How to Build a Stubborn Dog - The Game! - McCann Professional Dog Trainers

How to Build a Stubborn Dog - The Game!

Today I thought we'd do something different. Today, we're going to play a game. It's easy - here's how it works:

  • Assign yourself 1 point for each entry you've accomplished.
  • Subtract one point for each entry you disagree with
  • Add one (1) bonus point for each bonus entry that applies to you
  • Maintain a running total until you reach the end of the list

Your goal is to get as close to zero as possible.

Let's Play!

1 - Acquire a puppy 

  • Add one bonus point if said puppy is a breed that has far more energy than you really wanted, but you love the way they look. After all, a dog is a dog, right?!?

  • Add one bonus point if you have no intention of altering your lifestyle to accommodate the extra energy. You pay the bills, the dog needs to adapt to you!

  • Subtract a point if you did your research and came home with a breed of dog who matches your lifestyle and fits well with your family. 

2 - Throw them in a crate alone in a dark room and allow them to scream it out. He'll figure it out. After all, the first few nights are always rough....

  • Add one bonus point for each night this occurs. Maybe you're lucky enough to have a dog who is already stubborn when you bring them home!

  • Subtract a point if you recognize that this is a tough transition for one so young and making them comfortable first is a necessary step to eventually making them independent.

3 - Offer extreme amounts of freedom in the home.

Let the pup wander around and figure out the place - supervision is overrated and you have things to do. This is their home now too and it seems mean to confine them. Since your nights have been filled with puppy screams coming from the basement, you feel bad locking him up again. 

  • Add one bonus point if you then stomp around upset that the pup has destroyed yet ANOTHER one of your __________ (fill in the blank.... shoes, remote control, phone... etc.)

  • Add one bonus point if your pup is having accidents in the house (and you've already tried EVERYTHING!)

  • Subtract a point if you realize that quality time with direct supervision is much more valuable than quantity time doing whatever the pup would like.

4 - Enrol in obedience classes because that's the responsible thing to do, but don't do any homework. The hour of training in class each week is enough, after all you're pretty busy!

  • Add one bonus point if you get upset with the puppy for embarrassing you in class with their lack of skills

  • Add one more bonus point if you find another like-minded student to commiserate with over your equally stubborn dogs

  • Add one more bonus point if you realize you are going to have to practice more before your next class, but still don't 'find the time' 

  • Subtract one point if you know that you have to put in the effort if you expect your dog to learn

5 - Take your puppy for walks and let them drag you to every distraction they are interested in. After all, they need to be well-socialized

  • Add one bonus point for each distraction your puppy successfully reaches and interacts with 

  • Add one more bonus point if it's another dog your pup has pulled you to

  • Subtract one point if you realize that socialization is about exposure, not interaction

  • Subtract one point if you realize that letting the puppy drag you will work against your efforts to teach manners on leash

6 - Let them off leash before you've taken the time to teach them to come when they are called. How bad could it be?

  • Add one bonus point for every person you need to apologize to for your 'stubborn dog' interfering with their outing

  • Add one more bonus point for each time you have to chase your dog

  • Add one more bonus point if you are clearly angry with them when you catch them

  • Add one more bonus point if you reprimand them when you catch them

  • Subtract one point if you know that letting them off leash before they're ready will likely work against your efforts to teach a recall.

7 - Pin them down for things like trimming toenails and administering medicine. Surely, they'll figure out how to hold still by the time they're full grown.

  • Add one bonus point for each struggle that results in a kwik being cut

  • Subtract one point if you realize that to be fair, you should spend some time teaching your dog to handle things like grooming and nail care. Even if you plan to use a professional, your dog still needs to be comfortable with handling and grooming.

8 - Accept that they are stubborn. That's who they are. Some dogs just are. All of those people with their well-behaved dogs, they got lucky with a good dog! NOBODY could train THIS dog, so you may as well just give up and accept what is. Quite frankly, his inability to train himself and the fact that he continues to embarrass you at obedience class is proof positive that the dog is untrainable. Stubborn as they come!

Bonus for the Game: If you realize by this point that being stubborn is a human construct that does NOT apply to dogs; if you know that you did enough research to have a good idea of the obstacles you'll face with your particular breed; if you realize that dogs are not innately stubborn, but you can make them seem so with poor or lazy training; and finally, if you know that raising a puppy takes hard work, dedication and time and you're ready to roll up your sleeves and make that puppy the best 4-legged family member they can be....

Return your score to zero.

Congratulations..... you win!  

As always, Happy Training!

Hi! I'm Shannon Viljasoo and I joined the McCann team in 1999 while training Quincey, my wonderful and spirited Rottweiler, to have good listening skills. I'm the Director of Online Training and Content for McCann Professional Dog Trainers and I enjoy writing about dogs and dog training for the McCann blog. I currently share my life with 2 Tollers (Reggie & Ned) and I love helping people develop the best possible relationship with their 4-legged family members.

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