Your dog will naturally feel some stress while you're training him. There is nothing you can do to prevent it; however, you can keep the stress low so your dog can still learn. There is a big difference between some good stress that is due to your pet's excitement and happiness to learn and bad stress that shows in disturbing behaviors. Being able to recognize the signs of stress is important because that's when the lesson should end. As your dog becomes so stressed that he is unable to learn, the behavior will simply be random, redirected, or displacement behaviors, and they will not be learned or retained.
If your dog does listen, he will be so nervous and stressed that he will not remember or retain the new behavior. This will also frustrate you and make you feel as if he is not learning, when in fact he was too upset or stressed to retain any of the things that you taught him. There are also times when the dog seems unable to learn. You can feel this at any time, and more so when there are a lot of distractions. It may seem like no matter what you do, it's not working and you are making no forward progress. So, what do you do in a situation like this? Do you feel like if you stop, your dog has won and will never behave again? This makes it seem as if the two of you are foes and you are in a contest.
Many people think that the dog is just being stubborn, so they take an attitude of enforcing law upon the dog to show who is boss. This kind of attitude will create failure without a doubt. It will also end with an unrewarding relationship with your pet. Training is not about a contest. It is about you teaching your dog.
In order for your dog to learn and pick up new things and retain them, he needs to be able to trust you. If there is nothing being accomplished in a lesson and your dog is not learning, end the session. It's that simple. If you try to continue and try to force your dog to do what you want, he will no longer trust you or the relationship that you have. You should allow four hours or more for your dog to rest, and then try again.
You might even see that suddenly your dog has mastered the things he wasn't getting before. You have allowed him a break and he picked up the lesson through time. Should you start to get angry or irritable, or your dog show stress, you should stop the lesson immediately. It is not difficult to be dominant with your dog by physical and mental force, but to create trust and enjoyment, there must be positive reinforcement and reliability. Your dog must be able to trust you fully and rely on you or they could begin to display disturbing behavior.
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