There is no truly disobedient dog, just owners that haven’t been shown how to help them understand or feel motivated. Dogs become disobedient as they become more independent. This is because our increasing expectations of them are often coupled with a failure to provide effective motivation for the behavior we want to see. We forget to take our dogs through the stage where they are trained to respond to us in lots of different scenarios, not just the simple ones they learned the initial cue in.
- Why is my dog disobedient?
- When puppies forget their training
- The death of dominance
- Independence vs rewards
Ever been embarrassed by your dog in public? Does your puppy want to go home with everyone else but you? Does he behave perfectly at home, when no-one can see him, then seem to go deaf when visitors come around or when you are out in the park? You aren’t alone, and I can help!
How disobedience begins
It is very common for new dog owners to get off to a great start with training their puppies, then find it all falls apart when he gets to 8 or 9 months old.
He starts ignoring them, running off, playing with other dogs, jumping all over people, disobeying commands that he knows perfectly well.
Just to add insult to injury, at this point in his life, he may also start nipping and jumping at his owner. Because of his increasing size and strength, this rough behavior can be quite intimidating.
And because of his age it isn’t surprising that many people put it down to either ‘adolescence’ or ‘dominance’, and react by ‘toughening up’ with their puppy. After all, this dog is just becoming mature. Surely he now needs to be firmly put in his place? But wait!
Why is my dog disobedient?
When a dog starts disobeying a previously understood command, it is only reasonable to ask why.
There are several possible explanations for this naughtiness.
- deliberately defying you
- forgotten his training
- not be as well trained as you thought
My dog knows commands but won’t obey!
Many dog owners feel that their dog is deliberately defying them. He is choosing to be disobedient. This is understandable when he has been taught what to do and then completely ignores them.
Defiance is often attributed to adolescent hormones. The cute puppy from just a few weeks back, is turning into a rebellious teenager. Isn’t he?
Well, we are going to come back to this in a moment. But first there are other possibilities that we need to consider.
The puppy who forgets his training
If it has been a while since you last spent time actually training, it is possible that your disobedient puppy has forgotten what he was taught. This doesn’t mean he is stupid. Far from it.
All it means is that the training was not practiced often enough or for long enough, for it to become an ‘automatic’ response.
If you don’t have much time for training, especially if you tend to cram all your attention on your dog into weekends and don’t do much during the week, this is a distinct possibility. It’s easily done. We all lead busy lives.
Helping your puppy learn to obey
The best way to remedy this is to fit short little training sessions to something else that you do as a habit each day.
You could do a short training session while you wait for the kettle to boil for your morning coffee for example. Or plan to spend five minutes training your puppy immediately after cleaning your teeth.
One thing is certain, if you want your puppy to respond to your commands, you need to practice regularly.
For most of us though, it isn’t a case of the puppy forgetting his training, so let’s look at the other options
The puppy who is over-excited
Another possibility is that you are trying to train your puppy when he is so over excited that he cannot respond to anything around him.
This is called being over the threshold. And it is one of the most common problems for people trying to train dogs of between six and twelve months old.
You need to tackle this issue if it is affecting you, because no matter how much time and energy you put into your dog, you cannot train your puppy effectively until he is under threshold. The link at the beginning of this section will help you with this.
Infrequent training, and trying to train a puppy that is over-excited are often both just a small part of a bigger problem. We’ll look at that next.
The puppy whose training is incomplete
By far and away the most likely explanation for a puppy or dog that is becoming disobedient, is that the dog is actually not as well trained as his owner thinks he is.
In other words, the training process has stalled, or broken down completely.
It can be hard to hear, but the truth is, many people think that they have trained their dog, when they have barely started the process.
If that includes you, don’t panic. As for all other training issues, the answer is to go read up on the principles of successful training, then go back to a point where everything was working, then move forwards armed with the knowledge that will enable you to succeed.
Your puppy is not defying you
I will also add at this point, the first of our possibilities – defiance – is actually almost never what is going on.
You don’t need to worry about your puppy defying you, he really isn’t. Dogs do what they are motivated to do, and what they have been trained to do.
Defiance is a very human behavior. Usually part of a complex strategy which involves consciously weighing up options and making a decision in order to manipulate others both in the present and the future. It is often part of a struggle to gain or regain control.
That brings us to the whole dominance issue. Is your puppy trying to rise above you in status now that he is becoming mature?
Is he defying you because he wants to be in charge? It sounds possible doesn’t it? And for many of us, it’s quite a scary thought!
Is my puppy becoming dominant?
It used to be thought, that dogs reaching maturity may seek to exert their dominance over their owners, and refuse to comply with commands as a way of displaying their status. A sort of “I’m in charge now!” approach.
The response to this belief was to attempt to pull rank over the dog. Using a process known as ‘rank reduction’. In other words, we had to make sure our dog knew we were the pack leader, or dominant member of the family. Or he might take over as ‘Boss’.
Over the last few decades a number of studies have shown that dominance theories are deeply flawed.
We now know that although dogs will fight to get what they need when resources (food etc) are scarce, they are rarely interested in gaining control over others in any kind of general sense.
Dogs do what works for them in the here and now.
Disobedience is about training
Trainers all over the world are moving away from the methods founded on the dominance and pack leader theories that were once so widespread, though there are still a few trainers that practice ‘rank reduction’ techniques.
Fortunately we now know that there is no need for you to worry about dominance. Your dog’s disobedience is highly unlikely to be connected in any way with a need to take over the world, or even your small corner of it.
So if dogs are not defying us, and if our dogs are not trying to take control, why are so many dogs so naughty!
Well there is good news and there is good news. The first bit of good news is that it’s not your dog’s fault. Your dog isn’t actually naughty at all. He just isn’t trained yet.
Even better is the news that your disobedience problems can all be solved by training. That’s right, ALL of them.
No bad dogs
There are actually no bad dogs. Just badly trained ones.
This can be a little tough to take on board because it means you, and not your dog, are responsible for how he is behaving. And that can hurt.
But dust down your pride, because things are about to get better. The great thing is that you can fix this!
All you need to do is arm yourself with some important information, then set aside a little time each day to train your dog
Let’s give you the information you need. Let’s get down now, to the real cause of disobedience.
Why dogs are disobedient
It is very common for a breakdown in trained behaviors to occur at exactly the time the dog is reaching maturity
When training breaks down at this age, towards the end of the first year, there are several key factors involved.
The increasing independence of the dog, the increasing expectations of the owner, the diminishing returns for the dog, and the failure of the owner to carry out a programme of proofing.
That might sound like a lot to take on, but we’ll tackle each of these in turn.
Your puppy is growing up fast. When he was small you were his whole world. He only really felt safe when you were near.
As a young dog reaches maturity, he becomes less dependent on his owner for company and security.
He is happy to roam further afield and may be increasingly interested in hunting and exploring.
In other words, your puppy doesn’t depend on you so much. He wants to be off having fun like anyone who is leaving childhood behind.
Influencing your puppy
The further your dog is from you, the less influence you are likely to have over him, the less attention he is likely to pay to you.
The more time he spends at great distances from you, the more happy experiences and pleasure he will have there. This will confirm his suspicion that life might just be more fun without you hanging around
The owner who simply puts this down to ‘hormones’ or adolescence is going to be in trouble if he does not change his approach to his dog. Because whilst adolescence will pass, disobedience will not.
Your dog won’t suddenly start wanting to be with you again of his own accord, you are going to need to take steps to make that happen. That means interacting with your dog when you are out together, rather than just allowing him to amuse himself
But my dog doesn’t like me!
Most dog owners are suprised to learn that they need to actively ensure their puppy is motivated to interact and play with them.
They think this happens automatically when a dog and owner bond together.
Indeed, many dog owners assume that their puppy is now ignoring them, and doesn’t want to play with them, because he doesn’t like them very much.
This is not true at all. Though it can certainly seem that way
It’s just that he is finding you a bit boring. Again, if this is happening to you, don’t panic. We can fix this, but right now there are a few more issues to consider
Your expectations of your dog
As a dog passes from the cute puppy phase into gawky adolescence our attitudes towards him begin to change. His antics are no longer as appealing as they once were.
Jumping up is not longer sweet, its embarrassing. And with larger dogs may be positively dangerous. All of a sudden, manners start to matter.
Why don’t you grow up and behave!
The truth is, we expect a great deal more from a nine month old puppy than we did five months ago.
He looks like an adult, he weighs as much as an adult, and we want him to behave like an adult.
This change in attitude towards the puppy only serves to confirm his belief that you are becoming increasingly grumpy, and that he can have a lot more fun by himself, than he can if he hangs out with you.
Dogs who don’t deserve a reward
To add insult to injury, the naughty puppy may now find he is getting fewer rewards for good behavior than he did before!
After all, he doesn’t really deserve a reward does he?
You can see the beginnings of a downward spiral setting in here, with the naughty puppy becoming ever more naughty as we become less appealing to him. And as we make ourselves less and less appealing by withdrawing affection and rewards.
How to reward older puppies
We tend to reward small puppies a lot. We also tend to use valuable (to the dog) rewards such as food. Displays of affection tend to be enthusiastic and physical.
We cuddle, and pet puppies profusely.
As dogs grow up, we put aside these displays of affection, and leave the treats behind.
He’s a grown up dog now, and should behave himself for the joy of pleasing us.
Many people genuinely believe that adult dogs don’t need rewards, or at that they should be satisfied with a pat and a kind word.
But that is not how the world works.
The truth is we need to reward older puppies and adult dogs too!
Dogs need motivation
Dogs just like us, need motivation. That motivation comes in the form of rewards.
Your dog is not going to keep doing something that is not rewarding, any more than you are going to bang your head on a brick wall for ten minutes each morning.
But rewards can come from two very different sources
- Not you
At the same time as our dog’s need for security and reassurance is rapidly subsiding, and as we rapidly reduce the rewards we used to provide for being good, the dog is in a position to find his own rewards.
He is now happy to roam further afield, and when he does so he inevitably comes into contact with all kinds of rewards that we did not supply.
This is the worst thing that can happen to any animal / trainer relationship. Maintaining control of rewards is crucial to your success. All the rewards your dogs gets access to, should come from you or be under your control.
Why your dog won’t come back at the park!
Out in the countryside or at the park, there are butterflies to pursue, horse manure to eat, rabbits to chase, other dogs to annoy, and all manner of smells to investigate.
The outdoor world is a huge playground, and if you are not careful, your role in that playground increasingly becomes that of ‘spoil sport’ and ‘game-ender’
Remember, dogs, like people need motivation.
If being around you is as interesting as watching paint dry, your dog is going to take himself elsewhere. And if coming back to you always means ‘game over’ – your recall is going to suffer.
Taking control of rewards
If you want to train your dog to come back every time you call, you’re going to have to spend some time teaching him a really good recall, and maintaining it.
And the first step in training any skill is to get your dog focused on you.
You need to make being with you, and responding to you, more exciting for your dog. And to reinforce the behaviors you like from him, with rewards that he finds valuable.
In other words you need to take control of the rewards in his life.
That means two things
- Ensuring great rewards come from you
- Ensuring NO rewards come from anywhere else!
Rewards don’t have to be food. They can be all kinds of things, including access to fun activities. Read our article on using and choosing rewards – it will give you lots of ideas. You’ll find a few more below:
You’ll also need to prevent your dog accessing rewards that you don’t want him to have. And that usually means having him wear a long line attached to a harness, when he is outdoors running free.
Once you have done that, everything will start to slot into place and training can begin in earnest. The extent of your success though will depend on how well you ‘proof’ what you teach your dog.
I’ll explain what I mean by proof, in a moment.
The disobedient dog – a summary
So here’s the situation so far with most disobedient dogs.
We have a dog who doesn’t play much with his owner, finds his owner pretty dull, and spends a lot of time amusing himself when outdoors.
His training is usually incomplete, that is to say, he will obey certain commands at certain times and not at others. He probably won’t come back when he is playing with other dogs, or trying to gatecrash some unsuspecting stranger’s picnic.
He has probably had little in the way of high value rewards for some time, or his owner may have been using food ineffectively as a bribe.
This is a dog who needs to learn to enjoy hanging out with his owner, with an owner who needs to learn how to reinforce the right behaviors and prevent the wrong ones.
It is also a dog who badly needs his training proofed, so that he will respond to commands, even when he is busy.
The key to successful dog training
Proofing lies at the very heart of successful dog training, and is the secret to reforming a disobedient dog. Yet many dog owners have not even heard of this crucial process.
Proofing means training your puppy or dog to respond to your cues in all the different situations where you may need to have control over him.
In the house, at the park, on the beach, out on the moor, in your friends garden, whilst playing with other dogs, when people are eating, when there are ball games going on. And so on.
These are all different scenarios to a dog.
Sadly, just because he responds to you in one of them, does not mean he knows how to respond to you in another. You need to practice your training in different types of situation. The link above will help you do this
In many cases, the easiest and happiest way to go forwards from this point is to start your training over again. Pretend your dogs knows nothing and start training him, just as you would a new puppy. But this time, do it right.
Learn how to use rewards, learn how to prevent self-rewarding.
Keep your dog actively engaged with you when you are outside. Make use of the about turn walk technique where the dog has to find you, rather than the other way around
You really do need to read up on proofing if you have not done this yet. It will make training your puppy a good deal easier. Even so, there will be mistakes and you need to know how to deal with them.
What to do with a disobedient dog
Let’s face it, you are going to ‘slip up’ at some point. And when you do, you need a coping strategy.
Here is a three point plan to help put you back in the driving seat.
- Manage the situation
- Assess where you went wrong
- Plan your next session
If your puppy disobeys you, your first priority should be to limit the damage from your error.
You have given him a cue – he failed to respond. You need to manage the situation to make sure things don’t get worse.
Managing the disobedient dog
The most important thing is avoid his disobedient behavior being reinforced.
So, if for example, the dog has failed to sit on the sit cue, make sure that you don’t reward him, or allow him to reward himself for NOT sitting. It’s all about preventing the dog from self rewarding
Preventing your dog from self-rewarding
If your dog is rewarded for his disobedience, he is likely to disobey again.
Unfortunately, and especially outdoors, it is easy for dogs to ‘self-reward’ by engaging in enjoyable behaviors.
Using a long line or training leash, is a good way to avoid this happening. We like the new biothane training leashes like this tracking leash from Amazon. Biothane is less likely to tangle than traditional long lines, and easy to clean.
What if I make a mistake?
You are bound to make mistakes occasionally.
Perhaps you’ll forget to take your long line with you and think that it will be ‘ok this time’.
Or maybe you are caught unawares by people entering an area where you thought you were alone with your dog.
Maybe he shoots off after another dog before you can grab the end of his long line. So what now?
When to keep quiet
If your dog has abandoned you for a more exciting adventure, and is romping around with another dog or dogs.
And if you have not trained him to recall away from other dogs, there is no point in giving your recall cue.
The only likely outcomes are that he will be rewarded for ignoring you, by continuing with his game, and that your recall cue will less effective next time. So you need to make yourself be quiet.
The same applies to any cue that you are tempted to give in a new or distracting situation. Before you give a cue ask yourself “Have we practiced this” and “Is my dog likely to obey?”
If the answer to those two questions is “no” then you have slipped up, and you need to manage the situation before you can move on. This essentially means getting the dog back under your control.
How to get your dog back when he ignores you
You can either trigger your dog’s recall by running away from him, or walk calmly up to him, take hold of his collar, and put him on the lead.
Triggering the recall is usually the best option. It works because dogs just LOVE to chase things.
If you are going to try running away, you need to make plenty of noise to attract the dogs attention.
Do NOT use your recall cue, but you can whoop, holler, clap your hands, or make a noise in any other way.
As soon as the dog glances in your direction run. Don’t stroll, don’t hesitate, just RUN. And keep going.
Most dogs will wait and watch you for a moment, not quite believing you are going to leave, especially if you have traipsed around after them in the past. That’s why you need to keep going.
The dog needs to believe that you are leaving the area!
When his owner does not stop after the first twenty yards, ninety percent of dogs will run after him.
If your dog is one of the ten percent that don’t, or if you are not physically up to running, you’ll just need to go and get him. Even if it means walking a hundred yards or more.
Make sure you don’t add to your problems
Don’t be tempted to scold the dog when you get to him, you’ll simply end up with a dog that is hard to catch. And that is one problem you really don’t need.
So don’t give him any more instructions. Or tell him how naughty he has been, and how he is ruined your day
Just take hold of the dog, use food to get his attention if needs be. And put him on the lead.
Crisis management is not a good way to train a dog, so now you need to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. The next step is to work out what you did wrong.
Assessing where you went wrong
If you were caught unawares by people or dogs entering your training area, however frustrating this may be, you need to recognise that this is your fault.
There are very few places where you can guarantee total privacy, and unless you own or rent a completely private piece of ground, the chances are you’ll be interrupted at some point.
Planning your next session
You need to be realistic and plan for the unexpected. This means expecting distractions – and knowing what you are going to do, to prevent them interfering with your training.
The same applies to wildlife. Parks are not just popular with joggers and dog walkers, they usually have their fair share of squirrels, and birds too. The countryside is full of wild animals. Rabbits, and deer are very appealing to dogs, and most dogs will chase them if they move.
If you are setting up a training session with a dog that is keen on hunting or chasing you need to take precautions to prevent the dog having access to chasing opportunities.
Most wild animals will move out of an area where a person has walked around, so stomping about in an area before you enter to train the dog, may be sufficient.
If you cannot guarantee a distraction free zone, you must have a young untrained dog on a long line.
How to train a disobedient dog
The key to successful dog training is the five Ps – planning, prevention, prizes, proofing and patience. Pick a command that you want your dog to respond to and follow a good training guide. If necessary start from the beginning.
Use these 5 Ps to keep you on the right track
Remember to plan your training in advance. There is an old saying that failing to plan, is planning to fail. And it is as true of dog training as it is of many other activities.
Write down what you want to achieve during a training session.
Work out how you will prevent the dog accessing any reward other than the rewards you deliberately provide for him. This is the most important part of your training.
Decide what you want to achieve, and break it down into small steps so that your dog can be a winner.
Make sure you think hard about what you are asking your dog to do, and about the potential for distractions to interrupt your training plans.
Prevent your dog from rewarding himself. Set thing up so that if your training does not quite go to plan your dog gets NO rewards.
You can limit the dog’s opportunities to self reward by picking your training locations carefully and using a long line where necessary.
Most important of all – motivate your puppy!
Puppies need prizes. So do older dogs. Winners expect prizes. Its only fair. You don’t want to be begging and bribing, so you need to learn how to use rewards effectively in dog training.
It is very easy for the adolescent dog to see his owner as nothing but a spoil-sport outdoors, because the only time he gets near to him, or engages with him, is when the walk is about to finish. This is a punishment to a dog.
Remember to keep rewarding your dog.
Remember to train your dog to respond to you in different situations. Start with the easiest situation and the easiest task.
And work your way up
What your dog finds hard, may not be what another dog finds hard. Each dog is different.
Training takes time so be patient. Your dog will get there if you strive to prevent situations arising where he can benefit from disobedience.
Take the trouble to set your dog up to win and you won’t be disappointed with the outcome.
This is a very helpful article. I got a dog one month ago, and he is about one year old. He was a stray, born on the street, and while the first two weeks with me, he was challenging in some ways, the next two weeks were wonderful. The last few days, however, he has become “disobedient” in a particular circumstance : when I need to leave the house, for work or running errands, he will not come when I call him, to the point that I am late for work. Intuitively this morning I figured out that I simply have to take control and put him on the leash and briskly walk him back in the house with encouraging words, from now on. Then when I read your article, I was greatly reassured to read the detailed instruction about using a lead to retrain and to take control of where the dog gets his rewards. Indeed, it makes perfect sense to me that he would rather lounge in the grass outside, the come inside when he feels it’s the moment that I am going to leave the house and he has to stay inside. Thank you, and wish us luck!
my gs is great on the leash but just going out in my yard or playing she eventually jumps and bites and rips skin off she is a shelter dog one and a half years old Ive had her for about two months have trained her on the leash but when were not training shes wild I don’t know if I can keep her once she starts to jump I have to grab her drag her to the door so she wont hurt me and go inside what can I do help!!
Hi Pippa, I know this is an old thread, it I have just read and found this very interesting. I’m looking for some help.
I have a 3 and a half year old golden retriever. As a puppy she suffered from extreme separation anxiety, because she was constantly by the owners side. Now that I have taken over the training with her owner, her separation anxiety has been completely diminished, and we have established quite a lot of control over the dog (when we are near her). But, I’m finding that every time I really WANT to reward her and give her my attention, she chooses to act out and do things she knows she is not allowed to do. (i.e, I command her to lay in her bed, a few minutes later I allow her to come sit in the living room with me on my command, but sometimes she tests me and walks right on to the rug.) This is an area where she KNOWS she is not allowed to be. She has been trained to stay off, yet she still tries to do it sometimes. Normally she does things like this when she thinks I am very happy with her for behaving.. so she takes that as a “I can do what I want now because She’s giving me attention”.
It seems as if she mostly misbehaves when we are giving her attention, she knows we’re happy with her, or we’re trying to bond with her.
This is one of the biggest issues we have with the dog. It seems most of our problems come from her “testing” our limits during a time where she knows she should be obeying to us.
My conclusion in this is that I believe she is acting out and disobeying during times of attention/happiness, because she links that to her previous non-existent training. She may be linking our happy attitude to what she was allowed to do in the past. because in the past when we had a happy/upbeat attitude and giving her attention all the time, she was essentially allowed to do whatever she wanted. (Human=Happy? Okay, this is just like they used to be, I can do what I want now.) as you know, this can be a vicious cycle. Because we want to give the dog attention, but we know if we do, she immediately takes that as her cue to disobey, therefore leading us to be less inclined to give her attention.. and therefore leading to an unhappy dog.
Do you think this may be the case? Is she linking her experienced behaviours from the past, to our attitudes today?
Any advice on this would be great, I have been trying to work at this for months and months on my own.
Pippa Mattinson says
Hi there, for help with the topics covered in this article you are very welcome to join the forum. We have professional trainers there plus you’ll get lots of advice and support from experienced puppy and dog owners ?
Hi Pippa. I know this post is old but I need help. I have a 12 month old female pitbull. I have completely trained my dog. She has to follow a command before she come out of/goes back in the kennel, walk out the front door, and before she eats. I know you have to be consistent. If she doesnt follow my command I walk away and come back when she is calm. Lately its been becoming a pain in my toosh. I have always made her lay down to eat. Both back legs have to be flat on the floor and front. There are times she goes ahead and lay all the way down so i can tap her bowl to eat. But Lately when I say lay down she will only squat. I dont repeat myself. I give a aht aht if she doent obey. I walk away. She will bark and whine for 30-45 minutes. When she is quite. I come back. She does it again. I walk away. She goes on for another 45 minutes. When she is calm I come back. She will not move. She will lay down wait for my command and all. I dont agree that dogs dont do things out of spite. If she knows how to hide her poop under a cover. She knows when she doesn’t want to listen. I wait 3 minutes for her to be quite to return to her with food. Now she has a enough sense and soon as 3 minutes hits on my timer (she cant hear it) she starts to go off again like hey your not moving fast enough. I will be crazy to let that dog think she will run me…please help. It shouldn’t take 3-4 to try and feed my dog 1 bowl of food
Marilyn Clark says
I have a german shepherd rottweiler mix. He is 2 years old. When have his training collar on, he minds perfectly (I have not had to use it but twice, just putting it on works. He totally understand the commands and obeys (off leash as well) every command – slowly, he will never have heart failure, it takes him a full 10 seconds for him to sit or down or anything, but he does it. Without the collar, he minds when he wants. I tell him to leave the kitchen (which he knows he is supposed to do), he will walk away, turn around and come right back. With the collar on, he leaves and goes to the living room and lays down. Without the collar, it takes him 30 seconds or more to sit, down, etc.. He is paying attention, I know that for a fact, he just doesn’t do. What can I do?
Leave his training collar on? For openers? Secondly….. what doYOUu do when he comes right back to the kitchen? Or does not obey (a second time) after he’s complied the first time ….then gone on and done exactly as he pleases? Obviously whatever that behavior on your part is (or lack of behavior, if you’ve done nothing) isn’t working. So….what WILL work? Reread the material above. Do you need to be doing more (basic) training? Rewarding more? Putting him on a leash or line — and then asking him to respond? Add a new behavior on YOUR part? “No” means “don’t do it .” “Phooey” means “you’ve done the wrong thing — try something different.” I have a friend who wears a dog whistle. Two quick tweets mean — “phooey!” I can picture him blowing his whistle quickly twice were his large terrier walked into the kitchen, lets say, followed with some word or phrase like “Go back!” or “OUT!” A few times of immediate reinforcement, and I expect his Airedale would stay out of the kitchen. (By the way, by any chance, is his water bowl/food dish on the kitchen floor, hmmm? Or is he fed somewhere else?) The main thing — regular, kindly, ongoing, effective training off leash if that works BUT onleash UNTIL it does. Read up, also, on clicker training if you are of a mind to. The “click” tells the dog instantly he/she is doing something right.
Hi,I’m from a country which animal are not loved at all as the result owners have lots of problem with having pets. My dog is mix spitz from his childhood he used to bite us and still he does it he’s so stone headed and does just whatever he like.sometimes he takes our socks or… And starts running he wanted us to chase him and I think he wants to take our attention. We cannot walk him outdoor. Sometimes he’s over excited. He barks to everything people at street strangers motorcycles….people going and coming behind the apartment door.doorbell,,, i think he scares help me plz I dont know what should I do. When he jumps or bites us the more we say no or become angry the more he insists and continue doing that
I have a similar situation my dog is a shepherd mix she’s a rescue it’s hard for me to walk her also she doesn’t like people or other animals. Did the trainer respond to you
We have a almost 6 month old Westie that obeys all commands, and even comes when we call him! But he refuses to listen to us when we tell him no to bad behavior. We have tried everything. Positive reinforcement, a smack on the butt, a firm “no”; everything. We’re lost because no amount of training corrects the behavior. I have spent mornings getting ready with him in his kennel and he will whine for the whole hour even with firm NO’s and a smack on the snout.
Felicitas Ramirez says
Can someone help my puppy is 4 months old he destroys his pad he shews on door and any wood surface he pees out of his pad on the floor
Really helpful article on willful adolescents. Other articles mostly talked about reinforcing training but it is helpful to know about the changing relationship. Makes sense. As a teen I certainly found it more fun on my own than with Mother.
Hi I have a six month blue heeler mix,i feel she is very aggressive constantly bitting. Everyone in the house,when out for walks she bits the leash,pulls us which it’s not very enjoyable walks, she’s gone though the basic training, I don’t want to give her back to the shelter , I just need advice in what I need to correct this problem thank you
I have that problem too. He was fine at first but danger wise as he poked me in the eyes twice. I rather a already trained dog next time not too big easy to pick up and put in car less issues. Now winter over, enjoying spring and having a garden again
Bev Rowden says
I have a six year old female dog which is two-thirds golden and one-third cocker. She is the most strong-willed dog we have ever owned. Otherwise she is a very loving dog. My problem is that she only comes if she feels like it. Although we walk on leash on a daily basis, my greatest fear is that she’ll get out of the house and completely ignore my calling her.
My dog is disobedient in subtle ways. If I tell him to go to his bed while pointing at the bed, he will lay next to it. He may sleep in the bed when I am in a bedroom but as soon as I walk around my apartment, he will only lay in areas where he blocks the pathway, so constantly have to tell him to move. I have to tell him several times just to sit. He is not hyper, it’s as if I’m not even speaking. (Hearing is fine) I also have 2 cats that he has suddenly became jealous of. I try to make sure I give them all attention, however my dog can never get enough and the more attention I give the more he craves. I make sure that he only gets attention when I initiate it but it still doesn’t help. I tried teaching him to fetch, he will bring the object back, however never to me. He will instead bring it back to a spot about 5 steps away from me and drop it on the ground. This happens even if I have treats of try to encourage him to bring me the object. I also wait until we are alone and in a small fenced in area so he has no distractions. He is a horrible walker, I bought a gentle leader harness that has made him tolerable to walk, however he now walks with his head firmly in place, making it difficult to lead. He also, will go days wothout eating because he wants to eat the cats food. I started feeding them at the same time and that has helped, but I have to tell him at least 6 to 9 times to “eat his food” to finally get him to eat. He can also stand and stare at me for a good 40 minutes and I have to tell repeatedly to lay down in his bed because he won’t stop. I have tried getting him bones that distract him momentarily and food game toys that he refuses to play with. I am gitting to the point where I’m not sure if I can keep him anymore because he is becoming so difficult to deal with and everyday is a struggle. He is around 8 years old and was my immidiate family’s dog. I took him because they said they couldn’t keep him anymore, so when I moved I brought him with me. I have had him for 2 years but I have lived with him his entire life. Does anyone have any suggestions.
my dog has got to the point where when it next gets off the lead, it will be the last I see of it. It had a bad start in life, and I have tried to give it a happier life – but must now face failure.
I really liked this article and found it very helpful! We have been given so much (often conflicting!) advice about how to train our very high spirited Border Collie. You’ve brought everything together in a clear way that makes sense. Thank you! (And wish me luck!)
I keep reading advice like this and I’m now quite despairing as I don’t think I’m going to keep my dog due to disobedience and it being “my fault” despite trying absolutely everything.
I think there are two types of dog, people dogs – those whose favourite game has a human at the other end; and dog dogs – those whose favourite game has a dog on the other end. I don’t know how to get my 6 month old dogs attention because he has not one shred of interest in any games involving a human no matter how goofy you behave, how much whooping and noise you make, nothing. You can make yourself look like a total clown and he will still run off to another dog no matter what. I have no idea at all how to engage my dog because the one thing I can’t become is another dog.
Hi, i have read your article and found it very informative. I have a problem and wondered if you could help me with. I realize from what i read that it is me, but need help, my 17 month old staff will stay by my side if I have his ball in my hand. If I haven’t, he’s a different dog. If I open door he rushes out darts across the road, barks at horses and chases cats, would chase motorbikes if he wasn’t on lead. I excersise him for an hour twice a day, ball throwing to burn off his energy, and train him constantly indoors. But he doesn’t seem to distinguish training is the same indoors as out. It’s as if he’s two dogs, an indoor dog and an outdoor dog. Please can you advise how I can correct what iam doing wrong please.
Hi Nick, learning in dogs is not easily generalised. You need to proof all the cues that you teach your dog in different places. Here’s an article to help you . https://thehappypuppysite.com/dog-distraction-training-or-how-to-cure-selective-deafness/
It also sounds as though you may be using the ball as a bribe rather than as a reward so this article may help too. https://thehappypuppysite.com/are-you-bribing-your-dog/ . When training is not progressing or has broken down it is often best to pick one command and get that right first. I suggest you start by proofing your recall cue. Join the forum for help and support with your training.
Thanks that a great help, I will read the articles that you’ve linked. Best regards, nick
Some of the things you say here make sense, but I do have a couple of questions. We’ve spent a lot of time training our lab and even though he’s 16 months old were still spending a lot of time training him. Like your article states he started disobeying commands around eight months old. We thought he was house trained then he wasn’t, so we spent time house training him. Using toilet as a command to go toilet. Now on some occasions (only indoors) we say ‘No’ to him he will leave what he’s doing trot up to about 5 feet from whoever said no look at you squat and either defecate or urinate, then skulk off like he does when he knows he’s been naughty. I don’t understand this, someone has said he’s learnt ‘No’ as a toilet queue so we changed it to ‘stop’ still the same behaviour more particularly when he’s stealing food. Which we’ve been careful about, he’s had to work for food from a young age by obeying a string of commands. The only time he will steal food is when our backs are turned. Any treats are hand given, or food is in his bowl. He’s not allowed food off tables floors etc. This is one of several disobedience things but one of the dirtiest?
Hi there, you may find this article on stealing helpful: https://thehappypuppysite.com/how-to-stop-your-dog-stealing/
It sounds as though your dog is very confused about toileting. Come and join the forum so we can help you get to the root of the problem. https://thelabradorforum.com
Hi, 5 month old pit female.. starting to not listen when we go for walks.. she pulls on the lead… I stop immediately and stand still.. this doesn’t stop her from pulling so I have to snap the lead to get her attention… walking should be fun not this difficult.. at my wits end… HELP!!!
Our Puppy is 4 months old, she is a mixed breed of Beagle and Staff.
She is slowly becoming quite nasty, by that I mean biting.
Sometimes quite playful but when prompted to stop she will nip with more intensity.
We also have children aged 8, 12 , and 15 .
We’re becoming more worried about as she grows and she gets adult teeth , what if she turns on one of the children
( or me and my partner even)
Recently she has begun to growl at us when we try to remove her from the sofa at night, we are trying to control to amount of time she is on the sofa and only allow her up on command.
This is when she can be most disobedient, she can then growl, bark, and try to bite.
We really are struggling here and I ask for advicertain to avoid getting rid of the dog, this is don’t want but face alot of pressure from my partner to do so.
Hi Ian, this is a common problem with young dogs, do join the forum http://thelabradorforum.com where we can help and support you – Pippa
Our two labradors, especially the younger one (1,5year) is starting to be obedient and not return on recall. He also chewing on our things even though he has his own toys and started to use the shower as morning toilet both 1 and 2 – absolutely disgusting. The chewing started after we moved house in August and the indoor toilet about a month ago. I’m heavily pregnant so cannot really retrain the younger one right now. How do we make him stop?
Thanks Pippa for a great article!