Why Is My Dog So Hard to Train?

Training a dog is hard work and we all make mistakes. Reading online, you might think most people’s dogs are perfect. Trust me, they’re not! Here is a story about MY dog…

Our five dogs wait in a down/stay at obedience class. We’ve done this dozens of times, maybe hundreds.

The class instructor tells us to drop the leashes and walk away.

“Keep going,” he says. “Past the tent. Go all the way to the posts.”

The posts are about 100 yards from our dogs. We train our dogs outdoors without a fence, and this is the first time we’ve tested them at this distance.

It takes us a few minutes to get there. The goal, of course, is for our dogs to remain in place, to stay until we return. They stare at us, attentive.

But then I glance up again and see a blur of gray muscle charging towards me. For a moment, I don’t recognize him. That couldn’t be my dog.

It is.

Not only is Remy running full speed across the field, but instead of running to me he darts to my left. He wants to keep going! I can see he’s proud of himself. He’s got that goofy weim grin. A free spirit.

I snag the leash.

He hits the end hard. My rugby days come in handy as a weim owner, turns out.

My dog and I walk across the field now, a walk of shame, back to the original position where four good dogs still wait. They gaze out at their owners in adoration.

I put Remy in place. I tell him “stay” but this time I only walk about 8 feet. I wait for the other dog owners so we can all return and praise our dogs together. I tell my dog he’s a good boy for staying.

I know we have work to do.

Now … I write this to show you one thing – dogs are not perfect. They’re dogs! And people are not perfect. Remy was not ready for that kind of challenge, clearly, and that’s OK. I learned from it.

Dog training is a lot of work. It takes time, patience and more time. I never want anyone to feel bad because their dog is having trouble with leash manners or coming when called or whatever it might be. We all have our own struggles.

The problems I have with Remy usually come down to the fact that he’s higher energy than almost all dogs. He brings “easily excitable” to a whole new level and on top of that he likes to have the last word. If Remy doesn’t want to do something, he nips or mumbles and grumbles. He’s got “personality.” I love him.

“How old is he?” people ask. They see this wiggly body and big, Dumbo ears.

“He’s 2.”

Them: “Wow! He acts like a puppy!”

But the thing is … Remy IS still a puppy. Weimaraners and plenty of other breeds are slow to mature. They’re puppies until at least 2.

A lot of 6-month-old puppies act more mature than my weim, especially smaller breeds. That’s just the way it is.

So I thought we could all share some stories of our REAL dogs. The good, the bad, the funny. Dogs are dogs! Training and raising them is an adventure, a work in progress.

Here are two more of my stories …

So my dog starts heaving in the living room. Like, this dog is gonna upchuck, big time!

I run forward to guide him off the rug. Only, this triggers a primal possessiveness in my dog. He holds in his puke, dashes to the corner and stands there like a demon. Hackles up. He’s holding his puke in his mouth, gagging, trying to guard it from me.

You can keep your puke, Remy. I’ll pick my battles.

This is my dog.

Or, when I pick him up from “doggy daycare” and he’s so hyper the staff can’t get a Gentle Leader or a prong collar on him.

They bring him out on a slip lead. He’s hopping on his hind legs, little front arms hanging like a T-Rex, eyes bugged out.

“He’s really sweet,” they tell me.

Uh-huh.

This is my life.

This is my dog.

Now it’s your turn!

Let me know a story about your REAL dog in the comments below. The good, the bad, the funny.

We want people to know that training a dog is hard work and we all make mistakes. Reading blogs and Instagram posts, you might think people’s dogs are perfect. Trust me, they’re not!

In the comments below, tell me about your dog!

27 thoughts on “Why Is My Dog So Hard to Train?”

  1. Oh my goodness. I could tell you stories.

    How when she was a puppy, she decided beer smelled interesting and figured out that if she bumped into the hand holding the bottle, she could get in a few laps before we were able to clean up the spill. (We got our revenge: We started using an empty beer bottle to proof stays.)

    How she once broke a stay like Remy did, only she trotted right to me with this big, jubilant grin. In the moment, it was so funny that I completely lost my composure (oops), and she decided since it was such a hit, she was going to repeat it on every down-stay exercise. For the next two months.

    How we truly struggled with how mouthy she was as a puppy and how following bad advice from a totally force-free trainer at the outset meant it took months to teach her first to not use her teeth as a communication tool with humans and then to practice good bite inhibition.

    How she learned to greet the cat appropriately…and then repeated appropriate greetings over and over and over, until the cat objected to being made a pawn in her game for praise and exited the scene, with the dog following as if to say, “Come back! I wish to bestow additional greetings!” (This happened more recently than I care to admit.)

      1. It was one of the funniest interactions I’d ever seen between the two of them, from the dog’s pride in how well she’d learned the rules to the cat’s utter disgust to the dismay on the part of the dog when she figured out that she wouldn’t be able to show off for me anymore. I really should have reminded her not to follow the cat but I absolutely suck at keeping a straight face and I was too busy laughing.

  2. Love your stories about Remy,”blur of gray muscle”, perfect description of a weimaraner. Sounds like Olive and Willow my 2 20 month old wiemaraners could be litter mates to Remy. That blazing speed and free spirit almost cost Olive her life at about 10 months. Had her in the yard playing a game of fetch and she was doing great, retrieving and returning to my side, until she decided it was time for another game. She decided after one retrieve to go at full speed around the back of my house where she ran head first into a utility trailer. She was yelping uncontrollably and I I ran to her as she fell over out cold. I just knew I’d lost her, but after a trip to the ER and numerous trips to the University of Tennessee Vet. Hospital, a fractured vertabra in her neck and 2 months of sedatives and confinement to her crate it’s like nothing ever happened to her. Don’t think she learned anything either, ah the Weim life!!

  3. Lambeau definitely qualifies in the “high energy” category! He loves to run, and will go at top speed around and around in the field until he can’t go anymore. Then he flops over for a minute or two, and is up and off again! He will play fetch with a ball or frisbee until your arm drops off, and then expect you to start with the other arm! I have to watch him in summer and make his stop to rest and get a drink of water for a bit so he doesn’t overheat, And if he doesn’t get the exercise he needs? He tears around the house, up and down the hall, up and down two flights of stairs, and heaven help you if you are in his way! Or he will grab a toy and toss it up in the air, catch it, toss, chase, so hard I’m afraid he’ll break a lamp or something. People see him with all that energy and ask “How old is he?” I know they expect me to say he’s just a puppy. I get the most amazed looks when I say “he’s four.” The Energizer Bunny has nothing on my pit mix! LOL

  4. At our first or second training class ever, we were in an empty parking lot and we walked along a row of spaces asking our dogs to sit on every line. Sit. The most basic of commands. Baxter thought it was dumb and refused to sit. (He knew how. That was not the problem. He just wasn’t interested in doing what we wanted.) The lesson in sit became a lesson in respect and obedience as we had to out-stubborn our dog (the dog did not realize that no one can out-stubborn my husband). The rest of the class had moved on to several more exercises by the time my husband and I both completed our reps. But now sit is Bax’s most reliable command and he’ll respond when we snap our fingers, say the word or give the slightest vertical pressure on the leash. For a moment, though, I thought we’d never get there!

  5. Gauge goes to daycare, when it’s his time to leave All I see are the poor girls being pulled down the hallway. He has sooo much energy. He is not quite 2 years old. Lab mix.

  6. Seems that people don’t train their small dogs. I was at the dog park and called my little guy he turned and ran to me and jumped into my arms. People were amazed. So I taught them to call when most likely to come turn and run and have treats. I also like hide n seek but nowhere to hide at the park so I just told them about it. Hope I helped.

  7. I have a constant battle with my rescue Kelpie Rosie, “Don’t jump on me!”. She just has so much energy and is so happy to see me. As soon as I open the car door she is jumping up on me before I can get out. Now that’s fine when I’m not wearing work clothes, but if my fiance has just had her down swimming in the dam before I get home, I hardly want her sharing her wet dog paws and smell all over me, regardless of whether I’m wearing casual clothes or not. Still working on a solution. Her first 2 years before she was surrendered were without any boundaries or training of manners and then she was surrendered because she was “unmanageable”. Pfft!

  8. My dog,Dexter(Shepard mix), was the one at puppy class that could not stop barking. Even the instructor could not get him to focus on anything else besides the other dogs. I tried all I could to tire him before class with no success. I just had to shrug and laugh. He finally adjusted on my second 6 week class and we actually learned something.

    Dexter also managed to break my TV while vigorously shaking his toy inside and letting go at the perfect moment for it to crash and shatter the TV screen.

    The first time I trusted Dexter unattended in the yard he proceeded to dig up 7 out of 10 of my sprinkler heads, destroyed my patio seat covers and dug a hole under my garage. Who knew so much damage could happen in 4 hours!!! For as bad as it was(Expensive) in the beginning he has been a joy. His energy has no limits even at 5. I know how you feel with Remy.

  9. Maryanna Moskal

    My dog Stormy is a high energy pit mix I adopted as an adolescent, and it has been lots of work even for an experienced dog owner. After our first two months I decided to try an obedience class with her. She was so excited to be in the room with the other dogs she jumped and barked. For the entire hour! To finish things off, she pooped and stepped in it, so the trainer had to bring out the mop and bucket. She did learn a little obedience there, but she remained pretty excited and at the bottom of the class for two sessions of obedience. I call part of our yard “the racetrack” because she likes to run in a circle around the bushes, and she cracked a basement window running like crazy past it. I had to board her once, and the lady bringing her out had a leash on her collar and a second leash on her harness as she was being pulled along by the dog. Had to replace a couple seatbelts in the car because she was terrified of the dog crate when I got her and she decided to amuse herself on the way to dog school. And I have always heard the “is that a puppy” question. But there’s a happy ending, we decided to try nosework and Stormy is doing very well with it. She has found her job! The first two years were pretty tough though.

  10. I have 7 rescues, and have not thought about training them, but they all rush the gate we built in the entryway to prevent them from running outside. They are so excited to see us they bark and jump up on the gate and getting through the mass is almost impossible. I would love to know how to get them to calm down when someone comes home/visit so they don’t rush into us and knock us down.

    1. Lindsay and Julia will both have much better tips than I will, but what helped me with my one was making coming home a non-event. I’d be very quiet, calm, and nonchalant about coming home. I’d calmly greet her and then go hang up my purse or something before letting her out of the crate, saying hi, and then suggesting we go outside (like yes I’m acknowledging you but it’s not a party). Once she’d gone to the bathroom outside and come in, then I’d feel free to lavish more affection and enthusiasm on her. I honestly don’t know how that translates to a pack of 7 though!

  11. Tiffany Pinkerton

    I have a pack of 3, but My Storm is an extreme Aussie. He is beautiful and Smart! but has an aversion to people and dogs. My neighbors dogs come over and bark at him and basically attack him. They did this every time we went out since he was a baby. So now He gets nasty growling and attacking other dogs. (not his brothers though) My super smart narcissist can open doors, so I have to keep the doors locked even when we are home. Do you know how I can get him to show his true colors which is actually very sweet and loving. I have tried the puppy classes. I had him out around people and dogs but after his last experience with the Dobermans he has been antisocial and I am afraid he has going to spend a very long life inside instead of being able to have a fun happy life.

  12. Danes aren’t as stupid as they let on to be. They are just STUBBORN! Posey knows all the commands sit, wait, place, crate, off and leave it. She knows them, but unless I have a piece of cheese in my hand she refuses to perform the command. She does walk on a loose leash, until we arrive at the dog park. She will “come” to me in the middle of play at the park, but not quite close enough I could touch her!

    She just needs to be in the mood then she will do what I ask, at her leisure. I refuse to try a stay out in the real world. She would be gone in a flash.

  13. The similarities between Remy and our gsp/beagle mix Hixson are UNCANNY! The training gone wrong stories we have are numerous! The personality and high energy are why we love our boy so much though! And he loves to work!

  14. Training? Yes, I am trained. Dawg (a blue heeler)is not. He has to be ADD, OCD on crack. I had no idea one dog to run so much. When he was about 6 months, he got loose from me and had all my cows (80 of them) herded in a big circle before I could catch him. But I have not been able to teach him to single one cow out and put him up. Oh well, so he is a lap dog. He sits, shakes hands, and when you ask him if he would rather be Hillary or dead, he falls dead. I am in the process of teaching him to take a bow. He also gives kisses on command. Sweet little boy.

  15. My Tibetan Terrier will be 2 in Oct. Seems they mature about as quickly as your Weimeraner. Biggest challenge-he will be walking beautifully on-leash, will pass any number of other dogs with no reaction, and then will suddenly fixate on that perfectly calm dog across the street, his bark saying “I will kill you-just you watch!” Still working on that, and he is improving, but I never thought I’d have that particular issue. Have had him since he was a puppy, he’s been socialized more than any other dog I’ve ever had-you just never know.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      You just never know why they are reacting sometimes! I wonder if something about the calm, quiet energy of those quiet dogs makes him nervous or something. Or maybe it’s the distance and he gets frustrated he can’t get closer. Who knows!

  16. We were practicing place in a parking lot on yoga mats and Elly our patterdale terrier showed what she thought of the whole exercise by “marking” the mat. Luckily I am more stubborn than she is and we got a replacement mat and continued on a new mat.

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