Updated: Oct 11, 2022
Dog training is like learning a new language. Many people aren't aware of the baby steps we need to take when learning a new skill.
I often get comments that the dog doesn't do it long enough, or won't do it when you walk away, or that you need treats a lot.. All of these are completely normal and expected behaviours. Rome wasn't build in one day, neither is your dog fully trained in a 5 week course.
For example: Teaching your dog a down vs. learning a new language. Getting your dog to lie down in the house using a lure is the same as you learning to say hello in Spanish (with a nice glass of wine as a reward perhaps or a chocolate). Well done! Now suddenly, we as owners now say: 'He knows down, but he gets up or doesn't do it long enough.'
So basically what you're saying is: He knows how to say hello in Spanish, but when I asked him to read this book in Spanish AND have a conversation in fluent Spanish, he didn't do it. That's not how it works. You need to build on those skills. For example, teaching your dog to stay in down for 5 seconds is the same as you learning how to say ''How are you''. 30 seconds might be you asking: Where is the toilet? 2 minutes might be you ordering a drink at a bar in Spanish. So now, you're able to speak a reasonable amount of Spanish ( = duration for your dog, staying in the down)..
Now we can start working on reading in Spanish too. Command your dog to down and step 1 step away: Cool, you just read a street sign. Down and 3 steps away: You read the menu of a restaurant. Down and going to the other side of the room: You read a familiar children's rhyme or a tourist flyer. Down and going out of sight: Reading a chapter of a children's book.
Now, you can see where this is going don't you? If I was to add distraction to this, then we'll add writing to the mix. You want to do these skills whilst there is food on the kitchen counter? That's like you writing a simple sentence in Spanish. You want to do these skills next to a dog park? That is like writing an official work email in Spanish. Dog training doesn't stop.
Now imagine you did all of this for Down/Spanish.. Sit can be equivalent to Italian. Place command may be Chinese. We need to adjust our expectations and training goals for our dogs. They are amazing animals, but they can't do miracles. We can achieve results with regular practise and making sure we challenge them so they learn something new every day. Your goal should be to start with something your dog already knows for a 1 or 2 reps, and then go and make it more difficult throughout the rest of the session (which could be just 4 reps with more difficulty). Happy Training everyone!