Quite frequently in dog training I come across owners who are so determined to get to the end that they begin forgetting where they started. They can’t remember the dog that didn’t know how to sit, or the one that couldn’t walk out of the front door without barking. Becoming blind to your dog’s progress can actually set you back rather than push you forward. Try relating your dog’s learning to our own learning experiences. Perhaps there were things you learned quite quickly, and others that you struggled with, but comparing ourselves to individuals only serves to discourage us more. Keeping focus on our dogs and their personal achievements helps us to allow them to grow, regardless of the pace. You may one day wake up to realize that your dedication allowed you to surpass other “good dogs”. The biggest key is patience. We all want to graduate our dogs from level 1 to level 99, but we have to be aware of all the little steps in between. Here are some useful tips to keep you and your dog on the right track without both of you getting too frustrated.
- Go At Your Dog’s Pace: Don’t rush things, if it takes him an additional two sessions to learn how to lie down, that’s okay. Once he gets it and you maintain the behavior, who’s really going to know how long it took you to arrive at the end goal?
- Challenge Them, Don’t Overwhelm Them: We always want to challenge our dogs to make sure that they can perform wherever they go and to be sure we’re keeping their minds engaged. However, sometimes we forget that a challenge is achievable, not impossible. If your dog fails a challenge more than three times, you should take at least one step back and start from there.
- Don’t Compare Them: No matter how well behaved you think someone else’s dog is, don’t compare your dog to theirs. There could be a variety of factors associated with why their dog is more advanced. Anything from the amount of time and energy they put in, to the dog’s breeding and breed, to the length of time and exposure that dog has had to training prior to you even getting your foot in the door.
Any level of training is obtainable, but it’s all a journey not a destination. The time and effort you put into it and your patience (though sometimes fleeting) is what helps you progress with you and your furry buddy. You’re both learning, so it’s always best to set goals and not expectations.