By Caitlin Coberly
It’s something we hear a lot. I would say one in 20 people asking for help with training, and especially amateurs asking for help with prong or ecollar training, say something along these lines. I get it, I totally do. We all succumb to the idea that Donald Rumsfeld put so eloquently—There are the known knows, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns. None of us know the unknown unknowns—they remain this nebulous cloud of what ifs off beyond the realm of our imagination. The funny thing is we can often spot them in other people, much to our (and their) frustration.
With dog training, we see it all the time. People, bless their souls, who really know some things about dog training, animal behavior, and their own pretty pooch. But what they don’t know, and often vehemently argue against, is what they don’t know. They’ve tried saying no, folding the lips under, using treats, waiting patiently…what they don’t see is the times they laugh when the pup bites, or they don’t use enough treats, or the treats are delivered after the dog lunges instead of sits, or they wait patiently until the dog just CAN’T stand it anymore and yipes, and then they do something, inadvertently rewarding the dog for the bad behavior.
There are hundreds and hundreds of good training videos on the internet—you can find an expert who can demonstrate almost any training technique or obedience skill online. The thing is, unless you watch very carefully and have some experience with dog body language, you are most likely to get it wrong the first few times. This is why I often recommend teaching a silly trick before working on “the important stuff.” That allows you, and your pup, to have fun and to learn together. It allows you to be less stressed. And it allows you to work on the truly important stuff when your training chops are up to snuff. Because, see, what the pros forgot to tell you is that training isn’t easy. It takes real skill, real foresight, real timing. And guess what? It also takes time for the pup to learn your language—to learn you are asking him to think, you are willing to wait, and you are happy to reward. For him to put in full effort, he has to trust that you are going to be there for him—you are going to be consistent.
So buck it up—next time you start to get frustrated, take a break, step back, think about the problem. Think about it from your perspective and the pups perspective. Think about if you can break it down into smaller bits. Think about if there are any set-ups you can do to help “explain” it to him and set im up for success. Take a break and let “latent learning” work for you. Take a break and study some of the truly great trainers doing youtube videos—watch their timing! Take a break and go for a long relaxing hike with your dog—learn to be his trustworthy partner again. Take a break and teach an easy trick or two while you are thinking about the hard question. Take a break and just be with your dog—be the human he wants you to be. Take a break and take a class from another trainer—sometimes they have superb advice they can give you!ome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!!!