“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”
― Stephen McCranie
I used this quote in a previous blog post and when Bethany commented that the topic of July's Positive Reinforcement Pet Training hop was Training Mistakes, I knew I had the perfect post!
My biggest mistake in training is that sometimes (ok, a lot of the time) I am paralyzed by the thought of doing it wrong. Sometimes I don't train because I haven't devised the perfect plan of attack yet and don't want to mess up and make mistakes. But mistakes will happen no matter how well-planned and though out your training sessions are. And mistakes are how we learn. Not only how our dogs learn but also how we learn, what works, what doesn't, how to schedule and sequence training sessions, what is important and what is not so important. These are all things that you won't figure out if every training session runs smoothly 100% if the time (HA! AS IF!).
Denise Fenzi has a nice post about the paralysis of indecision. She says:
"Dog training is very much an applied art as well as a science. A theoretical understanding of how you are “supposed” to train a dog won’t make it happen unless you practice. Through practice you’ll develop muscle memory and a natural responsiveness that matches your dog’s needs at any given moment. Not over days, weeks or months, but over years. Practice and thoughtful reflection after you train will place you on the road to mastery, not reading about training while your dog takes a nap."
Isn't that the truth? Your dog won't learn to heel by watching you watch hundreds of YouTube videos about heeling! At some point you just have to get in there and experiment and try things out and be ready to make mistakes.
So, here is a video that very clearly illustrates a training mistake. Watch as I clearly place the scented #6 metal article, happy Taco goes out to the mixed pile and gets it. But no, I am SURE the correct article is #2 metal (I took my eyes off the pile and forgot which one it was). So I take the "wrong" one and wait for him to go back on his own. As soon as he goes back to the pile and sniffs the #2 metal and doesn't take it, I SHOULD have aborted, trusting him to know by now. But I let it go on for over another agonizing, confusing minute. Watch as Taco is so clearly telling me "It is NOT any of these, I already brought you the correct one, stupid human!" I went straight to the camera and watched the video and uck, stupid noseblind human! We did two quick and fun fast no-formality sends to recover and then called it a day. It is painful to watch, but rest assured Taco is not scarred for life. Mistakes happen, we move on. Nothing is ruined, tomorrow is another day and we will make more mistakes. (But hopefully not the same ones!)