My Dog is Being a Real Drag – Literally!

Muling on Leash

QUESTION:

Hi Don. I can’t get any further with the training because my dog refuses to walk with me, and she’s reluctant to come to me at all even when I’m not actually working with her. She’s being a real drag – literally! Will this pass?

 

ANSWER:

First of all, I have to reassure you not to fret. This is a common reaction amongst stubborn-minded dogs. It’s not peculiar to any particular breed – I’ve seen it with all types of dogs, and with very young pups right through to very old dogs.

I actually cover this topic in my popular Blog post titled, “HELP! I Have An Extreme Dog!” Here’s the direct link: https://dogfather.tv/help-i-have-an-extreme-dog/  You need to read this post. It will comfort you and inspire you at the same time. But, please be sure to read all of the way to the end so as not to miss any critical information.

Even though you may not consider your dog to be an “extreme” dog as such, your dog’s “muling” (as I dub it) is a form of resistance to the leadership you’re trying to establish in her life. You need to maintain a firm resolve (cool, calm and collected – yet also unwavering and assertive) and continue to communicate to your dog what you’re expecting from her.

As long as you’re determined and don’t back down – and always praise your dog for good behavior – she will soon accept the fact that there’s no way out for her other than to comply. (Remember that praise – together with play and earned freedom – are very important parts of my Nature-Based Discipline, Praise & Play Method™.) Your dog will soon learn to trust you i.e. that you’re the master and that you know what’s best for her. Even if her compliance initially starts off as relatively reluctant, it will quickly change into happy compliance as she discovers all the benefits of her new life with you.

At the moment, your dog is intent on holding on to the control in the relationship. That’s her focus. Her silent message to you is, “I don’t want to! Back off!” But then again, maybe she’s not being so silent. Many dogs combine their physical reluctance with very unpleasant whines and even squeals of protest. This can throw even the most emotionally stable dog owner for a loop!

And, your dog is avoiding you even outside of formal training times because she doesn’t want to get into a situation where you will ask something of her. She doesn’t want to obey you, so she’s going to try to evade situations where you want to exercise authority over her. It’s really that simple.

But don’t worry, there does come a time when these kinds of stubborn dogs finally get the message. Something will click in your dog’s mind and she’ll give up the fight against you, realizing she must submit to the bigger dog’s (that’s you!) wishes. With lots of praise and play and patience, you’ll win her heart. Yes, she’ll be motivated by the consequences you implement for resistance and other unacceptable behaviors, but she’ll also be motivated by the new world you’re opening up to her – a world where you don’t just love her, but you truly enjoy her.

– Don Sullivan, “The DogFather”

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