Make no mistake about it! Dogs are not who this blog post is about. Dogs are easy: If we give them good information, they will rise to the occasion.
When we find ourselves frustrated with a team in class, 99% of the time, the frustration is with the handler, not the dog.
Dogs are almost always excellent students, so we won’t talk about that part of the equation. Instead, let’s focus on the two-legged half of the team. Here are 6 ways to be a good dog training student and get the most out of your obedience classes:
1 – Listen and be open minded
Dogs are very honest and will give back based on what they get. Humans are creatures of habit and sometimes, that works against us. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got!” Be ready to change. Dog training is fluid and since every dog is different, it’s crucial to be open minded to new ideas and techniques. One of our greatest strengths as dog trainers is knowing that there are still many, many things to learn about dog training! Trying new and different methods will only help you and your dog learn.
2 – Ask Questions
If you are confused, say so! Whether it is that you don’t fully understand what’s been suggested or you don’t agree, say so. A good instructor will be able to either clarify or give you reasons that you should give it a try. Again here we go back to number 1 – question, but don’t be closed-minded! Don’t disagree to trying something new unless you think it will hurt your dog or your relationship with them.
3 – Try it – You and your dog may like it!
Even if you don’t think it will work, if there is not harm in trying – why not try?!? Throw caution to the wind and give it a whirl. If the worst thing that happens is it doesn’t work, you’ve got nothing to lose if what you’re doing is already not working. Think about something in your life that you know a lot about. Now think of how little you knew when it was brand new to you. I’m sure you had misconceptions about that thing. I’m sure the you of today laughs heartily at the you of yesterday sometimes! Dog training is FULL of misconceptions. Once you’ve learned a little, you will realize that the misguided notions of why your dog is giving you a certain behaviour are holding you back. Stop relying on misconceptions and try something new if someone who’s been there suggests it.
4 – Don’t be defensive about your dog
Dogs have an uncanny way of humbling us and we feel the need to defend them. Know that your instructors have likely seen this behaviour before in a hundred other dogs. You don’t need to defend or make excuses for your dog. We likely know exactly why something is happening and even better – we likely have solutions to help you fix it! We understand that your dog may “do it at home.” Don’t be embarrassed – you may have to adjust the distraction level to help your dog, but rest assured that it’s normal for them to succumb to new distractions. Check out our recent blog post on training through distractions!
5 – Take responsibility for your dog
If your dog is not progressing, there is a reason – it’s you! You may be inadvertently rewarding the wrong behaviours. You may not understand what is happening or how to fix it. You may not be putting in the appropriate time to help your dog out. There are many reasons that things may not be going perfectly when it comes to training but rest assured, it’s within your power to make it work! Be honest with yourself. Take stock of the situation and you’ll be able to help your dog have success.
6 – Put in the work with your dog
Dog training takes time and patience. Know that it won’t happen overnight and there are no quick fixes or training fairies, but if you keep working you’ll get there! Bandaid solutions are just that and will fall apart overtime. The only things that will engrain good behaviours in your dog are patience and thorough training. A good dog trainer will give you the tools, but it’s up to you to put in the repetition and get success.
McCann Professional Dog Trainers was established in 1982. We are who we are because we love training dogs. We do what we do because we love training people!
As always, Happy Training!