The situation above is typically one where the Owners dog understands a command fairly well but are very distracted, so the owner desperately repeats the command, with limited success. We have a little “3 strike” rule we try to follow here - we will ask a dog once, tell the dog the second time and then if we must repeat ourselves a third time we will help the dog into position. What this means is basically 3 strikes and you are out. If a dog knows a command you should not have to continuously repeat yourself; all repeating does is teach your dog they CAN ignore you. So take the scene from above - a more productive approach would be after asking your dog the first time and seeing them being distracted you know you need to get their attention. So move back a step, turn around, or maybe go to a different spot (if the dog is on leash they come with you). Now that you have their attention, repeat your command (typically with a bit more authority - not the cute baby voice we’ve all been guilty of using before). Hopefully with their attention on you, your command will be successful.
Sometimes, they are just really distracted so what do you do if they still do not listen? This is where we will step in and enforce the command - hold tight - that sounds pretty intimidating doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be - enforcing a command simply means making sure it is listened to and not ignored. This might mean you need to bring out your lure (treat or toy) again and guide them into the desired position or you may choose to provide gentle manipulation (holding the collar and helping guide the dog's body into a sit/down etc) to make sure they follow what you have asked. It is important to remember that sit means sit - not let me ask you 5 times first. We have witnessed many dogs that almost count the times their owner repeats a command and they know at time number 6 the "parent voice" comes out and they will finally do it on time 5. If you find this happening a lot now is a good time to re-evaluate how well your dog knows a command. Maybe it is too distracting of an area and you need to find a more neutral area to practice. Do not be afraid to take a step back and build up to the added distractions or if your first attempt isn’t quite what you had hoped for. Maybe you have faded out the reward too fast - it's ok to bring back the reward to solidify the command, especially when learning to work through new things, like distraction. It might be that you need to work with a higher value reward to help battle the distractions (say in a class setting where you can’t just find a quiet spot). Learning a new command or working in a new distracting area is the perfect time to grab some cut up hotdogs or nice smelly treats - something that is new or novel and a step up from milk bones and kibble. Any of these things can affect how well a dog performs a command when asked. Remember - the 3 strike rule applies when a dog KNOWS what you are asking them to do - if your dog has never heard the words "roll over" don't think they magically will be able to do it in three tries because you ask them.
When teaching a new command we still recommend you try to not repeat yourself over and over. Even if your dog knows the command a little bit but it is a new environment or situation you have to keep this in mind that until you have generalized a command your dog might need more guidance. Generalizing a command means you have taught them that the command means to do a specific action in any place not just at home in the kitchen. Say your command and take your steps to help lure or shape the behaviour you are looking for, letting your dog think and not be distracted by your repeating something again and again that they don't understand. Give at least 30 seconds or more between repetitions of a command. There is never a need to say roll over 10 times in one minute. Always remember to use baby steps with any new command. By breaking a command into easy small steps you are helping your dog learn something easier than in one big chunk. Once the behaviour is completed, praise with a "good sit/down etc" to help reinforce the verbal command. By not repeating the command over and over but finishing with praise of the command you have allowed your dog to problem solve something new and begin to positively associate a new command with the desired behaviour.
Hopefully this advice can help someone out there to improve the efficiency of their commands and teaching techniques!