Learning curves and keeping your cool
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Thread: Learning curves and keeping your cool

  1. #1
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    DefaultLearning curves and keeping your cool

    Hi guys. Iíve been thinking about this topic for awhile and could really use some input. Neiko is the first dog Iíve gotten on my "own". My family always had dogs, but heís the first to really be mine. I got him right out of college and heís about 6 now. In most respects, heís been incredibly easy to train. The thing Iíve been chewing on for awhile is that because heís my first, heís had to bear the brunt of my many mistakes. I feel guilt to this day for some of the ways Iíve let him down. I have a short temper and while I think itís improved much since my teenage years, it still shows from time to time. There have been a few times when Iíve lost my cool with Neiko and have been physically harsher than I would ever mean to be. I am trying to work on my patience and being more aware of my moods and how they might affect any attempts at training. Iíve been reading a lot of training topics and keep seeing over and over Ďnever lose your temperí. While I know that to be absolutely true advice, I unfortunately have not been able to live up to it. Because Neiko is getting a little older and is by nature a very good dog, the times that he frustrates me are few and far between, but thatís probably more to his credit than because of any progress Iíve made. I know I have a lot of room for improvement in this area and would really appreciate hearing how some of you keep your temper in check when things go downhill. Being the forgiving, happy-go-lucky lab he is, I donít think Neiko bears any grudge and has probably long forgotten my temper tantrums. I just still feel so guilty that heís had to deal with my learning curveÖ Thanks in advance for any thoughts you have.

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  3. #2
    amazongold's Avatar
    amazongold is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Learning curves and keeping your cool

    Hoo boy, I can tell you about trying not to lose your temper! : Buddy is in the mouthy stage, where he starts barking at me because he wants to play rough, or even grabbing my arm or sleeve in his teeth. When I tell him "Nope! Quiet!" he barks even more - then runs as soon as I get up. > I find that if I put him in his crate for a time-out while I sit down and take a few deep breaths, I can control myself and he settles down a bit.

    The Lab we lost in April, Shadow, was a sweet-natured, quiet, gentle lady, and this rowdy little boy is taking a lot of getting used to. It's true Shadow was not always an angel, but for the first eight months we had her, at least one of us was home with her all day and she learned good manners quickly. She was also a couple of months younger than Buddy, and had a lot more one-on-one time and training from the start than Buddy has. Shadow loved retrieving and catching frisbees, and never left the boundaries of our yard, so we were able to exercise her a couple of times a day to wear her out.

    When I find myself getting short and sharp with his antics, I know it's time to stop working with him. It isn't his fault he spent all his life before us in cages and never learned any manners, and I have to remember that. Buddy is used to running and playing with other dogs all day long and getting tired out with wild and crazy physical antics. He is not used to being crated all day while I am gone, then only getting to chase a dumb toy or ball for his exercise while on a 25' tie-out because he doesn't have good recall. I have to remember that.

    Just keep trying, keep loving Neiko, never hit him or jerk him around, and keep remembering that he is a dog and can't read your mind. You'll both be fine.
    Jackie, Champ, and Buddy

  4. #3
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    DefaultRe: Learning curves and keeping your cool

    Thanks a lot for the advice. Buddy was really fortunate to end up with you and I bet he'll make a ton of progress his year.
    I had a trainer come do a home session awhile back and in addition to all of her training tips, one of the things I got the most out of it was her admitting that even her dogs will not listen to her on occasion. I guess it's easy to loose sight of the fact that dogs have their off days too and like us, are far from perfect. Sometimes, I guess I just need to let it go and cut Neiko some slack...
    I think as I get a little older I'm starting to become more aware of my weaknesses (this is definitely one of them) :-\ and trying to find ways to improve. Part of me feels like there's no way I'll ever be blessed with a dog like Neiko again and now that he's getting older, I'm looking back at all the times he had to deal with my ignorance.
    That said, he's laying at my feet right now with that 'you're my whole world' look. That must be where the 'I hope to someday be half the person my dog thinks I am' quote came from

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  6. #4
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    DefaultRe: Learning curves and keeping your cool

    Its amazing the things that a dog will teach you about yourself if you slow down and listen. The fact that you know this about yourself and can openly admit it is a huge step forward. I guess when you find yourself in one of those situations you might ask yourself, "Do I want Neiko to respond to me because he fears me or because he wants to please me?"
    Olie

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    Trickster's Avatar
    Trickster is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Learning curves and keeping your cool

    We have all been there. Patience is the clincher and I think we are all guilty of letting it get the better of us sometimes. We are only human after all. I find that any mistakes that our dogs make are almost always our fault.

  8. #6
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    Baloo317 is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Learning curves and keeping your cool

    Oh, I HEAR yah!!!!!

    Baloo is nearly 5 months. He is super cute. Ridiculously cute, actually. And sometimes, I could just strangle his cute little neck!!! :P (not really, guys, sheesh.)

    There have been times (and there will be more, I'm sure) that I have actually felt tears welling up, I was so unbelievably frustrated. Where I just wanted to sit down and cry because I wasn't getting anywhere with him no matter what I was trying. :-\

    There are times that I have been harsher than I would like to be, and I regret that. I don't dwell on it though, I really try to just move on, because I feel like if I dwell on it, I'll get stuck there, and the bad feelings will just build, and build, etc.

    I've noticed that I have to be in the right frame of mind to do any work with him. I have to pay attention to how I feel, what my "headspace" is like in that moment. There are times when I've tried to work with him on morning walks after just getting off a twelve hour nightshift. It didn't work so good, we don't do that anymore. :-\

    And then, there are times like last night. I took Baloo to the pet store because I needed bird food, and I try to bring him everywhere that I can. He was an absolute angel. He sat nicely while a few strangers pet him, and what really blew me away.... he sat right beside another dog without freaking out.

    Moments like that are what make everything else worth it. Again, I was almost in tears, but this time, for a very different reason.
    Kate
    Baloo - 5 year old black lab
    Peanut - 7 year old minpin
    Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
    We're Superdogs!


  9. #7
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    DefaultRe: Learning curves and keeping your cool

    Oh, RileyGirl, I feel your pain! Cooper was a flippin' handful (dominant dog of the litter) and it took quite awhile to convince him WE were #1, not him. We still have to give him reminders every so often of the pecking order. I too have a short temper (well, I like to say I have a very long fuse but when lit, it burns rapidly!). However, I think Cooper taught me to keep it in check. If it got to the point in our training sessions that I found myself getting frustrated, the session simply was cut short and resumed later on when I felt calmer. I think the hardest one for me was the calling him ONCE and if he did not come to me, calmly walking over and putting him back on the leash....when what I really wanted to do was yell at him, "What the hell is your problem? Didn't you hear me!?!!" But one day, the command suddenly clicked in his brain and 99.9% of the time, he comes to me after one command. Just recently, he had a bit of a lapse during a play session when I told him to come & he didn't (thought for sure I had thrown the ball - when I had not thrown it - and was insistent the ball was in the tall grass). So the play session ended there and we came home. He pouted for awhile - he actually laid in the driveway in the rain, didn't want to come in, just laid there looking longly at the park across the road....kind of broke my heart but hey, he didn't listen. He was excellent after that!

    Don't beat yourself up, I think everyone has lost their cool at some point when training their dogs. I have had moments where I have yelled at him and felt horrible afterwards but he always, always licks my hand and wags his tail when I apologize to him. Dogs are such forgiving creatures.....

    Bev.

  10. #8
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    DefaultRe: Learning curves and keeping your cool

    We've had a lot of dogs in our lifetime..before we met, when we were kids..and after we married. Both of us have NO patience at all..and thru the years made tons and tons of mistakes..and we both carry the guilt of them to this day. Screaming, and yes..we spanked our dogs, NOT BEAT, and rubbed their noses in pee when they had a mistake. Yes..we did it allllllllllllllllllllll wrong. And we WILL live with it for the rest of our lives.
    When we bought Dakota..I made a vow, promise..whatever..that this one would be different..we would do it all right..or as close to right as we as frail humans could. No yelling or hitting, lotsa love...lotsa patience. Now this doesn't mean we haven't raised our voices if Dakota was doing something naughty..or getting too aggressive in play time..but we never scream at him.
    He is the best dog we've ever had..(so far) he's only 8 1/2 months old. He's loving, intelligent, trusts us completely, pretty much listens to us. We finally got it right. This may be our only chance to get it right..age wise for us..and I am proud of both of us for doing it the right way.
    Admittedly, all or most of the stress that made us so impatient in now gone out of our lives..life is slower and we enjoy each day, maybe that helped.
    Anyway..patience is the hardest part of it..and at times I get frustrated if something doesn't go exactly right with Dakota..but..who cares..I figure I'll try it again another time. I've taken him for training..I've taught him tricks..MYSELF..I can't believe how smart he is..and that makes me proud in a way..that I am taking the time to do these things, things I said I would do with other dogs..but never did because of life getting a hold of me.
    Enough ramblings..here's the deal..patience is the #1 thing you need..it's the one thing that will help you thru the tough times with your dog..and in life. Build a trusting relationship, filled with love and respect and trust. Have fun with the pup. A rug is only a rug..a piece of furniture is only furniture..the dog is a living breathing creature and needs our protection and love. Good luck with your dog..and relax..count to 10 and look into his eyes.
    Jackie

  11. #9
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    DefaultRe: Learning curves and keeping your cool

    I like the long fuse analogy

    I know it's all a learning process and Neiko has really taught me so much already. I'll be a better owner with the next dog because of him. It really helps to hear from others who may have been there. My husband is the most calm, laid back guy I know and compared to him I sometimes feel like a hot head. We can make a pretty good team though, when we try. With my horse, when she starts pushing my buttons and if I know I'm not in the right mind frame, I'll hand her off to him for a few minutes so I can regroup and figure out how to proceed. I'm trying to be more aware of my emotional state with Neiko too.

  12. #10
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    DefaultRe: Learning curves and keeping your cool

    I grew up watching my parents spank them w/newspapers, yell, rub noses in pee, never ending scolding, etc. When I got my dogs, I had to relearn how to treat them. I make sure I'm in a good mood before doing any training and when they aren't responding the way I want, I simply quit until later. I still have the urge sometimes to keep scolding the way my parents did until I realize I sound like an idiot!

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