Why Does My Dog Ignore Me?
[ The Complete Guide ]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 9, 2022

As a dog trainer, it’s my job to bring out your canine’s best qualities. Training dogs requires keeping an eye out for behavioral problems in your pooch and ensuring you know how to handle educating your furbaby on your own.

One common problem most new dog parents face is their canine ignoring them. And that’s precisely what this article is going to deal with. Possible reasons behind your dog suddenly ignoring your instructions may have to do with medical concerns or behavioral issues.

Before your freak out at the possibility of your furball suffering through a medical condition (or behavioral concern) – relax. Instead, go through this piece to understand why your dog may be ignoring you and how you can tackle the situation.

Possible Reasons Behind Your Dog Ignoring You

Figuring out why your dog is suddenly giving you the cold shoulder may require you to dig out your Sherlock hat and do some deducing. But, your job is about to become a whole lot easier because I’ve compiled a list of reasons why your doggo is ignoring you – along with related symptoms.

Illness, Eardrum Rupture, And Other Injuries

One possible reason behind your canine’s sudden inability to listen to your instructions may have to with an illness. However, if your doggo is not feeling too great, there should be related symptoms, such as lethargy, vomiting, whining, etc.

On the other hand, an injury can cause your pet to show signs like limping or reluctance to move.

Although, concerns like a ruptured eardrum may be a little tricky to detect because the indications aren’t very obvious. Eardrum ruptures occur when the eardrum (a super-thin membrane that divides the inner ear from the middle ear) is perforated due to trauma, infections, etc.

The only noticeable symptoms of a ruptured eardrum in canines are loss of balance (which may be slight) or your pooch startling easily. Other signs include your pup tilting its head (more so than usual) and discharge from the ears (in case of an infection).

If you suspect your dog is suffering from an illness, injury, or a ruptured eardrum – take your furbaby to a vet, pronto. Not only can your timely action help in the early detection of an illness (which will help your pet bounce back faster), but it’ll also help relieve your canine’s pain.


Believe it or not, your dog may be ignoring you because he’s depressed. The tricky bit is figuring out the reason that’s causing your doggo to feel sad.

For instance, certain diseases can affect your canine’s mental well-being, such as diabetes, kidney failure, and even cancer. The good news is that almost all illnesses are treatable if caught early, and that’s where symptoms come in.

Possible symptoms of a disease-induced depression include reclusive behavior, not wanting to partake in generally enjoyable daily habits such as walks or playtime. Other signs also include loss of appetite, sleeping more than usual, irregular elimination schedule, vomiting, etc.

However, your furball’s depression doesn’t need to be linked to a disease. An upset, such as changing homes or the entry of a new pet, can also cause your pooch to become depressed.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of illness-related depression and non-disease related depression can be quite similar. That’s why a quick trip to the vet will help you figure out what’s really wrong with your pup.

Distressing Events

Your dog can undergo a behavioral change due to a distressing or traumatic event. For instance, if your canine has been exposed to violence, that may prompt it to behave detached. Another possible reason is being abandoned by a caretaker or owner.

If your pet’s behavior has changed after going through any such experience, then you can be sure your pooch has taken the occasion to heart. Once again, it’s best to refer to your local vet or pet behaviorist to help your canine get over the trauma.

Inadequate Training

If your canine is in the best of health, has no injuries, and hasn’t gone through any traumatic experience, it may be ignoring you because of lack of training.

Dogs require early socialization, obedience education, and training practice to grow into well-adjusted adults. If your dog’s training is incomplete, this may lead to your pet becoming a little too headstrong.

That’s why introducing your puppy to command-based training early on can work wonders when it comes to bonding with your pet.

Unsuitable Discipline Methods

Canines are active creatures that love to explore. Sometimes, the love of exploration can get your furball into trouble – like when your pup overturns its food bowl or the trash bin.

You may have verbally chastised your doggo on such an occasion by calling out its name loudly. And, generally, that shouldn’t cause any issues. But if your canine starts associating his name (or any other way you call him) with your displeasure, he may ignore you to save himself from your wrath.

Not to mention, it’s never okay to train your dog via punishment or negative reinforcement. It’s always best to teach your pet to understand good behavior from bad through positive reinforcement.

Punishing your pet too often may result in your dog developing a fear of you, which will prompt your canine to avoid your presence. Remember, punishments are never a guarantee of stopping unacceptable behavior.

How To Get Your Dog To Stop Ignoring You

Now that we’ve gone over reasons why your dog may be ignoring you – let’s move on to what you can do to keep your furry companion from snubbing you.


I know I’ve mentioned the ‘vet‘ countless times throughout this article. But, the fact remains that your vet is your primary source of reliable information – that’s specific to your canine.

I know you lead busy lives, but trust me, the effort you expend in taking your pup to the vet is way less than what you may have to go through (emotionally) if your pet’s condition worsens.

Additionally, regular visits to the vet are crucial not only for keeping your doggo healthy but also for the early detection of any illness. Catching a disease before it does significant damage can help save your pet’s life.

That’s why, if your pet is ignoring you, taking it to the vet will help you discover the reason behind your pet’s strange behavior in a faster and safer manner – for you and your canine.

Germ-Free Environment, Healthy Diet, And Exercise

Making sure your pet stays healthy requires some effort on your part. For example, if you opt to feed your doggo high-quality dog food, this will help you look after your pet’s physical and mental well-being.

While some canine diseases are related to genetics and are hereditary, others, such as diabetes, can be avoided with a wholesome diet.

Ensuring your pet’s bed and food are germ-free and that your canine gets its daily dose of exercise can also go a long way in helping your dog fight off preventable diseases that can affect its behavior.

Proper Training

As I stated earlier, proper training is critical in ensuring a well-adjusted adult canine. Also, enrolling your puppy in an obedience school will help you understand how to go about training your furbaby on your own.

If your furball is still in its puppyhood, get it enrolled in a reputable obedience school near you.

If your doggo is an adult already, consult a canine behaviorist to understand how to train your dog without negative associations. The stronger the bond between you and your pet, the less it’s likely to ignore you.

Spend quality time with your pet

Spending quality time with your pet will help in lessening the negativity your pet associates with you. If your pet ignores you because it’s afraid of you (or your anger), you have to make your pup comfortable around you again.

Try taking your doggo out on leisurely walks, or play a friendly game of fetch. You can also roll playtime and training time into one time-saving fun package if you want.

For example, if you plan on helping your furbaby with command training, make sure to take a clicker and your pet’s favorite treats. Use the clicker to mark the positive behavior and a doggy treat to reinforce it.


If your canine has taken to ignoring you lately, go over the causes discussed here one at a time to discover the culprit. But, it’s also equally important to take your furbaby to the vet if you notice its energy is down and its behavior is withdrawn consistently over some time.

Unlike us humans, canines can only communicate through their actions. That doesn’t mean you should spend every waking moment worried about your doggo’s welfare, but keeping a close eye on its behavior can definitely help you understand your furry companion better.