Having a German Shepherd that is ignoring you can be a frustrating and stressful experience. This post will try to help you to figure out why your German Shepherd might be ignoring you and how to get it to stop.

So, why is your German Shepherd ignoring you? A common cause is that a lack of exercise is causing it to be hyper and to be unable to pay attention easily. Other possible causes include a lack of training, solely communicating with words, being in a new location, depression, not giving it enough attention and using the wrong training methods.

And, what can you do to get Your German Shepherd to pay attention to you?  The main options are to give it lots of exercise and attention, to give it lots of training, to use positive reinforcement instead of punishing the wrong decisions and to train it in multiple different locations. 

There are actually a number of possible causes of your German Shepherd’s lack of attention. The best way to get your German Shepherd to start paying attention to you will be to employ a number of different techniques at the same time and to tailor them based on the cause of your German Shepherd’s lack of attention.

Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Is Ignoring You

It’s important to figure out the possible causes of your German Shepherd’s lack of attention before trying to fix it since you’ll be able to correct its behavior more easily once you know.

Below I will list a number of possible causes of your German Shepherd’s lack of attention.

German Shepherds understand actions more than words

The first thing to consider is that German Shepherds don’t understand words in the same way we do. If you try to communicate with your German Shepherd solely through words then you’ll have a hard time getting anywhere.

Instead, German Shepherds are better at understanding emotions and actions. If you’re trying to teach your German Shepherd to sit then it would be easier to lure it into sitting using a treat than to simply try telling it to sit without any other kind of direction.

Lack of training

If you haven’t taken the time to give your German Shepherd training then it’s going to be much less responsive to your command. If you haven’t been giving your German Shepherd much training then starting to do so would be one of the best options for you to do.

If you would like some tips on how to train your German Shepherd take a look at the German Shepherd training book on Amazon.

Excitement

The cause could be due to your German Shepherd getting overly excited. If something is causing your German Shepherd to get overly excited, such as someone being at the front door, then it will be less likely to listen to you.

To fix this it’s important to train your German Shepherd to be well behaved in these situations and to give it lots of exercise so that it has a chance to expend its energy.

Not enough exercise

German Shepherds are a breed that was bred to do intensive tasks for hours on a daily basis. If you’re not currently giving your German Shepherd the chance to get a lot of exercise then it will cause it to become more hyperactive and less responsive to your command.

If your German Shepherd is currently difficult to control then making sure to give it a lot of exercise should be one of the first things for you to try.

Related post: Ways to exercise your German Shepherd.

You’re in a different location

If you’re able to get your German Shepherd to listen to you in one location but you have trouble getting it to listen to you in another location then be aware that this is not an unusual occurrence.

Dogs can, sometimes, have a hard time generalizing training from one location to another. Just because your German Shepherd knows that “down” means that it gets rewarded at home doesn’t mean that it knows that the same will apply when it’s at the park.

To fix this you can try re-doing the training at the different location. You’ll probably find that it is much easier the second time around.

Lack of trust

It could be that you have tricked your German Shepherd in the past and it has caused it to become less responsive to your command.

For example, you might have been tapping on its food bowl to get it to come inside when it’s not actually time for its dinner. Overtime doing things like that will teach your German Shepherd that doing what you say won’t necessarily be rewarding for it so it doesn’t listen as much.

To correct this it’s important to employ lots of positive reinforcement training where you reward it with treats for doing the things that you want it to do.

Related post: How to tell if your German Shepherd loves you

You’ve been rewarding the behavior

It could also be that you have accidentally taught it to behave the way that it is. For example, it might be that your method for getting your German Shepherd to stop acting hyper would be to give it attention or to give it treats.

The problem is that doing that will teach it that behaving that way will result in it getting what it wants. Instead, it’s often more effective to ignore it when it’s acting hyper and looking for attention and to reward it when it behaves.

Ruptured eardrum

It could be that your German Shepherd has damaged its eardrums and that it can’t hear you so well causing it not to respond to your commands. If you think that this might be the case then the best thing for you to do would be to take it to the vet and to get it checked out.

Depression

German Shepherds can get depression and it might be what’s causing yours to be less responsive. If your German Shepherd has suddenly become unresponsive after an event like losing its friend, changing homes or a change of owner then it could be the cause.

Here you can try giving it lots of attention and exercise but you might also want to get help from a dog behaviorist as well.

You’re command nagging

It could be that you’re asking too much of it. This is known as command nagging to pet trainers where you keep telling it to do something that it has not been taught to do. Such as telling it to sit repeatedly instead of going back to the start and teaching it to sit from the beginning.

It’s important to remember that your German Shepherd can only respond to you the way that you want it to if it knows that’s what you want and that it will get it what it wants. This is why it’s important not to make large jumps in what you ask of it when you’re training it and to take it in small steps instead.

It’s distracted

German Shepherds are a breed that is known for having a strong prey drive. If it is being distracted by things such as cats or squirrels then it will be a lot harder to get it to listen to you.

To rectify this it’s important to train it as often as you can and in as many different situations as you can so that you can keep it’s attention when things are distracting it.

Not using positive reinforcement

An effective way to get your German Shepherd to listen to you is with the use of positive reinforcement. This is where you reward your German Shepherd when it does things that you want it to do.

This is why many trainers like to train their dogs by giving them treats or access to a toy when it does the training exercise the right way.

Punishing bad behavior

There are times when it is necessary to intervene with your German Shepherd to get it to stop what it is doing. Examples would be when it’s trying to bolt out of the front door or when it’s destroying something.

However, a more effective method to prevent that behavior is to encourage it to act the way that you want it to and to reward it for doing so.

For example, another way to get it to stop running out the door would be to train it not to by rewarding it for remaining calm when you’re at the door like in the video below.

You’re not giving it enough attention

One possible reason why your German Shepherd has stopped paying attention to you is that you have been neglecting to pay attention to it yourself.

For example, it could be that you have recently got a new dog, have had a baby or you might have been extra busy lately and have not been able to give your German Shepherd much attention.

When this happens, sometimes, the response from the dog is to stop paying attention to you. To rectify this it’s important to spend more time with your German Shepherd and to do activities with it such as training or exercise.

How to get your German Shepherd to pay attention to you

There are a number of things that you can do to get your German Shepherd to start to pay attention to you. The most effective thing for you to do will depend on the cause of your German Shepherd ignoring you and applying multiple approaches at the same time will often be more effective.

Exercise

One of the first things that you should do is to make sure that your German Shepherd is getting as much exercise as it needs. If you have a hyperactive German Shepherd then you’ll likely find that your German Shepherd will need a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated.

When your German Shepherd has not been properly stimulated it can be a lot harder to get it to listen to you since it will be feeling a lot more energetic.

A good way to give your German Shepherd a lot of exercise without needing to wear yourself out is to teach it to play fetch. By doing this you will be able to get your German Shepherd to do a lot of running in a short period of time which will help you wear it out more quickly.

It will also help to get it to pay more attention to you since playing fetch with it will help it to associate you with good things. I have written about how to teach your German Shepherd how to play fetch in the past here.

Another way to give your German Shepherd a lot of exercise is to walk it with other dogs. You’ll usually find that they will expend a lot of energy when they are playing together so by doing this you’ll be able to wear your German Shepherd out more.

If you can’t walk it with other dogs then there are still ways that you can wear it out more during walks. You can walk faster, walk further, walk in a hilly area and you could make it wear a weight vest designed for dogs that doesn’t weigh more than 10% of your German Shepherds bodyweight.

Another thing that you could do is to teach it to swim. When dogs swim they have to move their legs around a lot to stay afloat this will tire them out quickly. It can also help to keep it cool in the summer.

If you don’t have time to give it exercise yourself then you could also consider hiring a dog walker to do it for you. There are apps that you can download now that let you book a local dog walker in your area.

Give it training

A good way to get your German Shepherd to listen to you more is to spend more time training it. By doing this you will not only be able to teach it to listen to you in certain situations but you’ll also get it used to listening to your command which will make it more likely to stop what it’s doing when you tell it to.

If you haven’t given your German Shepherd training before then it would be a good idea to start with the basics in an easy environment. For example, you could teach it to sit and stay at home.

After that, you could try teaching it to do harder things and to start to teach it in more distracting environments.

Regain trust

If you have been trying to trick your German Shepherd into behaving the way that you want it to in the past then it would be a good idea to change your approach.

Instead of tricking it you’ll likely find that it is much more effective to train it in small increments using positive reinforcement.

Give it attention

If you don’t normally give your German Shepherd much attention then it would be a good idea to do so. If you don’t give it much attention then it will become less responsive to you.

There are a number of ways that you can give your German Shepherd attention.

The first way would be to give it training. By doing this you will be able to stimulate it mentally while also being able to get it to behave the way that you want it to.

You could play tug of war with it. You’ll probably find that your German Shepherd will enjoy playing it so it would be a good way to give it some attention.

You could also play fetch with it. By doing this you will be able to spend time with it in a way that it will enjoy while also being able to give it some exercise.

Seek professional help

If everything that you have tried hasn’t been able to get your German Shepherd to start paying attention to you then it would likely be worthwhile for you to get the help of a certified dog behaviorist. By doing this you will be able to get advice tailored to your specific German Shepherd.

Things to consider

When you’re training your German Shepherd to start paying attention to you there are some things that you should keep in mind.

Don’t expect sudden changes

When you’re training your German Shepherd to be more responsive to you it’s important to take a long-term approach. Getting your German Shepherd to change its habits is not something that will happen overnight so it’s important not to get frustrated when things don’t change quickly and to stick with it over the long run.

Be consistent

It’s also important to be consistent with your training. It’s not enough to just train your German Shepherd for a week and then forget about it. You need to do it on a regular basis and to avoid taking long breaks from training your German Shepherd. Otherwise, it will forget what you have been training it to.

Build up the distractions

When you start to train your German Shepherd to listen to you while it is being distracted it would be more effective to start by only giving it very minor distractions and then to build it up.

If you are training it via positive reinforcement training then the goal is to reward it for making small steps towards what you want it to do so it’s important to avoid making large jumps that might cause it to fail in its training.

Start in an easier environment

The amount of distractions that there are in its environment will have a big impact on how easy it is to keep its attention on you. When you start training it things would be easier if you were to start out in an environment with fewer distractions and then to build up to one that has more distractions.

Age

You should also consider how old your German Shepherd is. If it is still young then it will naturally be more curious about its environment and it will be harder to keep its attention on you. However, it’s still important to take the time to train it now so that it is more well behaved when it is older.

Related questions

Why is my German Shepherd suddenly ignoring me?

If your German Shepherd has suddenly started to ignore you then it could have been caused by a recent event such as a change of location, a new addition to the family, a new owner or it could be because you punished it recently and it has caused it to associate you with bad things.

To avoid this try to spend more time exercising and training your German Shepherd. Alternatively, get the help of an animal behaviorist.

Why does my German Shepherd ignore me outside? 

The most probable reason for your German Shepherd not listening to you outside is that it is distracted by all of the things going on around it. To stop this it would be worthwhile spending some time training it outside so that it can gradually get used to your command when it is being distracted.

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