7 Strategies for Training a Stubborn Dog

Avoid punishment. Punishment increases anxiety and undermines your dog’s trust in you. In the long term, punishment can lead to a higher risk of aggression. Instead, opt for reward-based training tactics that focus on giving the dog things he desires, like treats, petting and play, when he responds to a command in the desired manner. And rather than punishing him for unwanted behavior, redirect him to a more acceptable behavior and offer him a reward for that.

Choose the right rewards. Ensure training is relevant by making desired behaviors highly rewarding for your dog. If rewards are infrequent or of low value to your dog, his response is likely to suffer. Increasing the value and frequency of rewards can often improve your dog’s response — and his behavior — dramatically. Different dogs value different things; figure out what your dog loves most and offer that in return for good behavior. Rewards can include special treats, petting or play time with a favorite toy.

Make training a habit. Don’t think about training as a once-a-day event — make it part of your daily routine. To reinforce wanted behavior, engage your dog in short training sessions throughout the day. This can be as simple as asking your dog for a specific desired behavior, such as a sit or down, and rewarding his success with treats, play, petting or walks.

Get help. Finally, if training just isn’t working or if your dog is showing signs of aggression or excessive fear, an expert’s opinion and guidance can be invaluable. Talk to your veterinarian for help finding a reward-based trainer or a veterinary behaviorist in your area.

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