How to Deal with a Stubborn Dog – Things that Work well with my Boxer

Last Updated on 2022-02-03 by Admin

Annie Stubborn

This article, how to deal with a stubborn Dog, is based on my experience with my Boxer girl Annie. Annie was a very stubborn puppy. Even today, she can be very determined. I like to describe what we went through with Annie. And explain what we did to overcome the stubbornness to the extent that it’s not a big issue most of the time.

I’m not a dog trainer, just a dog owner who makes a great effort to understand his Dog. And often wonder. Why, after living with Dogs for thousands of Years, we know so little about them? During the same time, dogs have figured us out exceptionally well.

Annie’s Stubborn Behaviour

While Annie is a fantastic dog, she can get my blood pressure up at times. It takes a lot of trial and error to find ways to deal with her stubbornness effectively. The stubbornness showed itself in many ways. Here is our stubborn list:

  • When walking, all of a sudden, she stops. Pulling on the leash just made it worse. She resists. She was like a mule.
  • When she is sniffing and pulling the leash to go on, she would jerk the leash to her side and not budge. She sniffed till she had enough.
  • Pulling like crazy when walking, mostly when another dog was in sight.
  • On a sunny day, she would roll over and lay in the grass when going for a walk. And there was no way to get her up.

Most of the stubborn behaviour was sufficiently addressed by trying to understand the Dog’s desire.

Try To Understand Under What Circumstances The Dog Is Stubborn

When You look at the list above, it is interesting to note that all the stubbornness occurs outside while we go for our walks. If I try to look at this from an imaginary dog’s perspective, outside is the Dog’s natural environment, where indoors is the human environment. I could be wrong about that, but this view seems to help with understanding Annie.

Why Does My Dog Stop In The Middle Of Our Walk?

Often I used to asked myself why does Annie stop in the middle of our walk? She wants to be outside and walk. Dogs are smart; they are social; they can read human facial expressions and body language. Dog’s communicate with us humans in many subtle ways. They can let us know when it’s time for food. Or if it is time to go out. In that case they stand in front of the door. They can bring a toy when they want to play.

Focus On What The Dog Wants

While thinking about all the ways dogs communicate. Annie’s actions were clearly demanding my attention. So I decided to try something different. When Annie stopped during our walk, I would step back and stand beside her. She looked at my face. Then Annie turned and walked the way back where we came from and chose her way. And every other time during our walk when she stood still, I did the same thing. And each time, she took her path.

My Dog Trained Me Well

What an interesting and amazing finding. It is not the Dog that is stubborn. Maybe it was me all along. That experience changed my approach to walking Annie. From now on, the walks are for the Dog. I’m there just for the company.

The natural way to address the jerking on the leash while sniffing. Is to let her sniff till done. Again, Annie was communicating. What is the harm in letting the dog sniff?

What I gained was a better relationship with Annie. And we are more aware of one another in general. This approach’s benefits are that Annie will listen to me when I don’t want to go her way. She still stops, but now I can say no, this way. And she follows.

My approach has pretty much broken all the rules about dog training. But I am happy with the result. I can say no and point the direction I want to go and she will come. It might take second attempt to encourage her to come.

What Command Or Action Gets The Dogs Attention

On a sunny day, when going for a walk with Annie, she would roll over and lay in the grass. And there was no way to get her up. That can be a frustrating situation. You want to take your Dog for a quick walk before heading out for an appointment. But You cant motivate the Dog to get up.

I tried several things, and most only worked for a short time. The options that remain get rotated in the hopes that Annie doesn’t get bored of them. What is left is playing with a ball, treats, clapping my hands and calling her. But calling her is the least effective method.

Be Patient

The most persistent item of my stubborn list is the pulling towards other dogs. Sometimes Annie can be almost immovable. That is when she sees another dog across the road. Then the only option is to wait till the other Dog disappears. Clapping my hands has worked occasionally to get her attention.

Interestingly when the other Dog is in front, and she pulls. Turning and walking the opposite way will work if I can turn Annie around on the leash. With Patience, I’m sure this one issue can get addressed as well.

As a dog gets older it becomes more mature. If the experience with Annie is any indication, the stubborn streak mellows out with age. And doing all the things mentioned earlier really show how much of a difference they can make. You can read about it in my post called The Joy of Owning a Five Year old Boxer.


Like most dog owners, I have varied success in dealing with my Dog’s stubbornness. The first place to start dealing with stubbornness is to make sure the Dog had plenty of exercises. Without plenty of activities, You may never have a dog that is prepared to focus. And therefore can’t behave as expected. A tired dog is a Happy Dog.

How to deal with a Stubborn Dog

To deal with a stubborn dog try to follow these steps.

  • Try to understand under what circumstances the Dog is Stubborn
  • Focus on What the Dog wants
  • What command or Action gets the dogs attention
  • Be Patient

While I described how to deal with stubbornness, You may have noticed that I did not use all four steps above for any one scenario. Sometimes steps can be subtle or implied. For example, when dealing with Annie stopping during our walk. She took notice that I walked back to her and stood beside her. That got her attention.


Suzanne Clothier is an internationally respected dog trainer

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