The Stubborn Dog – Whole Dog Journal


I cringe each time I hear somebody discuss with a canine as “stubborn.” It is patently unfair to label a canine as cussed. Dogs do what works for them (as all of us do), and after they aren’t doing what we ask, they’ve a very good purpose. When your canine doesn’t reply to your cue, maybe he’s come to affiliate it with one thing aversive, maybe he doesn’t perceive what you’re asking, or maybe he’s too distracted or stressed and your request doesn’t even register in his mind. In any case, it’s our job, because the supposedly extra clever species, to determine methods to get our canine to need to do what we would like them to do.

Some people imagine canine ought to do what they’re advised, just because we inform them to. “Because I said so!” hearkens again to childhood, when parental directives had been typically accompanied by the implied “Do it, or else!” In as of late of a extra enlightened canine coaching philosophy, this coercive strategy isn’t what many people need with our canine. We choose relationships based mostly on a cooperative partnership.

If your canine isn’t doing what you ask, contemplate these questions:

Are you coaching competently? Remember, canine shouldn’t need to do what we are saying simply because we inform them to – or simply as a result of they love us. We need them to need to do it. Make certain your reinforcers are beneficial sufficient that your canine will eagerly provide the behaviors you ask for, and that you’re marking and/or delivering the reinforcer with good timing so your canine associates the reinforcer with the specified conduct.

Is there one thing aversive concerning the conduct? Years in the past, my first Pomeranian, Dusty, began refusing jumps once we had been coaching for the Open Division of obedience competitors. I didn’t punish him for not leaping – I took him to my veterinarian and found he had dangerous hips. It damage him to leap. A conduct can be emotionally aversive. If a automobile journey at all times means a visit to the vet, your canine might turn out to be very reluctant to leap into the automobile. Your problem is to make automobile rides persistently predict “good stuff” – a hike within the woods, a visit his favourite canine pal for a play session, or? If he’s refusing to enter his crate as a result of he has gentle separation misery and associates crating with you leaving, alleviate the separation distress by conduct modification (and presumably applicable medicines), and then persuade him that crating is fantastic.

Does he not perceive? You might have taught him to reply to a cue for the specified conduct, however maybe you’ve used physique language prompts previously with out realizing it, and now, absent the immediate, he doesn’t perceive what you’re asking of him. Fade all prompts if you’d like him to reply reliably to verbal cues. Perhaps you’ve at all times skilled within the kitchen in entrance of the fridge, and so he thinks “Sit” means “Sit in the kitchen.” When you ask him to take a seat in the lounge, he doesn’t sit as a result of it’s not the kitchen. He’s not being cussed – he wants you to assist him generalize his conduct so he understands that “Sit” means to place his tail on the bottom wherever you ask him to do it. Even your tone of voice can matter. If you often give cues with a cheerful voice however your personal emotional state causes your voice to sound totally different, he might not perceive.

Is he distracted? If you haven’t generalized your canine’s conduct to distracting environments, his consideration will naturally be drawn to the multitude of thrilling issues occurring round him. He’s not ignoring you; he most likely isn’t even listening to you as a result of he’s so centered on the fascinating world round him. Help him hear and reply to your conduct requests by coaching in varied environments with steadily rising distractions.

Is he pressured? “Stressed” is a good greater problem than “distracted.” When stress occurs, the pondering a part of the mind (the cortex) shuts down and the emotional a part of the mind (the amygdala) takes over. We even have phrases within the English language to explain this phenomenon: “I was so scared I couldn’t think straight.” “I was out of my mind with worry.” When your canine is so pressured he can’t suppose straight, it’s unfair in charge him for not doing what you ask. Relieve his stress (take away him from the stressor, and/or do conduct modification to vary his affiliation with the stressor) and check out once more.

Your relationship together with your canine might be a lot happier while you cease characterizing him as cussed and notice how one can assist him be extra conscious of your conduct requests. Now get busy serving to him need to do what you need him to do.

Featured photograph: Christine McCann/Getty Images

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