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How I Alleviate Frustration With My Dog As A Professional Dog Trainer | Pupford

February 21st, 2024

Filed under Pet Parenting

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I am a professional dog trainer and believe it or not, I also get frustrated with my dog. Even though I can explain their behavior, and even though I can understand it, I still get frustrated - I am human. And so are you! It is normal to feel frustrated with our dogs' behaviors and still love them to pieces at the same time.

In this blog post, I will share with you some things I do when I am feeling frustrated or overwhelmed with my dog and how I alleviate those feelings. Hopefully, these resonate with you and you can use them as well.

Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents:

  1. Take A Break
  2. Reassess
  3. Meet Your Dog’s Needs
  4. Find Support

Take A Break

This sounds simple, but in the moment it is often overlooked. If I am in the middle of a training session with my dog and I begin to feel frustrated - I take a break. Because if I am feeling frustrated, he is likely also feeling frustrated, which isn’t serving either of us.

I might take a break for 30 minutes, but it could also be a few days or even weeks if that is what we both need and in the meantime, I can work on other things with my dog.

Dogs can’t learn if they are feeling overwhelmed, fearful, or frustrated. Just like us, they need to be in the right head space to have the capacity to learn. Dogs are very in tune with our emotions as well. If they can sense we are becoming angry or annoyed, they likely are not going to take anything positive away from that training session.

Training should not negatively impact your relationship with your dog.

Learn how to identify signs that it may be time for a break from training!

a photo of a woman walking outside with her dalmation


While I am taking a break, I reassess my training plan and/or goals. Here are some questions I ask myself and encourage clients to do as well:

  • What goal am I trying to achieve through this training plan?
  • Is this goal pivotal to my well-being, my dog’s well-being, or to our relationship?
    • If not, then maybe I need to re-evaluate my goal entirely.
    • If yes, then is there another way to go about achieving this goal?
  • Can I make this goal more attainable by breaking it into smaller segments?
  • Am I expecting too much out of my dog based on his current needs, environment, and learning history?
  • Have I met my dog’s needs today?
  • Do I need additional support in reaching this goal?

a photo of a dog and man both in glasses looking at a computer screen

Meet Your Dog’s Needs

More often than not, when our dogs are struggling to learn it is because their needs have not been met. This could mean they have not had enough physical and/or mental exercise that day or their daily routine has been disrupted in some way causing them distress - dogs thrive on predictability and patterns because it reduces uncertainty which means less stress.

Let me give you an example:

My dog’s favorite part of the day is sitting on the sofa with me while I drink my morning coffee. He ushers me from bed to the sofa and anxiously waits for me to make coffee and come cuddle with him. He usually just falls right back to sleep on the sofa.

For a long time, this only happened on the weekends, but since I work from home more, on the days I am home during the week, he expects this same routine. On the days I work from home when I do not wake up early enough for our special coffee cuddle session, I notice that he is significantly more rambunctious throughout the day - making it difficult for me to work, which results in me feeling frustrated.

This rambunctious behavior is likely due to two things:

  1. I disrupted his routine. As I said previously, dogs thrive on patterns and routines. My dog has learned that on days I am home in the morning, we have a coffee cuddle session. So if I am home in the morning but I am at my desk working and we did not have our coffee cuddle session, this disrupts the pattern and causes him stress.
  2. He is overly tired later in the afternoon because he did not get his mid-morning nap. I assume this because on days I do leave for work in the morning, he goes right back to sleep as well. But when I work from home and miss the coffee cuddle session he stays awake wondering why I am doing other things (working) and not paying attention to him.

So how do I resolve this to prevent that rambunctious behavior from occurring? I set my alarm a little bit earlier and I make sure to have our coffee cuddle session before I start working from home. When I do this I find myself less frustrated with him during the day because he is not performing rambunctious behaviors that disrupt my work.

I encourage you to think about your daily routine and how meeting your dog’s needs fits into that. Now your dog may not need a morning cuddle session like mine does, but they do need daily opportunities for physical exercise and mental enrichment.

a photo of a young woman sitting on a sofa drinking coffee with a lab laying on her lap

Find Support

If I feel like I am adequately meeting my dog’s needs on a daily basis and I have reassessed my training goals, and I still feel frustrated by my dog’s behavior, I reach out to my friends for support.

I ask them to look at the behavior with a new set of eyes. Maybe they have an idea for something I have never tried. Because most of my close friends are also fellow dog trainers, I may even ask them to just write me a training plan and tell me what they would do if I were their client. As a dog trainer, it can be easy to set goals too high for myself (and my dog) and it is nice to have a fresh perspective.

So ask your friends and family, call a dog trainer, or join our free 30-Day Perfect Pup Facebook Community! There you can connect with like-minded pup parents to offer you support and training suggestions.

A photo of three dogs sitting together outside with their guardians

How I Alleviate Frustration Recap

I understand firsthand the frustration that can arise while trying to reach your training goals. By prioritizing self-awareness and implementing practical strategies such as taking breaks, reassessing goals, meeting our dogs' needs, and seeking external support when necessary, we can effectively manage and alleviate frustration which will substantially improve our relationship with our dogs.

Remember, training should enhance our bond with our dogs, not hinder it.

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