Why Does My Dog ​​Only Listen To My Partner (Or Me)?

It is not uncommon for a dog to listen better to one or the other person in a couple. It can hurt or annoy. Sometimes it’s a real problem. The partner who is not listened to cannot do as many things as the other, it becomes restrictive. If your dog is listening better to your partner (or yourself) and it’s a problem, we’ll review the most common causes and see how we can change the situation.

The dog “learned” everything from one person

In a couple, we sometimes use exactly the same word to ask the dog something and the dog only listens to one person. For example, you call your dog, he doesn’t come back; your spouse calls him and he comes back.

Your dog may rely much more on characteristics specific to your spouse to listen and not on the request itself, the word he has learned. It’s like when a dog sits anywhere in the house and never outside. He only learned to do it inside. He cannot generalize as a person would. You have to take the time to “sit” in all sorts of places.

When a dog only listens to the person who taught (and the partner or spouse didn’t teach anything), the dog may have become accustomed to a host of details specific to the person. We are not aware of all these details. For example, the position of the body and the distance from the dog when asking something, the gesture made, the moment the gesture is made in relation to the vocal request, its speed, the intonation of the voice, sound volume…

It’s all those little things the dog uses to listen. So the partner who doesn’t do all these little things isn’t listened to.

That said, when there is a clear difference, you may suspect that your dog didn’t learn the word very well in the first place. Errors in your teachings, at first, may have caused him to focus on the wrong elements to listen to you. If it depends on where you are, what you are doing, how you say it… If there are often “it depends”. If your dog comes back “but it depends” on such and such a condition, then it is probably normal that your partner is even less successful than you. You manage, depending on circumstances x and y, to make yourself understood. It is different from an apprenticeship so that a word is listened to durably in spite of the conditions.

If you used a learning process knowing what you were doing, you are sure that you have done well; you can look into the other common causes presented in this article. Also you can see here the best dog Snuffle bowls at Family Pooch.

You may need to learn the word you need differently. Otherwise, the person who is never listened to should lead an apprenticeship. Teach your dog something relatively simple. Not without informing yourself about a technique that works, a modern technique without coercion. The fact that your dog learns a new “command”, with you , no matter which one, even “gives the paw”, will require him to adapt to you; you will also adapt to it. He will learn that listening to you is rewarding.

If you are the person that your dog listens to, what often solves the problem is to show your spouse how your dog was taught such a thing. In this learning context (very different from everyday situations) the partner has the opportunity to quietly observe important things. Already, he/she needs to observe what you reward precisely, what you therefore expect from the dog, what you consider “perfect” or “less successful”… There is also nothing to distract the dog. Then, still in “work mode”, your spouse can reproduce what he/she has observed.

There, you can tell him “don’t forget to do this gesture” or correct the gesture made, or something else. For him/her, it’s really the best way to get there. He/she must experience learning to realize “how it works”!

The dog spends most of its time with one person

This is the other very common cause of our obedience problem. This is for example the case in couples where one works and the other does not, one person works at home and the other outside, etc. Either way, the difference is significant.

What is called “complicity” between a person and a dog comes from different things, not just from “who feeds it”. When a dog spends significantly more time with one person in the couple, a whole dynamic is created, from verbal and non-verbal language for the person. And the dog has like cues that tell him what to do, just by observing the person who always does the same things at the same times without necessarily realizing it, who also rewards behaviors in an involuntary way (example: laugh at certain things).

The partner who does not spend as much time with the dog is no less beloved by the dog. It’s just less “familiar”.

For example, my partner asks my dog ​​ten times to go down the stairs, but my dog ​​seems playful. Me, who spends three times more time with the dog, on a daily basis, I arrive, I say “come down” and the dog comes down the stairs. Suddenly for my dog, with another person, it was not as usual anymore. Has my spouse involuntarily shown signs that make the dog want to play? Possible. Does my spouse say “come down” too differently from me? Possible. We can’t always say who/what it comes from. You can tell it’s not business as usual.

The spouse who is not being listened to may think that it is lost in advance since he or she cannot spend as much time with the dog. But there is an effective way to “fix” this.

The spouse who is not listened to may have the “privilege” of the best game. Even if he spends less time with the dog, this time becomes of very high quality for the dog. Quite often, the spouse who spends the least time with the dog does not do much interesting (for the dog) when he/she is around,  because there is nothing left to do (eat c is done, walking is done, playing ball is done…), or we have this impression.

The game has this good thing that it allows you to create a bond very quickly. So you may spend less time with your dog than your spouse, but if those few moments become richer, interactive, stimulating, yes, you can “catch up”!

One person in the couple is more meticulous

Sometimes, when a dog clearly listens to only one person of the couple he lives with, and yet both people are involved in his education, walks , etc., it is enough for one of the two spouses to be more meticulous in his behavior with the dog so that he is better listened to.

He or she:

Has much more often a word of congratulations when the dog has listened to it: already, there is a marker of success – some people do not have one – (that’s my dog ​​that / Yesinia / super…) and this marker is used at exactly the right time (when the desired behavior occurs, and not five minutes later, for example).

Tries more things to be listened to, gives up more slowly, takes the time to get closer if the dog is too far away, tries more “tricks” until you get a success, etc.

is clearer for the dog because it is more coherent/constant: does not deviate from the rules he/she has set for himself – it depends less on his mood at the time and more on the attention paid to the behavior of the dog (example: the rule at home is never to feed the dog when you are at the table, sir makes no exception and madam gives a small pot of yogurt when she is tired)

There would be many other examples to give. Some will quite naturally be more meticulous, it makes them more “readable” for the dog. That said, those who are less can progress in this area. These are mostly things that can be learned. Very concrete things are worked on over time.

Also, if your spouse seems to have a “feeling” that you don’t have with your dog, remember that a dog does not have the same relationship with everyone in the same household. It is better not to take a link as a model and invent your own relationship with the dog!

The man seems “naturally” to be obeyed

Well, we will try not to fall into stereotypes. But I couldn’t deal with the subject without talking about it.

Sometimes, with a Mr/Mrs couple, while one has to repeat the same thing ten times, the other only has to say a word to be heard (as can happen with children elsewhere). Dogs may even behave more “wisely” in the presence of either parent. For example, they jump on one and never on the other; have they pulled on a leash only with Monsieur or Madame.

In the case where the man seems quite clearly to play the role of the “authoritative parent”, while he does not scold more, punish more or harm a fly, there are 2 main factors allowing explaining certain behaviors of the dog; some men combine the two and can naturally come across as more intimidating.

Other men use and abuse it; there are all kinds of cases, aren’t there.

But beware, this also depends on the dog himself , especially his socialization with humans when he was small and even possibly before joining you (for example, if Mr. manages to get what he wants by sometimes abusing intimidation , it wouldn’t work with all dogs…).

The male voice: genetically, the vocal cords (and the anatomy of the mouth/trachea) of men and women are different. This is not the case for all dogs, but many are more intimidated by the voice of a man than a woman. Apart from exceptional cases, men have deeper voices. Among the most commonly put forward explanations is that dogs have different hearing than ours and pick up more things in voices. Lower voices “sound” louder and may sound more impressive to a dog (without even yelling). It would come from sounds measurable with devices, otherwise the human ear cannot distinguish them; it makes the lower voices more “resonant” (if you do vocals or music, it’s easier to understand).

The physique: not all dogs are more intimidated by more imposing physiques and not all men have more imposing physiques than their lady. Well, having said that, 🙂some dogs are definitely more intimidated by tall/hefty men than by others; the more a man imposes physically, the more these dogs seem to react. This may explain why some dogs are more obedient with sir than madam.

We could probably study other factors involved in this intimidation, which is sometimes very involuntary, more cultural factors, differences in behavior between men and women, but that will become too complicated. Let’s stick to the genetic parameters.

The alchemy of energies

No, nothing esoteric.

Sometimes a person and a dog “find each other”; it couldn’t fit better, they were made for each other, like human couples! There are all sorts of possible explanations, but here we will focus on energy, a primary aspect of a dog’s “personality”.

It is always very important to adapt your energy to the energy of your dog in case of learning or obedience difficulties. Dogs are extremely energetic, they will seem turbulent to us, nothing excites them and they take a long time to calm down. In a couple, there may be someone whose energy is naturally more suited to that of the dog.

She doesn’t have to make any special effort. She’s just calmer by nature. With it, the dog is more attentive. It’s just that this dog needed someone calm to better capture his attention , for example, and the partner, who has more energy, does not manage (he or she would maybe fine with a super calm dog).

On the other hand, some cooler, calm, even slow dogs (also easily distracted dogs) listen better to the person who is naturally more energetic than their spouse. The spouse must make efforts. For the other, it’s natural to move fast, clap his hands, talk loudly, and other useful things that this dog needed.

Having the right energy (the one the dog needs to learn and then listen to on a daily basis) allows you to be better listened to.  To put it simply, more distracted and slow dogs need a more “dynamic” person; High-energy dogs have hard time learning if you’re high-energy yourself. So, in a couple, it is sometimes enough for one to have the energy that corresponds to the energy of the dog, and the other not, for there to be an “imbalance”.


Generally, when a dog listens better to one person in a relationship, either the dog has learned everything from the person, or the dog spends a lot more time with the person. Combine the two, and you get an “outcast” partner. Certainly, some exclude themselves and sometimes also, things are clear from the start, only one of the two wanted a dog!

But sometimes he or she didn’t want that and is disappointed. It is possible to change this state of affairs and make the dog listen as much as the other. It is preferable, in general. It is more practical, safer, less constraining if the dog listens to both people; we have more freedom.

In some couples, one person is more meticulous than the other. This may be partly natural; it’s the personality, the character, the fact of feeling closer to the animals… but it’s rarely just that. The person is often better informed, is more aware of dog training techniques and/or is more aware of what they are doing, has already identified why requests are sometimes not listened to, has taken the time to study details, take the time to observe, analyze, realize certain errors… So we can also remedy this problem.

In lady/sir couples where the man seems “naturally” to be better obeyed, it is not uncommon for the gentleman to be just more intimidating, but it also depends on whether the dog is intimidated (it does not have the same effect on all dogs). Some men don’t do it on purpose, while others use it to be obeyed, which is not a good way to go, of course. 

Finally, energy is one of the most important characteristics of a dog. Energy makes dogs very different from each other, from “cool” dogs to “crazy” dogs. Sometimes in a relationship, one of the two partners just naturally has the right energy with their dog. She is listened to more because she is calmer or on the contrary, you have to be more dynamic with this dog. Once again, the one who is not listened to can adapt; lots of people have to work on this aspect and manage to make great progress.

There may be other reasons, but if your dog only listens to your spouse or yourself, there is a good chance that one or more of these causes should be examined; they are certainly the most frequent.