Expectations can suck the fun out of training.
This dawned on me as I was digging chocolate out of my purse following training over the weekend.
I spent the weekend hitting ORT exercises really hard and was running all three dogs at the same level. I ran Dash and Ember first and got Flare out of the car and bought her in to run the exact same problem that Ember just ran.
Flare is almost 9 months old and proceeded to very nicely show me that my expectations needed to be checked at the door. I expected her to perform at the same level as a certified dog almost a year older than her.
I forgot the #1 rule of dog training.... Train the dog in front of you.
Instead of stopping, evaluating and adjusting. I pushed through. The session ended with me being frustrated, angry at myself and craving chocolate.
Anger is usually the result of unmet expectations. Whether it is in dog training or some other part of our life, it can significantly impact how we move forward productively.
Recognizing the feelings of anger, disappointment and frustration that comes about when the dog you are training is not meeting your expectations is helpful because you can then stop, think and adjust the training so the dog learns what you need it to learn. The faster you learn to recognize that cycle, the faster you can move to productive training.
It also helps for those times when you have to deal with the human end of the leash and your expectations are not being met and you find yourself getting angry.
I wish I would have been a little faster to recognize this over the weekend.
Our training still ended well...we played fetch. Flare thinks a good game of fetch is still fun training (which it is).
Robin Greubel MBA, ICF-ACC
Robin has been training working dogs since 2001 and educating working dog handlers and trainers all over the nation since 2008. While working in corporate America, she managed relationships and people using the same behavior principles she honed training dogs. Not only can these principles transform your ability to work at an elite level with your dog, but apply to every animal (humans too!) you work with. She is a certified professional coach and the CEO of the K9Sensus Foundation, a foundation that focuses on coaching the human end of the leash.