Discover the importance of keeping your cool with training and how to maintain the relationship between you and your dog.
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Don’t Ruin The Relationship You Have
If you’re taking your training seriously then the last thing you want to do is damage the relationship you have with your dog.
We’re human, life is stressful. Unfortunately if you struggle keeping your cool with training you may find you release your stress. This comes in forms of shouting and leash pops all which break your bond.
When people get frustrated and angry with each other it can lead to a falling out and it’s kind of the same with your dog, you can alter their behaviour and create anxiety or a stubborn/aggressive dog.
Are You Actually Taking Two Steps Back?
Even though it may feel like you are taking a step forward by lashing out and correcting your dog, you’ll really be taking two steps back.
For example if you have been undergoing leash aggression training and are making progress on your journey then the last thing you want to happen is expecting too much of your dog too soon. If they react to another dog and you lash out at them to stop then it just hinders progress. By not keeping your cool with training you are taking two steps back. You need to move at a comfortable pace, work with your dog!
Yes they might stop and you might think this is a step forward but you’re just masking the behaviour and this could be problematic if you are suppressing leash reactive warning signs.
This goes for any type of training, if you tell your dog to sit and they don’t listen, leash popping in my opinion can be detrimental for the trick. They could pair the trick with the feeling of pain and do it less often which leads to more corrections and a ruined bond.
5 Ways To set Your Dog Up For Success
Are you setting up your dog for success? You may be struggling with keeping your cool with training because your setting your dog to fail. With the right guidance you can have an amazing dog at your feet and one of the best ways to do this is set your dog up for success.
What do I mean by this?
Setting your dog up for success means doing something in such a way that is harder for your dog to fail so they remember it easier (setting our dog to fail would be doing something that would catch your dog out just so you can correct e.g telling a dog to sit and bringing a big distraction out that you know they can’t handle straight away).
- Record your progress
It took me a while to start this and I wish I started earlier to be honest as it would have saved a lot of frustration. Whether you write it or a voice note/dictate, videos and pictures, you can dedicate 15 minutes a day to a training session and record the progress.
Go over this journal and you can see the baby steps that you are making.
People might tell you how impressed they are at the progress but you might not be able to see it (it’s like growing up, you never realise the changes your body undergoes but others do).
- Keep sessions short
Training sessions can be frustrating for both you and your dog especially if it’s the same trick over and over again.
I recommend keeping sessions short or breaking a session down into smaller periods so that you can keep your dogs full focus. Some dogs may be able to go longer but make sure that you are keeping your cool with training the longer you progress.
At times when you are in public with distractions to do an outdoor training session then you need to realise it’s a lot harder for them to focus so keep it short to keep the progress.
- Always end on a high note
Very simple pointer to make here – end your sessions on a high note.
If you can feel a training session going downhill or you find your dog is struggling then revert to a few moves that your dog knows to bring back motivation so you can end on a high note. This both improves the mood for the both of you.
- Make it simple
How easy have you made this trick for your dog? Are you expecting them to get it straight away? Have you worked on the movement before introducing the command? How big are the distractions?
You want to start off small and simple making sure you are showing each step of the move properly. You can expect your dog to do something it hasn’t been shown properly, if anything that’s on the owner.
- Random treats
One thing I learned is that there are tricks such as sit which I constantly ask of Jasper and I’m sure you do as well for your dog. How many times do you treat them? Because I didn’t really once he mastered the move and you know what….after a while I had to ask twice or he’d take his time etc.
If you want to get a good trick first time you will want to reward them random after mastering it. Surprise them with a treat for a sit before leaving the house every now and then and they will do it all the time because they don’t know when they will get a treat.
Unpopular opinion but I don’t believe in just positive only training, I don’t believe just positivity can help train a dog
I do believe there is a limit to correcting your dogs bad behaviour. I’m not going to tell people how to correct their dog etc whatever method you choose whether positive or aversive is completely up to you.
If I ask Jasper for something and he doesn’t perform I won’t ask a second time (he will find that it’s alright not to sit first time). I tell him “no” and correct him by putting him into the correct position
If we’re playing tug and I tell him to let go and he doesn’t I’ll make it less interesting until he lets go and then I’ll pay him attention again. This way he learns we don’t play if he doesn’t listen but if he does then we can keep playing.
Great video on how you can make your training sessions more fun for you and your dog! Recommend giving it a watch!
Final Thoughts – Take It Slow
It takes time to train a dog, just because they make quick progress to learn the basics of something doesn’t mean they fully understand it.
You need to set your dog up for success and slowly go over things even if they know it and reward and always praise.
Training is a long journey between you and your dog and is never over! Every day is a training day for you and your dog so always be prepared!
You Aren’t Alone!
Don’t forget to leave a comment whether to ask a question, give your own tips, give feedback etc and check out the leash aggression training blog for more information and resources on dealing with leash reactivity in dogs. The worlds a better place when people help each other!
- Nice post on 5 ways on keeping your cool with training – https://www.petswelcome.com/articles/5-ways-to-stay-calm-when-training-your-dog.html