Welcome back to my series on the top 10 Important Dog Training Tips! Over the past four bogs, I discussed the importance of “no grey areas”, consistency, creating attainable goals and repetition. This week I will cover the importance of setting realistic expectations for you and your dog during the training phase.
One of the most important things to remember regarding your dog’s training and his success is there most definitely will be set backs along the way. What I mean is that your dog may be learning how to sit patiently at the door to go out for walks, and he may be doing really well at it. Then one day he won’t. This doesn’t mean he has forgotten everything, and it doesn’t mean he will never get it. Dogs, no matter their age, go through periods during the learning phase where they either just don’t want to comply with your request or they want to challenge it. They want to see if you really mean what you are asking and if you are going to follow through on your request.
*Your dog will challenge you along the way and this is very normal. Do not get frustrated, upset disappointed. Dogs are living creatures with the capability of making their own decisions. They have every right to challenge us…they are not robots.
It is important to remember that it can take up to 6 months for a dog to fully understand a new behavior. Sure they may be understanding it and following through in your home or yard when you ask, but for you to be certain you must practice the behavior in every situation and have your dog comply with 90% reliability.
Here are two links to videos that were done 1 year apart showing Caleb learning positional cues (sit, down, heel, side, etc). As you can see in the second video, taken this Mother’s Day, Caleb is still learning to do things perfectly. This video is also a perfect example of your dog testing your request. Caleb knows what I am asking him to do but he is fired up, in a new park and testing me to see if I am going to make him perform the desired cue. As you can also see, I don’t get angry during this process. Instead, I laugh along and keep asking him knowing that he can’t be perfect every time.