Lack of Compliance does not mean Defiance

Lack of compliance does not mean defiance.

It can be quite a common misconception that if dogs don’t do as we tell them they are being defiant or are ‘trying it on’. Now while this can occasionally be true, particularly for teenage dogs, the majority of the time it isn’t your dog trying to assert themselves on you.


I see it quite a lot in class when an owner prompts their dog to do something and the dog refuses I get a rather exasperated, ‘he does this at home!’ from an embarrassed owner.

Please don’t worry or see it as your dog doing it on purpose.


So what is it if it isn’t defiance?


🛑 Overstimulated - too much background and surrounding stimuli will have a massive effect on your dog’s compliance. Imagine trying to learn a new skil or even one you have down while a death metal band plays behind you. Much harder, right? A busy park can also be the same thing for your dog.


🛑 Triggers - things your dog has difficulty ignoring could be taking over their thinking and leave not much room for listening to you. Think about it like this:- your fave famous person is stood nearby and your partner is showing you something. Are you paying them 100% attention? Or are you having a little perv at your celebrity crush?


🛑 Motivaton - dogs don’t do anything for free, as as you don’t go to work without the guarantee of payment. Motivation is unique to your dog and fluid. What works in one place may not work in another.


🛑 Relationship - our relationships with our dogs are not static things. We have to keep working on ensuring we have a strong and positive bond. If your dog isn’t familiar or has had negative experiences with someone, they aren’t going to work with them well.


🛑 Physiological - If you’re not feeling well or a bit out of balance you’re not going to want to particularly do much or feel up to lots of thinking and the same is true for your dog. if they are unwell, too hot or cold, injured or having a hormonal day, they might find it difficult to work with you.


🛑 Understanding- you might be asking for too much too soon or jumping ahead with the next step of training while your dog hasn’t grasped the current one properly.


It could be one or several of these factors coming into play when your dog’s compliance falls away. But don’t dispair, you can get it back!


✅ Proof your training in quieter low distraction areas and progress to higher distractions gradually.


✅ Putting more distance between your dog and his triggers. Or walking away all together.

✅ Have a variety of rewards to hand from different types of food, it’s or even use the environment. Use what your dog is fancying at their moment in time.

✅ Make sure you do things with your dog outside of the norm. Having fun with them isn’t already training. Play, go for a walk together, cuddle on the couch.

✅ If your dog ain’t feelin’ it, knock it on the head. You’re not going to do any harm having a break from things while your dog is having a hormonal shift or don’t like the heat. You will do damage forcing them when they aren’t 100%.

✅ Break the training down into smaller pieces, try approximations towards the end behaviour and set more achievable goals for your dog to succeed. Optimistic dogs are ones that work harder.

Try not to see it as a personal affront if your dog isn’t doing what you want. Have a think about why it might be happening and set them up to succeed by adjusting your expectations or changing what you are doing.

Happy training!