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Truth about stubborn dogs: You just need right approach

By: Peggy Swager Special to The Gazette
June 2, 2013
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photo - Jack Russell terrier Frieda runs on an artificial skating rink in Bremen, northern Germany, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. A cold spell has reached central and eastern Europe with temperatures far below zero. (AP Photo/dapd, Joerg Sarbach)
Jack Russell terrier Frieda runs on an artificial skating rink in Bremen, northern Germany, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. A cold spell has reached central and eastern Europe with temperatures far below zero. (AP Photo/dapd, Joerg Sarbach) 

"My dog is stubborn!"

I've heard this refrain from many dog owners over the years.

I used to agree with the idea, but that was before I had a conversation with a mule trainer.

I still remember my decision to call him. I felt that my young Jack Russell terrier's name was included as an example in the dictionary for the word "stubborn."

But after talking with the mule trainer, my feelings changed. When I asked him how he dealt with his most stubborn mules, he replied, "Mules aren't stubborn."

After hearing this, I paused and rechecked my contact information to make sure I was talking to the top mule trainer in the country, the same one who produced videos and conducted seminars. I was.

Not wanting to contradict this guru of mule training, I asked him to explain what he meant.

He relayed his philosophy, and I learned that animals we deem as stubborn are created when people use the wrong approach to training. I changed my approach to training after the phone call.

I no longer try to force a dog to sit by shoving their backside when I say "sit." I learned that trying to force some dogs will create resistance to commands and a stubborn attitude.

Just like with the mule, a more stubborn dog cannot be coerced, threatened, forced or punished into compliance.

After my enlightenment, I applied my reformed dog training techniques, beginning with my own Jack Russell terrier. Using this approach, I found success.

If I were to sum up the philosophy for getting a dog with a more stubborn nature to comply, I'd say: The dog never will obey your command because the dog has to; the dog will only comply because the dog wants to.

And, over the years, learning how to get a dog to want to comply has been very successful for me in all areas of dog training.

-

Swager is a behaviorist and dog trainer. For more information on where to foster, look online under links at peggyswager.com.

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