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Why Does Your Dog Ignore You When You Call?

Learn why dogs ignore you when you call them.

Does your dog ignore you when you call him? Or, worse yet, does he run the other direction? This can be immensely stressful, especially if you and your dog are in an unsafe area where he could run out in front of a car or dart away and become lost. Learn the most common reasons why dogs do this and how you can fix it.

Punishment Has Been Used in the Past

A dog might not wish to come if he's been punished for doing so in the past. This is a common mistake that dog owners make. When a dog won't come and finally does, or when the owner is finally able to grab him, the dog is yelled at or hit.

The problem with this is that dogs operate in the extreme "here and now." When you react to something they do, it must be the exact thing they are doing at that moment. When the reaction comes later, the dog associates the response with what they're doing right then: in this case, with coming back to you.

Your dog might not wish to come to you because, in the past, that action has resulted in yelling or hitting.

The best way to get your dog to consistently come when called is by making it the best thing ever for him. When he comes to you, he should be rewarded. Every time. Even when you feel frustrated. If your dog didn't come the way you wanted him to, the answer is more training in the future, not an angry response in the moment.

Your Dog Hasn't Been Trained to Come in Varying Circumstances

This is a common problem, also. Many times, a dog is taught to come only in limited, controlled circumstances such as inside a quiet home with no distractions. So, when the dog gets into a different situation he hasn't been trained for, he doesn't come. Instead, he bounces around exploring all the fun things around him that look more interesting than returning to you.

The answer to this problem is to expand your training to include distractions. Once your dog comes reliably in one environment, go practice in a different one. Include distractions like other people doing their own thing nearby, another dog running around, and anything else you can think of. Keep things positive, and set your dog up for success. Practice often.

Your Tone of Voice Is Repelling

If you sound angry or annoyed when you call your dog, he's likely to avoid coming to you. After all, you might give him a swat or a harsh word when he gets there. His experience with humans has let your dog know he should probably avoid those who sound or look irritated.

Even though it might be difficult, be sure to sound happy and appealing when calling your dog. Add attractive kissy noises and hand claps to your command. Again, make coming to you the most wonderful thing your dog can experience so it's more rewarding than whatever he's doing while avoiding you.

You're Walking Toward Your Dog

It often helps encourage your dog to come to you when you turn and go the direction you want him to go. Dogs will often follow their people, but when you're walking toward him, he might want to turn and go that direction too.

Turn your body halfway away from your dog, say "Come" once, and then slap your leg and encourage your dog to follow you.

For more tips on teaching a dog to come, check here: "Teaching Your Dog to Come."

You May Also Like These Articles:

Teaching Your Dog to Come

Clicker Training for Dogs: An Overview

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How to Train Your Dog to Walk Nicely on a Leash

6 Bad Behaviors in Dogs That We Help Create


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