I am a very visual person who tends to make points using stories and analogies. When i discuss problem solving with my clients, I refer to my “loaf of bread” analogy. Imagine a problem being like a loaf of bread. If I were to force you to eat this loaf of bread (problem), you would choke on it. The same goes for a dog with an issue. Forcing your solution on them, all at once, may not work for them or for you. The idea is too break up the problem into easier segments that the dog can follow- like slicing up that loaf of bread. Whether you thin slice it or make each piece the size of Texas toast. Forcing the dog to do something it does not understand may just cause the dog to resist you and the training or turn off to the training.
Figure out what you want the end goal to be, what would it look like? Next, figure out how to break that down into manageable pieces that link together to form that end goal. Sometimes it is just like the old saying- “you need to learn to walk before you can run”. While that is true, sometimes you have to learn how to crawl first.
Some tips that I offer clients.
– Know what you expect from the dog- what is the desired outcome.
– Is your current actions or directions to your dog bringing him closer to that goal or further away?
– Force isn’t always the right answer,subtlety is part of training and subtlety is hard to teach. While a simple action of stepping back away from a dog can bring him to you, stepping toward the dog in the right moment can get him to stop and even sit.
– If you are not getting the desired result- IT’S NOT THE DOGS FAULT. Stop what you are doing. If you can’t fix it immediately, STOP and have the dog do something (an easier task) it knows and the reward for that behavior. Training must be rewarding.
– Dog training should be based on Patience, Persistence, Consistency, and Fair Expectations (of the dog and yourself).
– Learn how to shape your environment so as to help teach your dog (i.e placeboards, walking next to a fence or wall to keep the dog next to you etc)
– Know that it is okay to ask for help. I have often consulted with other trainers to get their perspective on a training issue. It is okay not to know everything. I wouldn’t believe someone who said that they did.
– Dog Training is a never ending system of learning and adapting what you have learned for that dog and the client.
– Still having problems? Don’t go it alone. Ask for help. I sure can’t work on a car engine. I would make matters worse. Dealing with the complex issues of Dog Training and solving behavioral issues is no different.