Avoid frustration in dog training - spend focused dog training time

If you are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed at all in your dog training pursuits, pay attention to the time you have when working with your dog, without setting specific training goals. You should look at the amount of time you have to train so you can find "quality" time to train where you can focus 100% of your attention on your dog's behavior.

Turn off cell phones, give the kids some coloring books and focus on dog training.

Often I see frustration with novice trainers when they try and do too much in each session. One example is when someone has a puppy that is a rambunctious puller on the leash and the guardian wants to walk him to a specific location such as an outdoor cafe. The cafe might be 4 blocks away and the puppy pulls them the entire way because he has not learned proper leash walking yet. The puppy's guardian can then get really frustrated because he knows that he should not allow his puppy to pull, yet he wants to go the cafe to socialize his puppy to new events and to meet his friends.

What should you do?

You should focus on the time that you have and work on much smaller training goals in order to build up your puppy's skill level so he can eventually walk all the way to the cafe while not pulling.

I always talk about "training goals" vs. "real life goals" to help my clients understand how to realistically set their training expectations. The real life goal in the above example is to walk to the outdoor cafe without the puppy pulling. However, that is going to take many training sessions to reach that goal. So, there needs to be smaller training goals that are practiced in order to reach a long-term training goal.

This is where it pays to look at the time you have to train your dog, without getting frustrated if you do not meet your long term "real life goal". If you have 30 minutes, for instance, and your puppy is a puller, you should stay very close to your home, and work on teaching him not to pull even if you only travel 10 feet on either side of your doorway. You should also spend some time training inside with your puppy on leash. This is helpful because you can control all of the distractions. You can put one toy or treat on your floor, for instance, and patiently wait until your dog looks at you or slackens the leash a bit before moving towards the toy or treat. 

As his performance improves really close to your home, or inside, you can add more distance to your walk and reward your dog with more distance and the joy of new smells and sites. What will happen is that you will focus on your puppy's individual behaviors and limit distractions and thus improve performance more quickly then if your puppy learns to pull on every walk.

A Sense-ible harness will also help prevent pulling in dogs of all age which will make training more efficient.

If you focus on the time you have to train combined with small successes that your puppy exhibits, you will notice faster gains then if you try and do too much and get frustrated.

There is one caveat with the above example, however. I mentioned that part of the reason that the person in the example wanted to go to the cafe was to socialize his puppy. Socialization is EXTREMELY important for young puppies. I am not implying that puppies should not go anywhere until they are perfectly behaved. If you follow that rule, your puppy will not get the appropriate socialization.

What I do recommend is that you have to pick your battles and focus on one goal at a time. If you need to socialize your puppy, go socialize him even if training takes a back seat for a bit, but then make sure you are focusing on training other times of the day.

For more info: Visit Watch and Train for more training tips.

Need private training? Fill out my dog training form and I will get back to you. 

Latest Blog Posts

How to safely take your dog to a dog park

With summer weather finally here in Chicago, it is time to start thinking about more frequent trips to the dog park. You might feel uneasy when your dog plays with other dogs. Hopefully this...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-20 15:42:00
  • Hits 16591

How long should dog training sessions last?

Did you know it is better to practice short training sessions and stop when your dog still wants more? This strategy will keep training interesting and you will avoid over training.
  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-06 19:36:00
  • Hits 28685

Positive reinforcement dog training strategies

Did you know that there are different styles of training within the positive reinforcement "camp"? There are trainers that only use one style and others (like myself) use many different strategies...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-09 12:48:00
  • Hits 26599

Your dog is acting weird? It might be a physical problem

I received two calls this week that that reminded me about the importance of making sure a dog is physically healthy before I recommend training strategies. One call was in regards to a 3-year old...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-15 04:06:15
  • Hits 27447

The PETA Founder - I Am An Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA

I just finished watching the documentary about Ingrid Newkirk, the co-founder of PETA. I really did not know much about her or her organization before this except for the various news stories that...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-17 14:21:00
  • Hits 56904

Your dog is stubborn? Here are some tips.

Stubborn is used frequently to describe dogs that don't perform a task that is asked of them. Maybe the dog is pulling on his leash, maybe he doesn't lie down when cued, or maybe he lies down when...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-28 12:57:00
  • Hits 27759

How old should a dog be before he can be out of the crate?

Wouldn't it be great if you could just sit a dog down and say, "Welcome to the house. Let's have an arrangement. I will walk you, play with you, feed you good food and give you medical care. The...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-30 15:04:00
  • Hits 29118

Should you use alpha rolls? No.

When I am working with my clients, I focus on determining what strategies are most effective with each individual dog. I have found certain techniques to be extremely effective and I also see...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-27 03:34:01
  • Hits 23548

Do you say, "No!" to your dog alot?

"No" (which means don't jump on the guests)."No" (which means don't chew on the couch)."No" (which means stop barking)Sound familiar?
  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-03 19:10:49
  • Hits 17949

Common dog training questions

I frequently hear very similar questions from multiple clients. I also have random dog training thoughts that come to mind that might not lend themselves to a complete blog post. So, I thought I...

  • Jeff Millman
  • 2011-05-25 14:15:00
  • Hits 39836