“Use it or lose it” applies to dog training too. You must continue practicing and rewarding behaviours that you taught your dog, and keep taking him to social situations, or he is likely to regress over time. I got a sad reminder of that last night when I took Frankie to the advanced Canine Good Citizen class.
He has hardly been to class for a few years because I’m instructing now, and taking him last night was bad timing on my part. There were a lot of dogs and many he hadn’t seen before. All were very excited playing with the demo equipment that had been laid out for the Pet Dog Manners class.
Frankie, who has achieved Canine Good Citizen Foundation and Bronze accreditation, was almost back to where he started many years ago – as a highly reactive, over-excited juvenile SPCA dog. Last night, he quickly became so overwhelmed he couldn’t work at all, wouldn’t take treats, and it was hard to stop him from barking and lunging.
Sound familiar, right? Many of us have started dog training with ‘mad’ dogs but you can help your dog change with positive training. You just have to keep it up. Frankie’s state was my fault not his. I promised I’d try to get him out more.