Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.
Do you “practice at your performance?”
I’ve been talking to a lot of clients about practice lately. People hate practice. Do you remember being forced to practice the piano? What about sports drills? It seems to be in our nature to want to get better at something but to hate the process required to get there. Dog training is the same way. We want our dog to be well behaved but we find it challenging to put in the time it takes to make that happen.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in training their dogs is that they try to practice in the exact environment where they are having trouble. I call this “practicing at your performance.” Have you ever had to give a speech, or a recital? How many hours did you spend practicing in a quiet room by your self? What about in front of a friendly audience in you living room? Do you decide to run a marathon and wake up one day and run 26 miles? I doubt it. Accomplishing these goals can take hours, weeks and months of practice before you ever take the stage.
The same applies to training your dog. Say for example your dog is out of control when you encounter another dog while walking on leash. Your dog barks and lunges and you generally have to drag him off in another direction. You would like to replace this behavior with a dog who can sit quietly while another dog passes within 10 feet.
This is a reasonable goal, but you cannot start by practicing this behavior while out walking your dog. Asking your dog to perform a behavior they have not had sufficient practice on is unfair and often results in the handler being disappointed or even angry when the dog cannot deliver up an expert performance. You will need to start by making sure your dog can sit quietly with a dog 25 ft away, then 15 ft away then 10 ft away. This could take weeks or months of practice before you ever attempt it out on a walk.
But practice doesn’t have to be a chore. Keep in mind that it will take time, but the more practice sessions you do, the faster you will achieve your goal. Here are some tips to help you achieve your training goals!
#1: It doesn’t have to be a process. One of the biggest hurdles to practicing is getting started. We tend to think we need to spend a lot of time getting organized, cutting up treats, clearing a space, etc. The truth is you can sneak in a little practice at any time. Have some leftovers? Practice a few behaviors before feeding them to the dog. Time to eat? Ask your dog to do some tricks before putting down the bowl. Better yet, get them to work for their meals.
#2: Have treats everywhere. Purchase some attractive containers and place them strategically around the house. Remote treats should be non-perishable, not too stinky, but still something your dog is willing to work for. Freeze dried treats are a really good option in this case. This allows you to reward good behavior any time you see it.
#3: Reward for everyday activities. All out practice sessions are great, but training that is integrated into your daily life is the most effective. Need your dog to sit when he sees another dog on a walk? Start training sits all over your house. Before going out, before coming in, before going up stairs, before getting out of the crate. The more automatic the behavior becomes, the easier it will be to use out in the real world.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
A suspect fired gunshots at police in Arlington, sparking a high-speed chase down Route 50 that ended in the West Falls Church area of Fairfax County.
After 61 years with D.C.’s local NBC station, the teen quiz show “It’s Academic” has a new broadcast home: WETA-TV in Arlington. And the inaugural episode on the public TV…
A fight among teen girls in Rocky Run Park, near Courthouse, prompted a police response yesterday (Wednesday) evening. Arlington County police say three girls attacked another after a verbal dispute…
Feeling the pressure to respond to its soaring office vacancy rate, Arlington County is looking to fill empty buildings quickly. One option for adding tenants and knocking down the 20.8%…
Join Us on Monday, October 17, 2022, for our General Membership Meeting & Arlington County Candidate Forum led by the NAACP Arlington Branch Political Action CommitteeTime: 7:00-9:00 pmLocation: Virtual on Zoom County Board (3 candidates)Matt de Ferranti (https://mattforarlington.com/)Audrey Clement (https://audreyclement.com/)Adam Theo (https://www.theoforarlington.org/) School Board (2 candidates)James “Vell” Rives (https://www.rivesforsb.com/)Bethany Sutton (https://www.bethany4aps.org/)Open to the PublicRegister: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwvdu- gpzkpE9XJn5vI3Fy-LO6f1r0qli7V After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.”The NAACP is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse candidates for political office at any level. Persons affiliated with the NAACP at the national, state, and local levels are free to make candidate endorsements in a personal capacity, but they do not reflect support by the NAACP as an organization.” Derrick Johnson, President/CEO, NAACP, May 22, 2022
Classes start in just a couple of weeks here at MoCA Arlington! Programs are filling up so sign up today to reserve your space! We have a wide variety of wonderful programs from painting to mixed media to illustration and more!
Mini Family & Pet Photo Sessions
Beat the rush and sign up to get your holiday photos now!
Bring your kids! Bring your dogs!
Check out the DeSilva Studios website. Look at the images and see if you like them