Independence as a dog behavior and why owners think it is an issue

doberman dog a very independent dogIndependence in dogs is a blessing not a course behavior

Unless you are a dog with “overly independent” issues, you would perhaps wonder what that means.

Dogs can typically fit anywhere on the spectrum of too dependent “separation anxiety” to too independent – won’t listen to the owner.

The big issues for most domestic dog owners in urban areas with independent dogs, is safety concerns. If the dogs are not aggressive and present a risk to other owners and dogs, then independence usually means they completely ignore recall. Recall is one of the first things that most owners train their dogs to respond to.

If you have a rescue dog it might be one of the hardest things you are going to teach your dog – alternatively you may find your rescue dog has over dependence on you and follows you from room to room (we dealt with separation anxiety issues previously on this site).

BREEDS Of dogs more likely to be overly “independent”

Whilst many popularist dog authors would like you to believe that all dogs were created equal. This is a dangerous myth. Getting a dog breed and dog personality that suits its owner is critical to happiness to both parties.

The reason that hunting dogs that hunt big game such as bears are good at it, is that they can show aggression and they are powerful and usually very independent. Even sight hounds such as greyhounds tend to fall in the high independence category.

Guard dogs such as Doberman and powerful intelligent dogs that are often left alone in industrial complexes overnight and expected to confront strangers and bite and hold, if not more. Naturally the best of these guard dogs are selected for those abilities and their “independence” as well as train-ability.

Even Maltese dogs and jack Russells can be very independent based on specific personalities but these are small dogs and often easier for owners to handle or change.

Ancient breed dogs and independence issues

This is only a very quick overview of the ancient breeds, but essentially they number about 10-14 dog breeds and are usually a few thousand years old and have almost exactly the same DNA sequences as the wolf. If you research google I am sure you will find the original paper written about this and the people who made the ancient term.

Wolves are independent by nature, even though they are great pack animals. The independence makes them almost impossible to train. They are a true wild animal. If you own an ancient breed dog, and you notice something that you consider to be extreme independence (they won’t listen to you) consider the above information in how you approach your training. You are essentially trying to train a wolf in dogs clothing.

Once your independent dog has good recall, then the next issue is recall under extreme conditions such as when it encounters a very dominant and aggressive dog, or a condition that it was bred to perform in (such as a greyhound seeing a rabbit).

Wearing your dog out of energy by long off lead walks in the morning (muzzled if necessary) is the preferred long term strategy to having the dog be more trainable (after the walk) and bonding.

An independent breed will always be more independent than lounge dogs for instance, but learning what these dogs need to be satisfied and putting in place the right training boundaries and discipline can go a long way towards reaching a happy compromise – one where you don’t equate independence with stubbornness or a nuisance.