Training - focus on progress not perfection

Training a dog. It all seems so simple and straight forward doesn’t it? After all, how hard can it be for a smart, intelligent dog to learn sit, stay, down, heel and a myriad of other commands that you want them to perfect quickly.

Well, to be honest that depends on what your expectations are and how quickly you want things to happen.

From today, we want to remind everyone that when it comes to training - focus on progress not perfection

When it comes training , think of all those times when they gave you reason to smile because they showed glimpses of understanding what you wanted them to do. They might not have done it perfectly, but still, you wanted to punch the air and yell “YES, finally!”. That’s the thing about training, to get from “Here’s what I want them to do” to “YES, finally” is a journey i.e. progress.

First time dog owners and even those more experienced owners who adopt a fur kid into the family, aren’t immune to sometimes thinking “OMG, what have we gotten ourselves in for!” when they see unwanted behaviours. Hey, guess what, it’s a dog! If you think of a human toddler, our expectation isn't that we expect them to have perfected and know their times-table or even eat nicely with a fork and spoon at such as young age. We accept the fact that it is up to us to help them positively learn and progress.

At K9 FUNdamentals, we emphasise to owners, the importance of positive reinforcement not only for the big break through moments but also the small wins you will have with your dog. Sometimes these small wins are what we describe as ‘micro-moments’. It could be micro-moments such as:

  • Your dog is regularly making eye contact with you when out walking

  • Your dog places 2 paws on their mat when given the command “Go to your mat” (2 paws still equals progress before getting all 4 paws!)

  • You give your dog the “Leave” command and even though it is intent on getting to whatever it is, for a split second or moment, they do leave it alone

So what are the ingredients to successful training? It’s all about the 3P’s:

  • Patience (a ton of it as dog's in general have a short attention span. Puppy attention span is even shorter)

  • Persistence (never give up on your dog)

  • Practise (keep reinforcing and being consistent with the right training)

All 3P’s should be conducted as a Positive interaction between you and your dog.

So next time your training, lookout for those moments to celebrate success – no matter how big OR small.

Remember, focus on progress not perfection.