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Monday, October 10, 2011

When Your Dog Doesn't Seem to "Get it"

I am working with Wolfie every day, but he just doesn't seem to get it.  What is the problem here?

Like people, dogs need to learn at a particular speed and at a particular level.  Unlike us, they can't "jump ahead" or skip steps in the learning process.  It must be slow, methodical, repetitive, and consistent.

When Wolfie "isn't getting it", it normally means that we are trying to teach him a command at a level or complexity above his current ability to process.  When this happens, we must back up to find a place where Wolfie can succeed in the exercise and then slowly proceed from that point.  For Wolfie, there is no shame in going back a few grades to find a place where he can obey and please us.

Let me give you an example of this process:

Say, for example, I am working with Wolfie on the "Come" exercise.  I had him in the house and was using a six foot leash to have him come to me every time I said "come".  Once in a while, I had to give a little flick of the leash to get his attention and to guide him to me, but it was working pretty well.  This seemed great so I took Wolfie into the back yard without the leash and walked to the other side of the yard from Wolfie.  I called "come" and Wolfie didn't come.  I tried this over and over again, day after day with the same results.

It isn't that Wolfie is stupid or ignoring me, it is that I jumped too far ahead in the training process of "come" for Wolfie to methodically advance.

I would now go back into the house and reinforce the level of knowledge that I knew Wolfie understood. ("Come" from six feet using the leash.)  Next, I would get a longer leash and practice from ten feet, then fifteen feet, and then twenty feet.  If that goes well, I would go out in the back yard, with the leash, and repeat the process.

Keep it slow and you will get results.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

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