Updated: Oct 29, 2018
Before you got your dog, you probably imagined having a loving, sweet companion. One that you could take on leisurely walks, hang out with, and enjoy. You weren't expecting all of the issues that could arise: leash pulling, digging, barking, lunging, hyperactivity, nipping, counter surfing, chewing - the list goes on and on.
Maybe this is your first dog, or maybe your last dog was a well behaved angel but regardless of the situation, you are bound to experience frustration when training your dog. Whether you are just teaching your dog the basic commands or you are working with an extreme problem behavior, everyone gets frustrated sometimes. The problem with frustration is that once it happens, your training stops being productive, your dog gets confused, and maybe you lash out (at your dog, spouse, friends,etc.).
The bottom line is frustration is NEVER good so to help you out, I have made a list of 8 steps to avoid dog training frustration!
1. Manage Your Expectations
Most of the time, dog training is not a quick fix. Especially when it comes to severe problem behaviors. If you expect huge results overnight, you are bound to get frustrated. Although progress can be quick sometimes, try to remind yourself that a 100% change in behavior takes time and effort. Managing your expectations will prevent you from being dissapointed and keep your frustration levels down. Don't expect too much too fast.
2. Set miniature Goals
Setting goals is a great way to avoid frustration. The key is to set small, easily achievable goals. This way, every time you reach one, it will count as a huge success. The more success you have, the less frustrated you will be. Keep track of your goals by writing them down and remember set several smalls ones instead of a few large ones. It makes a difference!
3. Go Back a Step/Take Things Slow
If you feel yourself beginning to get frustrated while you are training your dog, go back a step! Normally frustration occurs when your dog isn't getting something right or understanding you. Just go back to a step your dog understands and build on it slowly! Maybe you have added too much distance to your "stay" command and your dog keeps moving. Maybe you have added too much distraction. Maybe you are pushing your dog to the next step too fast. Just breathe, go back a step, and take things slow.
4. Take a Break
This one is simple. Stop training and take a break for a while! Although it's best to end your training lesson on a good note, taking a break is WAY better than training while you are frustrated.
5. Learn Your Dog
In step 4, I mentioned that it is best to end your training on a good note - so learn your dog! You will start to notice signs that you are pushing too hard or training too long. You may realize that after 5 minutes of training, your dog's progress declines causing you to become frustrated. Then you can start with 4 minute training lessons multiple times a day. This will allow you to avoid frustration, make progress AND end on a good note. Don't think that you need super long lessons to make progress. Learn your dog, start slow, and build on his skills. Eventually, as you progress, your dog will be able to work longer and harder.
6. Have Fun
Dog Training should be fun. Don't think of it as a chore. Think of it more as a hobby you are doing with your dog! If you aren't having fun with your dog, change something up. Make it a game. Just do something that makes it enjoyable!
7. Remember where you started
Always think back to where you started. People get so caught up with teaching their dog new things and they get frustrated when their dog isn't learning fast enough. Think back to where you started. Maybe your dog couldn't even sit two weeks ago or maybe last month your puppy jumped on everyone that walked by. Maybe your dog is still reactive but you can actually stop it now. Sometimes people forget to think back to when they started or have trouble remembering. Take progress videos if possible, it truly helps! Even I have trouble with this step sometimes!
8. Hire a Trainer
If all else fails - hire a dog trainer! Maybe you just need a little guidance. Don't be afraid to get help, everyone needs it sometimes and it may be just what you need to avoid frustration!
I hope this post can help some of you guys with your frustration! I know these tips definitely helped me. It may be hard at first, so try to implement a few at a time!