Every little helps when it comes to self-control

I recently met a lot of dogs of the same breed as Grace, and many of them reminded me of a younger version of her – a much more impatient one! So I wrote something for our breed’s Facebook group and thought I’d share it here too in case it’s useful for someone.

Learning that they don’t need to following every internal impulse they experience is an important life skill for dogs, but it is also like a muscle so you have to practice it constantly. We humans are not perfect either – just think about the moments when you stay on the sofa instead of going to the gym, or grabbing one more slice of pizza just because it smells so good!

Few dog books can help with this – I have one from the UK by Jane Ardern, but I will confess I have largely improvised our approach with some help from a range of books. I am also a psychologist, so I often to borrow ideas from the science of human behaviour without really knowing I’m doing it.

So this morning I recorded one of our spontaneous training sessions, mistakes included. Please note that I am not a professional dog trainer – I know my training is quite “lazy” and with many mistakes, but I thought perhaps the less perfect perspective would be more realistic and help other dog owners (especially spaniels!) understand the training never ends and it does not have to be perfect to make a difference in the long term.

A few minutes several times per week makes a really big difference in the long run – this time a year ago it took me 30min of a 60min agility lesson to get Grace to focus when she was extremely excited, so even if my method is not directly from a book, now that I have seen the results, I am brave enough to talk about it 😃

Today’s game – we play this regularly:

This is one break-time activity at agility from last summer:

We have also played lots of games indoors:

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