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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday's Training TIP: SHUTTING DOWN


When your puppy is learning a new command, sometimes the process can overwhelm him/her (especially if the session stretches out longer than 15 to 20 minutes), and your puppy might "shut down."  If this happens, both of you get frustrated and it does no good to continue;  end the training session on a positive note.
  • Go back to something your puppy know how to do (like "sit").
  • When he/she does it, release him/her with lots of praise.
  • Come back to the new command another time--at least one hour later, or even wait until the next day.  Oftentimes, when you return to work the new command, you'll be surprised at  how much your puppy learned!

  • Your puppy "regresses."
    By this I mean that suddenly your puppy seems to have forgotten everything he/she has learned.  Or perhaps you thought he/she was starting to "get it," but now it seems like you are backtracking.  For instance, let's say your puppy knows how to "sit" and you are teaching "down."  Your puppy has started to make movements when you give the "down" command, but you still need to "sweep" his/her front legs out to place him/her into the "down" position.  Maybe you've been working 15 minutes or so and suddenly your puppy stops paying attention and doesn't make any movements when you command "down."  Time to do a few "sits" and then release him/her.

    • Your puppy "yawns."
    Yawning is sometimes a stress reliever, so your puppy might just be confused, or he/she might be overwhelmed.  Do a few things your puppy knows well, use verbal motivation to keep your puppy interested, and try the new command again.  If it seems you aren't making progress, it's okay to finish up the session--of course, end with something your puppy already knows to he/she will remember the training experience as "fun" and not as "drudgery."

    • It looks like your puppy has dandruff.
    Flaking dandruff is a sign of stress.  Again, it could be caused by confusion, or your puppy might be "shutting down."  If you are not sure which, think about how long you've been working.  If you've been at it more than 15 or 20 minutes, you might want to run through some familiar commands and release your puppy.  If the dandruff occurs right away in the session, try using more motivation and praise to keep your puppy "up."  Before deciding to end the session, practice the things your puppy knows and then try the new command again.


    1. Exactly we also try to end the session long before that happens, if things are going well, we praise them up and end it there, before the frustrations set in.

    2. Thanks, Erin! Training should be FUN, both for us and our puppies...and good mental exercise!