Puppy and dog training can be frustrating and overwhelming. You love your furry friend but there will always be trying moments, especially when you’re trying to maintain a consistent training schedule. This is perfectly normal – the important thing isn’t to avoid these frustrations at all costs but to learn how to handle them with a level head and calm attitude.
You might be negatively impacting the training progress for your dog if you lose your cool and raise your voice to them, if you start being inconsistent with the training, or if you simply aren’t supporting their learning in the way they need. If you feel like any of this is occurring in you and your dog’s training journey, you should take some steps to reset and refocus on the task at hand.
Below, we have outlined various ways to handle frustrations when training your dog.
Take a Step Back
The more frustrated you get with the training experience, the tenser you will get and your dog will become tense in turn. For training to go smoothly, it’s important to maintain a calm assertive demeanor.
The first step to relaxing and letting the frustrations fade is to stop to breathe deeply and slowly. Counting to five or ten also helps let things go. If you’re still having a hard time calming down, it might be a good idea to take a break from the training just for a little while – forcing the training session will not be beneficial.
You can also give yourself a break from your dog if that is what is needed to reset. Just because you love them doesn’t mean that a break wouldn’t be good for both of you. Taking some time for yourself and shifting your mind off training for a little while will help you refocus and refresh yourself.
If it feels like the training session just isn’t getting back on track, it’s alright to stop altogether. This will help you avoid further frustrations so that you can go into your next training session feeling optimistic. However, just because you end one session early, doesn’t mean you can let your training schedule drop-in priority – consistency is key and the more often you skip sessions, the less progress you will see.
Change the Activity
Training is hard work for both you and your pup. Sometimes it’s a good idea to spend some quality time together that isn’t solely focused on progress. Remember to take time to play together – your dog might enjoy a game of fetch, nose work activities, or a good tug of war, and these are great ways to burn off energy and have some positive bonding. Getting out your pup’s excess energy will also help them to focus better during your training session so it’s a win-win!
You can also take some time to pet your dog or give them a good belly scratch. Your dog will appreciate the attention, feel your love and enjoy the rubs. Dogs pick up on our energy and vice versa. The more attuned you and your pup are with each other, the smoother the training process will be overall.
Focus on the Positives
Since you are training and spending time with your dog on a regular basis, it’s easy to overlook the changes that are happening. A great way to stay positive and keep on track is to take notes of the training sessions so you can monitor these changes and notice that progress really is being made, even if it feels slow to you.
Training takes time and the more patience you have with the process, the more relaxing your energy will feel to your pup. And remember, training is a wonderful way to deepen the bond you have with each other.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the frustrations and the moments that feel like failures. Make sure that you count the positives and celebrate the milestones when your dog gets there. You can also create your own moments of victory – if things are a little bit tough, go back to some of the cues your dog has already started to master. Having your dog successfully complete tasks he has learned with you will help to end the day on a positive note. It’s important to remind yourself and your dog how far you’ve both come!
Consider Your Pooch
If you want to understand why frustrations are coming up, you can consider what might be going on with your dog. If you notice that your dog is showing signs of stress, such as yawning, averting their gaze from you, sniffing the ground or licking their lips, you should change your approach. Your dog will likely be more attentive and ready to learn when they are feeling relaxed as well.
It is important also to note what kind of tone you are using and to change your tone if it is becoming too harsh or loud. Venting your frustration towards your dog will only make them more stressed and cause them to shut down. Instead, use a perky and upbeat tone and your dog will be more responsive and your mood will also lift.
One last important thing to consider when training your dog is yourself. It’s important that you manage the expectations you have of your dog and the training progress. Your dog might not be catching on as quickly as you think they should be so you just need to make sure to adjust your expectations accordingly. Training takes time and will have speed bumps – that’s OK and normal, and you need to be ready for that.
You should also make sure you have support – having someone you can discuss the training progress with, will help you gain some perspective, vent your frustrations, and restrategize if necessary.
Lastly, be sure to check in with yourself. Perhaps your dog is just being a dog and you are on edge because of other factors. If you are already feeling agitated or are distracted by things that are happening in your own life, it might not be the best time to train your dog. The best time to train is when you’re feeling calm, positive and can fully dedicate the necessary time to your training session.