Tuesday Training Tip: Learning Curves

Mama Sally:  Dogs learn things in stages.  I like to start my training in a quiet home with few to no distractions so that a dog can learn to focus on his handler.  When a dog can focus on his handler, he can learn new material and begin the process of producing a consistent behavior to cues that we give….verbal and / or hand signals.


It can be a little challenging to know when your dog has had enough repetition with a given cue to add in distractions or change the environment.  Typically, when a dog can consistently do something eight out of ten times without needing a correction or without having to think very hard about what behavior to produce, you’re ready to move on.

Every dog is very different, and some dogs need a short amount of time to learn something, while another dog may need longer to learn.  That’s perfectly okay.  It doesn’t mean that one dog is smart and the other is dumb.  Humans are quick to compare and judge, but they’re often wrong in the assumptions that they make.125

Dogs who are calmer often learn material quicker, because that calm nature enables them to focus and learn.  They can be judged as being smarter, but honestly, it’s often because they focus better so that they can learn more quickly.  If you have a dog who is a live-wire, try exercising him for a bit before you try training, and you’ll be surprised at how much better he will do in learning!

Add your distractions slowly, and when you change environments, be sure to think about the distractions that are present, and minimize them until your dog has had more practice.  It takes dogs a long time to generalize patterns of behavior, so please be patient with your dog, and understand that he’s going to need lots and lots of practice and repetition before he will finally really understand what you want from him.

If you think of systematic baby steps, you’ll get it just right.  And remember that the more consistent you are with voice, commands, hand signals, body language, leash action, etc. the quicker your dog can learn the pattern of behavior you want from him.  When it all comes together, you’ll reach your training goals, and feel a good sense of accomplishment!


Rugby James:  The Mama is exactly right.  She does fings a lil different than the Daddy does, and sumtimes I hasta fink about fings when the Daddy sayes it, on account of I just doesn’t always remember what it means.

Some days, I can focus better than udder days too.  Sumtimes, when the Mama starts to teach me sumping new, I just doesn’t wanna take the time to learn, and so I start doing old fings what I already know….just to show her that I know stuff, so she will be happy and proud of me!

When the Mama does training sessions wif me, she’s always reviewing old stuff what I has already learned, and then she sneaks in new stuff what makes me fink really hard!  But I likesa work, so I’ll do just about anyfing on account of I just lubs it!  Usually I can focus well in the house or back yard, on account of that’s where I feel the safest.  But when we move to the front yard, or someplace totally new, I really has a very hard time wif focus on the Mama on account of  I doesn’t do very well wif change.  So the Mama always goes really slow.  I hasta get comfortable wif sumplace new before I can relax enuff to learn.  That’s just who I am, and the Mama gets that, so she adjusts to me, and just works to help me get better in lil bitty steps.

See?  That’s what makes us a team!  The Mama gets me, and I has learned to trust her on account of I know she gots my back!  That’s what lil doggers need from their Uprights….understanding and trust!

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Happy training wif your own doggers this week!!



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