Monday, November 23, 2015

Dog training tip o' the day: Good advice on good training takes a while to take effect.

Dog training tip o' the day: Good advice on good training takes a while to take effect. Don't dismiss a method or methodology after failure to prompt change in the short term. 

It takes time for behaviour to change, especially when first the behaviour of the handler needs to change to create change in the dog. I know from personal experience that it's easy to grow discouraged and possibly suspect that the advice received is incorrect for your personal set of circumstances. However, before deciding to move on from a strategy, make sure to give it a fair try first.

I remember years ago when still very much a novice trainer and Cohen still a young dog that I was having trouble with reduction in the quality of attention and leash behaviour immediately after rewarding Cohen for good behaviour. I turned to some acquaintances to help troubleshoot the issue and one of the pieces of advice offered was to offer a series of rewards in quick succession at random intervals to encourage sustained attention. I tried it for a week or two, didn't see much improvement and shelved working on it for a while after growing discouraged and demotivated. Now, well, I have great sustained attention, and I owe it largely to that advice. It just took a while for the picture to become clear. If anyone would ask me for advice on the issue the words I would offer would mirror those that I received years ago with the added caveat of "don't give up!".

The memory of demotivation and "well maybe it's just not going to work for us" is still clear in my mind. For those of you who ever feel similarly, time and consistency are often the two missing ingredients to creating change. Keep at it, and try not to be discouraged.


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