How to Train a Stubborn Dog - A Step-by-Step Guide?

Why does my dog never listen? What to do with a head-strong pup? How to train a stubborn dog? These are typical concerns of pet parents. They struggle to teach their puppy to follow commands and behave in public.

The act of defiance among numerous breeds needs more communication and patience to train them effectively.

When bad habits refuse to budge, most parents get frustrated and tend to give up. The good thing is that there are unique methods for dealing with a difficult-to-train puppy.

We strongly empathize with dog parents who struggle to manage a stubborn dog. Having worked with many such fur babies, we would love to share a different approach on how to deal with a stubborn dog. The method is distributed in steps and has always worked.

Let us delve into the world of dogs and training.

What does a stubborn dog mean?

When we call a dog 'stubborn,' we describe a canine companion who exhibits resistance or reluctance to follow commands. These dogs seldom behave in a desired manner and create a rigorous situation in public. They actively portray poor behavior, such as pulling the leash, rushing to spots, being distracted while walking, etc.

It is vital to differentiate stubbornness from aggression and hyperactivity. Their behavior is different under different circumstances, and the breed reacts to the environment and is often boisterous.

Exploring this expert-curated step-by-step guide helps us recognize that stubbornness in dogs is not disobedience. It stems from a lack of understanding, distractions, fear, or inefficient training.

You will be interested to learn that according to the canine genome structure, trainability is an inherent trait among dogs. Dogs genetically learn and follow commands. However, each dog has a different personality and must be considered when training. Their personalities evolve with age and surroundings, and parents must restructure the training tactics accordingly.

Identifying Stubborn Dog Behavior

When you embark on the journey of stubborn dog training, you will learn how unique each dog is. Stubbornness comes from the traits, characteristics, and experiences, if any. The behavior can come in many forms –

  • Prone to ignoring commands.
  • Not paying attention when called.
  • Not very motivated, even with treats and toys.
  • High levels of independence.
  • Pulling leash while on a walk.
  • Not willing to move from a specific spot.
  • Selective listening of commands.
  • Determined with their actions.

Understand that these stubborn behaviors occur due to a lack of communication. The characteristics become prevalent on valid grounds. Addressing what is lacking and understanding your little companion is essential before dealing with challenges.

What makes a dog stubborn?

Several factors contribute to a dog's amiss and stubborn behavior. It is crucial to understand the reasons before developing a training approach. We have observed these reasons in the majority of cases –

Lack of Clear Communication

Dogs rely on consistent communication and cues from their owners. A dog needs help understanding the expectations if the commands are clear and consistent. Such situations lead to perceived stubbornness.

Additionally, dogs are non-verbal animals. While they are accustomed to your words, they rely on your body language. Avoid confusing them with commands that do not match the body language. Stand confident when giving a command, and do not be distracted or unsure of yourself and them.

Distractions and Environment

Dogs are highly sensory beings, and environmental stimuli can easily divert attention. If a dog is more interested in the sights, sounds, or smells around it, it may seem unresponsive to commands.

Similarly, multiple environmental situations force your pup to behave unnaturally. For instance, dogs learn from the past. They could be sensing danger from that direction and previously having faced something terrible.

Too many hindrances and stimuli in a training environment will lead to uncontrolled behavior and a negative training session.

Medical Condition

Some dog owners fail to identify critical health conditions of their pets. A dog was reluctant to follow the sit command in a real-life scenario. The dog owner was concerned as she failed to deal with the stubborn puppy.

Tests finally revealed that the dog had a strained muscle in the hind legs. The constant pain led to trouble in sitting.

Several similar situations have occurred where the parent failed to identify the primary cause of the reluctance.


Dogs, like humans and every other organism, have multiple personalities. Some dogs are highly social and immediately blend in a public setting. Others tend to be anxious in public and have a defensive attitude. There are several reasons behind such a behavior – experience, breed type, or generic personality. The negative experiences or lack of socialization portray stubborn behavior as a defense mechanism.

Dog owners need to pay extra attention to and identify such situations. Proper understanding of anxiety levels is crucial in building trust and cooperation.

Inadequate Training

Several owners start early with dog training; this is the best thing to do. It is easier to guide young dogs without bad habits or stubborn behavior. However, several dog owners opt out of training and let things slide.

In most cases, stubbornness arises from insufficient or ineffective training. The dog gets accustomed to a particular way of behaving, and sudden training as an adult becomes cumbersome to them.

You can always start stubborn dog training now. Remember to stay consistent and incorporate positive reinforcement-based training methods. These are essential steps to fostering a cooperative relationship between the owner and the dog.

Fueled Behavior

Several dog parents unwillingly teach their pups to misbehave in social settings due to unorganized habits. For example, you stroke your dog's spine and ask them to sit. You offer a treat when he does. Alternatively, when you command SIT, he hardly responds.

Your dog has registered the spine stroke and the SIT command together as a cue to sit. So, when you command, your dog is confused and fails to obey.

Additionally, asking them to sit frustratingly is a troubling experience. The dog needs help understanding what went wrong. It is essential to follow through with the cues and avoid mixed signals.

There is always a reason behind the dog's stubborn behavior. Dogs never misbehave for the sake of dominance or ill-treatment. Carefully watch the behavior to identify underlying concerns and take the perfect steps to make them feel safe.

Strategies for Training Stubborn Dogs

If you are wondering how to house-train a stubborn dog, you have come to the perfect read. This meticulous article thoroughly explains the steps to training a stubborn dog.

Training a stubborn dog requires a tailored approach. No two dogs are the same; they have unique needs and temperaments, which must be considered.
Training an adult puppy requires focus on essential aspects like health, triggers, motivation, and control. The ideal training measures pave the way for a more cooperative canine companion.

Let us explore the effective strategies for transforming stubborn behavior into positive outcomes –

Assessing Your Dog's Health

A complete health check is the first step to a compelling dog training journey. Physical discomfort and other medical issues often negatively contribute to the training journey. Additionally, things can take an uncomprehending turn, leading to more stubbornness and sometimes aggressive behavior.

Invest in regular veterinary check-ups to ensure your dog is in optimal health. Tests rule out the underlying conditions that might impede your dog's ability to learn and follow commands. Besides internal tests, check body parts such as forelegs and hind legs and observe signs of difference.

Several conditions often need to be noticed due to a lack of verbal connection. Remember, a healthy and comfortable dog engages positively in training sessions and is excited to learn.

Understanding The Triggers

My dog is 'stubborn' is a vague and broad concept. If you observe, your puppy abides by multiple commands but becomes stubborn in specific instances. For example, your dog instantly follows when called for dinner, but the same dog struggles to respond when in the park. The situation is the answer; they fail to follow in a distracted environment and need more resilience.

Every dog has triggers or cues to stubbornness. Bad behavior is often situational and requires effective identifying and addressing. Whether the environments, sounds, or interactions, recognizing the cause allows tailored training methods.
Avoid these triggers when possible and gradually expose your dog to them in controlled situations. The measure desensitizes the dog and fosters a more responsive attitude in training.

Motivation and Control

Motivation is a powerful tool in training stubborn dogs. It can be of various forms – rewards, treats, praise, or playtime. These simple things can make the training process fun. You can tailor the motivating objects to your dog's needs. For instance, some dogs crave playtime, while others prefer treats and snuggles.

Alternatively, while treats are sunshine and rainbows, you must teach your pup effective control. Commands help incorporate control in their behavior. For instance, 'wait,' 'stay,' and 'stop' effectively establish a structured environment. These cues control the actions of your furry friend, and they understand your expectations. In turn, your dig reduces their stubborn tendencies.

Creating a Controlled Training Environment

If you are reading this as a dog parent, you must be struggling with your dog. Often, training a stubborn dog requires a distraction-free environment. An area with multiple stimuli can impact dog behavior. It can induce anxiety, excitement, fear, or lack of obedience. All of these hinder the training process and lead to a misbehaving dog.

When starting a training session, choose a distraction-free zone. Create a scenario that helps the dog stay focused. Put away distracting elements such as toys, edibles, and other playtime objects.

Invest in quality leashes and harnesses when training to add extra protection. Almost all dogs, even the well-trained ones, are prone to chasing squirrels and cats. We recommend practicing within a fenced space to avoid such temptations.

Building Engagement with Your Dog

Your dog barely listens to your commands or is distracted from you. Such situations happen because the dog is finding external things more interesting. The primary reason behind this is a need for more engagement.

Engagement is the key to a successful training session. It makes you the most exciting person to the dog and avoids every other distraction. Engagement helps keep the training focused between you and the dog.

Effective engagement is the bond built with quality time. Start spending quality time with your dog in a distraction-free zone. Talk to them naturally, use verbal cues, and play around. With time, start incorporating distractions to test their attention. Keep practicing until your dog is focused on you in a crowded place.

Selecting Effective Rewards

Rewarding is an essential part of stubborn dog training. However, choosing the right rewards for the desired results is vital. Like personalities, each has a specific desire for specific tastes.

Whichever treat you pick for the training session, ensure it is valuable to your dog.
At the beginning of the session, be mindful of the treatment portions. Gradually increase the frequency of rewards as the dog improves the behavior.
Apart from edible treats, rewards can use praise, a pat on the head, belly rubs, or playtime. You can also incorporate homemade treats, such as boiled chicken and vegetables.

Added note: Treats to dogs are what snacks are to humans. They have calories and can quickly impact body weight and overall health.

Practicing Patience in Training

Dogs are generally the opposite of stubborn. They are compliant and love learning tricks and getting trained. As a dog parent, you must understand that they slowly learn the human-made rules with practice and training.

Training your dog takes more than one day and requires consistent effort. Be patient during the early days of training. Offer treats more than usual and gradually make the sessions difficult.

A well-trained dog will respond to commands even amidst high distractions. It requires time, effort, and patience. It is unfair to expect a perfect dog, but your pup can learn several things with the ideal training session.

Establishing Consistent and Repeated Training Routines

Dogs are action-focused. They learn rules, tricks, and methods by repeating and practicing consistently. Make the training session a part of the daily routine. Reinforce positive learning methods by starting with short practice spans and slowly increasing the timing.

Be mindful of what you are repeating. For instance, if you command your dog to come, and they ignore it, they will understand ignorance as training. So, no matter how often you reinforce a positive action, you confuse the dog.

Additionally, avoid punishments for mistakes. It is alright to make mistakes. Guide your dog into good behaviors with love and consistency.

Clear Communication Strategies

Most dogs struggle with training due to mixed signals. Allow us to elaborate with an example. Your dog greets your guests by jumping and licking. This counts as bad dog behavior. So, you command your dog to sit back and immediately offer them a treat. The dog registers that jumping and licking are terrible behaviors.

When you return home from work, and they greet you similarly, you play along and even hug and pat your pup. Now, this is a mixed signal to your dog. They need help understanding what the right thing to do is.

Dogs tend to be more precise and learn quickly when given clear communication. It creates a harmonious environment, and you can relish your desired behavior.

Positive Reinforcement Methods

If you search 'how to train a very stubborn dog,' you will find a term called positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcements are like treats and rewards. When you reward your dog for a particular action, the reward is a positive addition. It can be in any form—an object, edible, or a well-spent time. The positive inclusion leads to reinforcement—the dog increases that specific behavior.

Positive reinforcements are an essential part of dog training sessions. It is all about earning the excellent stuff. Dogs find this a positive learning method and actively participate in the program without fear. Additionally, once the dog experiences positive reinforcement, they will start doing new things to earn more rewards.

Avoiding Assumptions in Training

It is crucial to avoid making assumptions about a dog's understanding or intentions, especially when dealing with a stubborn one. A dog is never stubborn intentionally.

These fur babies perceive the world differently from us humans. What may seem obvious to us might need to be clarified to them.

Assumptions about your dog's bad behaviors can frustrate both of you. These thoughts hinder the training process and make the pup even more stubborn.

Focus on clear and consistent communication. We highly recommend going back to the basic commands. Break down commands into small, understandable steps and reward progress to reinforce positive behavior. The simplified approach helps bridge the communication gap and promotes a practical and enjoyable training experience.

Investing Time in Desired Behaviors

Patience is a virtue, especially when training a stubborn dog. Additionally, if you are starting the training for an adult dog, it will require more patience.

Invest time in reinforcing desired behaviors; this is a critical component of successful training. Consistency is paramount. Practice regular, short training sessions over infrequent, lengthy ones. Dedicate specific periods to focus on positive behaviors, using positive reinforcement techniques. Always pick a calm spot to begin the training session to avoid unnecessary distractions.

Celebrate small victories and gradually increase the complexity of the commands. A patient and gradual approach ensures that the dog understands and willingly engages in the desired behaviors. Such a setting is the foundation for a well-behaved pet.

Reinforcing Fundamental Commands

Building a strong training foundation involves consistently reinforcing fundamental commands. It includes basic commands like sit, stay, and come, which are the building blocks for more advanced behaviors. Practically, if you cannot make your dog sit in your living room free of distraction, making them sit in a busy park is impossible.

Regular practice and positive reinforcement help solidify the basic commands in your dog's repertoire. With practice and repetition, these fundamental commands become second nature. They can perform the basics even in distracting environments.

Reinforcing the basics creates a reliable framework for communication. Soon, it will become easier to address and correct stubborn behavior.

Seeking External Assistance

Recognizing when to seek external assistance is a wise step in addressing stubborn behavior in your dog. There will come certain times when, despite best efforts, challenges will arise. Such instances require a fresh perspective or specialized knowledge.

External assistance can come in various forms. You can enroll in obedience classes, consult with experienced trainers, or seek advice from fellow dog owners. A collaborative approach provides additional insights and introduces your dog to diverse environments and social interactions.

It is essential to view external assistance as a valuable resource rather than a failure. It demonstrates your commitment to the dog's well-being and the willingness to explore different avenues for purposeful training.

Professional Consultation and Support

Professional consultation and support are invaluable for complex behavioural issues or persistent stubbornness. When faced with such circumstances, seek a certified dog behaviourist or trainer with experience. These individuals are adept at dealing with stubborn dogs and can provide tailored solutions.

The professionals possess the expertise to analyze your dog's behavior. They can identify the underlying issues and formulate a customized training plan.

Professional support goes beyond basic obedience training. These professionals address specific behavioral challenges through specialized techniques and strategies.

Additionally, qualified professional offers guidance on creating a conducive home environment and recommends appropriate training tools and equipment.

Seeking professional consultation aids a dog's long-term well-being and ensures that you navigate and overcome any training hurdles.

We have explained about 15 strategies on how to train around a dog's stubbornness. These are tested steps and have helped several dog parents overcome severe behavioral challenges.

Basic disciplines to teach your stubborn dog

Here are some essential command guides to help start the in-house dog training session. The steps are simple and easily achievable with patience and practice.

Training your stubborn dog to SIT

SIT is one of the essential commands you will teach your dog. As a dog parent, you will need this in every situation with your dog. SIT is a simple and fundamental command, and most pet owners prefer to teach this in the first stage.

Being a stubborn pup, they are most likely distracted and will ignore the command. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make your dog SIT –

  •  Start with the 'watch-me' approach before anything else. Your dog must look at you when commanded. Otherwise, they will not learn. Take a piece of treat, hold it before your face, and call out their name along with the 'Watch Me' command. In such a scenario, a dog always stares. If the dog does, give them the treat. Practice this for a few days, on repeat, until they immediately look at you when commanded to Watch Me, even without a treat.
  • Take the treat and guide it up and down to regulate their movement. With practice, they will understand that you are teaching them downward. Use the command 'SIT' while doing this.
  • Offer treats when they sit, pat a little, and encourage the behavior.
  • Keep repeating till sitting under command becomes natural. Practice in various environments and under distractions.
  • Be patient and avoid punishment if they fail.

Training a dog to COME

Training your dog to come whenever you call enhances safety and strengthens your bond. Suppose you have a particularly challenging pup; fear not. Follow the easy-to-understand guide to effectively teach your dog the "come" command.

  •  Establish the "come" command associated with positive experiences. Use treats, toys, or affection to capture the attention. Every time the dog moves to come near you, offer a treat. It creates a positive reinforcement loop.
  • Use a cheerful and happy tone when giving the "come" command. Dogs respond well to positive energy, associating the command with a pleasant experience. Use the voice you generally do when cuddling.
  • Begin the initial training sessions indoors with minimal distractions. This controlled setting allows the dog to focus on the command without external distractions.
  • Use leashes to maintain control while allowing the dog some freedom. It prevents the dog from ignoring the command and reinforces that coming when called is non-negotiable.
  • As the dog becomes proficient indoors, gradually introduce mild distractions. Speed up the training sessions with more challenging environments. It will reinforce the command in various situations and become second nature to the dog.
  • Practice the 'come' command consistently and without negative reinforcements. Stay patient with them, remain consistent, and celebrate the small victories of training.

Training a Difficult Dog to Stay

  • Hyperactive dogs avoid sitting and staying at all costs. Teaching them to stay can be overwhelming, especially in public. However, a calm dog that stays on command is achievable with the perfect process, practice, and patience.
  • Utilize the same positive experience method with the command 'stay.' Once your dog has agreed to sit, use hand gestures to guide them into holding the position. It will take some time. However, treats, praise, or a favorite toy can reinforce the behavior.
  • Increase the duration of the 'stay' gradually. Start with a short span and work your way up with difficulty. The key is to build your dog's confidence in holding the position.
  • Generalize the "stay" command by practicing in different environments. It helps your dog understand that the command applies regardless of the setting.
  • Combine the verbal command with clear visual signals, like an open palm facing your dog for sitting. Consistent cues enhance the dog's understanding and responsiveness to specific interactions.
  • Always return to your dog to release them from the stay position. Reward them with enthusiasm and treats and associate the command and the obeying with positive behavior.

Teaching a stubborn dog to walk at HEEL

  • Heel-ing is a submissive position, and dominant dogs hardly cooperate in this training. Healing means walking alongside you calmly without pulling on the leash. Heel improves the walking experience with your canine companion.
  • Pick a reasonable spot with the minimum distraction for a smooth training experience. The best place is indoors or in your backyard, which your dog is accustomed to.
  • Use a proper leash and collar or a no-pull harness. Equipment that minimizes discomfort and provides control is essential for practical training.
  • Keep a handful of treats for the training session, and make your dog stand on your left. Choose treats that your dog enjoys and will enjoy.
  • A stubborn dog will pull on the leash. Stop on the spot whenever he pulls and gesture to your left to call them back. Be gentle when you stop, and have patience with the process. Avoid negative reinforcements or punishments during mistakes.
  • Reward your dog with treats and a pat on the head to ensure he understands this is a positive behavior.

Teaching a problematic dog to GIVE

  • Dogs tend to grab ahold of something they like and refuse to return it. They think they will lose the stuff and should hold on to it for dear life.
  • Trying to pull something away from the dog's mouth is a frustrating task. However, it can be resolved with proper training.
  • Start the training process with a toy your dog loves minimum. They certainly will not budge if you take away random things. Their toys or a favorite stick from their collection motivates them to engage in the training process.
  • Simultaneously, hold a smelly favorite treat close to their nose and give the command 'give it.' If they instantly drop the toy for the treat, things are easy.
  • If he hesitates, do not nag multiple times with the same command. Patiently wait for them to decide. If they still do not drop the toy, it is of higher value than the treat. Try something better.
  • When they drop the toy for the treat, immediately remove it from sight. Your dog must learn this is an exchange. Make sure to use the 'give' clearly and audibly.
  • Keep practicing with various items and slowly add distractions to the environment. You can also introduce new commands such as drop it, release it, and so on.
  • Once done, always give the prized possession back to your dog. This creates a sense of trust, and they understand that the thing is not lost.

Potty Training Your Dog

  • Potty training is a fundamental aspect of raising a happy and well-behaved dog. Establishing good bathroom habits is essential, whether you have a puppy or an adult dog.
  • Establish a routine for feeding, walks, and potty breaks. The set regularity helps set your dog's motions into a system, and there are fewer chances of indoor accidents.
  • Pick a designated spot outside for breaks. The lingering scent will signal your dog that this is the approved bathroom spot. When they are amidst the action, use a specific phrase, such as "go potty," to get accustomed. With practice, they will associate this term with potty breaks and will act effortlessly.
  • Praise and reward your dog whenever they are eliminated in the designated potty area. The positive reinforcement will create a positive association with proper bathroom behavior.
  • Keep a close eye on your dog, especially during the initial training phase. Use a leash or a confined space indoors when you can't supervise to prevent accidents.
  • Pay attention to your dog's behavior, such as sniffing or circling, which may indicate the need to go potty. Anticipating these signs helps you get them to the designated area in time.
  • Accidents are part of the learning process. If one occurs, avoid punishment and clean the area thoroughly to eliminate any lingering scent. The leftover smell can confuse the puppy about the designated spot.

Teaching a Stubborn Dog to Walk on a Leash

  • Walking on a leash is crucial for any dog; it is a necessary outdoor skill. However, teaching it to a stubborn pup requires patience, positive reinforcement, and a strategic approach. An expert guide will transform your reluctant walker into a well-behaved, leash-friendly companion.
  • Select a comfortable harness or collar and a sturdy leash. Ensure the equipment fits well to prevent discomfort or escape. Allow your dog to get used to the harness or collar positively. Associate it with treats and praise to create a positive association.
  • Begin training indoors or in your backyard to minimize distractions. A controlled environment helps your dog focus on the leash without external influences. Reward your dog with treats and praise when they show positive leash behavior.
  • Start with short walks in a quiet area. Encourage your dog to walk beside you, rewarding them for staying close. If they pull, execute gentle U-turns. Change direction whenever they pull, encouraging them to stay close to avoid sudden changes.
  • Allow your dog to stop and explore periodically. This will reduce frustration, make the walk more enjoyable, and gradually improve leash manners.
  • Introduce consistent verbal cues, such as "heel" or "walk nicely." Consistency helps your dog understand your expectations during walks.

Teaching a Stubborn Dog to Refrain from Barking

  • Dealing with a dog that barks excessively can be challenging. The dog may bark for a specific reason or be bored. However, with patience and consistent training, you can effortlessly address this behavior.
  • Identify the triggers causing your dog to bark excessively. Whether boredom, fear, excitement, or territorial instincts, understanding the root cause is crucial for practical training.
  • Practice distracting with a different activity. It can be playing or cuddling. It will distract them from unnecessary barking.
  • Like any other command, introduce a specific command or cue, like "quiet" or "enough." Choose a word that is clear and easy for you to remember.
  • Reward your dog when they stop barking upon hearing the quiet cue. Use treats, praise, or toys to reinforce the desired behavior. Timing is essential for them to associate the command with the desired action.
  • Combine your verbal cue with a corresponding hand signal or gesture. This dual communication reinforces the command and helps your dog understand more clearly.
  • Minimize triggers that prompt excessive barking. For example, close curtains to block visual stimuli or reduce exposure to external sounds that may agitate your dog.
  • Gradually expose the dog to complex environments and situations. Proper socialization helps reduce anxiety and fear-based barking.
  • Refrain from using punishment as it may increase anxiety and lead to more barking. Positive reinforcement is a more effective and humane approach.


These step-by-step guides on how to train a stubborn dog breed with various commands and environments have always worked for young to adult dogs. Training a dog can be a fun experience when done with the techniques.
If you need help with basic commands, consult professionals in this field.

How long does it take to train a stubborn dog?

The duration required to train a stubborn dog relies on several factors. It depends on the dog's age, temperament, experiences, and the consistency of the training methods.

While some dogs may show significant improvement in a matter of weeks, others might take several months to overcome stubborn behaviors. Patience, persistence, and a positive training approach are crucial to success.

Focus on establishing a strong foundation through basic commands. Gradually progress to more complex behaviors that contribute to steady improvement. It's crucial to remember training is an ongoing process, and the timeline may differ for each dog.

Celebrating small victories is essential. Maintain a consistent training routine and adapt strategies to suit the individual dog's needs. The steady effort leads to long-term success in transforming a difficult dog into a well-behaved companion.

We would love to see your beautiful companion effectively trained. Train them to pose using the same method and hire a professional dog photographer to create forever memories.

Make the Training Super Effective with Doodle Couture

Well-trained or still in progress, these fur babies are an all-inclusive part of our lives. Dogs make our homes brighter and better and love us unconditionally. Our responsibility is to focus on their well-being and behavior to strengthen the bond. Take note of all the necessary steps you learned in this meticulous read. Do not shy away from taking professional guidance.

Training a stubborn dog requires patience, the ideal methodologies, and proper equipment. You will need quality treats, toys, and training gear - we have it covered.

With Doodle Couture, you can supercharge the training process with our collection of premium-grade leashes, harnesses, collars, and other bundle packs. Start your pawfect training journey with our luxury dog accessories.
Happy training!

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