If your German Shepherd won’t listen to you then you’re probably wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will give you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might not listen to you and what you can do about it.

So, why doesn’t your German Shepherd listen to you? It’s often because you haven’t spent enough time training it so it doesn’t know what your commands mean. Other possible reasons include a lack of exercise, not giving it enough attention throughout the day, ruptured eardrums, depression, distractions, being in a new location, punishing it for the wrong things and possible having inadvertently rewarded it for ignoring you. 

And, how to get your German Shepherd to pay attention to you? The most effective option is to train it to listen to you, gradually, while being distracted. You can do it by teaching it to sit and stay and then building up to using distractions. You can also give your German Shepherd lots of exercise, use positive reinforcement training, reduce punishing it for bad behavior and train it in a variety of locations. 

It actually helps a lot to take the time to figure out why your German Shepherd might not be listening to you since it will help you in getting it to stop doing so.

Why your German Shepherd isn’t listening to you

There are a number of reasons that your German Shepherd might not be listening to you that I will mention below.

Fear

When your German Shepherd misbehaves it might be tempting to punish it for doing so. Logically, you might think that punishing your German Shepherd for misbehaving would reduce the behavior.

However, what you’re actually punishing it for often won’t be the same thing that your German Shepherd thinks that you’re punishing it for. If you punish it for running away then it will associate the punishment with the last thing that it did which is coming back to you.

There are also other problems with using punishment as a training method. It can lead to things like depression, aggression, destructive behavior and can cause it to become distrustful of you.

Instead, a better approach is to use positive reinforcement training where you reward your German Shepherd for behaving in the right way. By doing this you will be able to reinforce its good habits while preventing bad ones.

Related post: Why does my German Shepherd act afraid?

You haven’t trained enough

Your German Shepherd might not be listening to you because it doesn’t know what you want it to do. If you haven’t taken the time to teach it to come on command then it won’t know that when you tell it to come to you it means that you want it to go to you. This is why it’s important that you take the time to train your German Shepherd since it will teach it to listen to you when you tell it to.

A lack of exercise

German Shepherds are a breed that require a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated. If your German Shepherd isn’t currently getting much exercise on a daily basis then it will likely cause it to become more hyperactive and less willing to listen to you. With that being the case, it’s essential that you ensure that you give your German Shepherd lots of exercise.

Related post: Ways to exercise your German Shepherd.

Excitement

Another reason that your German Shepherd might not listen to you is that it’s overly excited. When German Shepherds get excited it can cause them to become more hyperactive and to listen less.

If your German Shepherd gets overly excited then it will be important for you to make sure that it gets lots of exercise and you’ll need to employ the training techniques in the video in the section below.

You’ve been rewarding it for ignoring you

It could be that you have been inadvertently rewarding your German Shepherd for not listening to you and that it has reinforced the behavior. Perhaps your way of getting your German Shepherd’s attention has been to give it treats instead of rewarding it for doing what you say.

To prevent this it is necessary for you to reward it for doing what you want when you tell it to.

You’re command nagging

It could be that you have been doing something known as “command nagging” which is where you repeatedly tell it to do something such as to sit despite it not knowing what you’re saying. If you tell it to sit and it doesn’t do it the first time then it’s better to go back a step and to lure it into the sit using a treat instead of repeatedly saying sit.

Not giving it enough attention

It could be that you haven’t been giving your German Shepherd any attention and that it has stopped expecting any from you. This can cause it to not listen to you when you’re around.

To reduce this behavior it’s necessary to give it lots of attention, to give it exercise daily and to play with it so that it associates you with positive things.

Ruptured eardrum

If your German Shepherd has started to not listen to you suddenly despite previously listening to you then it could have damaged its hearing. If you think that this might be the cause then you should start by taking it to the vet to find out from them.

Depression

It could also be that your German Shepherd is not listening to you due to depression. If your German Shepherd has not been listening to you after a recent stressful event then this could be the case.

Possible causes would be having recently moved, having recently changed owners, having recently lost one of its friends or having not been shown any affection. If you think that this might be the cause then you should consider getting help from an animal behaviorist.

It’s distracted

If you have only been training your dog in one location or you haven’t been training it to listen to you when there are distractions then it will be much less likely to listen to you when it’s in a different location and there are distractions.

To stop this it will be necessary for you to train your German Shepherd in a number of different locations and you’ll likely need to start from the beginning when you do.

You’re using words not actions

German Shepherds don’t understand the words that you are saying. If you have not previously taught it to come to you on command then telling it to come to you won’t result in it knowing that it means to come to you.

With that being the case, when you’re trying to get your German Shepherd to stop ignoring you it would be more effective to use exaggerated movements to get it to pay attention to you.

You’re in a different location

Another thing to consider is that German Shepherds and most other dogs do not associate what it was taught in one location with doing the same thing in another location. This is why it’s important to train your German Shepherd in multiple different locations.

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

How to get your German Shepherd to listen to you

There are a number of things that you can do to get your German Shepherd to start paying attention to you that I will mention below.

You can look at the book Training Your German Shepherd on Amazon to get more tips on how you can train your GSD.

Exercise

The first thing that you can do is to give it lots of exercise and attention. If you don’t give your German Shepherd lots of exercise then it can lead it to become less responsive to you so it’s important that you do it.

An easy way to give your German Shepherd lots of exercise is to teach it to play fetch. By doing so you will be able to get your German Shepherd to do a lot of running over a short time frame.

Training

If you want your German Shepherd to listen to you then it will be necessary for you to give it lots of training.

One training exercise that you will need to do is to teach it to stay while being distracted.

To do this you will first need to teach it to sit. If you haven’t already done so then you should be able to get it to sit on command by telling it to sit and then luring it into the sit position by holding the treat above its head which should naturally put it in the sit position. When it does sit reward it with a treat and continue the process until you’re able to get it to sit as soon as you say “sit.”

Once you have been able to do that you’ll need to teach it to stay. To do that tell it to “sit” and then say “stay” and wait for half a second and then reward it for keeping its focus on you. Repeat that process each time increasing the duration that you require it to keep its focus on you.

Once you’re able to get it to stay for over 15 seconds it’s time to introduce distractions. Do this by telling it to “sit” and “stay” and then show it a distraction like a toy and reward it for keeping its focus on you. Start by just showing it the toy and then gradually make it harder for it to lose focus by rolling and waving the toy around.

You can watch the video below to see how it’s done.

When you’re teaching your German Shepherd to keep its attention on you it’s important that you do it in a variety of different locations. If you don’t then it will be harder to get it to listen to you when you’re not at home.

If you have a hard time getting your German Shepherd to pay attention to you then you’ll likely find that giving it exercise beforehand will make it easier for you. By exercising it you will be able to make it less hyperactive and more responsive to you.

Get professional help

If you’re still unable to figure out why your German Shepherd doesn’t listen to you or you can’t get it to pay attention to you then you should consider getting help from a dog behaviorist.

Things to consider

Don’t expect sudden changes

Changing your German Shepherd’s habits is not something that you will be able to do easily overnight. You’ll likely find that getting your German Shepherd to start listening to you in a variety of situations will require you to train it multiple times over the course of months.

Be consistent

When you’re getting your German Shepherd to stop ignoring you it’s important that you are consistent with your training. If you just train it once in a while then it won’t be enough to change its habits and it will likely go back to not listening to you quickly.

Don’t punish

It might be tempting to punish your German Shepherd for not listening to you but doing so is an ineffective strategy and it can lead to other problems. Instead, it’s better to positively reinforce good behavior by rewarding it when it does things that you like.

Related questions

Why does my German Shepherd not listen to me outside? If your German Shepherd doesn’t listen to you when you’re outside then it will likely be because you haven’t been training it enough in different locations and you haven’t trained it to listen when being distracted. To deal with this you should train it in a variety of situations. Watch the above video to see how.

Why does my German Shepherd not listen to me on walks? If your German Shepherd doesn’t listen to you on walks then it is likely because it is being distracted by all of the things going on around it. To get it to listen to you it will be necessary to train it to listen to you when you’re on walks.

This post contains affiliate links. Germanshepherdsowner may be paid a commission from the companies mentioned in this post. This has no effect on the price you pay and we are very grateful for any support.

Most Recommended For German Shepherds

Best German Shepherd Training Program

Our favorite: The Dunbar Academy Training Program. If you want a happy and obedient dog, this is one of the best online dog training programs available right now.

Best German Shepherd Guide

Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook (on Amazon) - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.

Best German Shepherd Treats

Our favorites: N-Bone Puppy Teething Ring (on Amazon) - Great for German Shepherd puppies. American Journey Dog Treats (on Amazon) - Great for adult German Shepherds.

Author

Pin It