Saturday, March 2, 2013

Patience, grasshopper!

A number of times in the course of recent training sessions, I have heard comments about my patience.  Believe me, it isn't always in place in my life!  However, I can somehow find patience in my dog training.  There have been times over the years when I have become frustrated and lost my patience and the results are never good. It sets me back, damages the relationship and leaves me unhappy at myself more than anything. I have learned that there are days when you just need to walk away.  We teach our handlers that 90% of doing dog training is knowing when not to do it!  If you are over-tired, have had a bad day and just seem to be itchy for someone to confront, it is not the time to train your dog.  And your dog can have off days, as well, when their head just isn't wrapping around the tasks at hand. This is different from a dog who understands a behavior and is willfully disobedient. You'll know it when it happens.  Things just aren't clicking.  Time to just call it a day and put the dog away. If you are me, the last scenario means the dog will not have earned its meal and that is punishment enough. No need to yell at the dog and be angry.  Just "too bad for you, dude".

Look for those small successes in your training and opportunity to reward the dog, and you will find that your own patience is rewarded, as well.  If your measurement for success is the finished product, of course you will be frustrated when that goal isn't quickly reached. Break it down into manageable portions and you will see and appreciate movement toward the goal.  Stop on a positive note.  This does not mean that you will not challenge the dog, or that it will not struggle at times. You should end where you can reward the dog for effort.

Lose your patience and make inappropriate physical corrections and your dog will stop trying.  It will wait for you to physically place it where you want, because thinking independently results in pain.  Is that the relationship you want? I don't think so.  Be fair, be consistent and above all, be patient....