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!
SIGNS OF "SHUTTING DOWN"
- 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.