Training your dog or puppy – it takes time

July 02, 2021

Us humans live in a world where we can generally get what we want, when we want. If we want a new pair of jeans, we can go online and order some to arrive on our doorstep often within 24 hours. If we want to ask a question or find out information, we can post on social media or Google it, and we get an answer almost immediately.  If we want to know how to cook something, there are hundreds of recipes available online at the touch of a button.  If we want to watch a series, we don’t even have to wait for one series to be released each week – we can just find the series on Prime or Netflix and binge watch it. We don’t have to be wait. We don’t have to be patient. So it’s unsurprising that, unfortunately, we want this to be the case in all areas of life.

In dog training, as with multiple other scenarios, this is just not possible. Training our dog or puppy takes time, and this is what i want to remind people of.

Before we talk about dogs, lets start with humans. When we are learning new tasks, new skills, this takes time. Us humans aren’t able to take our university exams (and pass!) after just a couple of lectures. It takes years of studying. Years of honing those skills, retaining information, before we are ready to be examined on the subject when we have enough knowledge to be able to realistically say that we know and understand the subject, and also have any practical skills needed.

We would not expect a child to go for a couple of swimming lessons and suddenly be able to swim easily, flawlessly and effortlessly in all waters – the pool, a lake, the sea with waves. We know it takes time. So why do we expect that when a puppy or adult dog is learning new skills that it should be any different? It’s generally not the dog that needs to adjust – it’s us that needs to adjust our unrealistic expectations 😉

In addition to the time it takes for all animals to learn new skills, and retain the information, there are other variables that play into this too. Dogs do  not generalise, so while a behaviour may be really reliable in the house and garden because that is where we started working on it, it is important that we realise that unless we then work on that behaviour in various other, increasingly distracting environments, we can’t expect our dogs to be able to understand those cues or perform those behaviours in those environments. Put another way, if dogs were humans and were learning to drive a car, if they learnt to drive in a Nissan, they would only be able to get in and drive a Nissan. If they wanted to drive a Honda, they would have to learn to drive again in a Honda. Given, it would not take as much time as it did to start with, but it still takes time.

With puppies as well, you may start to get to the stage where they are understanding cues and behaviours well, in multiple environments, but then we need to be aware of the fact that regressions are common, especially as puppies head into adolescence. These regressions can be frustrating, but its frustrating and challenging for your dog at this time too, and its totally normal. They just need a bit of support and help, and reminding about those behaviours.

When we look at adult dogs where we may be addressing behavioural problems, such as a dog who is fearful of other dogs and reacts in an “aggressive” manner to keep that dog away because they see it as a threat, or a dog who has separation anxiety because they are have a phobia of being left alone, modifying these fears and phobias also takes time, in the same way as it does with humans.  If we are addressing humans anxiety or fear, it is never a quick straightforward journey, and that is widely accepted, so why do we feel dog’s anxiety and fears should be any simpler to modify?

With any dog – whether you are training a brand new puppy, or working with an adult dog – it takes time.  Having a well trained puppy takes time, it takes consistency, it takes hard work, it takes commitment, and it takes more than a 6 week puppy class 🙂 Please remember puppies are babies, so let’s treat them as such and don’t expect so much of them. If you have an adolescent dog who has never had any training on not pulling on the lead, please allow them to time to learn the skills. Don’t expect them to no longer pull on the lead after a week of training. If you rescue a dog who is anxious and scared, give them time to settle in and decompress rather than expecting them to just fit in with your life immediately.

There is absolutely NO quick fix when training dogs of any age anything…..nor should there be. There is no quick fix when us humans are learning or training!  So please…give your dog time to learn, no matter what those skills that they are learning are.  I, for one, am glad that there is no quick fix…..working with and training your puppy or dog, no matter if is puppy training, or working on behavioural issues, means you have a great opportunity to learn about and understand your dog, and strengthen the bond between you even further!

If you are looking for hep with training your puppy or adult dog, please get in touch – angela@politepaws.co.uk

 

 

By Angela Doyle

I am a highly experienced and qualified reward based dog trainer and behaviour consultant based in Surrey, UK. I am a fully qualified CSAT (Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer) and specialise in helping dogs overcome Separation Anxiety.

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