Lovingly Independent. Pretend deaf ear. Tough and Energetic.
Do these words describe your precious pup?
A lot of people embark on a journey with a new dog with pure bliss and honestly, pure ignorance. I can say this because I was one of those people. Getting a new puppy was all rainbows and snuggles and wet kisses. My knowledge on the extent of attention needed to train a dog was the bare minimum. So there I was, two years later, with, my no longer a puppy, Drake who had trained me very well.
To say Drake was, or is rather, a stubborn dog, is the understatement of the century and honestly, I have no one to blame but myself. A lot of people find themselves in a situation such as mine and feel defeated and sadly some will even give the dog up. But, whether your dogs stubbornness is a product of your lack of work or if they already had that hard headed personality when they came into your life, there is hope. Now I’m not going to lie, training a stubborn dog is frustrating as hell, but correcting bad habits are possible if you are committed to it.
Ultimately what it comes down to is whether or not you want to enjoy your time with your pup to the fullest. It will be hard work, and may be ongoing, but it’s worth it. Don’t give up!
Be The Alpha
First advice I can give and one that I battle with daily… You are the Alpha, act like it! Convincing your dog that you are in control is vital. This shouldn't be done through harsh punishment, but only in firmness. The biggest “small” improvement for me was simply entering our home BEFORE he does. This little gesture helps reinforce your leading role in the household. Another big working point for me was my tone of voice. Dogs understand and respond to tone as much as they do words. Basically, when you are being serious, sound serious and remain firm. If you want your dog to sit before you put their leash on, make sure that your voice is strong when you give the command, and do not waver.
Using your daily walk as a training session is a great method that I definitely recommend; two birds, one stone. Going on long walks with your dog is very important for many reasons, however focusing on the training aspect, it is crucial that you ensure your pup walks NEXT to you or behind you. Running behind your dog, like I have done many times, is him demonstrating himself as the alpha and the one with the control.
Set your dog up for success! Imagine trying to study for a big test while at a concert with your best friends… Totally not happening! The same goes for you pup at a busy park with other dogs and people running all around. Look at the setting and see what it is that could compete with you for your dog's attention. My best suggestion would be to start in a location that your dog is very familiar with, one that has few “new smells” for them to be intrigued by.
Defeating stubbornness is a patience game. May the most patience soul win and may the odds ever be in your favor (a little Hunger Games humor for you there). But seriously, your dog has nothing but time and unfortunately you can not rationalize with them. You have to be patient. Going back to the example of wanting your dog to sit before putting their leash on, you must follow through. If you want them to sit, you do not put the leash on until they sit. Trust me, it’s easy to get frustrated when your trying to beat the clock before work and say, “oh well” and put the leash on anyways. But all this means is your dog won.
With good behaviors should come praise! Whether it is a delicious treat, a happy voice tone of “good boy” or a nice belly rub, show your dog that what they did was correct! Without positive reinforcement your dog has no idea what behavior it is that you are seeking from them. This is a crucial piece to correcting your dog's stubbornness.
Training needs to occur every day and even several times a day! Consistency is key. It is important to keep in mind that training is a mental exercise for your pup which can be equally as exhausting as running at the park. Working with your pup should not include intervals longer than roughly 5 minutes or so. Any longer can cause for your pup to lose focus and ultimately initiating those stubborn tendencies you are trying to rid.
In a way, all dogs have stubborn tendencies and will test the limits. Remember, while you are training them, they are actually training you. Try not to give into those frustrations that hit at you hard, your pup is crazy smart and can sense the energy you are giving off. Negative emotions do not help and will most likely just confuse your dog. Bottom line, you have to realize that they are doing their best and ultimately want to please you.
Show them your love and patience and you will see successes!