Comfort & Confidence Builds ConsistencyPosted: January 10, 2012
I found myself saying this to several people in class today.
It is almost impossible for a dog to perform any behavior consistently if they are not both comfortable & confident when asked to execute the behavior.
Your dog may be uncomfortable, in a class or competitive environment, for any number of reasons. Maybe the “big” dogs make her nervous. Perhaps she’s been lunged at by one of the breeds in the class. It could even be that the blower on the air conditioner or heater is making too much noise. Whatever the distraction, if your dog is not confident she will be unable to perform at her best.
Personally, I don’t think people give this issue enough consideration.
How to approach/resolve this issue:
Step one — build comfort in doing the behavior. Practice, practice, practice at home in a low distraction environment. Have your training sessions be short, positive and fun. Always try to end on a positive note.
Step two — build confidence by gradually changing the environment where you are asking for the behavior. When you believe your dog’s comfortable doing the behavior in your home try moving your training to the backyard. Once things are going well in the backyard try asking for the behavior down the street or at the park, away from other major activity. Gradually add in more distractions. Remember, your goal is to have your dog be at ease when doing the behavior. Each time you add more distractions lessen all other criteria such as don’t make her hold the stand for as long, or don’t walk away from her so far.
Granted training this way takes a little bit of time, but in the long run you will likely take less time teaching the final behavior, end up with more solid performance and have a happy dog & trainer too!
Let me know if you have any questions.