Stubborn or Committed.
How many people reading this, actually believe that stubbornness is a virtue or quality that is deem able in your dogs?
What if I said these words instead…..iron-willed, or headstrong? Certainly, those are what we want, isn’t it?
If you looked at it statistically, I bet that very “trait” is the reason why most dog trainers are in business. “My dog knows what he is supposed to do, he just won’t do it”, or “She refuses to get off the couch, I have to yell at him” People don’t want dogs who are disobedient or unruly. We want dogs who can be easily taught and play by the rules we set forth, who offer us no challenges…all the time.
You see….. I want the stubbornness. To me, it represents a dog who is committed. Now, what the dog gets “committed” about is a different story, and this is where training is useful---but stubbornness….that’s gold!
Training dogs who are inherently “stubborn” offer its own set of challenges, which leads most trainers to up the “anty” and resort to more forceful tools and aversive measures. But, that is because we are viewing it wrong. We assume the dogs are being unruly on purpose, to make our lives difficult, afterall –they are being “stubborn”. But, what if they giving you a glimpse of all that is possible?--- you just fail to see it.
All of the work I do with Canine Resistance Training, from the beginning programs to the more advanced levels, are done with minimal tools. In fact, I do not let anyone who follows my program use tools such as prong and e collars…..and it isn’t because I am against them! I have used them in the past. The reason those tools aren’t used is because they literally are NOT warranted. Think about why someone would use either of those tools?
You want the dog to stop pulling you on the leash.
You want them to walk nicely beside you in a heel.
YOU are teaching them to give into adversity. To stop when they meet resistance. To abandon their commitment, their stubbornness. To be compliant. I don’t want that. Imagine Michael Jordan quitting and giving up on his dream to become a professional basketball player the day he was denied to play his sophomore year because of his “short stature”. I can’t imagine that either. Had he not learned to overcome adversity and given in—we wouldn’t even know his name. Think about an elite level Belgian Malinois tucking its tail and hiding, the second the decoy made hard eye contact or took a step forward with intent. The dog wouldn’t make it to the elite level ;)
My point is saying all of this---- is that stubbornness is an excellent quality to have in your dogs. In fact, it is one of the traits I love to see and work with. Those dogs are teachable, and often times, becoming the very best. They commit to their downs, they commit to their 8 foot wall climbs for a tug toy, and they commit to pulling thousands of pounds on a weight pull cart.
We just gotta show them what to be committed about ;)