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Updated: Aug 10, 2023

FIRST Published on 22nd February 2010 CCC Magazines and various Sites and Country Newspapers

What makes it so hard to train a dog?

What are the pitfalls of dog training? Could it be as simple a solution as just learning to listen to what we are being taught?

Is it a learning disability we may have?

Is it that we don't really want to listen?

Or could it be that we are listening to too many people at once, and becoming confused by all the different directions we are being given?

A Training overload?

Are we making a relatively easy job hard by expecting it to be hard?

Are we inconsistent in our training methods?

Do we get quick tempered when things don't go right the first time?

Do we keep saying “Oh good, that's fine, lets just do it one more time?”

Do we consequently bore the dog out with our ongoing training of the same thing over and over?

Do we totally underestimate the dogs ability to learn?

Do we give sufficient praise for a job well done?

Can we face reality and say it is possibly our fault and not the dogs? The pitfalls of training can be many if we don't understand the needs of the dog.

Whether we are teaching the dog to correctly show itself to advantage, in the Conformation ring, or whether we are training for the Obedience ring, which of the above if any fits us.

Faced that decision! Well what are you going to do about it now?

Are you going to offer it up as an excuse and then rely on it as a reason for continual mediocre work or even failure, or are you going to accept it as a timely warning and determine to do something about it. We do have choices, and until we make them, our chances for success are minimal.

Some people do have learning difficulties which are hard to overcome. They may need showing something over and over again. And yet it still doesn't seem to sink in. People need to do it for themselves, before they can fully understand just what they are supposed to be learning, and even though it appears to have “Clicked” 10 minutes later they are making the same mistakes all over again. If this slow learning attitude fits you, then you need to be patient and persist with your training. However, if the dog you are working with has an attitude problem (perhaps doesn't like other dogs, or something of this kind ) then this particular dog may not be suitable for you.

There is no disgrace in having difficulty in learning, but it may need to be addressed.

Are we working with the Breed that really is best suited to us and our capabilities? Some just don't have the physical, mental or emotional ability to work with every different Breed. We may need guidance in choosing the correct Breed for us, and then be prepared to take the sound advice we may have been given.

I think that if continual problems with training are occurring then we need to look at all our options.

Owning and working with a dog is supposed to be a joyous occasion and if that is not the case, then perhaps it is time to do something about it.

Re read the top questions as listed, and see if one of them fits you. There are many other questions you can ask yourself as well.

Think outside the square in all training. Don't become Tunnel Visioned. Don't expect miracles from the dog, but don't underestimate his/her capabilities either.

Relax and enjoy your training, but always remember it is okay to expect the best from both yourself and your dog, and don't be prepared to accept less.


Val Bonney (Canine behavioural Specialist / International Trainer)

Pitfalls of Training

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