Training Tip Tuesday: Bumps in the Road

Mama Sally:  Dog training or any kind of work with your dog will often be like a roller coaster….some ups and downs, and some scary turns along the way.  If you expect your dog to have those up and down experiences, you’ll feel far less frustrated than if you expect clear sailing every time the leash comes out.


Dogs have good days and bad ones just like humans.  Your dog may not feel like working on a given day, and sometimes, those little bumps in the road can be navigated if you know what you’re looking for.  Sometimes, we don’t know what we don’t know….and that can make training more frustrating than it really needs to be.

If you’re having a bumpy day working with your dog, here are five simple things that you can check that might make things easier for both of you:

  • Has your dog had adequate exercise prior to training?  A dog with too much energy just can’t focus, and that means you’ll just fight the leash with a dog who’s being silly and rambunctious.
  • Are you using the right kind of bait?  If you’re working inside your house with small distractions, your dog will probably be content with his regular kibble, as long as he likes it.  Outside with bigger distractions….you’ll likely need something with higher value to him.  It’s a good idea to have various types and levels of bait so that you’ll be ready to have what you need when that teachable moment arrives.
  • Are you asking too much of your dog?  Be sure he has had enough repetition and experience with a given command before you’re adding in distractions or changing your environment.  You might also look at your floor surface for “Sit” and “Down.”  Sometimes hard floor surfaces are hot, cold or slick and uncomfortable for a dog to be able to stay, so they’ll decline to work.
  • Does your dog understand what you’re asking him to do?  Remember that dogs just don’t generalize things well, so you might be jumping the gun, or putting him in a position where he isn’t working well because he simply doesn’t “get it” just yet.  Some dogs get things with five repetitions, and some dogs need fifty to learn the exact same information.
  • Have you skipped any steps along the way?  Sometimes if you go too quickly, especially with a special needs dog who is excessively shy, they just shut down if they can’t figure out what you want.  You can’t ever get ahead of your dog’s progress.  You have to let your dog set the pace, and work at a pace that your dog is comfortable with.  You might just need to take a few steps backwards and try again at a slower pace.

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Remember that dog training is a journey and not a destination.  Enjoy that journey along the way.  It’s so easy to just focus on the end result and goal that you want to reach, but remember that the biggest part of training a dog is the wonderful relationship that you’ll develop with your dog in the process of reaching that goal.  It’s teamwork, and developing a team with your dog takes time, but it’s so very sweet when you really do know each other well and work like a well oiled machine!!

Rugby James:  I hasta tell you that Uprights is just not very patient critters.  They fink doggers should be like machines what gets programmed and never uses the brains what is inside their heads!  Pfft!

You just gotsa know that doggers is living, breathing, thinking critters what has feelings, and can make decisions for ourselfs.  When Uprights isn’t consistent so that we can learn a pattern of behavior, then we’re just gonna do what we wanna do.  But when Uprights is careful to fink fings frew, and plans for success every day wif their doggers, then we can learn and come along wif what they want!  Doggers generally likesa please, so we try extra hard to figure fings out.  But when we get frustrated, sumtimes we just gives up…especially when the Uprights gets cross or impatient wif us.

008 (3)Sumtimes, if I’m just not in the mood to work very good wif the Mama, she just doesn’t try to train.  She just puts fings away and we try again on a different day.  This happens sumtimes when we’re doing sumping new to me, on account of I gets purty impatient when I’m learning.  I just wants the yummy bait, and I doesn’t always likesa take me time to fink fings frew from start to finish.  She just knows that I needsa have several tries before I get fings, so she doesn’t get upset wif me….she just tries again laters.

If I gotsa say one important fing to Uprights, it’s to fink good fings about your lil doggers!  Learn to trust your dogger, and learn to understand how they work best.  Try different fings until you find the formula what works for you and your dogger!!  Just don’t give up!!  Keep trying over and over, and you know what?  Mostly, over time, you’ll get there.  You really will!!  Barrooo!!!



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