Training An Unresponsive Dog

by Nancy Boland

Training a dog takes dedication, patience and persistence. If you are running into difficulties training your dog and despair of ever being able to get them to respond and learn new skills, you may need to look at your training protocols and think about making some changes. Every dog is different and so will respond differently.

Here are some of the common training problems you might be experiencing plus some suggestions on how to solve them.

Poor motivation

In order to have success with training, your dog has to have a good reason to be motivated. Training will boil down to a simple equation with your dog: What’s in it for me? Once your dog can make the connection between compliance and getting a reward, be that treats, a toy or lots of praise the sooner he will begin to be consistent with training.


Dogs can be easily distracted by outside stimuli so it’s important to conduct your training sessions in a calm, quiet and familiar environment to begin with, so that your dog doesn’t get too involved exploring a new place.

Asking your dog to concentrate for training is much simpler if they are not faced with a whole range of other things vying for their attention, and once your dog can do this, then you can move on to more challenging environments and work your way up.

High Expectations

Each dog breed has certain intelligent levels, some learn very quickly, others need more time and therefore more patience. While it can be challenging training a dog that is seemingly lower on the intelligence level, training a dog of high intelligence can be equally as frustrating and time consuming because they are thinking quickly and may even be a step ahead of you.

Getting to know your dogs personality, temperament and abilities is crucial here so that you can tailor make a training programme to suit their needs.

Positive Reinforcement

For training to stick in a dog’s mind, they need to receive positive praise from you. Useful praising tools include treats and toys but never underestimate the power of a positive, encouraging tone of voice. If this positive reinforcement isn’t followed through with, your dog will be much more unlikely to understand and therefore never really make any gains in their training.

Keep Calm

It can be frustrating when your dog isn’t appearing to learn as quickly as you would like but dogs are very sensitive and intuitive to your emotions and will absolutely pick up on your frustrations, so it’s important to stay as calm as possible during your frustrations.

If you find yourself becoming strained or irritable with your dog during a training session, it’s time to wrap it up for the day to avoid your dog getting confused further.


If your dog still isn’t appearing to understand, make sure that what you’re asking for is consistent. The same choice of words for every command, and don’t be tempted to pick a different word(s) as this is be counterintuitive to your dogs training.

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