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.
Dog Behavior Problems
Dog owners frequently misunderstand or improperly address dog behavior issues. Perhaps you’ve never had a dog before, are considering getting one, or just want to help your dog get through a trying time. Understanding the most common concerns is the first step in solving and preventing dog behavior problems. A solid foundation of obedience training can help you be better able to avoid or handle many of these issues.
Dogs often bark, whine, and howl naturally. Dogs use vocalization to express themselves and communicate with people. Our dogs should occasionally bark to alert us to potential danger or to keep us safe. Other times, the barking is exaggerated and appears to be meaningless.
- Warning/Alert – A dog will typically bark when someone knocks on the door or when passing strangers in a car or house. The sound of this bark is typically crisp, loud, and authoritative, as if the dog were saying, “I’m here protecting this place so don’t mess with me.” Many dogs will bark in response to threats. Training can help you improve this instinct and keep your family and home safe.
- Anxiety – Many dogs appear to use anxious barking as a form of self-soothing. It frequently has a high pitch and occasionally includes whining. Dogs experiencing separation anxiety, anxieties, phobias, or other sorts of anxiety, frequently exhibit this type of barking.
- Attention-seeking – Most of the time, you will be able to interpret this bark. Other dogs may whine and bark simultaneously to get attention, almost in the manner of a whiny child.
- Playfulness/Excitement – This kind of barking is particularly prevalent among young dogs and pups. While interacting with people or other dogs, many dogs will bark. Even the bark tends to sound positive and even musical. When they realize they are about to go for a walk or ride in a car, some dogs will bark joyfully.
- Responding to Other Dogs – This situation is typical. One dog starts barking down the street, and one by one the rest on your block follows. It resembles a chaotic performance of Row Your Boat.
- Boredome – When a dog is bored, it sounds like she is only barking to hear her voice. It might be frustrating, but it can also be depressing. Dogs who are bored frequently bark to let out extra energy, and occasionally they bark because they are lonely. They typically require a hobby and sometimes even a friend.
All dogs naturally chew their food. In reality, chewing is a crucial habit for the majority of dogs; it’s just how they are wired. If your dog causes damage, though, excessive chewing can soon develop into a behavioral issue. The most frequent causes of dog chewing include:
- Puppies use their lips to investigate the surroundings, just like human infants do. They take anything and everything and chew it.
- Puppies also chew to ease the discomfort of teething.
- Some dogs find comfort in soothing. It aids in their self-calming.
- Dogs who chew are bored less.
- When dogs are anxious such as when they are separated from their owners, they will chew destructively.
- Another reason dogs chew on inappropriate objects is a lack of training.
It’s important to understand that dogs don’t chew intentionally. Dogs chew on inappropriate items since they don’t know any better, which can be frustrating for dog owners. Until you tell them otherwise, they don’t grasp how your favorite shoes vary from their favorite chew toy.
The need to dig is a pure instinct in dogs! Digging can be as entrenched in your dog as barking or smelling. The majority of the causes for your dog digging holes in your backyard are instinctual.
- Predatory Instincts – All dogs possess a hunting impulse, even the classic couch potatoes of the dog world. It explains why your dog enjoys chewing on their noisy toys and pursuing squirrels while out for a stroll. Your dog might hear and smell animals that are underground while they explore the yard. High-prey drive dogs, particularly terrier types, may start digging in the yard to get animals that they hear and smell.
- Storing Food and Objects – When it comes to food, bones, or even toys, some dogs may have a strong instinct to store them away. They act in this way because they have a natural inclination to conceal things for storage. It goes without saying that you do not want their beloved, heavily chewed-up Nylabone, but your dog is unaware of this. Your dog simply understands how much he or she cherishes the Nylabone and doesn’t want anyone else to possess it. As a result, a dog can begin making holes that it uses to bury a bone or toy.
- Temperature Regulation – Anyone who has ever been inside an underground cave knows that even only a few feet below ground, it may be substantially cooler. Your dog might dig up your yard to reach some cooler soil on a very hot day so that he or she can lie down there. Nordic breeds, like Malamutes, Huskies, and Elkhounds, have a specific propensity for digging in the ground to cool off.
- Stress and Anxiety – When they are agitated or anxious, dogs often engage in a number of basic displacement behaviors. A stressed-out dog may start digging rapidly in an effort to get away from whatever is making them feel so afraid if they are pushed past a certain level. This is applicable even if the apparent threat isn’t actually there. You might not be able to entirely stop your dog from digging because it has a strong instinct to do so. Instead, the majority of behaviorists and trainers concur that it’s important to address the problems that can trigger your dog to dig in the first place and to offer more suitable outlets for their digging.
4. Inappropriate Elimination
Peeing in the house, or “inappropriate urination,” is a very common problem with dogs, although it’s often dealt with when they are puppies. If your dog is still a puppy, housebreaking may not be finished. It may take some time to house train a dog, and you might need to go over the procedures as you go.
- Urinary Tract Issues – A urinary tract infection may be the reason why your dog has suddenly started urinating within the house or in other unfavorable locations. This is one of the most frequent causes of untimely urination in dogs as well as one of their most common health issues.
- Incontinence – Although urinary incontinence is frequently linked with older dogs, it can also occur in young adults. If your dog occasionally leaks or dribbles or leaves urine puddles in the bed or on the floor when napping, incontinence may be to blame. It’s crucial to understand that if your dog is incontinent, they have no awareness of it and no control over it. Fortunately, a medicine may occasionally be used for urinary incontinence.
- Health Problems – Health conditions like diabetes, Cushing’s disease, and kidney disease can all contribute to urinary difficulties. Your dog may be in pain when getting up to go outdoors for potty breaks due to arthritis, joint problems, or other conditions. Depending on your dog’s other symptoms, your veterinarian may suggest additional diagnostic tests to rule out one or more disorders. (if any). The diagnosis will dictate the course of treatment.
- Aging Dogs – Despite being familiar with the house, puppies may still have accidents as they get older. Aging dogs may develop forms of dementia or senility, which can result in house soiling. These dogs could forget how to use the bathroom or even just where they are.
Although it’s a negative behavior, many dog owners actively promote begging. Obesity and digestive issues may result from this. Dogs are begging because they enjoy food. Table scraps, however, are not treats, and eating is not a sign of love. Yes, it can be challenging to resist that tearful glance, but eventually giving in “just this once” leads to a problem. You are sending the wrong message to your dog when you let him practice begging.
Tell your dog to go to its spot before you sit down to eat, preferably somewhere it can’t look at you. Keep your dog in another room, if necessary. Give it a special treat just after you and your family have finished all of your food if it behaves.
Simply said, a dog’s propensity to chase moving objects is an expression of their predatory nature. Most dogs like chasing other dogs, people, and moving vehicles. All of these have the potential to have harmful and disastrous results. You may take precautions to avoid tragedy even though you might not be able to stop your dog from wanting to chase.
Keeping the chase under control will increase your chances of success. Your dog will learn to focus on you before running off with consistent training throughout the course of his life.
7. Jumping Up
In dogs, jumping up is a typical and natural behavior. Puppies leap up to their mothers to meet them. Later, when welcoming someone, they might leap up. Dogs can jump up when they are excited or trying to get something from a person’s hands. A jumping dog can be inconvenient or even harmful.
There are numerous ways to keep a dog from jumping, but not all of them work. In rare circumstances, lifting a knee, gripping the paws, or pushing the dog away may be effective, but for the majority of dogs, doing so conveys the wrong message. Since jumping up is frequently an attention-seeking habit, any praise for your dog’s behaviors will reinforce the behavior right away.
The best course of action is to simply ignore your dog and turn away. If necessary, go forward. Don’t speak to, pet, or establish eye contact with your dog. Carry on with your tasks. Reward him reassuringly when he settles down and keeps still. Your dog will quickly understand the message.
Dogs typically bite people when they feel some sort of threat. Domesticated dogs nevertheless exhibit this innate instinct. It’s important that everyone who deals with dogs is aware of the possible causes of this aggressive behavior.
- When defending itself, its territory, or a fellow canine, a dog may bite. A mother dog will defend her young with aggression.
- A dog may bite if you disturb it by waking it up or suddenly approaching it from behind.
- Even when playing, running away from a dog might result in a bite. Running away could set off an act of herding or predatory pursuit in some breeds, or the dog can think it’s amusing.
- Anyone who approaches a dog that is in a scared condition risks getting bitten. A circumstance like this could be something serious, like being abused or abandoned on the side of the road, or it could be something you would consider commonplace, like a loud noise.
- Injuries and illnesses are additional frequent causes. A dog may not even want to be approached or touched by its favorite people if it is uncomfortable or in pain.
The most important thing to remember is that until you understand the cause of your dog’s behavior, you cannot develop a plan to change it. The most typical forms of dog aggression include:
- Territorial aggression – The dog guards its territory or your home against anybody or anything it sees as an outsider.
- Protective Aggression – Aggression is used to defend members of the pack from another animal or a person. Mother dogs are fiercely protective of their pups and may turn aggressive if someone approaches them.
- Possessive Aggression – When a dog exhibits possessive aggression, it defends food, chew toys, bones, or other valuables. Sometimes this is referred to as resource guarding.
- Fear Aggression – In a frightening circumstance, the dog tries to run away but attacks when cornered out of fear.
- Defensive Aggression – The dog attacks in defense of something rather than fleeing, which is similar to fear aggression. Before biting, these dogs typically gave other, more subdued signals that they wanted to be left alone, such as turning their heads away.
- Social Aggression – In social settings, the dog exhibits hostile behavior toward other dogs. Inadequate socialization of dogs with humans and other canines might result in aggressive behavior.
10. Eating Poop
Dogs eat their waste for a variety of reasons; it may even be a typical (albeit unpleasant to us) dog behavior. Young dogs may imitate their mother after watching her clean them, which causes them to eat excrement. Your dog might even consume feces out of fear if he’s worried about the consequences. Your dog might simply be interested, though. He might wonder what the feces taste like after smelling particular scents in them.
Eating excrement can also be a natural response to a nutrient need. Feed your dog a balanced diet, such as Hill’s Science Diet, to absolutely rule out starvation as the cause of his waste eating. Particularly if your dog is losing weight, consult a veterinarian.
It might be difficult to train a stubborn dog, but with patience and determination, positive results are possible. Instead of punishing bad behavior, the objective is to apply positive reinforcement tactics that reinforce good behavior. It’s important to develop and stick to defined standards and boundaries since consistency is also essential.