If you have been around the dog world, you may have heard the saying, “Give your dog time to process”. It means giving your dog time to think about what just happened; give your dog time to digest something he is learning.
Most people get impatient, frustrated, or angry. If you instead keep your expectations reasonable, it will really speed up the number of things your dog can learn and shorten the time it takes to learn them.
Processing is allowing your dog time to relax and think. It may be sitting or walking quietly along. When I say, “Allow them to process”, I think of times when too much is asked of a dog, when it is too much of a stretch for the dog to learn, grasp or get to in that session. Too much pressure is used trying to achieve an unreasonable amount. Keeping a reasonable expectation of what a dog can learn in a session is different for each dog, and the capabilities of that particular dog.
Have big expectations, but get there in small increments, and let your dog process and have space to think after each small improvement. Pushing for a big change without allowing your dog time to process along the way on the smaller individual improvements will actually slow the progress towards the change you are wanting.
I truly believe dogs love to learn and are better for it, given the opportunity to process. An example of a big expectation may be to have your dog go through an agility tunnel when he is scared of it. Other examples are stopping your dog from pulling on the leash, swinging into a heel position, or getting your dog to automatically sit in certain situations. I always like to remind myself that it isn’t about pulling on the leash, it’s about having a dog that follows your calm, assertive leadership. It is having a dog that follows the feel of the leash by your energy. It’s about teaching your dog to trust your judgement and commands. It’s about having a dog that knows that if he tries, he will be rewarded. All your dog’s good efforts need to have a rub and time to process.
What doesn’t work is to pull back, yank, pull back, yank, and be angry, frustrated, and impatient. Keep the pressure on until he is walking on a loose leash. In this scenario, it is all about not pulling with no thought to how many things need to be addressed or need to be working on before thinking about walking on a loose leash. When a dog is pulled back and dragged back, he doesn’t get to learn how to walk nicely on a loose leash. He didn’t get calm useful information and practice.
All too often, people end up shutting their dogs down with too much pressure, unreasonable expectations, and no time to allowing processing. Dogs need time, just as people do, to learn where each piece of the puzzle goes rather than trying to place all the pieces in at once. I have found it to be true especially for the over-achievers, that slowing down and rewarding the smaller pieces more often gets us where we want to be faster. Let them process so they will grow. If we overdo it, all too often they will shutdown and then stop trying.
For one-on-one guidance or group classes for you and your dog, contact Michelle at DCT Canine Services in Surrey.