5 reasons why your Stubborn Dog won't listen to You

dog training for stubborn dogs, reasons why dog wont listen

A stubborn dog will teach you that persistence isn't just a trait, it's a lifestyle. Raising a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences of life. Raising and training a stubborn dog requires twice the effort but also yields twice the reward. When your dog refuses to listen, there are a multitude of factors responsible for this. Understanding these factors can help address the issue more effectively. Let’s get into the deets.

Is a stubborn dog being spiteful on purpose?

The literal definition of spite is ‘a feeling of malicious intent or a desire to harm, annoy, or frustrate someone, often out of anger or resentment.’ The emotions described in this statement are highly human and don’t apply to animals. This is because they operate purely on instincts and not complex emotions like spite.

The actions of dogs on a day-to-day basis are usually motivated by essential needs such as hunger, thirst, comfort and safety. Some dogs are more driven towards fulfilling their needs and certain instincts which have earned them the title of “stubborn dogs”. On the other hand, several other dogs fall under the category of what we call as “easy to train dogs.” 

Understanding your dog’s stubbornness

Stubbornness in dogs is nothing but an incredible amount of resilience and drive to do something. This something usually does not fit into the “ideal dog” mould we make for our dogs. Day to day dog behavior is usually driven by two things – instincts and training.

In dogs that we call “stubborn,” the motivation to act out of pure instincts is far more than willingness to follow protocol in different situations. For example, a Border Collie, when fixated on a small white dog, might completely ignore your existence for the time being, not out of spite or stubbornness, but because of their strong instincts to herd. In that situation, no number of treats or toys may help in redirecting them. However, an activity that allows them to herd and fulfil their needs might be far more helpful to regain their focus and snap them out of their “stubborn” behavior.

Understanding why your dog is acting in a certain way is important to train them out of it. Many a time, as pet parents, we may miss out on small nuances that make up essential aspects of dog training. A professional can not only teach where to look, but also what to see. Virtual training classes are an excellent starting point to understanding and dog training for stubborn dogs.

Virtual training with programs like HOMESCHOOL BY LAY LO® are conducted through 1:1 video calls with a certified trainer and can take place in the comforts of your own home. The trainer may ask to observe your dog's behavior and interaction with you to assess their current training level and temperament and create a personalized training plan tailored to your dog's needs and your goals.

A huge differentiator of this program is how accountable their trainers keep you by constant availability throughout the week for real-time training support.

dog training for stubborn dogs


5 reasons why your stubborn dog chooses not to listen to you

  1. Your dog is genetically programmed to act in a certain way

Genetic behaviors have been passed down in dogs through generations due to selective breeding for specific tasks or characteristics. Dogs like Border Collies, Great Pyrenees, Blood Hounds, Terrier breeds etc have certain traits and characteristics such as herding, tracking, digging, etc. baked into their biology.

These dogs can’t help exhibiting these behaviors as situations present themselves because that is exactly what they were bred to do. Their willingness to perform these behaviors often surpasses their liking for treats or any other reward you have to offer. Many pet parents may perceive this trait as “stubbornness.”

  1. Your rewards aren’t exciting enough

Expecting a Blood Hound to leave scent-tracking halfway and come back to you for a piece of chicken liver is equal to setting them up for failure. However, if you combine a few high value treats like raw meat along with the freedom to get back to scent-tracking immediately after they come back to you is a great way to ensure reliable recall with a Blood Hound. 

A great reward is something that motivates the dog enough to repeatedly perform a desirable behavior as well as fulfill their instinctual needs.

reasons why dog wont listen

  1. Lack of trust and effective communication

A dog’s pack orientation is rooted in their ancestry from wolves. They have a natural inclination to live in social groups and form strong social bonds with other dogs or humans. This is a part of their survival instinct.

Thus, if your dog does not trust you to look out for them and feel the need to act out in order to draw boundaries, it is a huge gap in the relationship. You can do three things to build an unwavering trust with your dog –

  • Respect their boundaries
  • Be consistent with training and routine setting
  • Respond favorably to their body language communication

A professional trainer will help you work with your dog to foster a nurturing and trusting bond with them. Here’s a quick video to give you an insight into what a virtual training session by Homeschool by LAY LO looks like –



  1. You may be expecting too much out of your dog

While dealing with your “stubborn” dog, you may often find yourself wondering, “But it’s just a simple Sit! And he knows how to do it!” What you may not realize is that performing even simple behaviors like “Sit” or “down” can be challenging when a dog is fixated on something else.

In such situations, try to make the training 3 times easier than usual for your dog. What does that look like? Now turn it down a notch again. That is the level you need to be with your dog when they refuse to listen to you in a situation.

  1. The environment may be too overwhelming for your dog

Dogs have around 220 million to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about 5 to 6 million in humans. This makes them way more sensitive and attuned to their environment than humans. How can you beat the ability to sniff the passage of time?

You are competing with a lot when you’re trying to gain your dog’s attention in an outdoor environment. Furthermore, when it comes to reactive dogs, their threshold must also be kept in mind when training them.

So, next time when you feel like your “stubborn dog” is not listening to you in a particular situation, gauge the environment and alter your expectations as well as training techniques to meet your dog midway. 

dog training for stubborn dogs

In conclusion

A stubborn dog is just a highly driven and a motivated dog. The only difference is their motivations does not lie in the rewards you have to offer. Their resilience to exhibit behaviors driven by instincts is unmatched. Understanding and harnessing these abilities through training and enrichment can maximize your dog’s potential.

Author Bio: Siddhika is a certified dog trainer, behaviorist, and professional pet writer. Over the course of her dog training career, she has gained 3 certifications accredited by KCAI (Kennel Club Accredited Instructors) in the field of dog training and behavior, viz - Basic obedience course, Therapy Dog Training Course and Canine Aggression Course. She has the qualifications and experience in the theoretical as well as real-life applications of science-based dog training techniques.

With the expertise to write about a plethora of dog-related topics and a personal interest in dog cognition and behavior, Siddhika is an out-and-out canine nerd.