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Tuesday Training Byte: Too much too soon

I previously wrote about setting training goals for your week or even for the training session. A common mistake is to expect too much too soon. For example, if my goal this week is to keep the dog's attention and be able to heel in a straight line for 10 steps, and the dog does this well, stop and praise your dog! However, many owners think, "my dog is walking well for the 10 steps, so I will go ahead and walk another 30". It is important to stop and reward or praise the dog for successful completion while he is still focused and doing it right. Walking a distance in a straight line or heeling in a large circle is boring with a capital "B"! If the dog is bored, it is no longer focused and paying attention to you. Mix it up and make it fun. Asking too much sets the dog up for failure and not for success. This same concept applies to teaching the "stay". To begin with, set a small goal with minimal distance, duration, and distraction. Then return to your dog and praise it like it accomplished a great feat. Maybe have your pup do a couple of about turns in heel position and then try the stay again. Perhaps add a little more distance, while keep the duration and distractions low. If you were successful, stop there and call it good. Look at this dog, "Gene" in the Rally obedience ring (photo by Epic Tail Photography). Is your dog focused on you while heeling and on a loose leash? If so, after a few feet of great heeling, stop and praise your dog. Don't make the mistake of asking too much too soon.

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