Working Through Failure in Dog Training & Life

Here we are again. Working on the same dog commands with your puppy for the umpteenth time and they still don’t get it. Your heart rate increases, you get restless, maybe even a little angry. I feel your frustration. I’ve felt it countless times and I’m sure I’ll feel it countless times more.

 

You could keep trying to work through this hurdle during your puppy training session, maybe your puppy will finally get it with one more pass. But we both know it’s not likely. Your puppy knows you want something and they want so badly to give it to you but they feel defeated as well.

 

Continuing to force the issue could potentially lead to a division between you and your dog or erode their confidence in themselves. From my own personal experience, this is not the route you want to take. I’ve been there and it sucks. It can take days, weeks or even months to rebuild the confidence and trust lost in a negative dog training session like the one outlined above.

 

So what’s a dog owner to do?

 

Well, it depends.

 

The majority of the time I've found myself in this situation, I need to take a step back and evaluate where the hang-up is. You need to be the leader and evaluate how your puppy and you can progress through a scenario successfully as a team before you reach total failure.

"It can take days, weeks or even months to rebuild the confidence and trust lost in a negative dog training session"

"It can take days, weeks or even months to rebuild the confidence and trust lost in a negative dog training session"

Once you know where the two of you are getting hung up, either try making adjustments to what you're doing or work right up before the point of confusion and failure without going past it. This allows you to end your session with a win! Let your puppy know how proud you are of them and that it’s not only okay to fail when learning but encouraged!

 

We want a friend, a companion, and a teammate that is going to work with us to solve problems. A dog that’s confident in itself will be more inclined to try new things to progress through situations without the fear of failure.

 

To help our dogs feel comfortable doing this, we need to recognize progressing to a point of failure is okay. We want our dogs to not only be okay with failure, but we also want them to work in it and around it until they have come out the other side to success. When they do succeed and that big ol’ ah-hah moment occurs, that’s what it’s all about. In order to get to that point though, we need to teach our dogs that it’s okay to fail if they're trying to solve a problem.

"Remember, it’s okay to fail while you’re learning, that’s part of the success." 

"Remember, it’s okay to fail while you’re learning, that’s part of the success." 

This right here is incredibly hard. To be open with you, this continues to be a sticking point for me, not only in dog training but all parts of life. What we do when we become frustrated during dog handling will likely be similar to how we react in other areas of our lives that frustrate us.

 

So challenge yourself and see if you can be more aware of how your behaving when your dog is not only getting hung up on commands but also when they are being a little genius. At first, it’s going to seem hard and maybe even a little silly. You may think that you’re not able to do it or that you’re not any good at monitoring your emotions while dog training and become frustrated. When you’re having these thoughts, remember, it’s okay to fail while you’re learning, that’s part of the success.

 

With love,

Emerald

 

P.S. What are the failures and successes that you and your pup have had while working together? How do the two of you handle them? Email me and let me know. I’m serious, email me right now and let me know.

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Working Canine Club 2020
woof@workingcanineclub.com
Seattle, WA
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