Monday, July 6, 2015

Positive Training Blog Hop-Training Mistakes

“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!)


  1. Thanks so much for joining the hop! I mentioned fear of failure in my post as well, and like you, this often prevents me from taking the chance on my dogs!

  2. That's a great quote up top. My boss always says "At least we're swinging the bat."

  3. Great post! Training does take a lot of practice and even the best dog trainers make mistakes!

  4. We definitely learn more from our failures then our triumphs! But if we never tried, we'd never learn anything right?

  5. Ooh this was a GOOD one for me to read, thank you for this!

  6. Mom isn't a big obedience fan, she hates obedience school and training more than us dogs, but when it comes to our sports, she is all business. With our sports she is always afraid of teaching us something wrong and causing failure.

  7. I'm definitely afraid of making mistakes as well. Watching your video made me realize that "hey, that's not so bad," and maybe my own mistakes aren't a big deal either. It's always refreshing to get a new look at something, and to gain a new perspective.