Dogs are intelligent creatures but can be incredibly stubborn if they get it in their minds they don't want to do something. When your ordinarily smart and compliant dog starts ignoring you, it could just mean you're not interacting with him in the right way.
Who's the Boss?
Historically pack animals, dogs fall into a social hierarchy that pegs them as a leader or follower. In his pack, otherwise known as your family, he needs to know who the alpha is. If no one in the house strikes him as an alpha, he'll assume the role himself. In terms of training, this simply means that he refuses to take orders from someone he views as lower in the pack -- you. He's the boss, or so he thinks, so he doesn't have to listen to you. Assert your alpha status by carrying yourself in a confident manner, speaking with authority and following through with every command. Show him that you are indeed the boss round these parts.
What's In It For Me?
For dogs, similarly to humans, it's all about the rewards. Obeying your commands doesn't hold much interest to your pooch if all you're offering in return is a tasteless “healthy” treat or lackluster pat on the head. You have to make the reward for compliance so irresistible that your dog can't wait to obey. Offer a meaty treat he loves or a good belly scratch along with happy praise to encourage future compliance. Switch up the rewards so he doesn't know what to expect. You don't want him completely food motivated, as that just turns into a pudgy pooch.
On Again, Off Again
Consistency is key to proper training and predictable obedience. If your training sessions are few and far between, your pooch may not be intentionally disobeying you -- he may simply not know what you want him to do. When training your pup, dedicate time to focus on it every day until it clicks. He may also have learned a certain behavior in a certain spot and think that's the only place he can perform it. For example, if you only teach your dog to sit in the living room, he may not associate the word with the action when you're in the backyard or at the park. Practice your training in different locations to make sure he understands it's a general command and not just something he does at home.
Dogs typically love to learn and please, but if they get bored they may stop complying completely. Training sessions that go on too long, where you issue the same command over and over again, leave the dog feeling uninterested. Telling him to “sit” 20 times is only going to frustrate him. Keep the training sessions short, and switch them up so you're not focusing on one command over and over and over again for long periods. Don't forget to reward good behavior and take play breaks to keep him interested and happy.
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