You call your dog’s name.
You give the “Come.” command.
Your dog is suddenly ignoring you.
But you don’t remember doing anything wrong.
What could be the problem then?
Good question because this article has the answers.
Keep on reading to learn:
- 9 actual reasons behind your dog’s unexpected behavior.
- Why your dog is suddenly unresponsive to your command.
- The meaning behind your dog’s action and if you should be worried.
- And many more…
Why is my dog suddenly ignoring me?
Your dog is suddenly ignoring you because you look different. Or they’re sick, suffering from an ear infection or something is blocking their ears. Maybe they don’t like your treats or you forgot to give them one, you ignored them first, or they lack the proper training.
13 reasons why your dog suddenly ignores you
#1: They didn’t recognize you
Goodbye, extra-long and wavy hair.
“Today is the day I’ll try a different look.”
Did you get a new haircut recently?
Or a new coat?
How about a pair of oversized sunglasses? Maybe a new hat.
Say you got one or several of these things.
Only to find out that your dog hasn’t approached you since you arrived.
This is so not like them because they usually run towards you the moment you step foot on your front door.
Well, unlike your husband who notices (and appreciates) your new look, your dog doesn’t.
They may be familiar with your smell but they’re hesitant to approach you because they don’t recognize you physically.
“Wait. Is that my mom who just came home?”
“Oh wait, no hair, it’s probably my dad.”
Your dog will surely need a little getting used to.
If your dog is quite old with blurry vision though, they might even think you’re a stranger.
And that’s even worse than mistaking you as your husband.
#2: They’re sick
If your dog used to be a constant follower but then one day they couldn’t be bothered all of a sudden, then they may be sick.
An unexpected change of behavior from your pooch may be due to an underlying medical condition, so make sure to visit your vet immediately.
Below are the possible illnesses your dog might have:
- Ear infection.
- Conductive deafness.
- Hearing loss (e.g. due to age, traumas).
- Other serious illnesses (e.g. liver and gallbladder disorder).
Warning: Do not delay your vet visit because there are infections that can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Read next: Why is my dog avoiding me all of a sudden?
#3: They’re already royalties
“Hooman, gimme my food.”
“Hooman, I want some treats.”
“Hooman, gimme some back rubs.”
Okay, that’s enough.
Your pooch ignores you because you spoiled them too much.
It means you’re giving them everything they need without letting them earn it.
This usually happens when you’re new to having a pet and you don’t know how to train them yet.
Dogs obey their fur parents because they want the reward that comes after.
On the other hand, they don’t need to even give you a glance or bother following you if they’re already getting all the rewards just by chilling on their fluffy bed all day.
So, the next time you want to give them their favorite treat for free, stop.
Let them “work” for it. They will enjoy this more, trust me.
#4: You ignored them first
Unfortunately, you may have not noticed, but you may have ignored your dog first.
Was there a time when you were too busy with work? Or you were too engrossed in the Netflix movie you were watching? Or maybe you got too hooked on a new book?
Well, you may have not sensed your dog approaching you because you were preoccupied.
Which resulted in your pooch thinking you ignored them.
Hmm. You kind of did, unintentionally.
So, they could’ve taken that as a sign that you don’t want them.
This is bad if it persists because they might make it a habit not to greet or approach you anymore.
If it’s your first time to notice them ignoring you, make some changes immediately.
Start approaching them first and use your cheerful and excited voice whenever you’re greeting or calling them.
Other things you can do to make your pooch feel they have your attention:
- Offer them a toy.
- Cuddle with them.
- Make eye contact.
- Give them ear rubs.
- Call them by their name.
- Give them a few gentle strokes.
If you think you already regained their trust and attention back, then you can start training and teaching them again the basics.
#5: They’re not in the mood
We, humans, always like to complicate things.
We think and regret a lot from the past, then not give much care of the present, and stress a lot for our future.
But not the dogs.
So, if you want to understand your dog and figure out why they’re ignoring you, you must think and learn like them (for the time being).
Was there an instance where you scolded your dog recently for something they’ve done in the past? Let’s say, they didn’t respond to your command some three days ago.
“Move on, hooman.”
If they can just speak, they’ll tell you that.
And as the line in a famous song goes, “The past is in the past. Let it go.”
Because your dog won’t even keep that in mind anyway.
What’s important for them is the now.
So, what they did at the present moment is what you should point out if it’s something you don’t like or vice versa.
And if they did one good deed at this exact time, reward them immediately before they plan on doing something else and miss the treat you’re about to give them.
Dogs only value the present. Therefore, you must be quick in giving them feedback.
The first two seconds from the moment they obey a command (e.g. “sit” or “stay”) is very crucial. Because they’ll link that to the last action they did.
#6: They’re not getting rewarded
Have you been attempting to train your dog without giving them anything in return a.k.a treats?
Well, no wonder they’re not listening to your commands.
You’re likely thinking…
“So, they don’t love me?
They’re just doing it for the rewards?”
A study shows that rewards act as reinforcers to maintain or continue the behavior your dog follows.
So, the answer to your question is,
“Of course, your dog loves you,
but they love the rewards, too.”
Put yourself in their shoes (or paws).
Wouldn’t you be working harder as well if you know that a reward is waiting for you after you successfully finish a task?
So, if you keep on demanding them to follow your command, but you have nothing to reward them when they do, then they’ll just ignore you eventually.
The same study above states that your dog is likely to be more enthusiastic in obeying you if they get a variety of food rewards instead of just the same one every time.
In other words, a good combination for your dog to keep on doing what you ask them would be applying what you’ll find in #5 and #8.
Immediate feedback plus their favorite treats (including non-food ones) will give you a happy and obedient dog.
Isn’t that a good recipe for success?
Other non-food rewards you can give them:
- Belly rubs.
- A good groom.
- Giving them a toy.
- A quick outdoor walk.
- Playing their favorite game.
#7: They are being punished
Maybe you created a fearful dog.
If you unintentionally yelled at Fido because they did something that frustrated you (e.g. knocking off the trash bin), then you might see them getting scared of you next time.
If you tell them to come just to punish them, then they’ll be too afraid to even be near you in the future.
Because they’ll associate your recall command with them getting yelled at, punished, or hit (this is the worst, don’t ever do this).
Of course, your dog wouldn’t want that, so they’ll just ignore you.
Therefore, always be gentle to your pooch.
After all, they’re your best friend.
Check out also: 9 reasons why your dog is suddenly afraid of you
#8: They don’t like your treats
You decided to be more conscious of your health.
And you wanted your dog to be part of your journey.
“This doesn’t taste like boiled chicken, mom.”
If your dog has a particular food or treat that they like and you suddenly give them carrots or other crunchy veggies the next day, then you’ll probably get ignored.
There are dogs who would rather go hungry than eat food they don’t like, and you don’t want that to happen to your pooch.
So, if you want them to keep obeying your commands, do not deprive them with the food they prefer.
Remember that if you reward their good behavior with yummy treats, they’ll keep on obeying you to get what they want.
Yet, if they don’t like the treat that they get rewarded with after training, then they won’t even bother doing that action again.
#9: The environment is off
“Oh a squirrel.”
“Wait. Lemme grab that frisbee for yah.”
“Hmm. Where’s that yummy smell coming from?”
Dear fur parent, your pooch is probably distracted. They even forgot you existed.
Simply imagine this…
Isn’t it that when you’re working from home, others would always suggest separating your work area from your bed?
To avoid the temptation of sleeping when you still have a lot to finish.
The same goes for dogs.
Avoid training them in an environment where there are tons of distractions.
I tell you, you will not succeed (at first).
For starters, you must choose a peaceful and quiet environment for training.
Tip: But if you really want to nail this in the future, #13 has a bunch of good suggestions on how to train your dog to ignore distractions (not you).
#10: Overwhelmed with words
Imagine when your friend gets so excited about sharing with you how their day went.
They’d likely tell you story after story eagerly.
And the only thing you can do is nod in agreement.
True enough, even humans get overwhelmed when bombarded with lots of words, stories, and information.
What do you think a dog would feel if you did the same to them?
Especially with words, they can’t even comprehend.
Well, they’ll get confused.
As you know, dogs communicate differently.
They tell you something by:
- Using their tail.
- Adjusting their posture.
- Changing their behavior.
- Positioning their ears in certain ways.
They’ll just process your constant chatting as noise.
And when dogs don’t understand you, they’ll just ignore you.
So, instead of talking to them and treating them like a human being, whom you can share your problems to… stop.
It’s not gonna work.
Your dog will comfort you in different ways anyway (e.g. not leaving your side).
When it comes to training them though, it’s better to stick to just one-word commands.
Always associate a word to a particular command to avoid confusing your dog.
You don’t want them giving up training altogether due to confusion, right?
#11: You don’t have a strong bond
Did you quickly leave the house to go on a brunch date with your friends? Maybe you’re always spending your days off checking social media? Or you’re too busy with your newfound crochet hobby?
If you’re constantly doing things that don’t include your dog, then your bond is slowly getting weaker by day.
You’re intentionally making them independent of you.
In return, they won’t even care if you’re in the same room with them.
They won’t notice and greet you like they used to.
Remember, your dog will always want you.
They miss you even if you’re just gone for five minutes.
What do you think they’d feel if you leave them the whole day, a few weeks, or a month?
So, you must carve a bonding time with them from your jam-packed schedule.
Also, before going out, spare some time to prepare their food, their toys, and maybe your old shirt with your smell on it.
That way, they’ll still feel like you’re there.
And when you return, they’ll come running to you.
#12: Lack of proper training
If your dog ignores you, it’s not wholly their fault.
Because there are things you should improve on your part as well.
Lack of proper training on your dogs could be one of the areas of improvement.
Don’t give them a number of commands and expect them to learn everything in just one sitting.
When it comes to your dog, you must avoid rushing.
Give them enough time to absorb each one so they’ll eventually make it a habit.
Indeed, be very patient with your pooch.
According to AKC, a week is a good range of teaching your dog a new command. Don’t forget to practice the old ones as well so they don’t forget.
Here’s a training video you can try on your dog:
#13: There’s no balance
If you’re wondering why your dog used to follow you (for a while) but then stopped all of a sudden, then you might not be giving them enough.
Therefore, you mustn’t expect too much from them as well.
Your pooch won’t follow you when you don’t spend enough time training them.
Training your dog doesn’t happen overnight.
You don’t tell them to sit once and expect them to obey in an instant.
It’s consistent practice.
It needs patience and proper time management.
Before starting each training, don’t forget to prepare some treats for when your dog successfully passes each stage.
To effectively train your dog, you can try the following:
- Allot a certain time every day dedicated to your dog’s training.
- Make sure the environment is distraction-free and quiet.
- Using positive reinforcement, slowly teach them the command of the day.
- After a week, you can gradually add distractions, every training (e.g. smell of their favorite food).
- Then, after 2 or 3 days, add a different distraction, and so on.
These steps will train your dog to not only obey you at home, but also in different outdoor locations where they can be presented with various distractions.
People also ask:
What does it mean when your dog ignores you?
Your dog ignores you because they’re distracted. Maybe you’re trying to get their attention when they’re outside where they see, smell, and hear a lot of other interesting things.
A great way to train your dog to focus is to give them an interactive toy. A Kong is a good one because it is chew-friendly and challenging. With continuous use, such toys will help them hone their focus.