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Tuesday Training Byte: Dealing with a stubborn dog?

Dogs certainly have feelings and can sense our emotions. However, dogs lack the complex emotions of humans such as spite and stubbornness. Often I receive calls and the client describes their dog as stubborn. Dogs have been bred for generations to be companions that want to do man's bidding. Some breeds tend to be more aloof and independent than others which can be a bit more challenging for a novice trainer. Recently I had a red tick hound that refused to lay down. I tried different methods but the dog seemed reluctant. The dog as it turned out was a rescue that had a rear leg injury from being hit by a car. Here are a few ways to get your dog to eagerly comply: 1. Make the training session short and fun. Dogs have short attention spans and get bored easily. So long repetitions are counter productive. 2. Be sure to praise and/or reward the desired behavior. Even my competition obedience dogs will lose the desire to work if there is no "paycheck" such as a pat on the head coupled with praise, a quick game of fetch or a tasty treat. 3. Refrain from using pressure to get the dog into the desired position. Dogs have a tendancy to brace or push against pressure (except for the timid dog). That is one reason why pulling against a tight leash only gets the dog pulling harder. Pushing the rump into a sit or down on the shoulders to get him to lay down often results in the dog bracing. Instead, use your body language, hand gestures and food to lure the dog into position. 4. If the dog is not catching on to what you want, regroup to analyze how you can make it more clear. Dogs are experts at reading body language but not understanding English. Perhaps have the dog do something it already knows, then praise your dog and end the session. If you become frustrated, your dog may become anxious or stop trying. Have fun and enjoy your best friend! Pictured is my 8 month old pup in his second formal training session and I am smiling at him for his good attention.

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