Feeling frustrated while training?

It is not uncommon for people to become frustrated with their puppy or dog while training. In fact, dog training comes with many opportunities for us to be frustrated. We didn’t expect our puppy to chew on everything, bark at everything, or have accidents all over the house. As they age, we don’t expect them to not listen when we give them a command, especially if they have had some training. Even I will admit I have  felt very frustrated while training, but part of the solution to creating good habits and having good training sessions with your dog is to not be the problem!

What does “not being the problem” mean?

  1. Don’t train your dog when you are not in a good mood unless you can change that mood before you start to train. It’s not fair to the dog if your mind is off somewhere else. Chances are, whatever frustration you are feeling will come out in an unwanted outburst, harsh words, or even a leash correction. This kind of frustration can lead to your dog becoming timid, shy, fearful, and/or reactive.
  2. Don’t multi-task while training. We are all busy. You should be able to find the time to train for 10-20 minutes a day (depending on the age of the dog). After all, you are the one that invested in the dog. Put your phone away, turn off the tv and truly focus on committing that time to training.
  3. Many people say to me “but my dog does it at home!” This leads us to think that the dog should know the command we gave them.  Let me fill you in on a little secret…dogs are situational!  This means what you teach them in one environment is not directly translated to the next environment. Every new command or exercise you teach a puppy or dog has to be trained in different environments for them to learn…sometimes going back to the basics even though you may think they know the command.

Our dogs will give us a couple of hints that it’s time to take a break:

  • The dog looks confused. If your dog literally looks like he is trying but just doesn’t understand what you are asking, it is safe to say he is confused. This is where you can help him out with what you are asking so he can be successful.
  • If you decided to go to the park down the street that has a lot of distractions and your dog does not listen to anything you are saying…chances are that you moved too quickly and you need to go to an environment that does not have as many distractions and start from the basics.

What to do if you find yourself becoming frustrated?

Relax and breathe. Frustration and stress can affect our breathing, which affects our body language – something our dogs pick up on very quickly.

Pay attention to your dog’s behavior. Dogs often respond to stress with different signals. Yawning, lip licking, sniffing the ground, shaking, whining, etc. If you feel stressed your dog will automatically pick up on that stress and start to behave differently. If you are to stressed to train…don’t train:)

Most importantly, it’s okay to stop. When things aren’t going well, sometimes the best thing to do is stop training for the day. You can always pick up tomorrow.

As I say “Don’t blame the dog! Train the dog!”

Until next time,