There are some breeds of dog that have a reputation for being very smart, eager to please, and easy to train. What some people don’t realize is that all dogs are smart and can be trained; it’s just a matter of knowing what you are doing and being willing to challenge your dog. Many times, inexperienced trainers will stick with the activities their dogs have picked up quickly rather than training to their dog’s weaknesses. It’s important to continue practicing and drilling the activities your dog seems to have a block about, to gently and expertly push him to learn the things that seem hard for him to catch on to. This will obviously result in a better trained dog, but it will also foster a stronger bond between the two of you.
Dogs can be headstrong. For example, if you have a dog that you have taught to shake hands by lifting a paw, it can be difficult to get that same smart dog to shake using the other paw. Just like humans, dogs develop habits and it is up to the trainer to help erase any mental blocks a dog may have developed. Rather than just accepting that your dog only shakes with his right paw, it will benefit your dog to work with him so that he can and will alternate as you ask.
When a dog has learned and eagerly performs a series of “tricks” in order to get a CANIDAE PURE Chewy Treat, he knows what to expect. He may have to sit, shake, lie down and roll over, but as soon as the routine is complete he wants his dog treat. In order to train to a dog’s weakness, that routine needs to be changed up a bit. If you reward him for the same rote performance day in and day out, he is not being challenged and basically he has you trained. Dogs need mental stimulation. A dog that is not challenged may become bored and obstinate, and may eventually refuse to perform the skills he knows well.
In matters of obedience, it is also a smart and necessary safety precaution to ensure your dog heeds your commands – whether he likes them or not. Place, stay, heel and come are very important things your dog needs to learn. A responsible pet owner will not simply decide that their dog “can’t” heel because he is too easily distracted. Instead, put aside other commands and work on that one until your dog has mastered it. Every dog can be trained if the trainer is experienced and understands what the dog needs.
Just as children may require different teaching methods, so do dogs. They are intelligent and often think for themselves, but they need a trainer and a diligent and responsible owner to help them learn how to behave properly.
Working dogs have certain skills in their lineage that are put to use when the dog is given a job. This is a matter of training to their strengths. But those same dogs can learn to sit nicely, be polite and even be around other animals without attempting to herd them. That is a matter of training to the dog’s weaknesses. Knowing the breed and knowing the individual dog will help a good trainer figure out the best way to train a dog so that he has a well rounded repertoire of obedience, behavior and entertaining skills.
Don’t give up on a stubborn dog; he’s just using his intelligence to convince you that he can’t learn to behave appropriately. If you are unable to handle the task of training your dog yourself, consider hiring a professional to help your dog reach his full potential!
Photos by Chrystal Rolfe/Flickr
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