When most of us start out training our dogs we have all these thoughts and ideas about the various things we want to teach our dogs. We get so excited thinking about how great it will be to have a well-behaved dog!
We determine the trick or behavior we want to teach our dogs, and we know to take things slowly, teaching at the dog’s pace. But then as we are training something happens, and our expectations of how fast our dog should be learning take over.
I understand this all too well. I’ve done it. Most of us have. We are human and we tend to want something so much that our brain jumps to the end – the result – the Whoo Hoo moment!
And then what happens? We get frustrated. With ourselves, and, if we are being honest, with our dogs as well. We jump to the conclusion that our dogs just aren’t getting it. So, what do we do? We push more, we train longer, or, we give up. None of which gets us where we wanted to be when we first started. With a well-trained, happy dog.
So, what is the answer? How do we resolve this?
For me, I think about what my end training goal is and what are the steps to achieve that goal – then break those steps down even more! The smaller the steps, the better my dog can understand what I’m asking of her.
Then, the next thing I do is look at my dog, smile and remind myself that one of the most important part of training is to have fun! After all, if something isn’t fun, why do it?
Now that I know what I’m going to train, I’ve broken down my steps and my mindset is focused not just on training but also having fun with my dog, I’m ready to begin!
I set a timer to keep track of how long I’m training (keep training short and successful) and at the first sign of confusion from my dog, I ask myself, did I miss a step? Did I stay long enough at a certain step to ensure full understanding from my dog? Do I need to break the step down even more?
I also keep track of our progress both on paper AND with video. Video provides invaluable information with regards to our training. When we review a video, we can look at how long we trained, our body and hand movements, our dog’s responses, position, and more!
When I achieve the results I want from each step, I celebrate not only that my dog learned this step, but that I stayed on task with my expectations! The joy in my dog when she learns something new and the trust she has in me to communicate in a way she understands is priceless!
Repeating this for each step towards your end goal will not only help ensure success in your training but deepen the trust and bond between you and your dog!
Keeping expectations in check can be tough, but it is a critical part of dog training! It’s okay to have big goals for our dogs but the key is how we get there!