Something you’ll hear often with dog training is “Be consistent”. It’s important to make sure you follow through and answer your dog’s questions consistently.
Is that dog a threat? Nope, not now, not in 10 min, not tomorrow.
Can I lick the coffee table? Nope, not now, not in 10 min, not tomorrow.
Can I bark at the squirrel outside? Nope, not now, not in 10 min, not tomorrow.
Consistency. Making sure they get the same answer every time. Makes sense. Perfect sense. But sometimes, we put ourselves in positions where we need to step away and maybe we don’t follow through that one time.
When you’re working with a dog on breaking a habit (barking, food aggression, nipping) emotions can get high. When I was first working with Porter on his food aggression it was an extremely frustrating situation. I knew I could not let my frustration get the better of me, and had to be calm and collect while working on the issue. However, I’m not a superhero.
There were days where I would get home from an exhausting day at work and I would be dreading what would be coming next. I would get in a calm state before feeding Porter, but I would find myself some nights, not being able to deal with the situation in a calm way. That’s when I would walk away.
I wouldn’t follow through those nights. Why? Because I knew it would not be constructive for me or Porter. I would be emotional and frustrated, which means he would feed off of that energy. When you’re dealing with a situation where emotion is involved on both you and your dog’s end, you need to make sure you’re the one calm and controlled. If you feel like you’re not going to be? It’s okay to walk away.
You’re not failing. That one time you have to walk away is not going to set you back months in progress. In fact, sticking around and trying to follow through when angry or upset will set you back. So, step away if you feel as though you can’t control your emotions. Go in the other room and reboot. Take a minute to gain your composure and then interact with your dog.
It’s okay. We’re only human. We can’t be the picture of absolute perfection all the time. It’s just not realistic. So, accept that you’re human, accept that you can walk away from your dog if you have to, and then accept the fact that tomorrow you can try again.
Consistency is very important. But so is keeping a healthy and respectable relationship with your dog. So deep breaths, and try again tomorrow.
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH