Is The Dog Stubborn, Or The Human?

img_2840People refer to their dogs as “stubborn” on a daily basis. “My dog won’t come when called” or “When I tell my dog to do something he just looks at me and does the opposite.”

A dog that is coming off as stubborn is actually a dog that is either unmotivated or has no idea what is being asked. There are a couple ways to motivate your dog. One way is to use stuff that your dog likes. The other is to use stuff that your dog doesn’t like. My recommendation is to provide things your dog likes when he does stuff you like and to takeaway things that your dog likes when he does things that you dislike. This is a pretty simple formula.

Humans often use the term, “stubborn” when their dog won’t do something they ask. This is especially true when their dog has successfully done the behavior on cue in the past. What’s the difference this time? The difference this time is the human isn’t providing any motivation. Dogs, like any other animal, need motivation to do behaviors. This is where the “stubborn human” part comes into play. In a lot of situations the human has the mentality that the dog has done it before so he should do it again, or that the dog should do it because they said so. Neither of these will lead to the results that you want. In fact, what it will lead to is frustration.

So how do we get our dogs to listen to us without it being a “power struggle?”

The easiest answer is to teach your dog how to do the things you’d like and to have a treat bag on you full of treats your dog enjoys. This is a way to reward the behaviors you ask for. If your dog knows that rewards come from the behaviors you ask then you have a motivated dog. A motivated dog is the exact opposite of a “stubborn” dog. You’ll also want to get rid of any thoughts of fading treats. Yes, you can get dogs to respond to multiple behaviors in a row for a reward, but a reward is still necessary. As soon as a dog sees that a behavior has no good consequence, you’ll see less of that behavior. This will lead to a dog that doesn’t do what you ask and you’re back in the same boat as you started.

Without going on forever about this, if you get on board and stay very consistent with rewarding behaviors, you’ll find that the instances where your dog appears to be stubborn are few and far between. This will lead to less of a power struggle and more a happier, less stressful life with your dog.

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Positively Expert: Kevin Duggan

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio , where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC.


2 thoughts on “Is The Dog Stubborn, Or The Human?

  1. Amber Leavis

    What do you do if your dog has a beagle mentality and hones in on the distraction? I have used treats (high value and regular treats), toys, and even waved my hand in front of my dog to catch his attention and bring him back into focus but he doesn't respond. Any suggestions?

  2. Andi Rawson

    I get what he's saying but beagle's are stubborn. I have my second one and he's no different. I've had him stop in the middle of the road and shake his head out of his collar (he wears a harness now) because he apparently didn't want to walk any further. He only responds to treats inside the house. If we're outside it's usually a no-go, his nose takes over.

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