Knowing how to train a stubborn dog is very challenging. It will test your patience and push you to the brink of giving up. Still, there’s a workaround to break through your strong-willed canine. Taking it slow and rewarding small wins will encourage the dog to follow more commands. Being consistent and in control of the environment will give you better chances of succeeding in your training drill.
Below, I discussed more tips that also came handy when training Sherlock when he’s still a feisty puppy:
Dog defiant behavior
Almost all dogs will have some form of behavioral problems at some point. One of the notorious is defiance and stubbornness, especially during training. Dog owners have to correct this through proper and holistic training. In some instances, a dog’s defiant behavior will require the help of a professional pet trainer.
Defiance is a sign of a lack of training. It will also make training efforts challenging for owners. If the dog is still a puppy, it will be more stubborn and playful. It’s the reason why most dog owners will stall or even stop training totally.
However, veterinarians also warn about hyperactive and excitable dogs. Canines with this behavior get easily distracted and overstimulated by external elements. While this behavior will usually subside as the pup grows older, failure to train will lead to a stubborn adult pooch.
Moreover, dogs in the scent hound group will be more stubborn than other breeds during training. The likes of Beagles and Basset Hound always have their noses on the ground. And once they detect a scent, they will commit to it and follow the scent around.
Aside from that, you should also factor in the possibility that your dog is under-stimulated. This means that the stubbornness roots from the lack of exercise and mental stimulation. In this case, your dog’s stubborn behavior can be fixed through a long walk or more playtime.
After the extra energy has been drained, you can start training. However, avoid draining your dog, or it will just go to sleep. Instead, burn some of its energy enough to make it food-driven while remaining responsive to your commands.
8 tips in training a stubborn dog
Training a stubborn dog is no walk in the park. To make it more worthwhile, here are some of the tips I recommend:
1. Patience is indeed a virtue
When it comes to stubborn dogs, patience is your number one advantage. Not all dogs are the same, especially in terms of intelligence level. Some canines are lauded for their brilliance, while others need more push to learn a trick or two.
Remember that dogs are not humans. They need someone who will be patient enough to get past their defiant and stubborn behavior. If this is your first time dealing with a strong-willed canine, you can try different methods and see which works best for your pet.
2. Use a variety of rewards
One mistake that dog owners make is using the same reward over and over again. When it comes to stubborn dogs, you need to switch between different treats and forms of reward. For example, if you gave beef-flavored treats yesterday, consider tuna-flavored next week. This way, your stubborn dog will have something to look forward to.
Aside from food, you can also use praises and affection as rewards. These additional rewards will also help form the bond between you and your doggo.
3. Remove the distractions
Distractions can easily distract a stubborn dog. So before you start the training, remove any object that may catch its attention. If you have a scent hound, make sure that there’s no smelly stuff that may distract it mid-training.
I also recommend starting in a small room before proofing the command outdoors. This way, your dog will absorb the commands slowly. From there, you can introduce distractions.
4. Stay consistent
If there’s one important thing when it comes to training a stubborn dog, it would be consistency. Otherwise, your doggo will forget about the progress and defeat all your efforts.
Always use the same cues and do not let any negative response slip. Remember that dogs take a cue from the personality of their owners. If training is erratic, unsure, and violent, your stubborn dog is less likely to learn.
I suggest coming up with a training plan and a schedule that your stubborn dog will soon get used to. Remember that inconsistency can break the confidence of your doggo.
5. Repetition is the key
Repetition is necessary to ‘proof’ the command to your stubborn dog. Unlike other canines, your pooch will need more practice to recall the command properly.
However, you should be mindful of the repetitions. Avoid overkilling the training, or your dog will get tired of it. I usually perform 3 to 5 repetitions then let my dog be. This way, my pet will be excited every time I practice the trick and give some treats.
6. Be proactive
Training a stubborn dog requires a proactive approach instead of reactive. Instead of just reacting to what your dog does, you must anticipate it ahead. This will give you time to prevent any distractions or problems that will stall the training session.
For example, if your dog loves barking, distract it right away before it lets out the first woof. By addressing potential problems early, your dog will not think of it as acceptable behavior.
7. Keep the sessions short
As much as you want to speed up the training, I recommend keeping every session short. Once your dog does the command 3 to 5 times in a row, it’s time to stop. Repeat it again after a few hours so your dog won’t get too tired of what the training session. A two-minute practice five times a day is better than a ten-minute, lone session.
However, never end the training on a bad note. Always wait for some level of success before letting your dog go away.
8. Don’t let your emotions get in the way
One of the mortal sins of training a stubborn dog is letting your emotions reign. Sure, dealing with a stubborn dog might be frustrating, but you should never shout or hurt your pet physically.
Don’t let your anger and irritation get in the way of training your stubborn dog. Instead of shrilling at the top of your lungs to get your dog’s attention, I recommend a calm and sure attitude. The kind that will make your dog look up to you as the alpha.
If your dog does something right, reward it right away and praise it calmly. Don’t interrupt with sheer excitement because it will make your dog fly off the handle.
Why is my old dog getting stubborn?
An old dog may appear stubborn due to old age, poor hearing, and difficulty moving. Sometimes, your senior canine doesn’t ignore or defy you. It just happens that they are too frail to follow the command. Most senior dogs will experience a decline in physical and mental function, which is entirely normal.
However, if you suspect that there’s more to it than old age, you can always call the veterinarian. Record your stubborn dog’s symptoms for easier diagnosis.
Overall, you should be patient with an old dog. Senior canines get confused all the time, and they may have less interest in training than younger ones. You may also notice pacing, vocalization, and wandering. All of these may seem stubborn, but it’s just your furry guy succumbing to old age.
Dog training is challenging, but knowing how to train a stubborn dog is something else. You have to stretch your patience and consistency to ensure that your doggo will grow up to be a well-rounded canine. Sometimes, it takes more practice and patience for a dog to learn a new trick. And like what I said, each dog is different so never compare your pet’s progress to others.