My Dog Protests When I Do Obedience – Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist
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Dogs will sometimes show dislike, resistance, or outright protest when you try to train or correct them. For example, they may defy commands or other things you’ve taught them; start “talking back”, physically resisting what you are doing; jumping away with a mischievous look on their faces; rolling or flipping onto their backs; going “rag doll” limp; mouthing and grabbing at the leash; nip or bit; grow; bark, whine, yelp or cry; start goofing off; do some kind of weird behavior like digging in the carpet or ground right in front of you; and/or going into a running spree all over the place. They don’t like what you are doing with them. Some might call it Oppositional Defiant Disorder…
There are some things you will do with a dog that they won’t like. They might not like where you put the food bowl. They might not want to get in their crate as you are leaving the house. They might not want you to brush them out, or give them a bath. They might not want to accept your guest into the home. They might not like that you are putting a collar or leash on them. And with obedience work, they might not want to Sit, Down, Heel, or Come in lessons or in real life.
So, what do you do in these circumstances?
1.) Pay Attention: I don’t think it is wise to ignore your dog’s complaints. What might start out as a small complaint might later develop into a really annoying behavior, or even a serious biting problem. Dogs can’t be expected to like everything we do, but we shouldn’t ignore that they don’t like it. YOUR DOG IS CONFLICTED. You are putting your dog in an impossible position and they can’t figure out the right answer and they are telling you so.
2.) Take Notes: I make note of every complaint, and then devise a plan to change how the dog feels about what I’m doing. I don’t just do things to dogs, whether they like it or not. These observations will also be of help if you decide to hire a professional.
3.) Your Method Might Be Wrong: Often those complaints are indications that whatever way you are working with your dog is wrong. You are trying to make a dog do something that they can’t do using that method; that they aren’t ready to do; that you haven’t trained them to do; something that you can’t do because you don’t have the right kind of relationship with them; or something that sets off all their safety alarms.
4.) Your Method Might Be Right: Some complaints are indications that you are doing the right thing. Sometimes the best way to do something is to just go do it. Some exercises can be no fun for a dog at first. It isn’t so fun, for example, when you first start learning a new skill, such as playing an instrument, having to give speeches in front of crowds, or learning to go along with the rules of a new group. It can be very frustrating. But, as you unravel the problem, and as the dog comes to understand what you are teaching, then they will stop protesting and actually like what you are doing.
5.) It’s Time To Get Help: I think when you encounter these kinds of things, it is time to hire a professional trainer. There is a judgment call to be made on these things. The best course of action for one dog won’t be the best for another. What might be a good method for one dog owner won’t work for another. A technique that works in some circumstances won’t work in others. It is a complicated thing.
6.) What You Shouldn’t Do: The worst course of action would be to just bully your dog. Just because you want a thing doesn’t mean you’ll get it. As I mentioned earlier, these protests can develop into even worse, or even dangerous, behaviors if you keep pushing the dog the wrong way.
Dogs aren’t things to be fixed. This isn’t a “disorder”. They are living animals with a will of their own, with individual personalities, strengths, weaknesses, histories, and so forth. All of that has to be taken into account. I’ve seen numerous behavioral problems caused by ham handed dog trainers, who didn’t read their student’s dogs, but just went ahead and did whatever they felt like to the dogs. I once quit working with such a trainer. Sometimes you have to take a stand.
Good dog training works best when you put in an all out effort to properly read a dog, set reasonable goals, implement good methods, and work to get the right result in the end with no bad side effects. If your dog is protesting, it is time to stop and figure out if you are on this path or not.