The Success of Failure in Training Your Dog – We All Make Mistakes.

We’ve all been there, working on something that starts out a joy and something you look forward too.

Little things start to go wrong, these spiral into bigger things.

Suddenly you feel awful working on that thing, your motivation disappears.

You stop wanting to work at all, convince yourself you have other things to do.

You give up, you convince there is no options left. You feel a failure.

Their are always options.

Failure is not a permanent, it is changeable.

The definition of failure is a lack off success, not never being successful.

You should see each perceived failure as a learning process. There is always a solution to the problem.

With dog training I often hear from clients that they have tried everything. That I couldn’t possibly solve their dog training problem. They have read every page on the internet, read every book on the shelf and talked to every dog owner with a well trained dog. But yet here you are on the phone to me. Looking for that answer so your failure isn’t permanent.

Often the reason for failure isn’t because of a lack of knowledge, or lack of training. Is is due to a lack training in the real world, proofing the behaviour in the real world. We often reflect on the things we did wrong instead of the things that went right, sending us into the spiral of blame. Blame yourself, others, the dog and the environment.

We need to reject our old beliefs of “I can’t do this” or “He’ll never be trained”, replacing them with “Their is a solution” and “I need to find the right way to solve this”.

You can lay blame on yourself from over working, from setting unrealistic standards or goals, and comparing yourself to others. This self criticism will attempt to destroy your work towards change or bettering your training. Getting past it can be tough but accepting your weaknesses as well as strengths, make them less scary. Remove that self critical voice, and making a mental list of all the things that are going well  with the training, and focus on that.

Uncertainty within your training can create an internal conflict, but it can also be a change to experiment and learn. Reasonable options might not always work, but there are other options. We turn to trail and error with our dog training, this can work in some cases but often it leaves our dogs confused and without consistency. It also drains us emotionally and mentally, turning each session into a workout for your brain.

Learning from mistakes and trying little things one a time, often lead to the right result. A side effect of failure is innovation. See each little failure as a way to build and improve the training you are doing, as well as help innovate your own self.

Anything that goes awry is progress, it might not be in the direction you wanted but it is progress. We can’t predict each training session as there are many factors out of our control, but regardless of it each walk is a training session. Setting us to learn from, good and bad. A Bad walk can help us pinpoint the areas we need to focus on, a good walk helps boost those focus areas.

Dog training isn’t easy. It can lead to tears, arguments, frustration and a breakdown in relationships not only with your dog, but also your family and friends. I often think people are shocked at how much something that was destined to join their life to make it better often makes it worse, until we find the solution to the problem.

Dog training always has a solution, but it isn’t always what is expected. Thinking outside the box and understanding your dog better is often the best way to find a solution. Understanding is learning, and learning about your dog. Its habits, and real motivations, not the ones we want them to have. Looking at your dog as the same as others, using food when your dog isn’t motivated by it, or using your behaviour as a reward in the wrong way.

The main point to all blog post is this. Don’t let yourself stand in the way of your dog training goals, and journey. There is a solution to every problem, but sometimes there needs to be failure to be learned from.

Kathryn Jones FdSc AAB
NTIPDU, MoGDT, ABDT, CFBA, IACP – A Clever Approach to Dog Training and Behaviour