When training a puppy or a dog, it can get frustrating at times. You can have the smartest dog or the best behaved dog but there will be days in which you want to rip out your own hair. Training and socialisation is a huge part of owning a dog and this doesn’t just exist; for the one day a week, for the 7 weeks your on the course; training and socialisation is something that should occur daily. Practise makes perfect!
Positive reward training is the most effective training method which enables you to build a bond with your dog at the same time. It’s an extremely proactive way of training your dog: recognising and rewarding good behaviour, not waiting for them to behave badly then trying to correct it. Despite the amazing bond I have with our pups they still have breed traits that can, at times frustrate the hell out of me.
I have learnt over time how to combat these traits and make them work in training sessions for me, Wren and Raven. The trick is spotting the triggers to the behaviour and knowing when and how to divert them.
Getting past your frustration
1. Remember to relax and breathe
Our dogs pick up on our body language more then you think; frustration and stress tenses our bodies giving the wrong signals to your dog distracting it from learning or listening. Take a breath, relax and remember your dog will learn good behaviours quicker in a fun and relaxed environment.
2. Pay attention to your dog
If your dog is stressed his/her ability to learn will be significantly decreased. Indicators of this kind of stress are:
- Lip licking
- Sniffing the ground
- Averting their gaze
These indicators suggest the dog is trying to self soothe from your rising stress levels; maybe before you even recognise your own stress.
3. It’s ok to take breaks
The best training sessions are short and end on a positive note! When training isn’t going well, take a step back and either break or stop entirely. To prevent your dog completely shutting down in training mode; we end on a high note every time. This could be as simple as ‘sit’ and treat then finish.
What I do when I see these ‘triggers’?
Length of training sessions
We always keep training session to a 15 minute maximum in our home and 10 minute away from the home. There are always more distractions away from the home and unfamiliar places. This ensures our dogs don’t get bored through repetition and continually loose focus.
Always take a toy
When your dog is clearly loosing focus bring it back with a preferred toy. This not only makes sessions fun, engaging but also keeps your dogs focus on you.
Talk to people in your situation
Not every dog will have the same challenges, help each other with tips and tricks you’ve found that work. Remember not everything will suit your dog and you need to find what works for your dog. Talking to people either physically or on Facebook can help boost confidence and give you more material to work with, don’t ever be afraid to reach out. This goes for finding a professional trainer to, if you need help find the best one for your dog. Someone who knows the breed and can adapt to your dogs learning style accordingly.
The image at the top of this page is our youngest Raven; 5 month old Siberian Husky. They are not the easiest breeds to train but she, over the last few weeks has been doing so well within her training sessions and really enjoying them. Here she is showcasing her sit and stay next to some Liverpool Street Art.
Training any dog can be tough but patience and frequent training does and will pay off…
Stay strong, keep calm and tomorrow is another session!