Just because I’m a professional dog trainer doesn’t mean I never make training mistakes. I’m a dog trainer, not a super human. Thousands of dogs later sometimes even I still set criteria too high for a dog to be successful. Yet, being able to quickly recognize when I’ve set criteria too high for a dog to succeed is what makes me extremely good at what I do! What happens with most dog owners is that they set criteria way to high for their dogs, and then attribute their dogs inability to succeed to the dog being stupid, stubborn, or un-motivaed. When, in reality, the dog likely tried to figure it out but gave up because the “trainer” wasn’t adaptable enough to help the dog succeed. In the video you’ll hear my narration about why this particular training session went terribly wrong. Here’s the cliff notes:

1. Bali had never done a successful down behavior prior to earlier today

2. When Bali was successful at doing downs today she was performing downs on a soft fleece bed surface (a place/bed) in a 8 foot by 16x training area.

3. Because I wanted to record a video, I moved to larger area (1,000 sq feet)  in which I attempted to use a plastic training platform instead of a soft bed.

4. Bali failed at doing the down I had taught her earlier because she was not year ready to generalize her down to a different surface, let alone a much bigger and more distracting space.

5. Next training session we’ll go back to our place/bed until she is at least 95% fluent with down. Then we’ll move THAT place bed to a bigger space, then we’ll move THAT place/bed to an area with more distraction, and then finally we’ll start generalizing our down to different surfaces.


As a trainer I often do record myself, even if only for my own viewing to see what went wrong and how I can do better for that particular dog. What’s most interesting to me is that it wasn’t until I reviewed the video of our training session that I realized how MANY times I neglected to reward Bali for attempting the down behavior. During the actual 2 minute training session of this particular behahvior I thought I had maybe missed one, maybe two opportunities to reward her, when in reality I missed several more than that! Luckily Bali is a super forgiving and eager dog, so as soon as we switched to a different behavior she was eager to get back to work. 🙂

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” ~John Powell


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