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Let’s face it: some of our loved ones have, shall we say, challenging personalities that can throw a wrench into the dog-training process. Here’s how to handle some of the top culprits without destroying your relationship and while still effectively training the dog.

The Empathizer: They love your dog, identify with his struggles, and they don’t want him to have consequences. To them, your dog is a little person in a fur coat. Turn the tables on them by explaining how confusing and frustrating it is to the dog to receive mixed signals from people. Talk to them about how much more confident and happy the dog will be once the training is complete, and give them an easy command or trick to teach the dog, so they can feel successful.

The Yeller: Yelling is their normal volume. They think loud equals power. They might point out that the dog knows he did something wrong because he cowers when he’s being hollered at. Inform this person that dogs respond to anger by acting fearful, ignoring it, or getting cranked up. Explain that yelling doesn’t create comprehension, and that it’ll eventually fail to get any reaction from your dog. Having patience and making training fun are much more effective tactics.
couple and dog

The Know-It-All: They had a dog when they were a kid or watch dog training on TV and, therefore, have an opinion on all of your training techniques. Politely explain that you’re on your own dog-training journey and would appreciate the space to do things your way. Involve them in the process, so they can see how your approach is effective.

The Saboteur: They sneak food from the table to your dog. They allow him to jump up on them. They let him ignore any and all commands they give him. This is the most frustrating type of personality, and you must deal with it swiftly. Calmly explain that their behavior won’t be tolerated, and that if it continues, the dog will no longer be allowed to hang out with the person unless you’re supervising. Sometimes this personality wants to see you fail or struggle, much like a bratty sibling. And sometimes they think it’s just funny to aggravate you and “get the dog in trouble.” In any case, make a strong stance and don’t waiver.
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This article was originally published in AKC Family Dog magazine. Subscribe today ($12.95 for 6 issues, including digital edition) to get expert tips on training, behavior, health, nutrition, and grooming, and read incredible stories of dogs and their people.
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