Patience is a virtue with Dogs.
It’s funny as a Dog Trainer I like to “practice what I teach” but even I can find myself sometimes realising I could do a better job.
I was out with our collie “Gracie” today using the ball thrower to give her a good run.
This is her favourite game by far.
She even prefers it to “Agility” (a story for another day).
While throwing it I realised that she had got into a habit of dropping the ball a couple of feet from me.
This meant that I had to either lean right out to get the ball into the thrower or even had to walk a couple of feet to pick it up.
Don’t get me wrong…I don’t mind bending or having to walk. But this is not how I originally taught her the game.
Gracie has always been a dog that tries to test you.
When I play ball at home with her while sitting down. She knows she has to actually drop the ball in my hand…
…But still, she sometimes insists on throwing it at me where it can end up either on the floor by my feet or somewhere else.
I am not sure if this is her dominant side coming out (She tends to rule the other dogs) or she is just “trying it on”.
Probably a bit of both.
At home if she does this I just ignore her.
She will bark at me…But I will just ignore here more.
Eventually she realises that she won’t get me to play unless she puts the ball in my hand.
This is where patience comes in.
I believe if you have enough patience you can probably teach your dog pretty much anything.
And that’s where we get issues in the dog training world.
We are in a time when everyone wants a “Quick fix” and “Done Today” which is ok if you are queuing at your local restaurant or pizza place…
…But it’s no good when it comes to training your dog.
It’s funny. We don’t expect our kids to learn to walk in a day or ride a bike perfectly after a few minutes, but we seem to expect our dogs to learn all sorts of commands and do them perfectly in a very short space of time.
Just as your child will have to learn to ride a bike on the pavement, across grass, up and down hills and eventually on the road, your dog needs just as much time to learn many of the tricks we train them.
So back to Gracie dropping her ball away from my feet.
What do I do…
“Reward the habit I want and ignore the one I don’t want.”
So I stand and just wait looking at the sky and the trees, anywhere but at her.
She tries to throw the ball at me…
But eventually she realises what I want.
See she didn’t forget, she just wanted me to forget!
And as soon as she does what I want she gets high praise. But more importantly she gets the reward of running after the ball.
So please remember:
“If you have enough patience anything is possible”