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Maybe stubborn is the wrong word when applied to dogs, but I do think there are dogs with independent natures who don't much care what humans want and dogs with cooperative natures who are keen to do what humans want. Combine the indifference with a certain amount of toughness of mind and body, and what do you call it? What word should we apply to the difference between Golden Retriever attitude and Basenji attitude?

Even within a single breed, I've watched a lot of puppy aptitude testing not just for litters I was interested in but for others (because I find it entertaining and fascinating), and you can see it there at 7 weeks. One puppy joyfully comes when called even though the tester is a stranger; another ignores the call and wanders off. That's not stubbornness but indifference, but I've seen puppies that young fight being posed on a grooming table, not with any sign of fear, not biting and wild, but just with a determination not to do what the human wants. They don't want to, and they're not going to, and no amount of yummy food or anything else is going to make them. That sure looks like stubbornness.
 

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Maybe stubborn is the wrong word when applied to dogs, but I do think there are dogs with independent natures who don't much care what humans want and dogs with cooperative natures who are keen to do what humans want. Combine the indifference with a certain amount of toughness of mind and body, and what do you call it? What word should we apply to the difference between Golden Retriever attitude and Basenji attitude?

Even within a single breed, I've watched a lot of puppy aptitude testing not just for litters I was interested in but for others (because I find it entertaining and fascinating), and you can see it there at 7 weeks. One puppy joyfully comes when called even though the tester is a stranger; another ignores the call and wanders off. That's not stubbornness but indifference, but I've seen puppies that young fight being posed on a grooming table, not with any sign of fear, not biting and wild, but just with a determination not to do what the human wants. They don't want to, and they're not going to, and no amount of yummy food or anything else is going to make them. That sure looks like stubbornness.
Yes, some breeds or individuals work more closely with human than others, while others need a lot more work to achieve obedience. Take the compliant "velcro dog" BC versus the bulldog, for instance. But in my opinion, the dog who is less receptive to instruction isn't stubborn, he simply hasn't learned the value in cooperation with humans. Perhaps instead of being "stubborn", they do not understand the concept or are not motivated. Some dogs are more intelligent and capable of learning than others, in my experience. Or other times, the trainer is not properly motivating the animal. A dog that seems to be "stubborn" could be scared, confused, or, as you said, indifferent. The indifference, however, is not because the dog wants to ignore the person, but because they have not been taught to obey and work with the person or haven't been properly motivated. "for every canine shortcoming there is a human explanation". Dogs do not sit there and think "no, I don't feel like it, so I won't". They have not yet learned that obedience/cooperation is the most rewarding course of action.

I would argue here also that the puppy does not understand why you are putting him on the table, and is probably apprehensive, if not fearful- he is not old enough to have formed a trusting bond to humans yet.
 

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I prefer to say uncooperative, some dogs just don't want to work with you to figure out what you're trying to achieve.
 

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I prefer to say uncooperative, some dogs just don't want to work with you to figure out what you're trying to achieve.
As to puppy on the table, these are puppies who have been on the table regularly since they were probably 5 weeks or so old and rewarded with cheese and hot dogs for cooperation. Fear doesn't enter into it. Some of them really do just hit a no, I don't want to and you can't make me moment or aversion to a particular thing, and why can't dogs have those kind of feelings now and then?

Sometimes I think we consider it a given that dogs are delighted to do anything humans want whenever we want if we only train it well enough. Secure in that belief, we don't accept that they can have likes and dislikes as strong as we do. So we not only accept but cater to preferences and antipathies in people but devote ourselves to eliminating signs of those things in our dogs. I do think some of the more recent developments into positive training are less rigid about such things.

Anyway, back to stubborn. Is it that the word carries too much of a negative implication for some? You can say stubborn humans just haven't yet been motivated with the proper incentive to go along with the program too, couldn't you? To me uncooperative brings up an idea of more passive avoidance of doing something, whereas stubborn brings up the idea of someone really digging in and making, no, I won't obvious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What I am seeing here is a discussion of two distinctly different things being melded into one (anthropomorphic thinking perhaps???) behavior descriptor.

Stubborn is as the meme states.

Independence and lack of pack drive (desire to cooperate with and work with a human partner) is quite different from stubborn. Some breeds are hard wired to lack pack drive because their "bred for" job required independence. Other individuals within a breed bred for cooperation can lack pack drive.

Lack of pack drive is very different from stubborn.
 

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Independence and lack of pack drive (desire to cooperate with and work with a human partner) is quite different from stubborn. Some breeds are hard wired to lack pack drive because their "bred for" job required independence. Other individuals within a breed bred for cooperation can lack pack drive.

Lack of pack drive is very different from stubborn.
Sorry, for me when lack of pack drive leads a dog to resist attempts to make it behave as if it had average or higher pack drive - which resistance in both humans and dogs also requires more than average mental toughness - that's what we humans define as stubborn behavior. If in this thread it's to be considered something else, that's fine. I'll shut up now.
 

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As to puppy on the table, these are puppies who have been on the table regularly since they were probably 5 weeks or so old and rewarded with cheese and hot dogs for cooperation. Fear doesn't enter into it. Some of them really do just hit a no, I don't want to and you can't make me moment or aversion to a particular thing, and why can't dogs have those kind of feelings now and then?

Sometimes I think we consider it a given that dogs are delighted to do anything humans want whenever we want if we only train it well enough. Secure in that belief, we don't accept that they can have likes and dislikes as strong as we do. So we not only accept but cater to preferences and antipathies in people but devote ourselves to eliminating signs of those things in our dogs. I do think some of the more recent developments into positive training are less rigid about such things.

Anyway, back to stubborn. Is it that the word carries too much of a negative implication for some? You can say stubborn humans just haven't yet been motivated with the proper incentive to go along with the program too, couldn't you? To me uncooperative brings up an idea of more passive avoidance of doing something, whereas stubborn brings up the idea of someone really digging in and making, no, I won't obvious.
For sure- perhaps I was just thinking about the connotation of "stubborn". And dogs certainly have preferences and comfort zones that they require a lot of training to get out of, if they ever do at all. Of course, you don't force a dog to go against his preferences in some things, like participating in a sport, but other "preferences" like dashing out the door into traffic, need to be altered

To my mind, we don't have stubborn dogs, just ones with, as @3GSD4IPO said, lower pack drive. I suppose what I am saying is that, by the definition of stubborn in the OP, (knowing and choosing to go against) it's not likely that, say, the neighbor who claims their Jack Russel is just "stubborn", actually has a "stubborn dog", there's probably a different explanation, such as anxiety OR lack of understanding OR breed traits/genetics OR training OR individual preference, or some combination of those.
 
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To me uncooperative brings up an idea of more passive avoidance of doing something, whereas stubborn brings up the idea of someone really digging in and making, no, I won't obvious.
Spitz come to mind when talking about cooperation, especially Siberian Huskies. It isn't that they do or don't understand what you ask of them but often their head is just elsewhere and simply aren't interested in what humans ask of them.

Terminology gets lost in translation when often a dogs intelligence is based on biddability. There are plenty of intelligent breeds that are more challenging to train.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There ya go..
Lack of biddability.. that is lack of pack drive. Stubborn is a bit different.. and pretty rare.

As the "meme" states, stubborn is where a dog (or other!) knows perfectly well what is being asked/required and the dog willfully chooses not to. They have 4 toes.. if they had 5 they would be giving a middle toe at you. It DOES exist, but, as also stated in the "meme" it is rare.

Other reasons for "disobedience" are far more common than "stubborn" behavior.
 
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