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It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint: Measuring Training Progress

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

In our industry there are two types of trainers; the quick fix sell you anything type and the realists. Some will come and promise they will 100% fix your dogs' issues. Some will tell you how easy it will be. Snake oil salesman at their finest. You and your dog are living beings, no one can guarantee perfection. There are so many factors at play that it is literally impossible. Be cautious of anyone who make promises to you, they can leave you with unrealistic expectations of the training process.

As a dog owner myself, I understand how annoying bad habits can be. However you owe it to your dog to be fair with them. You just adopted a 10 year old dog (been there, done that. 3 times actually) , it is unrealistic to expect them to be the perfect house pet. You may get lucky, as I did once. However more than likely you will have to "Train the Dog in Front of You". Meaning you very well may have to turn to management instead of fixing a behavior problem. If it keeps your dog safe and your home happier, then by all means do it! Do you like it when people expect you to be something you can't? Or to expect perfection when you're doing your very best? There may be cases, such as police dogs, where a level of up most performance is warranted. But as a pet dog owner, it is my belief this is over kill and should not be expected.

So how do you know you're making progress? It can be so hard to see when you're in the thick of it every day. When your dog is doing so well, and then has a set back. With dogs, as with people, you must learn to be present. Even a small victory IS a victory! So your dog made it one more block then normal before becoming a barking mess seeing another person or dog. That's still progress!! There are no failures in dog training, only those who gave up too soon. It takes effort, it takes commitment, but it is ALL worth it. Just because it took 4 weeks instead of the 1 you hoped for does not mean you or your dog failed. Be easier on yourself and your dog. If you get burnt out on the training process, take a break! Really. Take a couple days and just hang out with your dog. Take a hike, play ball; some thing to reset both your brains. Your training will not suffer for this break, in fact you will find next time you do train it will come easier for both of you. If you're struggling, in some way you are taking it out on your dog and THAT will make your training suffer.

I tell my clients all the time. There's no cookie cutter, one size fits all training method. Any trainer you work with should be able to give you multiple things to try, not just one way to fix something. Your dog is unique and so are you. You WILL have set backs, it's going to happen. It's how you handle them that will predict your success. My favorite trainer once said "Be as kind as you can be, and as firm as you need to be". Go easy on yourselves out there, and as always good luck. Reach out if you need us!

For the Dogs,

Christina, DTFC

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