“He won’t do *insert command here* for me!” A phrase often heard within the dog training world. Let’s take this story back a few weeks to the beginning. A frustrated dog parent calls on a trainer to help with their untruly fur child. The trainer spends weeks, perhaps even months working on the desires of the client and has achieved the desired responsiveness. After an extended period of time the trainer gives the dog back and lets the client know to work on all of these news things in order to keep the dog on track. The client is impressed when they see the dog, but after a few weeks back home the old habits start to resurface and they become frustrated. So what happened?
- The relationship built with the trainer is different from the existing one the dog has with mom. The trainer has let the dog know from day one that these are the rules and structure that’s expected of him/her. The dog isn’t allowed to work outside of those parameters without consequences. The trainer remains consistent about this message that’s being given to the dog. Dogs are smart, once they return home they remember what they were able to get away with, with mom. More often than not, pet parents also fall back on old habits thinking the dog should respond the same way to them.
- Learning requires maintenance. Any type of learning requires upkeep. If the math homework doesn’t get done, then passing the test isn’t going to be as easy. The same thing goes for a dog’s training. They have spent all this time in the classroom with the teacher, but now it’s time to do the homework. The better one is about doing their homework, the better grade they’re going to get on the end of the year exam.
- Training isn’t Magic and Dogs aren’t Machines. Sometimes the expectations might be a little bit too high. Dogs, like people, have good days and bad days. There are times when they have just had enough. Remembering that a minor set back isn’t the end of the world is a good mantra to keep in mind. Remaining focused on the end goal should help to keep your drive going as far as keeping the pup on the right track.
- Training is Life. Remembering that everything you do with your dog is a training moment and opportunity, because good obedience is life. You can send them to “place” while standing in the kitchen about to make a meal, and deliver an engaging chew for compliance. Does the dog want to go outside? Well, they can certainly sit before they do. Making everything in life a vessel for using their new skills helps to make sure they realize it’s just part of the pattern.