One thing I see in classes and have experienced myself when it comes to teaching my own dogs is the urge to rush the training process. Be it teaching basic obedience, a sport or behaviour modification. One thing I had to constantly keep doing when I was first learning about Scentwork, was check myself for rushing Lulu and trying to push her. I got very easily frustrated at her lack of progress compared to her classmates. They seemed to sail through the training while I was left with a dog who learned at a snail’s pace.
We can often be tempted to speed things along to achieve goals faster. This inevitably leads to sloppy results and ending up back at square one. It can be hugely demoralising, especially when you see others surpass and breeze through their training like it’s as easy as breathing.
For my clients, I try to promote focusing on their own dog and not looking over at another dog who seems to be progressing quicker. Unfortunately, our brains are wired with a negativity bias, so we actively seek out and see the bad things and find it hard to celebrate the successes. Everyone’s training journey is unique. Try not to wonder what you’re doing wrong, it most likely isn’t something you’re doing!
Just like humans, dogs learn in different ways and at different rates. You’re not programming a robot. Love your dog for who they are and support each other as you grow. I want my clients to fall in love with the process of teaching their dog rather than engaging in a race.
I had to learn to stop looking at the other and focus on Lulu. It took us 6 months to achieve our Level 1 success and once I had stopped trying to push, I found we worked together better and that first rosette was all the more sweeter knowing how far we’d come.
So, sit back, relax and have fun teaching and learning with your dog. The important thing is that you’re having fun! Don’t rush the training process, embrace it!