Is my dog being stubborn ?

“Your dog is stubborn ! – Just make them do it!”

I started to do this as a Monday ‘mythbuster’, but it got a little long, so I decided on a blog post instead.

For those of you who don’t follow my Facebook page (@canineclicks), I have started a series of short blogs / posts debunking some of the dog training advice I have been hearing recently. If you wanted to add your experience to the mix for future posts please pop on over.

Anyway, I digress, todays training advice ‘myth’ is that dogs can be stubborn and if they don’t do a certain behaviour, that we should make them.

Anyone remember the days where we taught a ‘sit’ by pushing bums on the floor? Or, if our dogs showed fear about something, we should make them do it anyway? For example, if they are scared of something on the street, just drag them past until they get used to it?

Dogs don’t do stubborn ! – but it would be a pretty short blog if I stopped there, so let me explain a little more.

Dogs live in the moment – if something feels good, they do it, the flip side of this is that if it worries them or they haven’t been properly trained how to – they don’t do it.

Because dogs can’t talk in the traditional sense, they show us how they are feeling with their body language.

Picture the scene, a young puppy, who has only recently started going for walks, is taken out on the day the bins are collected. The bins are a new sight and smell in their small world. They may, at first, be a little afraid and dig their heels in, ears back, looking to their owner for help.

If we give them the time to decide themselves that the bins aren’t big scary monsters, they will in all likelihood decide to carry on their walk after a few seconds – a little praise/ reward here for being brave is a good thing.

If, however, we believe that the puppy is being stubborn and drag them past the bin anyway, what are we telling them ?  Are we communicating that we can’t be trusted to ‘listen’ to them ? Not ‘listening’ to our dogs can have implications further down the line – they may just stop trying, or, we may end up with a dog who is fearful of more things and has to start using more forceful ways to avoid them.

Put it another way – if you were terrified of spiders and your much bigger friend dragged you into a room full of tarantulas, would you trust and like that friend a little bit less? Would you be as likely to trust them in the future ?

Remember, “dogs do talk, but only to those who know how to listen”. Trust your dog and work with them, using positive reinforcement, to help them learn, and, if needs be, overcome their fears.

If you would like help really communicating to your dog please get in touch.