Observing your own personal actions when communicating with your dog, is probably more important than actually trying to teach your dog something new.
If you miscommunicate, how can your dog learn?
Every time I give my dog a command, a command I have taught him prior and I’m certain he understands, and he doesn’t follow it, I go back in my mind and visualize the situation to find out what did I do wrong or could have done different so my dog would have complied!
At least 90% of the times it is a mistake that I made...not the dog...it wasn't the dog that disobeyed...it was me not being clear in the situation. I made a mistake in my communication so I have to find out what I could have done different. What other ways were there that I could have
communicated to him to help him follow my directions.
The other 10% where I cannot seem to understand what I have done wrong, I have to learn to observe myself better to control my actions; To gather my thoughts before asking something from my dog without considering the/his situation. Maybe, I didn't make it clear enough to the dog what I was looking for, maybe I could have used another command or maybe I haven't taught my dog properly so that he understands in this particular situation.
Very few times, in very rare occasions your dog will just blow you off....some dogs never do (although you might think so). Some might call their dog stubborn but often it’s a simple lack of understanding. Before you come to such conclusions, you have to be 100% sure that you didn't make a mistake and caused your dog to fail.
When training our dogs, not only do we have to listen to our dogs but also listen to our self so we can clean up each other’s mistakes.
I sincerely don't believe there was one occasion in the last few months, where I couldn’t find out what I did wrong when my dog didn’t comply by simply over think the situation again and analyze what really happened. That by all means doesn't mean I do everything right, it just means that I blame myself before I blame the dog. Every time I found I made the mistake, I found out that there was a better way to communicate to the dog in that moment but I chose not to because I just reacted instead of gathering my thoughts first.
Things could have been prevented, the dog would not have been confused and his reaction would have been quicker. And you can bet that if your dog does look confused, it is you that totally blew it not the dog!
Learn from your mistakes to help making learning easier for your dog. We are all just human (or dog) but always look at your own actions first before blaming another living being! Acknowledging your mistakes is your best teacher!
About the author:
Simone Krebser - CPDT: Owner and head dog trainer of K9 Possible Dog Training serving the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia from Osoyoos to Penticton and Kelowna with result based dog training. Certified dog trainer, certified pet first aid instructor, member of the IACP, dog crazy and chocolate/cheese addict. “My life revolves around dog’s day in and out and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is my goal to help enhance the lives of as many dogs (and their owners) as possible. Your dog is my priority and I’m as committed to your dog as you are. But I can only help those who sincerely want to help their dogs and not only themselves.”