By Sherri Romig CPDT-KA
When our dogs refuse to comply with our cues, it’s easy to place the blame, labeling the dog as stubborn, stupid, or even dominant. However, perhaps it’s time that we take some responsibility at the other end of the leash. Let’s take a look at some other reasons our dogs may not comply with our cues.
1. The dog doesn’t understand the cue – Perhaps we haven’t spent enough time teaching the dog what the cue means and generalizing it to a variety of situations. This especially applies when using verbal cues. Dogs are more much adept at picking up body language and hand signals than verbal cues.
2. The dog is physically unable to comply – Are we asking for a sit from a dog with painful joints? A down from a short haired breed on a cold or rough surface? Take a look at the environment and see if there is external reason the dog may not be listening.
3. The dog literally does not hear us – If the dog is hyper-focused on something, they may actually be unable to hear our cues. Ever been so engrossed in a book or movie that you failed to hear the telephone ring? The same thing can happen with our dogs when they spot a squirrel or another dog nearby.
4. Our bodies are saying something different than our mouths – For example, yelling at the dog to “come” in a stressed out voice with tense and straining body language. We may be saying “come”, but our bodies are saying “stay away!” Given a choice, the dog will believe our bodies every time.
This is just a jumping off point to get us thinking. The next time we ask our dogs for a behavior and they don’t comply, perhaps we might take a look at what else is going on and see if we can determine why before deciding that the dog is simply stubborn. What are some other reasons our dogs may not comply with our cues?