Dog Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I am new here but have already found discussion on this site extremely helpful. I am in need of some help/suggestions/encouragement. I have a very strong willed puppy! My dog Koda is a 6 month old Norwegian Elkhound that I have had for 3 months. I adopted her from a rescue where a breeder who could no longer care for his dogs dropped of the puppies and parents. Koda and a couple of her siblings were very malnourished and barely surviving, so she is on the smaller side at only 25 pounds currently.

I have taken her to puppy kindergarten and puppy agility and she does excellent in a training environment. However the struggle is real at home and other places. She does things on her own time and when she wants to. I have just this week switched up her training routine at home and it is much more "strict" and consistent. She knows sit, come, down, crawl, stay, leave it and look. She sits and waits for her food holding eye contact with me until I release her. She is VERY food motivated. She could care less about toys or praise but she will work for food. She is also not eager to please. To give an example of just how strong willed she is last night I was making her sit before I opened the door and stay after it is open until I give the release (just like when I feed her) and we had done this several times before. I said sit like usual and she didn't do anything so I said sit again in a more stern voice and what does she do... she looks at me and then turns and look at the wall. :confused: I had to laugh otherwise I would have been frustrated. And I know she needed to go out. So I waited in the mudroom with the door closed and finally after about 5 minutes of her looking at me ans walking around she decided to sit- and I did praise her for sitting and took her outside. Another example is if I call her name she will look when she wants to, even if I am 5 feet from her... and I am calling her in a happy voice. I am looking for advice, suggestions or just people who have experienced a strong willed dog. It is hard because no one close to me has dealt with anything like a strong willed dog.

One of the bigger issues is she seems to not care at all when I correct her.. I say a stern no and she will generally stop whatever she is doing-- not all the time but most of the time. But she just looks at me, and I think the bigger issue is the behavior isn't changing. It takes probably 10-15 stern no's before she will stop for good. Is this normal? Should I be doing something different?

She is a great puppy. We are having issues but overall she is awesome and the perfect addition to my family. She isn't a biter or chewer does awesome with children and will let kids give her hugs and won't budge. She has never snapped, or growled at anyone. She gets plenty of exercise as we live on land and she goes on lots of walks and the occasional trip to the dog park.

Sorry if this is a really long post I wanted to give as much information as possible! :)
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
290 Posts
Dogs don't inherently know what "no" means unless you have specifically trained her to know that it means "try again" or have associated it with something negative (intimidation or physical correction; both of which are bad). To her, the word may not mean anything at all and she just stops at the moment because you made a noise that interrupted her.

The problem is she is performing behaviors that you do not want. You should be training her to do alternative behaviors so you don't have to tell her to stop doing things.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
316 Posts
She is a cutie!

I would re-evaluate the story you are telling yourself about her. All dogs are "strong willed," in the sense that they have opinions and preferences and often don't find the weird, arbitrary, artificial rules we impose upon them particularly sensible. Why sit politely instead of lunging for the scrap of food I've just dropped...it goes against all canine instincts?!?!!

Learning to do the things we ask is just that: a learning process. Dogs learn depending on their experiences. What it actually sounds like, to me, is that she doesn't really understand what you're asking as well as you think she does. Which is normal! Dogs tend to learn things in one environment (like in training class) first, and then have to re-learn the same thing in new environments, and then learn it again in a few more new environments, before the behavior starts to "generalize" (meaning: becomes something they can do anywhere, anytime).

I would guess that one other thing is different about training class. Most likely, you have a much higher rate of reinforcement in training class (more treats!). It's just a guess, but that would be pretty typical. More reinforcement for getting it "right" motivates a dog to learn much faster. I would wildly increase your rate of reinforcement at home and not start reducing it until she is performing behaviors as well as you want her to.

You might like Jane Killion's book, When Pigs Fly! Training Success With Impossible Dogs. She trains bull terriers, which are sometimes considered strong-willed, stubborn, independent, or otherwise hard to train, and she does it using very modern, low-stress techniques.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the advice everyone! I am definitely trying to change my expectations when it come to how "I think" a dog should behave. She is my first dog, but I helped raise/train my family dog when I was a teenager and she was a breeze to train. She was an Aussie Lab mix, so always eager to please. It is just a whole new experience and learning curve with Koda.

With clicker training is it okay to start now I wasn't sure about that? She has been taught everything else without a clicker.

Also she was doing sit consistently for about 2 weeks without a treat but she has regressed a bit and will either not do it or take a long time with some prompting. Should I start using treats again for this?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,037 Posts
Dogs often don't generalize well. Sit in the ring doesn't necessarily translate to sit in the living room doesn't always translate to sitting by the back door. You actually need to teach the skill in each separate location (although once they learn it somewhere, learning it subsequent times is usually much faster IME).

Most of the time honestly when we think dogs are being stubborn, strong willed etc. I think it is either a matter of our motivation being too low or our expectations being too high.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
316 Posts
Also she was doing sit consistently for about 2 weeks without a treat but she has regressed a bit and will either not do it or take a long time with some prompting. Should I start using treats again for this?
Sounds like you faded the reward a bit too abruptly. If a dog expects a reward, but then doesn't get one, there is always a risk that they will stop performing a behavior.

When we start training with our dogs, we're essentially asking them to play a game. Guess the right behavior, win a cookie! But no one wants to play a game that they never get to win. If you're asked to do something repeatedly for no reason, and never get rewarded for doing it, would you keep doing what you were asked? Make training fun and rewarding, and you'll get a dog who is more eager to do more training with you over time.

You can start clicker training at any time, but I recommend reading up on it quite a bit first. Clicker training is much, much more than simply including a clicker in the training that you're already doing. There is a science to it, and there are specific things to learn and understand about teaching and maintaining behaviors (which will end up being useful whether you train with a clicker or not!). The website listed is a great resource, and Kikopup's training videos on youtube are also outstanding tutorials.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
868 Posts
You are hitting dog adolescence! They have their teenage rebellion phase like we humans do. This is a phase where many people actually have to regress in the training, keep things simple and give tons of rewards. At this age dogs tend to be more interested in the world and loose interest in their owners. I am working with my BFs chow who is very independent and isn't a people pleaser either.

I always figured that people are creatures of habit. So I have been teaching her a 'no' command. It isn't so much of a 'stop that' command but more of a 'come here and get pets/play with toy'. Its just a thing to say to get her attention to redirect her to what I want her to be doing. I see she is going for a sock (she loves socks) I can say 'Aayla no' and she comes running to me and I give her a toy to play with instead. If she still gets the sock then I get a treat and we work on our 'drop it'.

Aayla has her sit down 90% of the time. Yet she still gets a treat 70% of the time. Sometimes if I'm doing a sit->down she will get the treat on the down. If she doesn't sit then I will lure her into a sit. I don't always have treats on me, so I will start to phase out treats to some extent, but I make sure to have sessions where they do get rewarded for it. I have never 100% removed rewards from commands. For Aayla if I forgot treats and she sits I have a little party, running around, high pitch "Yayy puppy!" and lots of petting. Some dogs their reward can be being pet, some need a tug play session, some want to chase a ball, so you adapt. If your pup only works for treats, then use that. What's there to motivate our pets to listen to us?

For the chow sometimes he has no interest in treats or trying to listen. His leash training is very difficult because he has pulled on the leash for his entire life. So his reward is going to move forward. If he pulls we go no where, he doesn't get to that bush he was to sniff, he doesn't get to the park, he stays at home. Soon as he stops pulling he gets to move forward towards what he wants. Its a slow process but he is figuring it out. He is very hard to motivate, but I'm figuring things out every day. We just started on reteaching the sit, and working on laydown. Half the time he will actually loose interest and try to walk away or just stare at me. I have to take such baby steps to keep him motivated. Aayla is so much easier than him! Look up kikopup! She has wonderful videos on youtube that are so much more helpful. They've been helping me make improvement with Kota who everyone says is too stubborn to learn anything!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Okay, I feel much better knowing that there are other dogs out there that are hard to motivate and train. I also trying to remind myself that this period (hopefully) won't last forever and we will get through it.

She has even improved in the last few days because we have been having multiple training sessions a day and she has been doing well for the most part. She handles shorter sessions better I have found so we break them up now. And I have started to realize that I need to change my expectations for her behavior. For example the other day we were outside in the yard and she saw some birds in the trees. I could have said anything to her, but she wasn't going to come. Instead of getting frustrated that she wasn't listening I didn't say anything and just waited for a better moment.

I have been watching some kikopup videos on youtube and they are super helpful!
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top