The Stubborn Dog – Whole Dog Journal


I cringe at any time when I hear somebody check 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 once they aren’t doing what we ask, they’ve a superb 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 the right way to get our canine to need to do what we wish 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 nowadays of a extra enlightened canine coaching philosophy, this coercive method isn’t what many people need with our canine. We want relationships primarily based on a cooperative partnership.

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

Are you coaching competently? Remember, canine shouldn’t must 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 helpful sufficient that your canine will eagerly supply 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 in regards to the conduct? Years in the past, my first Pomeranian, Dusty, began refusing jumps after 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 unhealthy hips. It damage him to leap. A conduct can be emotionally aversive. If a automobile journey all the time means a visit to the vet, your canine may 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 via conduct modification (and probably 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 up to now with out realizing it, and now, absent the immediate, he doesn’t perceive what you’re asking of him. Fade all prompts if you need him to reply reliably to verbal cues. Perhaps you’ve all the time educated 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 normally 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 targeted on the fascinating world round him. Help him hear and reply to your conduct requests by coaching in numerous environments with progressively rising distractions.

Is he confused? “Stressed” is an excellent greater problem than “distracted.” When stress occurs, the considering 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 confused he can’t assume straight, it’s unfair guilty 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 along with your canine shall be a lot happier once you cease characterizing him as cussed and understand how one can assist him be extra conscious of your conduct requests. Now get busy serving to him wish to do what you need him to do.

Featured photograph: Christine McCann/Getty Images

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