I like to teach dogs to think, use their brains, problem solve. One of the hardest things for people to do is not talk to their dogs and allow the dog to figure out what they’re asking him to do. People often ask me “shouldn’t I be telling him to (fill in the blank)?” Well, no. If he doesn’t know what a “sit” is, how is chanting at him “sit-sit-sit”, going to get him to, do it any faster? It won’t. In fact, talking to your dog this way will more likely distract him from trying to solve the puzzle of what you’re asking. Even by getting it wrong a few times the dog is learning; he’s learning what doesn’t work! Training this way takes more time than pushing and pulling your dog into position, but the dog is more likely to retain the information by working it out himself. Also, there is no consequence for the dog if he gets it wrong, other than no treat! He simply has to try another behavior. People are so proud of their dogs when they get it right. And I think that’s part of the problem, people want to help the dog get it right by giving him the answers to the test rather than allowing the dog to figure it out. I am in no way advocating allowing dogs to fail over and over until they get frustrated and bored and walk away. It’s o.k. to help the dog out, just do it in a way the dog will understand. Use body language, a food lure or, if needed, break the exercise into smaller parts. I love it when an owner asks a dog to do something and then just before they ask the dog again I say, “give it a second”, and the dog does what they ask. Both the owner and the dog just light up with satisfaction, it’s a great feeling!
Let the dog figure it out!
by Staci | Dec 19, 2011 | Dog Training Tips