Training a stubborn dog can be a daunting and challenging task.

Is your dog proving to be hard-headed?

Training a stubborn dog can be really frustrating. It requires a lot of patience and perseverance. You need to sacrifice a number of things including your time to put in more effort into training your stubborn puppy.

However, do not despair because all hope is not lost, fortunately, all dogs are people pleasers. They will do almost anything just to please their master.

Training a stubborn dog will not be a smooth sail but you will eventually manage to transform him into an obedient and polite pooch.

“My dog is so stubborn!” “He knows better, he’s just hard-headed.”

Usually, the owner who says these words is frustrated with his dog because the dog’s not listening. In my 15 years of training, I’ve not yet run into a stubborn or hard-headed dog. And I don’t think that’s because I’ve figured out how to screen the stubborn or hard-headed dogs out. I don’t think there are any out there.

What could people mean, then, when they say their dog is stubborn?

I think they think their dog is stubborn, but what they’re really seeing is an untrained dog.

They’ll say things like “He knows I asked him to sit. He’s just being stubborn because visitors are here.”
Nope, he’s not being stubborn – he’s too distracted. The environment is filled with lots more exciting things, sitting’s the last thing on the dog’s mind. That doesn’t mean he’s stubborn, that means you haven’t done your training. Yep, I’m putting this one squarely on the owner, not the dog.

Look, if it were that easy for the dog to sit, he’d go ahead and sit! 
It’s not like sitting is difficult or time-consuming. It’s pretty darn easy for a dog to do. So why wouldn’t the dog sit? Not hard-headedness, not stubbornness – it’s lack of training.

When I say lack of training, what I really mean is lack of training in the face of distractions. That’s usually what trips most dogs up, what gives them the label of stubborn and hard-headed.

Take my own dog, Nemo, as an example. He’s a puller on walks. He likes to go now, go fast, and go far. Logically, it would be much easier and more pleasant for him to walk on a slack leash. A tight leash is (1) a lot of work for the dog – he’s constantly pulling and (2) pretty uncomfortable – the leash is pushing against his trachea and neck muscles. Wouldn’t it be more comfortable for Nemo to slow down a bit and have a nice, enjoyable loose-leash walk? Well, yes, it probably would. So why, then, would Nemo still pull?

Must be because he’s stubborn. 
 Wrong. He’s excited. He’s over-threshold. Your dog can’t wait to find out what scent the next blade of grass holds. He wants to know which dog peed on the neighbor’s mailbox. He can’t wait to add his own scent. In short, he’s awfully excited to be out on a walk.

He’s far from stubborn or hard-headed. He’s flat out excited. Plain and simple.

But it’s much easier for me to blame Nemo, rather than put the blame where it belongs: on me. I need to spend a lot more time teaching Nemo that a slack leash is a way to get to that next blade of grass or to the neighbor’s mailbox.

What do you do if you think you have a stubborn dog?

Teach him! If you’ve got a stubborn dog who pulls on the leash, get some really good treats (chicken, steak, hot dogs, etc.) and cut them into pea-sized pieces.

  1. Take your clicker and these treats with you on your walk.
  2. When you step out the front door, wait for your dog to look back at you. Don’t say anything to him, just wait.
  3. The instant he looks in your direction, clicks and gives him a goodie.
  4. Take another few steps and stop. Wait for him to look in your direction, click, and treat.
  5. Next, take several steps and when the leash gets tight, stop. Just wait for your dog to turn to look in your direction before you click, treat, and begin to walk again.

Your dog will get the message that the walk will continue when he looks at you. He’ll start to look at you a lot and you’ll then click and treat a lot. When he’s looking at you, he’s probably not pulling on the leash. Voila – you’ve just taught your dog to walk nicely on a leash!

Now you’ve got to add in small distractions.

Make a list of the things that really interest your dog. For Nemo, it’s the smells that really draw him in. He loves to smell the ground, the bushes, the road. Those are Nemo’s distractions – your dog could really notice other dogs, kids on bicycles, joggers, whatever.

The key to success is to start where your dog notices the distraction but isn’t consumed by it.

If you need to walk 100 yards away from the distraction, that’s ok. You’re the teacher – you set up the environment so your dog can succeed. Click and treat every second your dog doesn’t react to the distraction.

If your dog has a problem with, say jumping on guests, put your dog on a leash before your visitors arrive. You can then prevent the dog from jumping by simply keeping him away from the guests and by asking him to sit.

Make sure he’s really good at sitting, though, without the distractions of the guests!
When no one’s at the door, ask him to sit, then open the door. Can your dog sit even when you open the door? If he can’t do it when no one’s there, he won’t be able to do it with actual guests on the front porch. He’s not stubborn, he just doesn’t know how to do it.

Here are easy steps to train a stubborn dog.

1. Timing is everything

You need to begin training your dog immediately you bring him home.

As the old saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure” it is better to “prevent” your dog from being stubborn other than to have to “cure” his stubbornness.

Immediately you begin to see signs of stubbornness in your dog, you need to train him using better and effective methods. Make sure to teach your dog all the basic commands right from the time you adopt him as a puppy.

2. Exercise some patience

Patience is a key ingredient when you are training a stubborn dog. This is even more crucial when you are trying to teach your stubborn puppy new skills.

Remember that all dogs require training. When you bring your puppy home, he has no clue whatsoever of any of your house rules.

Never shout at your dog however stubborn you think he is. This will only make matters even worse. Be patient during your training sessions and your dog will slowly begin to start listening and following your instructions.

3. Establish yourself as the Alpha

Every dog looks up to a leader. You need to establish yourself as his alpha.

Being his leader, you need to act like so. This should reflect in your actions. For instance, you should always lead your dog when you have taken him outdoors for a walk.

Many dog owners let their dog walk in front while tagging them by the leash. This should not be a position you should take as his alpha. Once you allow your dog to always have his way, he will develop a stubborn attitude. If he respects you as his alpha he will definitely obey your instructions.

4. Be clear in your communication

Sometimes you can never really blame your dog 100% for being stubborn. The double standards set by people in your household could be the reason why your dog acts in a way that may seem stubborn to you.

For instance, if you command your furry friend to sit and not jump on people or furniture and your spouse comes home from work and entertains the fact that your dog will jump all over him. This will confuse your dog on whether or not to jump on the furniture or even people?

You need to be clear on the kind of rules that you set in your house and make sure that everyone adheres to those rules including your canine friend.

5. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Repetition is for emphasis. When you are training a stubborn dog, you need to conduct your training in a serene and quiet environment.

Your home could be a good place to start if you can just get a room where it will just be the two of you. Set up your training sessions in a quiet place where it will be easy for your dog to concentrate and pay attention.

You will be forced to repeat the training sessions every day for at least thirty minutes to one hour for almost a week before your puppy can grasp what you teach him.

Obedience training is a vital aspect of managing a stubborn dog and it should be done repeatedly to transform his behavior.

6. Know your dog’s abilities

Every pet owner ought to know that all dogs have different capabilities just like we humans. Your dog will only do what he works for him. Therefore, you need to find out what your dog’s abilities are and know how best to reinforce them.

For instance, your dog will use his powerful sense of smell to go after a piece of meat in the kitchen and may not respond to your call. Such kind of behavior may seem rude and make you conclude that your dog is outright stubborn.

However, you can resist fighting his powerful nose and choose to let that fact work for you. Offer him a better piece of reward that will definitely make him to always want to come to you.

7. Use positive reinforcement

Dogs, just like kids like to be pampered and applauded for everything they get right.

Avoid scolding your dog or even shouting at your dog. Dogs do not understand 90% of the words that we speak especially when we are angry. To them, it sounds just as gibberish and they cannot make head or tail out of it.

However, positive reinforcement has been known to be very effective in training any dog including one that is stubborn.

Give your dog his favorite treat when he does your bidding. This will motivate your dog to even do better next time knowing that there is a treat in the offing.

Pat your dog gently on the back and give him a shower of praise, he will definitely want to impress you even more next time.

8. Understand that your dog is NOT stubborn

I know what you are probably saying by now, “You just haven’t met my stubborn dog!” Well, you have to actually know the rules before you can be accused of breaking them.

The reason why your dog might be acting “stubborn” could be because you haven’t probably done enough training on him.

Having unrealistic expectations of your dog will make you believe that your dog is just being hard headed.

Remember, just because your dog follows through with command once or twice it does not mean that he has understood and truly knows the command. Train your dog thoroughly and teach him all the basic commands.

9. Say his name before each command

Training a stubborn dog doesn’t have to be a hard task. Does your dog know his name? If not, you need to make him learn how to respond to his own name.

When you bring your canine friend home, you need to pick a name for him. Choose a name that is easy and unique. In order for your dog to easily identify himself with that name, the name chosen should not sound similar to other words.

Once you teach your dog his name, you then need to say his name before each command. This will make him give you his undivided attention.

10. Train on a leash

Is your dog so stubborn that he would just not stay still to the end of your training session?

Dogs are easily distracted and this could be the reason why he is acting stubborn. Put your dog on a leash so that you can easily control his movements.

Avoid a choking collar as this is likely to irritate him even more. Be firm with him and let him follow you as his alpha.

Give him his favorite treat if he stops tugging the leash and follows what you want him to do. This will make him feel even more motivated to stay calm to the end of the training session.

11. Keep Practicing

Make training a habit. This will help your dog to continuously learn how to behave. As already mentioned before, your dog might not be stubborn it might just be lack of proper and consistent training.

Keep practicing and teaching him the various basic commands and he will eventually transform into an obedient dog.

12. Seek professional help

If your dog persists on being “stubborn” you better seek professional help. There are professional dog trainers that can help you train a stubborn dog.

Check online for good dog trainers or you can even ask friends or family for a recommendation. Consult your local veterinary when you see that your dog is showing signs of aggression or excessive fear.

Your dog’s stubbornness may be caused by other factors beyond your control like genes. Your vet will help you find out some of these things and may even be able to recommend a professional dog trainer to help you train your stubborn dog.

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In a nutshell, dog training is an enjoyable activity that every dog owner ought to delight in. This is the time you get to bond with your puppy and even get to discover more about each other.

Learning how to train a stubborn dog can be quite challenging but it is very possible to transform his behavior. Remember to invest in your dog’s favorite treats and toys.

Dogs like to be rewarded and praised and your stubborn dog is no exception. Give him a treat when he behaves well and this will motivate him to always do good to impress you. Positive reinforcement has always been an effective way to train your dog.

Denisse Donnelly
Denisse Donnelly
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