“He knows what I’m telling him, he just chooses not to do it.” I beg to differ, if your dog is not doing what is asked, there is probably a reasonable explanation for it. Such as, he doesn’t know what you’re asking of him, or it hasn’t been strongly reinforced enough in the past that the dog understands that it’s the best option, or you’ve given him mixed signals and haven’t made it clear to him what is being expected of him.
Dogs do not misbehave to be stubborn or spiteful; they often don’t comply because they either do not understand what is being of asked of them, the reinforcement isn’t high enough, or something else is going on to cause them not to comply. Here are some questions to ask when your dog doesn’t listen:
How is he feeling?
Be sure your dog is healthy. One of the first signs your dog isn’t feeling well is that he won’t be his “normal” self, and may not listen to cues that in the past were never an issue.
Example: You tell your dog to sit and he continues to stand and stare at you. Maybe he’ll look away, lick his lips, pant, yawn, or attempt to sit but isn’t successful. Possible Reasons for this: He could be sore; muscle soreness, paw, hip, spine etc…, maybe his anal sacs are compacted, or maybe something internally is going on that is causing him discomfort.
What is the environment like?
Are you asking for behaviors in a new environment? Are there other dogs in the area? Are there unfamiliar people near by?
When a dog feels unsafe or uncomfortable, they tend to be more concerned about their safety and well-being than complying to what’s being asked of them. By adding distance between your dog and potentially scary things in his environment, you’ll increase your dog’s ability to perform the tasks that are being asked of him.
Decrease the level of difficulty of the task you’re asking of your dog until he feels more comfortable. Create positive associations in new environments, by pairing the experience with high-value reinforcements and asking achievable, simple tasks.
Does he REALLY understand what you’re asking?
Maybe you think he knows, but he actually doesn’t. Be sure as you’re teaching new behaviors, or increasing the criteria of existing behaviors, that it’s being done in small steps. People often lump big steps together, rather than breaking them down into small parts. Be sure to master one level before going onto the next. Use what is reinforcing to your DOG when teaching behaviors so that your dog is more likely to offer those behaviors in the future.
Example: You may enjoy petting your dog, ....read more