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Becoming a Better Dog Trainer — Part 1: Stay Calm

Becoming a Better Dog Trainer — Part 1: Stay Calm

Here’s a little scenario: You just finished watching a duck hunting video where the host successfully handled his Lab on a 300-yard blind retrieve. “Wow,” you think. “That’s what I want to do.”

Not so fast. Although your heart is in the right place, there’s one critical bit of preparation that must be made before even whispering a command to your pup: teach yourself to train.

There’s much more to training than just following the steps of a program. Knowing how to train is just as important as knowing the what, where, when or why.

The first step to being a dog training is to always remain calm. Really good dog trainers possess an almost Zen-like quality that overrides their demeanor. Think “wise-man-at-the-top-of-the-mountain” serenity. Commands are given in a conversational tone. The only time they get loud is if a dog is far away, or needs a correction. Even then, sternness is used sparingly.

Training a dog means not letting emotions get the best of you. There’s a reason: Dogs pick up on the tone of your voice over almost any other quality. If your volume ranges from quiet to loud for the same action despite a dog’s reaction to a command, it can be confusing. Also, if commands are given in a harsh or stern manner from the get-go, you have no level to elevate to when your retriever needs a reminder of who is actually running the show.

If you feel yourself coming unglued because your pup has more fun watching butterflies than listening to you, take a minute to relax. If you’re excited or agitated, the dog will pick up on that and get excited, too. If they lose focus, then the chances of completing a lesson are hopeless.

Stay calm, and be successful.

Coming soon: Part 2 — Patience With Your Pup