Is my dog stubborn? 💭

Is my dog stubborn? 💭

Stubborn
[stuh·bn] adjective

having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.
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This ⬆️ here is the one word we hear the most.  My dog is stubborn.  As soon as a dog doesn't do something they're asked, we immediately think they are being stubborn.
🐕 My dog doesn't come when called
🐕 When I tell my dog to do something and they look at me and do the complete opposite

But are they actually being stubborn?  In order for a dog to be stubborn they must first completely understand what is being asked of them and then choose not to listen.

So can you tell me for certain your stubborn dog is deliberately choosing not to listen to you? 
Let's break this down a little further...
While it could be true that your dog may be choosing not to listen to you.  Let's think about what you're asking of them.
💭 What (what are you asking of them)
- has your dog practiced the command before?
- has your dog practiced the command multiple times with multiple distractions?
- has your dog practiced the command in new environments?
You'll notice PRACTICE was mentioned in each one of these statements - when you say "my dog knows it" it's different at home vs. the dog park
However if you say yes to all those above let's think about...

🤔 Why (why would they do the command)
- Is there a reward or possible punishment?
- Is the reward high value enough for the current situation?
- Do they feel safe?
So let's try these questions in real life - one we hear multiple times per day,
"My dog won't come when called".
 
What:
- Have you practiced the foundations of coming when called?  Have you practiced it with distractions? Have you practiced it in different environments? aka. front yard vs. back yard or dog park.
Why:
- Are they going to be rewarded when they come or possibly punished?  Is the reward higher than the distractions? Is it safe to come to you?

Not coming back at the dog park is also one we hear a lot.
"My dog won't come at the dog park"
Well why would they? They're having tons of fun playing and sniffing and usually when you call them it means they're leaving (they make this association very quickly!).
Come usually becomes a bad word for most dogs, it means the fun is over, and more times then not they get in trouble (i.e. You've called them to come 10 times, you're getting impatient and once they finally come, you leash them and leave without any reward at all).
So the next time at the dog park when you call your dog to come they are not choosing not to come for no reason, "come" has now become a bad association for them.

🔨 How to fix it:
- Treats, treats and more high value rewards!  And not regular treats, super high value treats!
- Practice, practice and more practice!
Start inside the house, no distractions with treats like cheese or chicken, or hotdogs or whatever you need to use that is special for your dog).
Simply be next to your dog and say "come" once - give a treat for nothing. Yes it should feel like you're rewarding nothing at this point.
As they start to show interest reward small improvements like eye contact.  Remember to only repeat the command once, then give the treat.
Once they are able to reliably come to you from another room in the house then you can move it outside to your backyard and do the same thing, lots of treats and practice with no distractions.
- Only once they're reliably looking at you and coming to you, then they ready to add in more distractions or a harder environment. It may not happen right away but even if you call them 10 times and they finally come you reward it!

So next time you want to say your dog is being stubborn, let's think about what is being asked of them and why they might want to do it!

Until next time,

🐾 Woofs & Wags
- Melissa & Oaklee 🐾
@unleashthepawsitive

Cute golden retriever puppy sitting on a beach

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