Stubborn dogs are a handful, and training them can be frustrating–you would want to give up as you are on the losing end of the battle. But maybe they are not really stubborn; they are just untrained or not trained well.
If you are one of the many pet owners who struggle to train their dog, don’t give up. Even for the most challenging dogs, there’s still hope. If you have a stubborn dog, maybe you just need to change your approach to training. Here are five training strategies that work for any dog.
The Importance of Taking Small Steps
You can start by working with your dog on familiar or favorite behaviors. Reward them, even for minor successes, to create a positive association with training. You need to establish that training is a good thing; once your dog understands that, take small steps. Change only one area at a time. For example, if you want to train your dog to sit, focus on that until your dog has mastered it. Then add a bit of distraction, like a radio or television, or another person. It’s important to take your time. Your dog is likely to give up if training gets too hard.
Step #1: Control the environment
Teaching your dog in a calm setting can set your training sessions up for success. Take precautions to help your dog stay focused during training sessions. Choose any area as long as it’s distraction-free. If you plan to train outside, take extra precautions by keeping your dog on a leash or inside a fenced area. Even the best-behaved dog can be tempted by a cat.
Step #2: Consistency is key
Your dog may give the impression of being stubborn when he’s really just confused. Why? Unintentionally, you or other members of the family may be asking for the same behavior in different ways and rewarding different behaviors. Your dog will likely do what he’s asked to do if everyone who spends time with your dog uses a consistent set of commands and cues; and offers consistent rewards. So, the next time you teach your pooch to sit when greeting people, ensure that other members of the family aren’t encouraging or allowing your dog to jump up on them as they walk through the front door.
Also, bear in mind that dogs simply learn by doing. Oftentimes, simple commands like “come” get brushed off. Why do you think that is? Commands that are being repeated with no response will certainly reinforce them to snub your commands. Keep in mind that dogs learn by means of association. To encourage your dog to create the associations you want, ensure that you work with them consistently and thoughtfully.
Step #3: Avoid punishment
Punishment causes your dog to develop anxiety and distrust in you. This can lead to a higher risk of aggression in the long term. The most effective way to train a dog is the reward-based approach that focuses on giving a dog the things he likes, such as treats, petting, and play, when he follows a command in the desired manner. Redirect your dog to more acceptable behavior and offer them a reward for that, rather than incorporating punishment for unwanted behavior.
Step #4: Choose the right rewards
Make desired behaviors highly rewarding for your dog. Your dog’s response to training will likely suffer if rewards are infrequent or of low value to them. By increasing the value and number of rewards, your dog’s response often improves dramatically along with his behavior. Different dogs like different things. So, you need to figure out what your dog loves most; and offer that in exchange for good behavior.
Step #5: Create a training routine
Training done inconsistently is ineffective. It achieves nothing but frustrations. Training should be part of your daily routine. Engage your dog in short training sessions throughout the day to reinforce wanted behavior.
Just as all humans are not perfect, your dog doesn’t need to be faultless at everything, too–just the things that matter to you! There’s no point doing the whole nine yards training behaviors that are irrelevant in your life. Focus on the behaviors and skills that are relevant and train them consistently. Ensure your dog has a profound understanding of the skills you are trying to train. Be sure that you teach them across different locations and through different distractions. That way, your dog will be trained in the skills and behavior important to you.
When in doubt about your training skills, call a dog trainer. If you are still confused about why your dog behaves in a certain way, maybe it’s time you consult a qualified professional to help you out. One common mistake in pet owners is that we often assume we know our dogs so well. Well, that may be true sometimes, but assuming we know our dogs well is often wrong. See, we tend to implement human emotions rather than animal behavior. So it’s smart to ask for help from a professional dog trainer so they can properly diagnose your dog and apply the right solution.