Any learning process takes time and patience. It’s more important to make someone want to learn than to focus on the teaching itself. And what a student does (be it a human or a dog) is actually more important than the efforts of the teacher.
Brian is young and needs training. We have worked hard to overcome his fear issues and most of the time he is just an ordinary, curious adolescent dog. We try to work on him being better adapted to the world he has to live in, but, funnily enough, it’s the simplest tasks that turn out to be rather tricky for him. He does understand what I want. But making him do it, is another matter.
I have to remind myself all the time that he will only learn when learning is fun. So our sessions are short. If he’s not relaxed, I let go. He’s not food motivated, so we use toys as rewards and our play time is also a trust-building activity.
I watch Brian. I learn. Lily can learn ANY trick in about 30-60 seconds (the complex ones need to be split into little chunks). She is a performer and a diva. She looks into my eyes for clues and approval. Brian takes weeks or months to do a trick when asked. But I challenge anyone, who would say he lacks intelligence…It’s enough to hide his favourite toy, put lots of obstacles in his way and let him find it. He understands the concept of object permanence, he can think logically and plan his immediate actions.
It’s me who needs to change. I need to relax more especially when he’s tense. I would never want to ‘train’ any dog I work with, I am just happy for them to learn to be with people, to be calm and confident. For some strange reason, I expect more from the dogs that are mine (officially and formally).
As soon as I step back and think about me and Brian as two entities that I am not emotionally involved with, everything becomes clear.
I’m learning how not to compete with myself. But I’m a slow learner.