What is your definition of a trained dog?
A dog that competes in a sport and has a title(s)?
A dog that you can take on vacation?
A dog that is well behaved when company comes over?
Is your dogs’ obedience good enough? Are your expectations clear? What are your goals for your dog? How much time and effort are you willing to put in to reach those goals. Daily training, walking, exercise and repetitions. Are you willing to do the boring work?
I see and talk to a lot of frustrated owners. They want a dog that listens to commands on the first try and pays attention when there are distractions.
It takes months and sometimes years to get that level of attention and commitment.
The first step is to create a goal sheet for your dog.
What do you want them to do when a visitor comes over?
What do you want them to do at the vet?
What do you want them to do in the car?
What do you want them to do in public?
What do you want them to do when you take them for a walk?
What do you want them to do in the yard?
You need to make these answers crystal clear in your mind and then implement training strategies, use training aids and hold your dog accountable when you practice. If you know what you want in your mind, you can break down the steps to help your dog succeed.
If you have a puppy, this is much easier since you are starting with a blank slate. If you are working with an older dog, you will need to put in more time, effort, repetitions and utilize patience, persistence, punishment and praise. All 4 of these are critical to ensure success.
Start with one command or goal and write up your goal sheet so you can begin holding your dog accountable.
A trainer is often viewed as a coach. I give you drills and exercises to work on and then each week in class its game time so you can show off what you have practiced each week. The students that have done their homework have a much easier time as the drills get harder each week. I may give you constructive feedback to help. It may not be what you want to hear but what you need to hear.
Most dogs aren’t stubborn. Owners just haven’t done enough reps for the dog to understand the command in different environments. My challenge for the month of December is to pick one command and commit to multiple reps to help your dog learn so you can trust them!