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Are You Pushing Your Dog Too Hard In Training? Here’s 3 Ways To Know…

When you compete in a dog sport like agility, flyball or canicross, or if you are training for any kind of dog competition, it’s natural to want to put in as much practice as possible.

Hopefully, by training positively using a toolkit of interactive training toys to boost motivation, your dog is as keen as you are to get ahead of the game.

At Tug-E-Nuff Dog Gear, we believe in following your dog’s lead and working with them, not against them. But we know it is possible to push your dog too hard during training – and it can leave them feeling exhausted, frustrated and fed up.

So what are the clues that you’re pushing too hard? Here are three ways to know if it’s time to take things down a notch…

1.     Your dog is easily distracted

When a dog is being pushed to do something they aren’t interested in, or if they are simply bored of trying to learn a new behaviour, they are much more likely to get distracted during training sessions.

It might be that the particular thing you want to achieve just isn’t well suited to your dog’s natural abilities and interests – so you will always be fighting an uphill battle. We always recommend using your dog’s interests and ability to your advantage and choosing activities that follow on from this.

Also, remember to always train in short blocks of time (half an hour can be plenty) with lots of opportunities for reward. A play with their favourite Tug-E-Nuff toy is a great way to keep motivation high (discover 4 games to play with your dog here).

2.     Your dog is making lots of mistakes

If you are going over the same training steps again and again, and your dog keeps making the same ‘mistakes’, it’s time to have a rethink.

When this happens, the most important thing you can do for your dog is respond positively. Never punish them for getting it wrong. If you are frustrated and cross, your dog will sense it – and that won’t do your all-important bond any favours. (We talk more about why punishment, or negative reinforcement, isn’t a good idea here) 

The best remedy in this scenario could simply be to take a break. Work on something else that you know your dog enjoys, and try again in a few months. If they still don’t seem to ‘get’ it, accept it and move on.

3.     Your dog is old or unwell

We believe you can teach an old dog new tricks (with the right approach, and the right training toys to get them feeling fired up) but it does take longer and require more patience than training a younger dog. Of course, every dog is different but some dogs need to slow down and take extra care from around the age of seven or eight.

It’s even more important to train slowly and steadily, and only with the go ahead from your vet, if your dog has an ongoing health condition. And if they ever seem too poorly to train, follow their lead and let them rest and get their strength back.



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