To help achieve your goals during each training session, it's helpful to keep an eye on your dog's attitude or willingness to engage. Attitude is driven by your dog's emotions and how they feel about the experience you are presenting. There are a couple of ways to assess your dog's state of mind in preparation for a successful training session.
WATCH for these training success factors:
1) BODY LANGUAGE. Is your dog's posture upright and loose, or tight and more retracted? Is your dog overexcited, jumping and leash pulling? Or is he showing signs of being overwhelmed by the environment with his tail tucked and ears pinned back.
2) RESPONSIVENESS to Marker Words. Does your dog respond when you mark their behavior with a specific word? Your dog should be in a state of mind in which he recognizes the word marker you use to communicate the forthcoming consequence, such as "yes" a reward is coming. If your dog can't process the word because he is too engaged in the environment, your training will be unproductive.
3) APPETITE for High-Value Food is demonstrated when you offer your dog food either by hand or by dropping it on the ground and your dog either consumes the food or passes over it. Not eating food is a communication that your dog may be too full or his emotions are running too high to even have an appetite for good food. In this case, you need to move your training session to a less challenging environment for your dog so his desire to eat will return.
4) QUALITY over quantity training means repeating patterns that lead to the end behavior you desire. If your dog continues to fail to repeat a pattern successfully, you are actually teaching an alternate pattern and most likely creating a bad habit. Keep your training sessions short and focused on the quality of completing a pattern correctly every time it's executed.
5) GRADE SCHOOL LEVEL represents the degree of challenge or stimulation around your dog, both positive and negative. This measure impacts your dog's ability to process patterns and effectively manage his own behaviors.
As you consider each of these factors, envision your own dog’s responses. Now, ponder the part you play in supporting or changing your dog's attitude. Your role is to establish an environment in which your dog can succeed. If at any time your dog's attitude seems to be off, it's your job to adjust the stimulation in the environment or reduce the criteria that defines success for that session. Just because your dog can recall the command “come” in your house, it doesn't mean your dog has developed the mental processing skill to follow the same command or other patterns at the dog park. You are the final influencing factor in your dog's desire to train and achieve success.
Full House Dog Training supports every client in developing a quality relationship with their dog. That relationship starts with having confidence in the steps necessary to achieve the results you desire. If you feel overwhelmed or don't seem to be clicking with your dog, let us know. We are experts at helping you speak a language your dog will understand and helping you guide your dog down a path of success!