Trying to Train While 'Bad' Behaviors Happen? Try This Instead | Pupford
May 8th, 2023
Filed under Podcasts
Too often as pup parents, we try to fix or train “bad” behaviors while they are happening.
Unfortunately, we often feel overwhelmed, embarrassed, and downright frustrated in the heat of those moments.
So in this article, we’re going to discuss alternatives to better set your dog up for success. And, I’m going to give you a sports reference that just might make this concept click (it’s not actually “sports heavy” don’t worry 😜)!
Here’s some of what we will cover:
- What my high school soccer coach really understood
- Why it’s too hard to train during the “bad” behaviors
- Create a plan and practice, practice, practice
Let’s get right to it! ⬇️
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WHAT MY HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER COACH REALLY UNDERSTOOD
In high school, I played soccer and was fortunate enough to have the same phenomenal coach throughout all of high school.
Looking back, it’s been eye-opening to see how much my coach progressed as a teacher and coach to us young high school students. During my sophomore year, he spent a lot of time trying to communicate ideas, plays, and principles to us during the games from the sidelines.
He always wanted us to push it to the wing, cross it in and attack the ball. He would shout at us during games and at halftime, but truthfully, we were a bit too overwhelmed to make drastic changes during the intense moments of a game.
Fast forward to my senior year of high school and I noticed my coach approaching things differently.
He wasn’t doing very much actual “coaching” during games. Instead, our practices had become methodical, extremely repetitive, and strategic. We would do the same “push the ball to the wing, cross it in, and attack the ball” drill EVERY single practice.
Whenever he would call out the drill, all of us punk high schoolers would complain. We were so sick of the same drill every practice for weeks and weeks.
But two major things happened…
#1: The less intense and frantic pace of “practice” allowed us to truly understand the concepts he was teaching. AND, if we got it wrong he could stop the practice, explain what happened, and patiently teach us. The calmer atmosphere of being outside of a game scenario allowed even our young and naive high-schooler brains to soak in the information.
#2: The intense repetition led to the act of ‘push the ball to the wing, cross it in, and attack the ball’ becoming second nature. It was just muscle memory.
And let me tell you, we scored a LOT of goals from crosses in from the wing. ️⚽️
(That’s it for sports references… I told you it wouldn’t be too sports heavy)
So… let’s talk about your dog, not my glory days of high school sports. ⤵️
WHY IT’S TOO HARD TO TRAIN DURING THE “BAD” BEHAVIORS
Your puppy (or older dog) is surprisingly similar to a high school soccer player. Their brains are still developing, they think they know everything, and they’ll eat d*rn near anything you put in front of them!
Plus, in the heat of the moment, our dogs become much more difficult to communicate with.
And to make matters worse, when your pup starts doing that behavior that drives you crazy, YOU become not so good at communicating. (It’s not a personal knock, just a reality of being human.😃)
As soon as your puppy starts to jump on guests, feelings of embarrassment and frustration often flood your brain. You seem to forget about all the training techniques you spent hours learning about. It is tough!
And that’s why you need a plan… ⏬
CREATE A PLAN AND PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
While I won’t dive into specific training techniques (you can sign up for the for that), I will implore you to create a plan and practice behaviors NOT when they are actually occurring.
If you’re struggling with your pup jumping on guests when they come through the door, the time to train to overcome that behavior is NOT when guests are coming through the door.
Here’s what I mean. 👇
If you want your dog to lay on their bed/place when guests come in the door, you need to start by building a strong foundation for with zero distractions. (That will take time, by the way.)
Then, once they’ve got place down pretty well you can start to add small distractions.
Then when they’ve got that down you can add larger distractions.
At that point, you can start to set up “mock” door greetings. Try it first with someone in your household (if possible). Have them go outside, knock on the door, and then enter with you there coaching and guiding your pup on what to do.
Once they’re improving on staying in their place when someone they’re familiar with comes in the door, it’s time for the next level of “mock” door greetings.
Find a family member, friend, or easily convinced neighbor to help you practice the behavior! Explain to them in detail what will be happening and how you want them to behave in this “mock” door greeting.
If the dog jumps, tell them to turn their back or even go outside. Instruct them not to look at or pet your dog unless they are in their place.
This type of planned-out practice is how you ultimately help train your dog to not jump on guests. While just trying to redirect or stop the jumping while it’s happening will not be as successful!
NOTE: I understand that action must be taken when “bad” behaviors happen. I’m not discounting that. My main point is that setting up proactive “practice” scenarios will lead to a greater rate of learning and success. 😃
RECAP OF BEING PROACTIVE WITH DOG TRAINING
No pup or pup parent is perfect, but with a proactive approach to training, you can see your dog’s behavior improve! Your goal as a pup parent should be to set your dog up for success as much as you can!
The best time to practice overcoming challenging behaviors is in a controlled “practice” environment as much as possible This is especially true in the early stages of your pup’s life. It’s too much to expect a as they’re distracted outside, around other dogs, and (for example).
Of course, you need to work on redirection and training as real scenarios and situations pop up too! But as much as possible, build out a plan and be proactive in teaching your dog the correct behaviors you expect of them!
If you need help with a training plan, be sure to sign up for 30 Day Perfect Pup taught by Zak George! It’s a 100% free (no credit card required) online dog training course complete with videos, daily tips, and an ebook.
How have you been successful with practicing and training problem behaviors? Tell us in the comments!