Training is the act of teaching a person or animal, a particular skill or behaviour through regular practice and instruction. Getting into the habit of training can be really hard. It takes commitment and a willingness to ‘just do it’. Do you struggle with it?
Through repetition we can train our minds to act in a particular way that will lead to competence in that area. We aren’t experts at the beginning, we have to start feeling like a novice and grow. Sounds easy? Not necessarily so - we have all made that commitment to go to the gym or a new class only to give up a few weeks later. According to Jim Rohn, American Entrepreneur and Motivational speaker – “Motivation gets us started; Habit keeps us going.” So often we can decide we want to do something, we start but then something happens and we lose confidence.
Humans have a tendency to criticise themselves, creating self-doubt in our minds. Too often we believe we simply haven’t got what it takes to do a good job, so we don’t even bother trying. We unconsciously teach ourselves negative habits that hinder our training or stop it altogether. Let’s look at those common habits and how we sabotage ourselves.
Setting excessively high standards for ourselves and our dogs means that when we can’t achieve them. We then experience self-doubt and worry that we are not measuring up to everyone else. If we suffer from perfectionism we do not find any of our successes satisfying. The perfectionist continually believes they SHOULD do better and push themselves and their dogs too hard, resulting in burn out. To overcome this habit remember that ‘Progress not Perfection’ is the key to good dog training. Set up metrics to measure your progress and keep this information to yourself. Competition can be fun, it isn’t always healthy.
We overload ourselves with endless tasks and to do lists in order to hide our insecurities. If we work harder no-one will see their shortcomings. We become nothing more than ‘train-a-holic’ pushing ourselves and our dogs to exhaustion to gain outside kudos. To overcome this habit remember the best validation comes from within, not other people. Only take on tasks that are achievable within a specified time limit. Practice saying ‘I AM ENOUGH, I DON’T HAVE TO BE SUPERWOMAN/MAN!’
No Natural Talent
We believe we have to do it right the first time. If we don’t perform well on the first time out, we give up. To overcome this habit remember training is a skill that is built up over time. Everyone has some talent and you get better through practice. Mistakes are where the learning occurs. I urge you to keep a journal so you can see your work in progress.
Not Asking for Help
When it comes to training our dogs we sometimes can’t see where we are going wrong. We become emotional and believe we are failing. To overcome this habit, next time you feel like you are struggling ask for help, there is no shame in needing a helping hand or a fresh pair of eyes.
There are lots of opportunities to learn new things in dog training. Learning is a worthwhile pursuit but if the quest for knowledge hides a belief that you will never know enough there’s a problem. If this becomes an endless pursuit then this is actually is procrastinating. I urge you to learn in the moment, acknowledge your present limitations and ask for help when you need it.
When we take time to understand our habits we can make them beneficial to our success. We can train ourselves as well as our dogs. Setting ourselves up for a positive experience is as important for us as it is for our dogs. The next time you feel yourself doing one of the 5 things we do to sabotage ourselves, STOP! THINK! REFOCUS! We can all be a bit kinder to ourselves.
Do You Need Help?
I can help you if you are struggling. I offer individual tailored 1-2-1 Canine Coaching Sessions. Each session is 1-2 hours long and include a follow up email report and telephone support. Sessions start at £45, packages are available for multiple sessions.