Would you ask a kindergartner to solve an algebra problem or teach your child to start swimming in the deepest end of the swimming pool? OF COURSE NOT! You would never consider this teaching model when your goals are to help create success for your child’s academic progress and confidence in the water. So, why would you throw your dog in the theoretical deep end of the swimming pool when you train?
One of the biggest hurdles in improving your dog’s training AND skyrocketing your frustrations is trying to teach your dog in an environment that is too intense for them to connect the dots.
FIRST STEPS TO LEARNING
So how does this apply to training your dog? I’LL TELL YOU THE SECRET!
1. Set A Specific Goal: You need to know what you are training for and what steps need to be combined to build a final behavior. When you know your final behavior, you can slice it into individual steps that will be upon each other like blocks. If your dog isn’t grasping the concept of a single slice, then break that step down into two to three smaller steps until your dog can understand and ultimately achieve the target goal.
2. Honor Your Dog’s Mistakes: Use mistakes made by both you and your dog as communication that training goals may need to be tweaked. Mistakes mean the step or the environment is too difficult for your dog. In other words, the water level is too deep at that moment for your dog to be successful.
3. Control Environmental Factors: What is happening in the environment where you are teaching your dog? Your initial steps to training should occur in a calm, very low distraction space. Ideas for places to start are in the house with no movement by people or other animals. Hard flooring is easier than carpet since there are fewer smells, smaller spaces like bathrooms could be helpful compared to large open rooms and training while you are cooking dinner may be to distracting to your dog’s nose compared to training between meals.
4. Patience is your Best Training Tool: Slow down, make your expectations fair and develop trust with your dog. Let your dog think on its own and solve the problem you have presented. Allowing your dog to think means YOU NEED TO CLOSE YOUR MOUTH AND WAIT PATIENTLY FOR PROGRESS TO OCCUR!