We have all been told that practice makes perfect, though in reality only perfect practice makes perfect. Yet right now I’m struggling with several underachieving students who feel that zero practice will make perfect!
Coming to class is a good start towards retraining your dog. However, coming to class once a week, without practicing all of the good behaviour that you have learned, is a waste of time. No person, or animal, has ever learned to master a skill when practicing it once a week. A weekly lesson is as effective as no lessons.
For maximum benefit, the good behaviour learned needs to be practiced daily. Your dog is learning, so you might as well continue to remind him of the right way, rather than the wrong way. Sometimes life makes that impossible for us though to have daily sessions. Five times a week will still get you towards your goal, and four is the minimum.
If you are only able to train four days a week, you are better to practice your lessons on consecutive days. When days are skipped dog forget the lesson, forcing you to start back repeating your entire previous session. But if you go four days in a row, the first day is catch up, the next is more advanced, the same with the following one, and then the final day should be made a little bit easier to allow your dog’s confidence to bounce back. You want your last training day of your set to be easy so they leave thinking they are the smartest dogs in the world, and that their cleverness gives you great happiness. By going consecutive days, you continue to build upon your lesson of the day before.
Sometimes our own fears and baggage prevent us from doing what we need. If you find yourself in this position, speak up. We can help you to move forward. If you are not practicing what you learned and only doing what you have always done (which is the reason why you are here in the first place), not only will you be unable to move forwards with your dog, but you will also hinder the progress of your entire class.
Nothing in life that is worthy of achieving is gained without some stress. Think of your certification tests, buying a house, and getting a job. There is stress involved in all of these processes. Dog Training is the same. You as an owner need to dig deep, and do what your dog needs you to do, despite any fears or inhibitions that you may have. Practice what you have learned. Once you start you will know where you need help, and where you are excelling. This information is very important to give to your instructor at your next class.
Please be honest with both yourself and your dog. Your dog will never improve if you don’t practice the skill a minimum of four times a week. And, not only do you have to practice the skill, but practicing it wrong will teach your dog how to do it wrong. You must practice it right, using the tools you were given in class. If you struggle in your homework, which you will, you can ask in class for solutions, or you can write on The Forum and I can answer your questions for you.
We are here to help you. Please allow us to. But it all starts with you….