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Is Your Dog's Mind Treading Water?

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By   |   01 May 2019

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.

A child treading water in a panic has nearly zero chance of thinking clearly and strategizing how to save herself. This lack of rational thought is driven by a lack of skill on multiple levels. Getting pulled around the block trying to walk your dog, lack of response to your commands at the dog park, and jumping and barking whenever the doorbell rings are all experiences that parallel a child learning to swim in water levels that exceeds her skill level.



Effectively teaching a child to swim occurs when we teach the child fundamental principles that help her achieve the goal of swimming from one side of the pool to the other. When beginning in shallow water, the child can think clearly, listen to their instructor and connect the basic concepts of paddling their arms and kicking their feet to successfully reach the other side of the pool.


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!

Full House Dog Training is committed to the goals and success of each one of our clients with lifetime support. Need help developing a training plan or understanding what the next best step is for your and your dog? Reach out and let us help you create a winning relationship with your dog and swimming success with your training goals! Check out our group dog training classes   online or call at #(801) 244-0303.
NEXT BLOG TOPIC:  Creating an Effective Learning Environment for Training
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