetic defect. Can you eliminate this? In many cases, dogs have “selective hearing”, meaning they only hear what they want to hear. The opening of the treat bag is heard from far away, while your calling or other signals are ignored? This could be due to the following:

Why your dog doesn’t listen?

  • Your dog doesn’t know the meaning. Maybe he hasn’t been taught the signal yet. Dogs are not born with our language and must first learn and link the meaning of the words.
  • Maybe your dog has mislinked the signal while learning. For example, by mistiming the reward. Thus he connects a different behaviour with your word than you actually wanted.
  • Family and friends do not use the same signals. Your dog may know another word for the desired behaviour.
  • He has not yet generalized the signal. At home it works wonderfully, but in other places or undergrounds your dog seems to have forgotten everything? This requires many repetitions at different places, because only then can your sweetheart generalize and execute the signal everywhere.
  • Too much distraction. Always start training with few distractions and increase slowly. If there is too much going on all around and the signal is not yet 100% solid, your favourite can be overwhelmed.
  • The signal was not perceived by the dog. Perhaps you said it too quietly?
  • The motivation is missing. Either everything is more exciting outside than you are, in which case you need to work on your relationship or your dog has learned that it is more worthwhile for him to do his thing. For example, if he has not been praised enough or you are not with him when you go for a walk with your attention.
  • Your pet is too stressed or is scared.
  • Your dog does not follow because of hormonal imbalances, such as during puberty or pregnancy.
  • Your body language can also be decisive. Often we bend over the dog unconsciously what seems threatening to him. You must also be clear in your body language, because many dogs orientate themselves by our expression. So it can be that your word signal does not correspond with the visual signal and your dog is confused.
  • Sometimes negative experiences can also prevent the dog from carrying out the signal. If the dog has been trained by aversive training methods or if a behaviour has been linked in some other way to fear or pain, it is clear that the dog does not like to show this.
  • Pain can also be involved. For example, your dog may not want to lie down because something hurts him.

One thing’s for sure, your dog doesn’t want to annoy you! Even if it is annoying for you, the behaviour always has a reason to be questioned.

dog harness that fits your dog

An example based on a common problem:

Your dog stops in front of you at a safe distance when you call him off

If you call your dog and he stops a meter in front of you, he certainly does not want to tease you. The reasons for this may be:

  • Frontal approaching each other is impolite in dog language. Has your dog not learned to come to you in a direct way or associates something negative with it, e.g. that you are standing threateningly bent over him. If he slows down his pace or stops, he will show you that he is friendly.
  • Your dog has only decided to come to you after several calls and you are angry. He tries to calm your anger. Always praise your dog when he comes to you and avoid saying signals more often. If he doesn’t come at the first call, go and leash him without comment.
  • He has learned that coming here means: the fun is over. Many people make the mistake of only calling the dog when it is time to go home and he is leashed. So let your darling come to you again and again during the walk, reward him and then send him off again to do what he wants to do.
Welpe beißt Tshirt


The dog doesn’t listen? So there could be many reasons. Always remember that he does not want to annoy you, but for whatever reason he cannot act differently. Find out the reason and work on it, then it will surely work soon. Get help from a dog trainer if necessary.