If only it were that easy. Then you wouldn’t need people like myself, you’d be able to manage all by yourselves!
The truth it, whilst the quality (think sausage v. dried biscuit) and rate of reinforcement (the scientific term for reward) is an important part of training your dog, it’s by no means the only factor in play. Here's the first two major players in what helps or hinders your dog training.
This has a huge part to play in successful dog training. As a dog trainer, I’ve lost track of the number of times a client has wailed “But they can do it PERFECTLY at home!” – sound familiar?!
The reason is two-fold – partly because of the way dogs don’t generalise information we teach them e.g. being taught to Sit using a verbal cue in your living room at home, is not the end of the story. Dog’s have to practice behaviours in many different locations before they get the idea “Oh okay, Sit means Sit wherever I am!”.
The other reason is because your living room at home is familiar, and therefore less distracting than being out and about. When they go to training class there are other puppies/dogs, people, children, exciting treats etc. It’s difficult for a dog to concentrate when there’s so many things going on!
Concentration on a task takes time to build up – that’s why we have a rule of counting out 10 training treats. It’s a pretty good guide for how long your puppy/ dog will be able to concentrate on one exercise for straight away.
Do you remember when you learned to drive, how much concentration and thought was required to get from point A to B? I bet it doesn’t take as long now as it did when you first passed, it just took a bit of practice.
Dog training is a skill like driving a car, learning to dance or baking the perfect cake. The difference is, that whilst you’re learning the skills required to get good at it, you also have your living, breathing dog to concentrate on at the same time – not always easy until you get the hang of it!
My suggestion is practice those skills in the comfort of your own home – in your living room in your slippers, in the ad breaks between your favourite TV program. Your dog will be less distracted and you’ll be more relaxed and able to get the hang of it quicker without the stress of trying to listen to your instructor at the same time as coping with your dog.