Pet Tips

Our Training Mantra

October 23, 2022

Training your dog is a lifelong endeavor.  My two dogs, Kitsune the papillon and Fenrir the Alaskan Klee Kai, are 13 and 7 respectively.  Not spring chickens anymore, as much as I hate to admit it.  Despite that, I try to work on training with them at least a few times a week.  It can sometimes be hard to find the time, admittedly.  Life gets hectic sometimes.  But we make it a bit easier on ourselves because my dog training mantra, the one thing I always try to keep in mind while working with my dogs, is…

To Always Have Fun!

dog training mantra

Anyone who’s ever dealt with a fearful dog, or a dog with any type of behavioral issues, will probably agree that training can, at times, get stressful.  It’s one thing when you’re faced with training your dog how to sit or give you his paw.  It’s quite another when you’re trying to teach them that the neighbors aren’t scary monsters who want to murder them and their whole family.

And to be fair, even training simple things can get frustrating sometimes.

But stress and frustration isn’t something I want to bring to the table when it comes to my dogs.  I didn’t get dogs because I wanted another source of frustration in my life.  And my dogs don’t benefit from stress any more than a human would.

A facet of animal behavior that’s always especially fascinated me is how animals learn through play.

Anyone who’s watched a nature documentary or two has probably heard of this before.  Young wolves, for example, wrestle and play with their siblings.  This helps them to develop the muscles and skills that they’ll someday use to hunt.  In the same way that a human child isn’t aware that his scribbling is helping him to develop important skills like eye hand coordination, a wolf cub doesn’t know that his playful bout with his siblings is helping him to develop skills that could someday be the difference between life or death.

All they know is that they are having fun!

When I walk my dog Fen, I don’t leave the house without a toy in my pocket.  Fen has never been an especially food motivated dog.  But he loves playing and he loves toys.  It’s hard to stay terrified of the neighbors when every time you see them “mom” pulls your favorite toy out of her pocket!

Fun can be a great motivator for dogs.  Having fun with your pets is an amazing way to build a relationship based on positivity.  At the end of the day, I don’t want my dogs to behave themselves because they fear me.  I want them to behave themselves because behaving themselves and doing what I ask of them is awesome and fun!  I want them to trust me.  I want them to see the world as a happy, fun place, not one they have to be stressed about or fear.

So my training mantra is to always have fun!

Failure is ok.  We don’t have to always be perfect.  We don’t have to live life or train on an arbitrary timeline.  If a training session is feeling overly frustrating or stressful for either me or my dogs, then that’s my cue to reevaluate what I’m doing.  Maybe I need to change things up a bit, find a new way to teach that same skill.  Or maybe we just need to take a break for the day, relax, and revisit whatever it was we were working on with fresh minds the next day.  At the end of a training session, success to me isn’t how many times my dogs did what I asked of them perfectly.  A successful training session is one where we tried our best, enjoyed each others company, remained as stress and frustration free as possible, and just had fun!

Comment below!  I’d love to hear what your dog training mantra(s) are, if you have any!

dog training mantra

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