You have no doubt at one time or another thought your dog was ignoring you! With so much information out there about dog training it is somewhat confusing to decipher what your dog is really thinking!
The REALITY is, dogs in many ways are just like kids. Some dogs will pick up things much quicker than other dogs and some will take additional repetitions. Often in my classes I will see a dog with a “wide mouth pant”, or “stop and sniff the ground” or “look away” from his/her owner, this is my cue to help the owner with their timing or body language as the dog is clearly becoming confused and often stressed.
Often times dog fail to learn a cue because the owners TIMING is off, even the slightest second can reward a dog for dropping a toy instead of picking it up! I know I have made this mistake myself!
When trainers say “reward the behavior you want”, this means over time! Please do not expect your dog to become consistent after one training session. Many people do not realize that dogs do not generalize well. For this reason we need to have them practice their behaviors in many different environments with a variety of distractions so their behaviors become automatic or spontaneous.
Always consider the “dogs point of view”, is there something scary about the environment? Often our dogs are distracted by the sounds, smells, and movements around them so they may have missed a cue. Does the dog have a positive association with his surroundings? Is the dog feeling well? Often dogs will sit at an angle to alleviate hip discomfort. Is your dog in conflict? You may be calling your dog, but the big black German Shepherd at the other end of the room already gave your pup the “look”, should he go to mom/dad and risk a reprimand or just stay where he is as it is safe!
When Annie did not want to heel for me on a street walk recently, I stopped and looked at her, knowing she was not being stubborn, I realized I was caring a full doggie poop bag with her leash. As soon as I moved the poop to the other hand, she resumed her place by my left side!
Another example, a client’s Jack Russell would not get in to her car anymore. She just ran around the car and refused to jump in as she had done for months. I asked her to drive her car out of the car port and ask her girl to get in, with no hesitation the Jack Russell jumped in the car like always. We realized on occasion she was receiving a shock from the wet floor. She was convinced her dog was Stubborn until we solved the mystery!
Finally, consider what motivates your dog. A recent client just installed an invisible fence and the dog is enjoying FREEDOM, rolling in the grass, sniffing, digging, peeing, you get the idea. Do you think the dog will come in? Come in from this new amazing freedom, in this context “come” is obviously a negative to the dog! But, if you reward your dog for coming in the house with a game of tug, belly scratch or cheese for a while then “come” becomes a positive!
So the next time you start to say your dog is STUBB…., stop and really ask your self why your dog is behaving the way he/she is, I am sure you will find a real reason!