Training a Dog. What’s the Rush?
When training a dog everyone is in such a hurry to get to the next step before the dog is ready. The most important part to training a dog is building a solid foundation. Activities and goals like Agility Class, Fly Ball, Hunting and Therapy Dog Certification are all great things to do with your dog, but what’s the rush? If you take your time building a foundation of trust, mutual respect and balance in your relationship then you will truly know your dog and what they are and aren’t capable of.
It seems there is always a big rush to skip training steps and phase training tools out, but why? You’re only being selfish and putting too much responsibility on your dog. Then you get angry when they mess up, but really; who’s fault is it? Hopefully your dog will be part of your life for 10-15 years and sometimes longer, so why not use the early weeks, months and even first couple of years to really communicate with your dog about what you want and what you don’t want.
I’m not just talking about potty training, training a dog heel or the “come” command. I’m talking about your lifestyle with your dog and taking them into situations that they are not ready for. By skipping steps and jumping into the fire you are only causing more anxiety for your dog. A reactive dog that lunges and barks at others, should not be in a group class environment. A fearful dog should not be taken to the beauty salon. A dog that does not have solid off leash reliability should not be let loose in a strange location. An over excited dog should not be considered a candidate for therapy certification. This all sounds like common sense and it is, but it still happens daily.
When training a dog you cannot move too slowly. You can, however, push them too fast or have your expectations set too high, too soon. Training a dog this way will frustrate you and cause unnecessary anxieties for your dog. As your dog’s owner, leader, caregiver and most important protector, you need to do what is best for them. This is usually not, what makes you feel good, but if you do it right, you will be rewarded 10 times over by a dog that is calm, confident and trusts in you as their owner.