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Updated: May 19

It is all too easy to describe our dogs as stubborn when we are feeling frustrated that they don't seem to be listening to us, or aren't being very cooperative. “Nose down, tail up, ears off!” is often repeated when it comes to scent hounds. However, if we aren’t achieving the response that we are looking for from our dogs, we need to consider why and how we can help them out.

*Are we being clear in what we are asking of them, and do they understand?

*Is our teaching and reinforcement history adequate?

*Are we asking too much of them too soon and not building solid foundations first?

*What is happening in the environment which may be impacting them?

*Are they trigger stacked and not in the right frame of mind to be able to focus and learn new things?

*Are they suffering from undiagnosed pain?

*Are they physically capable of what we are asking them to do?

You can read more about trigger stacking here:

 When our dogs aren't able to do as we ask, we need to consider why, and understand that they are not purposely being difficult, but need some help from us. We may not always be aware of potential problems: a worrying scent, a noise in the distance that we are unable to hear, or they might be experiencing pain or discomfort. To automatically label their behaviour as stubbornness, naughtiness or disobedience is a great disservice to our dogs. Being unable or unwilling to do something is vital information that we need to acknowledge, take on board, and respond to appropriately. We should always be questioning WHY.

With any behavioural concerns, it is really important to get a thorough veterinary check to rule out any undiagnosed medical conditions; we know that up to 80% of behavioural cases have an underlying pain component.

If in doubt, always get checked out!

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